Thursday, January 23, 2020
► BREAKING from The Stranger — To prep for strike, Swedish hires scabs and ‘tactical security’ with body cameras — As Washington state confirms the country’s first case of Wuhan coronavirus, 8,000 Swedish caregivers responsible for treating patients and disinfecting hospital rooms are barreling toward a massive three-day strike scheduled for next week. Though caregivers say they don’t want to strike, bosses at Swedish, which was recently acquired by Providence, are telling staff they don’t plan to return to the bargaining table before the union’s January 28 deadline. Since the union gave its ten-day notice last week, caregivers say the hospital has been playing hardball. Swedish has dropped $11 million on 5-day contracts with scabs that will effectively lock out striking caregivers from two days of work. The hospital has also hired, some caregivers hear, as many as 200 “tactical security” guards with body cameras.
According to an email Swedish sent to caregivers, “many” caregivers who want to work during the strike were afraid of being “subjected to harassment, retaliation, or abuse from SEIU supporters,” and so the hospital hired the guards to “protect” nonstriking nurses. Delores Prescott, a surgical nurse who has worked at Swedish-First Hill for 18 years, says she’s not aware of any co-workers feeling intimidated by strikers, though she and others have felt intimidated by Swedish managers. Prescott said managers have been “pulling staff into offices and telling them they need to sign a document asking if they’re going to strike or not.” Prescott, who received an email late last week asking her for the same information, said the hospital is looking to collect “data” on caregivers who choose to strike.
Since caregivers are bargaining for better wages, more staff, and increased safety features such as medical detectors at hospital entrances, Prescott couldn’t help but notice some hypocrisy in Swedish’s decision to beef up security for the strike and blow $11 million on replacement workers. “This is the second-and-a-half time I’ve bargained, and I’ve never seen bargaining with such disrespect,” she said. “This feels so different because of the people involved. We’ve never gotten to this point in our bargaining, and it’s been over forty years since there’s even been talk of a strike.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — An excerpt from Swedish’s Mission & Outreach statement: “We foster a culture that promotes unity and reconciliation. We strive to care wisely for our people, our resources, and our earth. We stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable, working to remove the causes of oppression and promoting justice for all.”
The Stand (Jan. 17, 2020) — SEIU 1199NW plans Jan. 28-30 strike at Swedish-Providence
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — City, county now require open union negotiations, but they haven’t happened – and may never — While Spokane County and the city of Spokane are required to negotiate with public-sector unions in public view, they haven’t yet held a single open bargaining session. Whether they do likely will depend on a court decision out of Lincoln County – and that ruling could be a few years away. In the meantime, thousands of city and county employees are on the brink of beginning bargaining on not only new contracts but rules that govern whether that bargaining is conducted in public or private.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — $10 billion Hanford contract is appealed. 2nd protest means more uncertainty for workers — A protest has been filed over the Department of Energy’s award of a new contract worth up to $10 billion for environmental cleanup at the Hanford nuclear reservation… The current contractor employs nearly 1,700 workers and many of them can expect to transfer to the new contractor, which will bring in its own management.
► In today’s Wenatchee World — WVC Board supports Richardson, calls for continued conversation on budget crisis — Wenatchee Valley College President Jim Richardson’s job is secure, say the four members of the Board of Trustees. Last week, WVC’s faculty union called for the trustees to fire Richardson and submitted an 11-page document to the board outlining reasons they believe the current financial crisis — a $1 million budget gap that led to 21 layoffs and other cuts — rests at his feet.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Plans to build a renewable diesel plant near Ferndale have been scrapped. This is why. — Phillips 66 and Renewable Energy Group Inc. were behind the proposal and had formed Green Apple Renewable Fuels to build the plant. A release blamed “permitting delays and uncertainties” for the decision to withdraw the project.
► In today’s Seattle Times — New Boeing CEO Calhoun says employee confidence ‘is shaken – my job is to restore it’ — New Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun gave a confident, combative defense of the company Wednesday morning while promising to focus intensely on fixing the 737 MAX, improving Boeing’s engineering culture and “shining bright lights on the safety process.”… Reassuring local employees, he ruled out any layoffs at the company’s Renton plant that assembles the MAX. Though Boeing on Tuesday extended the grounding of the MAX to midyear, Calhoun said that production in Renton will resume much sooner as engineers plan for a more efficient assembly process.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing’s new CEO sees 737 MAX production resuming in spring — He said he believes passengers will fly on the MAX when federal regulators say it is safe and they see airline pilots getting on the plane. Calhoun dismissed the idea that the company should change the plane’s name.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing 777X first flight delayed until at least Friday — Late Wednesday, Boeing said the flight would be delayed due to weather.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Sen. Marko Liias introduces a Sound Transit car-tab fix — A bill dropped late Wednesday by Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) requires the regional transit authority to stop using a 1996 depreciation schedule in calculating the tax and switch to a schedule adopted by lawmakers in 2006. The newer grid better reflects a car’s actual value and will result in a little savings for vehicle owners when they renew their car tabs.
► From Crosscut — Washington could become the next state to ban private prisons — Last year, California banned private detention centers and was promptly sued. Now Washington state legislators are considering a similar ban.
► In today’s NY Times — There’s no such thing as a free tax cut (editorial) — This week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin repeated the risible fantasy that the Trump administration’s 2017 tax cuts will bolster economic growth sufficiently for the government to recoup the revenue it has lost by lowering tax rates. The claim that tax cuts don’t cost money is a lie that won’t die, because proponents of tax cuts have learned that many voters like to hear it. Republicans have steadily insisted for almost four decades that tax cuts are free, even as each new round of tax cuts fails to pay for itself. Mnuchin and other proponents of the most recent tax cuts were already peddling a delusion when they made the claim in 2017. Two years later, the results are in. The annual federal budget deficit has topped $1 trillion. And it is even more difficult to understand how anyone could make such a claim.
► From The Hill — Trump courts new controversy with travel ban expansion — The Trump administration is expected to formally announce the addition of several countries to its travel ban next week, prompting questions about its timing and the rationale for which nations will be added to the list.
TRUMP ON “TRIAL”
► From Reuters — Let them speak: Most Americans want witnesses in Trump impeachment trial — A bipartisan majority of Americans want to see new witnesses testify in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, and the public appears to be largely following the proceedings even after a bruising congressional inquiry that lasted several months. About 72% agreed that the trial “should allow witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify,” including 84% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans. And 70% of the public, including 80% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans, said senators should “act as impartial jurors” during the trial.
► In today’s Washington Post — Schiff asked GOP senators a tough question. The answer is awful. (by Greg Sargent) — As Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) continued building his case against Trump late into Wednesday evening, he said to Republican senators, “The truth is going to come out. The only question is: Do you want to hear it now? Do you want to know the full truth now?” … The obvious reason for their evidence blockade has been that Republicans want to help Trump execute the coverup. But the raw incentives for senators themselves also tilt against new witnesses and evidence, especially given the likelihood of new revelations later. Those revelations, as inevitable as Trump’s acquittal, will stand as evidence of what GOP senators covered up… Plainly, the prospect of being the 51st vote for transparency, accountability and the full truth would constitute a betrayal of loyalty to Trump that will not be countenanced. No GOP senator wants to suffer such horrifying ignominy. And the inevitable vote to acquit will be easier, the less one knows about just how corrupt Trump’s scheme really was.
► From Bloomberg — Unions shed some members in 2019 but numbers remain steady — The percent of U.S. workers belonging to unions fell two-tenths of a percent to 10.3% last year, fueled by an expanding workforce and declining union membership base, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Wednesday.
► From the AFL-CIO — BLS numbers are in—but they don’t tell the whole story — The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on union membership Wednesday. The numbers reflect both the tremendously difficult barriers workers seeking to form a union continue to face and the unmatched resilience of working people in our desire to win bargaining power on the job. But make no mistake: 2019 was a year of undeniable momentum for collective action and collective bargaining.
ALSO TODAY at the Stand — Proof that it pays to join together in unions — As union membership stays strong in Washington, a new report finds that union members make 23% more money and have better benefits.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Tired of being disrespected? Get a union! Find out more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
► In today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch — Missouri unions add 47,000 members, putting total at a 15-year high — The defeat of a right-to-work law in 2018 seems to have given Missouri’s unions a boost. Their membership grew by 46,000 last year, bucking a downward national trend. Union members now make up 11.1% of the state’s workforce, the highest percentage since 2008.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Union members make up 18.8 percent of Washington’s workforce, making our state the third most unionized state in the nation. Only Hawaii (23.5) and New York (21.0) have a higher percentage of their workforce unionized.
► In today’s NY Times — A new face of white supremacy: Plots expose danger of the ‘Base’ — The plans were as sweeping as they were chilling: “Derail some trains, kill some people, and poison some water supplies.” It was the blunt, bloody prescription for sparking a race war by a member of the Base, a white supremacist group that has come under intense scrutiny amid a series of stunning recent arrests… The Base illustrates what law enforcement officials and extremism experts describe as an expanding threat, particularly from adherents who cluster in small cells organized under the auspices of a larger group that spreads violent ideology. Experts who have studied the Base say it seems to have followed the model of Al Qaeda and other violent Islamic groups in working to radicalize independent cells or even lone wolves who would be inspired to plot their own attacks. They describe the Base as an “accelerationist” organization, seeking to speed the collapse of the country and give rise to a state of its own in the Pacific Northwest by killing minorities, particularly African-Americans and Jews…
The founder of the Base, who uses the names Norman Spear and Roman Wolf, both of which are pseudonyms, has stressed making the movement more kinetic offline. He did not want to recruit “keyboard warriors,” he said in a podcast interview in September 2018, but rather dynamic members who were interested in developing military and survival skills.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Sound familiar? Preparing and training for the coming war? It sounds a lot like what a certain Washington state representative and some Freedom Foundation staffers do in their spare time.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.