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Howard’s choice | Grocers want to cut pay | Rail unrest

Thursday, March 17, 2022




► From the Seattle Times — The state of Starbucks: Sustainability, union drives and the return of Howard Schultz — Former — and future — Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is taking on a company that is changing… Employees are demanding better working conditions and pay, and are increasingly forming unions to get them. And some shareholders are pushing the company in their own way, asking Starbucks to remain neutral toward union drives and requesting a report on how it prevents harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Starbucks Workers United is already calling on the new CEO to “put union-busting behind him and embrace Starbucks’ unionized future.”

► Yesterday from HuffPost — Starbucks illegally retaliated against pro-union workers, labor officials allege — Federal labor officials issued a complaint against Starbucks on Tuesday accusing the coffee chain of illegally interfering with workers’ efforts to form a union. A regional director for the NLRB said in the filing that the company’s managers retaliated against pro-union employees in Arizona. The complaint states that Starbucks “has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed” under federal labor law.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Starbucks’ illegal union-busting efforts aren’t working. The workers have voted for union representation in 6 of 7 union elections held so far. Meanwhile, 140 more Starbucks stores (and counting) in 27 states have filed for union elections. If Howard Schultz continues with this aggressive union-busting strategy of breaking the law to block employees from joining together in unions, it will destroy the company’s brand.

► From the PS Business Journal — Grocers renew call to end COVID-19 hazard pay in Seattle — A grocery store trade group is calling on Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and the City Council to end the hazard pay ordinance for grocery store workers. The citywide policy, which has been in place since January 2021, requires large grocers to pay front-line workers an extra $4 an hour. The mandate is tied to the city’s 2-year-old COVID-19 emergency declaration, which is managed by the mayor, though the City Council could set a new end date.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Some relevant information: Kroger reported profits of $2.8 billion in 2020. In 2021, Kroger reported even higher profits of $3.5 billion and improved its outlook for 2022, predicting identical store sales growth of between 2% and 3%. Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen received $22.4 million in compensation in 2020, 904 times the median worker pay. Albertsons also reported record profits in 2020 of $850.2 million after its stock first went public in June 2020 and has seen its stock price nearly double since then.

► From the Seattle Times — Seattle teachers rally to be included in district decisions — Seattle educators are pushing back against Seattle Public Schools’ move to make masks optional in classrooms and buses — an issue the teachers union says exemplifies repeated “unilateral decision making” by the district. Dozens of Seattle Education Association members rallied Wednesday evening in front of the district’s headquarters, the John Stanford Center, calling for officials to fix their strained relationship by including teachers and students in conversations. Union members, wearing red shirts as a sign of solidarity, held up signs that said, “Together we are powerful,” “Decision without discussion is not cool,” and “Where was the communication?”

► From KTVZ — Oregon Nurses Association pickets outside Providence St. Vincent — With their contracts expired since the end of January, nurses at Providence’s St. Vincent hospital, along with the Oregon Nurses Association, held a picketing event outside the hospital Tuesday evening to up the ante of labor negotiations. Among the top items on their wish list: specific nurse staffing levels spelled out in the contract.




► From the Seattle Times — What’s WA’s COVID plan now? Expect details Thursday from state — Washington health officials will soon unveil the state’s newest long-term pandemic plan, detailing how they intend to bolster strategies on living with COVID-19 in the coming months, the state’s secretary of health announced Wednesday.

► From the Olympian — House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan won’t seek re-election — State House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (D-Covington) announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election. Sullivan, 59, joined the House of Representatives in 2004. In 2010 he was appointed as the House Majority Leader. He has been a member of the budget negotiations committee since 2009.

► From KNKX — Concerns raised as former Wash. state Rep. Matt Shea tries to arrange Ukrainian adoptions — Former Washington state Rep. Matt Shea, who didn’t seek re-election in 2020 after a report found that he planned and engaged in domestic terrorism, is now in Poland, where he says he’s trying to arrange for the adoption of Ukrainian children. The move is raising concerns among experts on international adoption and Polish officials alike. Local officials said Shea was combative when they made inquiries, and vague about his plans.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Remember that this man endorsed training children to fight in a holy war.




► From McClatchy — ‘I don’t think there’s much to be gained’: Most Republicans back off SCOTUS fight — Less than a week before Ketanji Brown Jackson is set to begin confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, the Republican Party and broader conservative movement are signaling they’re not interested in a knock-down, drag-out fight over the nomination. Most Republicans have avoided sustained personal attacks, TV ad campaigns have run dry, and even leading Republican media figures — on Fox News and other outlets — have largely focused on other topics.

TODAY at The Stand Take action to support KBJ’s nomination

TAKE A STAND — Please do two things today — sign this petition and call your U.S. Senator — to support Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination as U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

► From HuffPost — Texas ballot rejections soar thanks to GOP-backed voting rules, AP finds — Texas threw out mail votes at an abnormally high rate during the nation’s first primary of 2022, rejecting nearly 23,000 ballots outright under tougher voting rules that are part of a broad campaign by Republicans to reshape American elections. Roughly 13% of mail ballots returned in the March 1 primary were discarded and uncounted across 187 counties in Texas. The double-digit rejection rate would be far beyond what is typical in a general election, when experts say anything above 2% is usually cause for attention.

► From Vox — Democrats’ fears about restricting mail-in voting were confirmed in Texas — “It’s been every bit as catastrophic as we feared it would be,” said James Slattery, a senior staff attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “I think the onus is on the legislature to acknowledge the harm that it did to Texas voters by passing Senate Bill 1 and make amends by repealing it next year.” But that probably won’t happen given that key Republicans who pushed for the law have continued to defend it.




► From the American Prospect — Rail workers punished for taking days off, union says — Last month, the Warren Buffett-owned BNSF Railway drew attention after a federal judge effectively blocked 17,000 engineers, conductors, and yardmasters from striking. Under the federal Railway Labor Act, workers in key transportation sectors like freight railroads cannot strike over so-called “minor” issues. The “minor” issue? A new BNSF attendance policy that employee unions claim penalizes their members for taking time off work, will lead to many having to leave their jobs, and will increase the risk of serious accidents on the freight rail system. Now the unions have escalated their concerns.

► From the WSJ — Canadian Pacific Railway threatens lockout in labor dispute

► From Vice — Amazon warehouse workers stage coordinated strikes demanding $3 raisesWorkers at three Amazon warehouses in the New York City and Washington, D.C., metro areas walked off the night shift Wednesday in a coordinated effort to demand $3-an-hour raises and the reinstatement of 20-minute rest breaks. Striking workers say their wages of roughly $15.75-17.25 an hour are not enough to survive with this year’s rapidly inflated prices on the cost of housing, food, and gas. Last year, Amazon announced it was trimming back rest breaks from 20 to 15 minutes, ending a COVID-era perk intended to give workers extra time to maintain social distancing and safety procedures.

► From Vice — Audio: Google contractor tells employees they could lose work by unionizingA union avoidance consultant told Google Fiber workers that they could lose their contract with Google if workers vote to unionize, according to leaked audio from a captive audience meeting. Twelve Google Fiber workers in Kansas City began voting last week on whether to join the Alphabet Workers Union, a branch of the CWA.


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