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Kent teachers OK strike | Starbucks goes lower | Hope for Intalco?

Tuesday, August 23, 2022




► From KOMO — Kent teachers’ union votes to authorize a strike, putting educators on the picket line — Union teachers who work for the Kent School District voted Monday to authorize a strike, setting up a scenario that could put classroom educators on the picket line for the district’s upcoming first day of school, the group said in a written statement. The decision by Kent Education Association members to stage the job action followed a decision by the union in which members approved a vote of no confidence in the Kent School Board and Superintendent Israel Vela.

► From the Seattle Times — Truck drivers for Seattle sandwich maker Homegrown asked for a raise, then came the cameras — In early June, Homegrown workers delivered notice that they intend to form a union. Manya Janowitz, who has been making sandwich deliveries for Homegrown’s wholesale division for two years, said she thinks the new surveillance system is part of the company’s response to their unionizing effort:

“We’ve been trying to have a conversation with our company for three months about organizing. They have not met our demands and instead last week they installed surveillance cameras.”

PREVIOUSLY at The Stand :

Sign up for some Homegrown leafleting (Aug. 11)
Seattle leaders to Homegrown: Agree to card-check process (July 12)
Support Homegrown sandwich workers June 16 in Seattle (June 13)

► From the PS Business Journal — Unions gain traction at two of Seattle’s most iconic companies — Employees for Starbucks and Amazon  — two vast blue-collar workforces — have begun grassroots campaigns to form or join unions, though the success of those efforts has widely varied. Despite the velocity of the movement from Starbucks baristas, they face a stacked deck when it comes to ratifying a contract, labor advocates say — a hill that’s less steep for warehouse workers.




► From Reuters — Starbucks ordered to reinstate workers fired amid union campaign — A U.S. judge ordered Starbucks to reinstate seven employees at a Memphis, Tennessee, cafe on Thursday who were allegedly fired for supporting a union organizing campaign, as the company seeks to halt pending nationwide union elections. U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman in Memphis said the NLRB had provided enough evidence that the firings earlier this year were motivated by anti-union animus. Starbucks plans to appeal the ruling.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, union-busting at Starbucks continues unabated…

► From Jacobin — After 12 years working at Starbucks, this worker says the company fired him for unionizing — Sam Amato spent over a decade working as a barista for Starbucks near Buffalo, New York, and loves the company. But after he joined a union drive with Starbucks Workers United, he says the company didn’t care about his years of service — and fired him.




► From the Seattle Times — Will federal climate legislation help reopen a WA aluminum plant? — The federal health care and climate legislation signed last week by President Joe Biden includes tax credits and grant money that would help subsidize the cost of low-carbon aluminum produced in the United States. But the reopening of the Intalco Works aluminum smelter in Ferndale, Whatcom County — sought by a coalition of unions, environmentalists and Washington politicians pitching design changes to reduce carbon emissions — remains uncertain.

► From YakTriNews-com — AG Lawsuit: Ostrom Mushroom Farms fired women, replaced them with H-2A workers with fewer rights — The Washington State Attorney General is suing a Sunnyside mushroom farm, claiming they violated state laws by systematically firing female employees and replacing them with foreign agricultural workers who had fewer rights.

► From the Olympian — Soon only 10 of the governor’s COVID emergency orders will remain in effect. Which are they? — Recently amended, the emergency declaration remains in effect that requires state workers, staff at educational facilities, and health care employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Stand (Oct. 18, 2021) — WSLC updates position on vaccine mandates

► From the Kitsap Sun — Washington lawmakers move ahead in extending voting rights, encouraging turnout — The most notable change for the fall campaign is voting rights for felons. Washington’s legislature restored voting rights for felons effective Jan. 1, 2022. The law means every person with a past felony conviction who is not incarcerated at the time of voting immediately has their voting rights restored, and simply needs to register. The change may affect as many as 20,000 voters now eligible to cast a ballot by mail this fall.




► From the Guardian — Labor leaders say underfunding at federal agency has ‘reached crisis stage’ — Last year saw a 58% jump in the number of union elections as union drives spread at companies including Amazon, Apple, Starbucks and other companies. Some labor leaders say they are worried that the NLRB has become so understaffed that it will have a hard time investigating the flood of allegations that Starbucks has violated America’s labor laws hundreds of times in its efforts to crush a historic unionization drive.

► From Truthout — Republicans say they’ll go after labor movement if they take control of House — House Republicans are planning to launch a barrage of attacks on government institutions that administer to and support labor unions if the party takes control of the House this fall, new reporting reveals, showing that the GOP likely feels threatened by the growing labor movement that’s taken hold across the country in recent years. Republicans are looking to go after labor regulators in the Biden administration, like Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, as well as the NLRB itself and the White House’s pro-worker task force.

► From the Washington Post — 1 in 3 American women have already lost abortion access. More restrictive laws are coming. — Two months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, about 20.9 million women have lost access to nearly all elective abortions in their home states, and a slate of strict new trigger laws expected to take effect in the coming days will shut out even more.




► From the Washington Post — Teacher ‘pay penalty’ hits new highAmid what is being called crisis-level teacher shortages in public school districts across the country, a new report offers a partial explanation: Average weekly wages of teachers increased just $29 — repeat, $29 — from 1996 to 2021, compared with a $445 increase in weekly wages of other college graduates. (The figures were adjusted only for inflation.) It’s what’s called the “teacher wage penalty,” which the nonprofit and nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute has been tracking for years. According to the EPI report, the penalty grew to a record high in 2021: to 23.5 percent, meaning that teachers earn that much less than other college graduates.

► From NPR — Why teachers from one of Ohio’s largest school districts are on strike — For the first time in nearly 50 years, the district’s unionized teachers are striking, the Columbus Education Association (CEA) announced. On Sunday, the union voted to go on strike after weeks of negotiations over new contract language with Columbus City Schools went nowhere. The union says it was pushing for guaranteed air conditioning, “appropriate class sizes” and full-time art, music and physical education teachers in the city’s elementary schools.

► From the Guardian — Minnesota nurses’ strike vote puts safety and conditions in spotlight — Nurses at 15 hospitals in the Twin Cities and Duluth who are negotiating new union contracts with their respective hospitals have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike. A date for the work stoppage has not been set yet by the union, the Minnesota Nurses Association, which represents about 15,000 nurses who voted on the strike authorization, but a 10-day notice must be given ahead of any strike.

► From HuffPost — Trader Joe’s workers unionize a second store with Minneapolis victory — It was a little more than two weeks ago that an upstart labor campaign, Trader Joe’s United, won an election in Massachusetts to form the grocery chain’s first union. But the independent group of Trader Joe’s employees has already proven that the victory was no fluke. The union prevailed in its second election on Friday at a store in downtown Minneapolis, where workers voted 55 to 5 in favor of joining Trader Joe’s United.

► From Business insider — Trader Joe’s suddenly closed its bustling wine store where employees were unionizing — “Today, UFCW and Trader Joe’s employees are calling out the company’s abrupt closure of the Union Square Wine Shop location as egregious and blatant union busting,” the store’s organizing committee and UFCW said in a joint statement. “Workers at the store are calling on Trader Joe’s to reopen the location and protect their jobs, wages, and schedules.”

► From the LA Times — Once struggling, United Farm Workers gains new clout in California, wants to use it — A small group of farmworkers, for the first time in nearly 30 years, are marching 335 miles from the UFW’s headquarters near Delano to the state Capitol. Officially, the three-week pilgrimage is aimed at pressuring Gov. Gavin Newsom into signing a bill that would allow farmworkers a choice, including vote-by-mail, in how elections are held in unionization drives. But the purpose is broader: to signify the union is emboldened despite decades of diminishing membership.




► From the NY Times — A coal miner’s political transformation (The Daily podcast) — For more than 500 days, coal miners in rural Alabama have been on strike. Around 900 workers walked off the job in April 2021, and they haven’t been back since. As the strike drags on, the miners are discovering that neither political party is willing to fight for them. For Braxton Wright, a second-generation coal miner, the experience has altered his view of American politics.


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