Tuesday, October 11, 2022
► From the NW Labor Press — Weyerhaeuser strike enters fifth week — Weyerhaeuser mills and log yards across the Northwest have been silent more than four weeks now as the lumber giant faces off against its own workers. At four sawmills, two log export facilities, two statewide log truck operations, and seven logging camps, 1,100 Weyerhaeuser workers have been on strike since Sept. 13 over a basic union principle, fairness. Weyerhaeuser, after reporting record profits of $2.6 billion last year, proposed that its workers make concessions: accept wages that lose ground to inflation, and start paying a share of health insurance premiums. Weyerhaeuser is one of the rare employers that pays the entire health insurance premium, a benefit that used to be standard, and workers think if they give that up, it may never get better.
The Stand (Oct. 7) — Striking Weyco workers reject company offer
TAKE A STAND — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and the Oregon AFL-CIO are urging all union members and other supporters of the strikers to step up and show Weyerhaeuser that the community has these workers’ backs. Here’s how you — and your union — can show solidarity with the IAMAW strikers:
1) Contribute to this GoFundMe fundraiser to support families of striking Weyerhaeuser workers who are experiencing hardship.
2) Please sign this petition to tell Weyerhaeuser: Timber workers and their families deserve living wages, good health care, and a secure retirement!
3) Join picket lines at Weyerhaeuser facilities and donating food/supplies at the these locations. The union says “community support (on the strike lines) has been amazing” and “each location would appreciate you stopping by; hold a sign, talk with us, bring a treat or two, anything to show your support.”
► From the union-busting Columbian — This is what joining a union means to Tri-Cities’ Fred Meyer employees (by Eden Hill) — There are more than 250 of us in Richland working at Fred Meyer. This past year, a lot of us were getting fed up with the way the store has been managing workers. After the store shooting in February, we didn’t think enough had been done to invest in security, employee training, and other measures to create a safe workplace. Not only did we feel unsafe, we also wanted management to step up and address other issues that were negatively impacting our health and well being. So we banded together and joined a union, UFCW 3000. Now, for the time ever, we are celebrating an agreement with Kroger. This is a big step in the right direction to achieving real safety for workers and customers, and a pathway to improving access to healthcare, and to livable wages.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Ready for a voice at work? Get 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!
► From the NW Labor Press — Another Northwest newspaper goes union — Workers at The Daily Herald in Everett voted 19-0 to affiliate with the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild, in ballots counted Sept. 8. The bargaining unit includes 23 reporters, photographers, copy editors, layout designers, web producers and opinion editors at the daily newspaper. The Herald is owned by Sound Publishing, which owns 43 media outlets across Washington and Alaska. Workers launched the union campaign in July, pinpointing low pay and poor benefits as factors driving significant staff turnover.
► From the NW Labor Press — Seattle shipyard painters unionize on the heels of Portland election — In ballots counted Sept. 20, commercial ship painters at Speciality Finishes in Seattle voted 6-0 to join their Portland counterparts in affiliating with Painters Local 10. Specialty Finishes is a subsidiary of Vigor Industrial that operates at Vigor shipyards in Portland and Seattle.
► From the NW Labor Press — AFSCME reaches tentative agreement with OHSU — With a potential strike just weeks away, AFSCME Local 328 and Oregon Health & Science University reached a tentative agreement Sept. 21 on a new three-year contract covering about 7,400 workers. If ratified by members, it would include across-the-board raises of 7%, 5%, and 5% over three years, plus a ratification bonus of $3,000 for full-time and $1,500 for part-time workers.
EDITOR’S NOTE — For more great labor news in Oregon and Southwest Washington, subscribe to the Northwest Labor Press!
► From KIRO — SeaTac will have highest minimum wage in the nation next year — SeaTac’s minimum hourly wage for hospitality and transportation workers will rise to $19.06 on Jan. 1, 2023, making it the highest minimum wage in the nation.
The Stand (Sept. 30) — State minimum wage adjustment protects workers, communities
► From the union-busting Columbian — 3rd District candidates Kent, Perez weigh in on vote-by-mail — Republican candidate Joe Kent is among those continuing to breathe life into the Big Lie — the theory that former President Trump won the election — by questioning the legitimacy of mail-in voting and ballot counting. He wants to end mail-in voting. On the other hand, Democratic candidate Marie Gluesenkamp Perez rallied behind voting by mail, calling it the gold standard in election security and engagement. Without this means of casting one’s vote, she said, those who live in rural areas or can’t afford to take time off work would be excluded from the polls.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Marie Gluesenkamp Perez has been endorsed by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
► From the Seattle Times — Some Republicans buck party, backing Marie Gluesenkamp Perez for Congress vs. Joe Kent — Joe Kent, who has vowed to impeach Joe Biden and refuse to compromise with Democrats, dismisses such defections as few and far between, saying they mostly consist of “Never Trump” Republicans who were never going to back him. It’s not clear how many Herrera Beutler voters will cross party lines to vote for Gluesenkamp Perez in November.
► From the Seattle Times — What is a reasonable Republican voter to do in SW WA? (by Greg Jayne of The Columbian)
► From The Guardian — Democrats shouldn’t focus only on abortion in the midterms. That’s a mistake. (by Sen. Bernie Sanders) — In my view, while the abortion issue must remain on the front burner, it would be political malpractice for Democrats to ignore the state of the economy and allow Republican lies and distortions to go unanswered. I believe that if Democrats do not fight back on economic issues and present a strong pro-worker agenda, they could well be in the minority in both the House and the Senate next year.
► From the AP — Washington’s paid family leave program may hit a deficit by end of year — A new analysis of the financial health of Washington state’s paid family leave program estimates the fund will hit an $8.7 million deficit by the end of the year, leading to recommendations of another increase in the premiums on workers’ wages.
► From the Seattle Times — Howard Schultz’s fight to stop a Starbucks barista uprising — On picket lines outside the stores, pro-union workers were slamming Schultz as a greedy, out-of-touch billionaire with a $130 million yacht. The NLRB was accusing Starbucks in court filings of carrying out a “virulent, widespread and well-orchestrated” anti-union campaign that relied on firings, threat and surveillance. Democratic senators who once praised Schultz as a “pathbreaking” and humane leader were now castigating him for undermining his workers’ rights. To Schultz, the unionization drive felt like an attack on his life’s work.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, the union busting continues…
► From Bloomberg — Starbucks illegally fired Michigan worker over union activism, NLRB judge rules — In the ruling, the agency judge wrote that the NLRB general counsel had demonstrated that Starbucks “acted with animus” when it fired the employee. The decision Friday requires the coffee chain to offer the worker reinstatement with back pay. It says Starbucks must also hold a meeting with employees as well as representatives of management, the government and the union, at which a notice is read about workers’ rights and about the agency’s determination that the company broke the law.
This NLRB judge ruling in October, ordering the reinstatement of a Starbucks worker who was fired in April – still subject to months or years of potential further appeals – gives a sense of the unpredictable (and for many workers, frustrating) pace of the NLRB process. In fact… https://t.co/IkItRFn5Uv
— Josh Eidelson (@josheidelson) October 10, 2022
EDITOR’S NOTE — Billionaire Howard Schultz has decided to break the law — brazenly and repeatedly — by illegally firing his employees who are union supporters and denying the rest of them raises. It’s against the law. But he does it anyway in plain sight. Why? Because he can drag out the legal proceedings enforcing these weak laws for years while he continues to bust the union. It’s why we need labor law reform like the PRO Act now!
► From the NY Times — Biden proposal could lead to employee status for gig workers — The Labor Department on Tuesday unveiled a proposal that would make it more likely for millions of janitors, home-care and construction workers and gig drivers to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. Companies are required to provide certain benefits and protections to employees but not to contractors, such as paying a minimum wage, overtime, a portion of a worker’s Social Security taxes and contributions to unemployment insurance.
► From The Hill — Here’s what you need to know about this week’s Social Security COLA hike — The SSA is expected to announce its largest cost-of-living adjustment to Social Security in four decades on Thursday, a move that could leave people living on the program with more income to deal with inflation. It is expected that the hike will be 8.7 percent, a boost to the more than 70 million Americans benefiting from the program.
► From the AP — Large rail union rejects deal, renewing strike possibility — The third largest railroad union rejected its deal with freight railroads Monday — renewing the possibility of a strike that could cripple the economy — but before that could happen both sides will return to the bargaining table. About 56% of the track maintenance workers represented by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (Teamsters) who voted opposed the five-year contract even though it included 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses. Union President Tony Cardwell said the railroads didn’t do enough to address worker concerns about the lack of paid time off — particularly sick time — and demanding working conditions after the major railroads eliminated nearly one-third of their jobs over the past six years. Four other railroad unions have approved their agreements with the freight railroads that include BNSF, Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern, CSX and Norfolk Southern, but all 12 unions that represent a total of 115,000 workers must ratify their contracts to prevent a strike.
ALSO see the BMWED-IBT press release announcing the contract vote.
► From Jacobin — Michigan nurses just won a groundbreaking contract — The pandemic pushed University of Michigan nurses to the breaking point, as supervisors forced overtime work to account for understaffing. So nurses organized through their union, winning a contract that should inspire nurses everywhere. The new contract functionally does away with mandatory overtime. But it doesn’t just reverse the labor violations that took hold during the pandemic. It also establishes enforceable staffing ratios, forging a path for long-term solutions to issues that have frequently plagued Michigan nurses.
► From ABC News — Kroger union members vote in favor of new three-year contract — UFCW members voted in favor of the new three-year contract, avoiding a potential strike, impacting 12,500 members in the central Ohio region.
► From the Metro Philadelphia — Philadelphia Museum of Art strike continues, with few signs of progress — The staff are entering their third week of picketing.
► From the NY Times — Los Angeles Labor Federation chief resigns in furor over leaked conversation — Ron Herrera, the head of one of Los Angeles County’s most powerful labor organizations, resigned on Monday night amid a nationwide furor over a leaked audio recording that revealed his involvement in a racist and disparaging conversation with two members of the Los Angeles City Council and the council president.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.