Tuesday, November 29, 2022
► From KUOW — Starbucks closing Capitol Hill store, the first union location in Seattle — Starbucks will close a store located at Broadway and Denny in Capitol Hill on Dec. 9. The location happens to be the first Starbucks to unionize in Seattle, and some employees are alleging that the closure is “blatant retaliation” and a union-busting tactic. Workers United, the employees’ union, points out that the closure is scheduled on the anniversary of the union’s formation last year. It also says that the Capitol Hill store is the fourth unionized Seattle location to close (along with Olive Way, First and Pike, and Holman Road).
TODAY at The Stand — Tell Starbucks: Stop union-busting closures
► From The Stranger — The Starbucks union-busting playbook (by Conor Kelley) — A spokesperson said the company’s concern for worker safety led to the closure, but workers at that shop and at five other closed shops in Seattle tell a different story. They say the closures all followed a similar pattern, one designed to bust up union activity rather than to address safety. Now, workers worry about following the company’s safety directives for fear of having their own stores closed.
► From America’s Work Force Union Podcast — Monty Anderson on job-creating infrastructure projects — Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary Monty Anderson joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and discussed the work to repair structural issues found on the West Seattle Bridge and a potential high-speed rail project.
► From the Olympian — 3 fire stations in West Thurston County are set to close after voters reject levies — Residents served by the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority rejected tax levies that support maintenance and operations that were on the Nov. 8 ballot, leaving the district no choice but to limit services and lay off workers.
► From the Bellingham Herald — Whatcom child care tax takes the lead in latest ballot count — A ballot measure to tax Whatcom County property owners to fund child care, preschool and other programs has taken the lead as the latest ballot totals from the Nov. 8 election were released Monday.
► From the Washington Post — As rail strike deadline nears, Biden calls on Congress to intervene — With less than two weeks until a railroad strike deadline, President Biden called on Congress on Monday to impose a deal negotiated with help from his administration this year to avert a shutdown of the country’s freight railroads. That deal was recently voted down by four railroad unions representing most of the union members. The rail workers have said they are angry and frustrated that the deal lacked paid sick days or other substantial changes to an attendance policy that penalizes workers for taking time off while they are sick.
► From Politico — ‘No path’ forward: Biden calls on Congress to avert rail strike — President Joe Biden on Monday asked Congress to intervene to prevent an economically crippling freight rail strike, even though it means delivering a defeat to his allies in the labor movement. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi immediately announced she will call a vote this week to carry out Biden’s request, which will mean that paid sick leave for the 115,000 workers involved in negotiations won’t be included in the deal. Biden included a pointed message to Democratic lawmakers who might be inclined to side with workers who oppose the agreement:
“Some in Congress want to modify the deal to either improve it for labor or for management. However well-intentioned, any changes would risk delay and a debilitating shutdown. The agreement was reached in good faith by both sides.”
► From CNN — Rail strike threat recedes as Congress prepares to impose unpopular contract on unions — Some unions representing railroad workers said the companies were refusing to negotiate in good faith in hopes that Congress would step in and give them what they wanted. Biden’s statement Monday night suggested that railroad strategy had worked.
► From The Hill — Sanders says tentative rail agreement doesn’t go far enough — “I would like to see management come to the table and treat their workers with respect,” Sanders said. “If they don’t, then Congress has got to act to make sure that there is guaranteed sick leave for these workers.”
► From The Hill — Rail union official: ‘We don’t want to strike. We want what’s just’ — Matt Weaver, the legislative director for Ohio for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, said Tuesday that their union does not want to go on strike but just wants fair treatment. The addition of paid sick days to a tentative agreement that was reached in September has become a major sticking point for some workers to approve a deal.
► From Reuters — Albertsons, Kroger CEOs to defend $25 billion merger to skeptical U.S. senators — Top executives at Kroger Co. and Albertsons Companies Inc. are expected to face tough questions on Tuesday from lawmakers who worry the grocers’ planned $25 billion merger will push up food prices at a time when inflation is a concern. Kroger Chief Executive Rodney McMullen and Albertsons’ chief Vivek Sankaran will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, some of whose members have already criticized the deal. The companies may also draw fire on Tuesday for a widely criticized plan to give Albertsons’ shareholders a $4 billion dividend payment. A Washington state court put that plan on hold with the next hearing set for Dec. 9.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Preceding today’s hearing, six local UFCW unions (including UFCW 3000), representing 12 states and the District of Columbia, and more than 100,000 Kroger and Albertsons workers, are holding a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to discuss the proposed merger’s negative impact on workers, consumers, and suppliers such as farmers and ranchers if the merger is approved by the FTC.
The Stand (Oct. 14) — Grocery unions decry proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger — Unions representing grocery store workers — UFCW 7 in Colorado, UFCW 324 and UFCW 770 in California, UFCW 367 in Tacoma, UFCW 3000 across Washington state, and Teamsters 38 in Everett — say the proposed merger would be “devastating for workers and consumers,” and call on anti-trust regulators to block it.
► From the AP — Senate to vote on landmark bill to protect same-sex marriage — The Senate is set to vote Tuesday on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages, putting Congress one step closer to passing the landmark bill and ensuring that such unions are enshrined in federal law.
► From Politico — Crunch time for Democrats is holding up bipartisan bill to protect pregnant workers — The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require employers to provide pregnant workers with “reasonable accommodations” like more frequent bathroom breaks.
► From the AP — High court to hear arguments over Biden’s deportation policy — The Supreme Court is taking up a dispute over a blocked Biden administration policy that would prioritize deportation of people in the country illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk.
► From Politico — Democrats prepare to upend presidential primary calendar — The DNC’s rules committee is set to meet later this week to consider booting Iowa from its first-in-the-nation slot and add new early states.
► From the LA Times — Chaos over grades, finals and ongoing classes erupts as UC strike continues — As 48,000 University of California academic workers push their historic strike into a third week just days before finals, tensions and anxiety are rising. “People are losing their minds,” a UC Santa Barbara professor says. The union is demanding significant pay increases to help workers afford housing in the high-cost areas where most UC campuses are located, along with more support for child care, healthcare, transportation and international students. UC’s offers don’t come close to meeting union demands.
► From More Perfect Union — Peet’s Coffee workers launch first union campaign — Workers at two Davis locations of the popular California-based cafe chain will submit signed union cards to the NLRB on Monday. The public submission will mark the culmination of five months of quiet work by organizers for Workers United, the SEIU offshoot that has provided the muscle and infrastructure for Starbucks Workers United. Leaders at the two Peet’s stores say that they have near-unanimous buy-in from their co-workers, who have grown tired of the low pay and high-stress demands placed on them by the company.
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 AP — Qatar says worker deaths for World Cup ‘between 400 and 500’ — A top Qatari official involved in the country’s World Cup organization has put the number of worker deaths for the tournament “between 400 and 500” for the first time, a drastically higher number than any other previously offered by Doha. The comment threatened to reinvigorate criticism by human rights groups over the toll of hosting the Middle East’s first World Cup for the migrant labor that built over $200 billion worth of stadiums, metro lines and new infrastructure needed for the tournament.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.