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Keep moving forward | Still waiting at Ostrom | Nurses’ woes

Tuesday, January 17, 2023




► From the Seattle Times — Seattle’s MLK march includes calls for racial equity and social reform — Keep moving forward. That was the theme Monday as thousands gathered at Garfield High School before marching through the Central District to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Throughout the crowd, hundreds held signs and wore buttons emblazoned with those three words: “Keep moving forward.” Calls for fairness in housing and employment, an end to mass incarceration and — above all — an end to racial discrimination propelled the day’s speeches and one-on-one conversations.

► From the Spokesman-Review — ‘You be the change’: Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally and march returns in person to Spokane — Hundreds filled a ballroom inside the Spokane Convention Center on Monday to remember the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. after the COVID-19 pandemic put a two-year halt on the in-person event. The Rev. Percy “Happy” Watkins, known for his recitation of the “I Have a Dream” speech every year, was unable to attend for health reasons. He still delivered the speech, however, via a video recorded in 2021 that was projected in the ballroom.

MORE local coverage in the Yakima H-R, KNKX, the union-busting (Vancouver) Columbian.

► From the People’s World — AFL-CIO’s MLK Conference emphasizes protecting democracy, politics, organizing — For the hundreds of unionists attending the AFL-CIO’s annual Martin Luther King Civil and Human Rights Conference, the right-wing threat to democracy—and to workers’ rights—isn’t over.




► From the Yakima H-R — Ostrom mushroom workers in Sunnyside rally again for union recognition — It’s been almost four months since a committee of workers at Ostrom Mushroom Farms voted to unionize, and workers say the company has not responded. About 50 workers rallied outside Ostrom’s facility on Midvale Road in Sunnyside on Friday. They waved flags, carried posters and called for change from their employers, just as they did in June and September. “We’re trying to work with them,” said José Martínez in Spanish. “They’re ignoring us.” Workers rallied publicly in June and submitted a petition calling for more respect in the workplace, including an end to threats, mandatory extended shifts and excessive stress. After voting to unionize, workers rallied outside Ostrom again in September. “We have the support of the community,” Martínez said. “This is the third time and we have never received a reply.” Officials from Ostrom had not replied to emails and phone calls as of press time.

► From the Working to Live in SW Washington podcast — New leadership for a new year — Harold talks with new Southwest Washington CLC Executive Board member Kevin Fanning, a member of UA 290, and new President Shaun Gundert of the Evergreen Education Association about their vision for the Central Labor Council and their plans for the coming year.

The Stand (Jan. 4) — Gundert, Fanning are new leaders at Southwest Washington CLC




► From the Spokesman-Review — Legislature looks to set up state-run apprenticeship programs for students — A bill sponsored by Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber (R-Republic) would set up a high school apprenticeship pilot program run by the SPI and the state’s regional educational service districts. Monday’s public hearing drew mostly support, though there were some concerns from labor and trade groups about making language more specific in the bill. John Traynor of the Washington State Labor Council said he supports strengthening these programs, but encouraged lawmakers to use more precise language to show that they are “pre-apprenticeship programs” done before students graduate and can take part in apprenticeships.

The Stand (Jan. 13) — Study: Apprenticeship training connected to safer workplaces

► From the PS Business Journal — Why Washington’s capital gains tax should be upheld (by Katie Baird) — This new tax on windfall capital gains won’t by itself move Washington from having the nation’s worst, most inequitable tax system to its best. But it represents a step in the right direction. It will help make our state a more equitable one to live in, especially for those in rural communities where many people make low wages.

► From the Seattle Times — Long underfunded, special education finally gets lawmakers’ attention (editorial) — After much foot-dragging, the Legislature finally began to address the real price of basic education after the courts forced it to fund the McCleary settlement in 2018. It shouldn’t take another lawsuit to get real about special-needs kids, too.




► From ABC News — DHS allowing noncitizens to report labor violations without jeopardizing status — Noncitizen workers who witness labor violations can now report them without fear of their immigration status being held against them, the Department of Homeland Security announced Friday. “Individuals should feel free to come forward to complain about labor conditions, because they have certain rights, and their vulnerabilities will not be exploited,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “Exploitative employers better beware because we are using our investigative and prosecuting authorities to hold them accountable.”

► From the AFL-CIO — AFL-CIO: New security procedures represent an important step forward for worker rights — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler:

“Workers rely on each other to take action to help enforce our labor laws, so we are all at risk when employers can use immigration threats to scare workers into silence. The commonsense procedures the Department of Homeland Security has put in place will provide temporary status protections and work permits to workers who are exercising their workplace rights and reporting violations. That helps keep us all safe on the job.”




► From the Washington Post — Why nurses say they are striking and quitting in droves — More than 7,000 union nurses who went on strike in New York City this past week, protesting staffing levels, which led to two of the city’s largest nonprofit hospital systems to agree to strengthen staffing ratios at some hospitals. On Thursday, hundreds of health-care workers from around the country protested understaffing at HCA Healthcare, the nation’s largest hospital system. That included one worker from El Paso who recently admitted herself into her own emergency room for dehydration and exhaustion after working four 12-hour days in a row, her union said.

► From the Wall Street Journal — Medical residents unionize over pay, working conditions — Physicians-in-training at top teaching hospitals across the country are joining unions, demanding higher pay and better working conditions. The Committee of Interns and Residents, the largest group representing doctors in residency and fellowship programs, said it added chapters at five teaching hospitals last year and two in 2021, up from a prepandemic pace of roughly one a year. CIR, which is affiliated with the SEIU, said it represents about 15% of the nation’s 140,000 residents and fellows.

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 NY Times — How restaurant workers help pay for lobbying to keep their wages low — For many cooks, waiters and bartenders, it is an annoying entrance fee to the food-service business: Before starting a new job, they pay around $15 to a company called ServSafe for an online class in food safety. That course is basic, with lessons like “bathe daily” and “strawberries aren’t supposed to be white and fuzzy, that’s mold.” In four of the largest states, this kind of training is required by law, and it is taken by workers nationwide. But in taking the class, the workers — largely unbeknown to them — are also helping to fund a nationwide lobbying campaign to keep their own wages from increasing.

► From NPR — A losing Republican candidate in N.M. is charged over shootings at homes of Democrats — Solomon Peña, who ran for a state House seat in New Mexico as a Republican last November, was arrested Monday in Albuquerque for allegedly paying four men to shoot at the homes and businesses of four elected officials in the area, police said.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!