The Stand

New WSLC President Sims | 35% chance of merger | Boeing exposure

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Monday, January 23, 2023

 


WSLC

 

► From the Seattle Times — New WA labor council president April Sims brings lived experiences — April Sims knows firsthand the difference unions can make in workers’ lives. The newly elected Washington State Labor Council president said her grandfather and mother experienced lifetime journeys from low-paying, no-benefits jobs to union-represented jobs that offered better life conditions. Sims made history as the first Black woman president of any AFL-CIO state federation. She was elected last year and sworn in this year. Her four-year term will last until 2027.

The Stand (Jan. 9) — Sims, Carter make history as WSLC leaders — New president, secretary treasurer sworn in at Washington State Labor Council; first team of Black women to lead an AFL-CIO state federation.

 


LOCAL

 

► From the NY Times — Grocery store merger faces long road before approval — The biggest winners in the pending $24.6 billion mega-merger between Kroger and Albertsons deal may be the private-equity giant Cerberus and a group of investors. They have already made big profits in their long-term investment in Albertsons and hope to make billions of dollars more through the merger… The companies have said regulatory approval for the complicated transaction won’t happen until early next year and may require the sale or spinoff of hundreds of grocery stores. Washington Analysis, a research firm that focuses on political and regulatory policy, put the odds of the merger successfully closing at 35 percent.

The Stand (Oct. 14, 2022) — Grocery unions decry proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger — Unions representing grocery store workers say the proposed merger would be “devastating for workers and consumers,” and call on anti-trust regulators to block it.

► From the Seattle Times — 350,000 UPS workers may strike this summer (by Jon Talton) — UPS workers represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters nationwide represent a last bastion of good jobs that offer middle-class pay, pension and health care without requiring a college degree. But the company and the Teamsters are negotiating a new contract, and a strike might come Aug. 1 if the two sides can’t come to an agreement. The Teamsters are concerned about many issues beyond pay, especially better compensation for part-time employees. Among other issues is bringing more part-timers on board full time.

 


AEROSPACE

 

► From the (Everett) Herald — Boeing workers long-exposed to carcinogen far above legal limits — An industrial hygienist for the Boeing Everett plant warned in 2020 that “literally hundreds of Boeing employees are at risk” of developing lung cancer or other forms of cancer — “regardless of respiratory protection” — because of an industrial poison that has been a key ingredient in the airplane production for decades.

► From the AP — Boeing ordered to be arraigned on charge in MAX crashes — A federal judge has ordered Boeing Co. to be arraigned on a felony charge stemming from crashes of two 737 MAX jets, a ruling that threatens to unravel an agreement Boeing negotiated to avoid prosecution. The ruling by a judge in Texas came after relatives of some of the victims said the government violated their rights by reaching a settlement with Boeing without first notifying the families.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Could Tri-Cities become home to an aerospace industrial center? — The Tri-Cities Airport has received a new grant to help kick off the planning process for a new aerospace industrial center.

 


THIS WASHINGTON

 

► From the Seattle Times — Legislature must address WA nursing crisis (editorial) — SB 5236 would, among other things, mandate the creation of staff-to-patient ratios for hospitals; require a committee comprising hospital administrators and medical staff develop the ratios and standards for each hospital; and set financial penalties for violating the staffing plan. The Washington State Nurses Association, along with nurses unions, are pushing patient-to-staff ratios, which, they say, would mean more nurses employed, which would help with understaffing and burnout and thus better serve patients. The bill is pitting medical staff against hospital administrators, but there’s at least one point in which all should agree: When nurses are overworked, it’s the patient that stands to lose.

The Stand (Jan. 6) — WA healthcare workers renew fight for safe staffing standards

► From the Peninsula Daily News — Housing bond bid weighed — Most speakers Wednesday at a Senate Housing Committee meeting on SB 5202 praised Gov. Inslee’s $4 billion housing bond proposal. John Traynor, Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO Legislative Director, said the bond would meet housing-crisis needs across the state, would prevent future homelessness, and “is a great jobs package.”

The Stand (Jan. 5) — WSLC announces 2023 agenda for state legislature — Among the legislative priorities of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO: Housing Options for Working Families. The Legislature can increase housing options for the unhoused, retirees, and low- and middle-income families by reforming exclusionary zoning, legalizing significant density near transit, and making it easier to build affordable housing.

► From KUOW — WA Democrats join nationwide rollout of ‘wealth tax’ proposals — State Democrats Sen. Noel Frame and Rep. My-Linh Thai announced legislation Thursday to create a state wealth tax on financial assets in excess of $250 million. They say it could generate an estimated $3 billion per year to fund housing and education, and decrease the tax burden on working-class people.

 


THAT WASHINGTON

 

► From Reuters — Harris says abortion rights threatened across United States — Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris said abortion rights are under attack across the United States in a speech Sunday marking the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that had established a right to abortion until it was overturned last year. “The right of every woman in every state in the country to make decisions about her own body is on the line,” Harris said. “Republicans in Congress are now calling for an abortion ban at the moment of conception nationwide. How dare they?”

► From NPR — On 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Kamala Harris urges federal abortion protections

► From Vox — The coming legal showdown over abortion pills — Even as the Biden administration attempts to expand access to abortion-inducing medication, mostly Republican lawmakers in mostly red states have ambitious plans to prevent patients from obtaining these drugs. Inevitably, the future of medication abortion will end up litigated in the courts.

The Stand (June 27, 2022) — Amid attacks on abortion rights, unions must fight back (by Shaunie Wheeler James and Cherika Carter) — We have the tools to transform protests into concrete actions defending bodily autonomy.

► From Vox — Wages are still growing rapidly. The Fed wants them to slow down. — Paychecks have grown rapidly as businesses have struggled to deal with widespread labor shortages during the pandemic. As a result, firms have had to raise wages to attract and retain more workers, but that has also put pressure on inflation, since businesses have passed on some of those cost increases by raising prices for consumers.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The old playbook for fighting inflation — raise interest rates, cause layoffs, reduce wages, slow the economy — completely ignores the unique situation we’re in. Most economists agree recent inflation was caused by the pandemic (supply chain disruptions), the Russian war against Ukraine (energy inflation) and record corporate profits. An Economic Policy Institute study last year found that in the nonfinancial corporate (NFC) sector — companies that produce goods and services, making up roughly 75% of the entire private sector — more than half of their price increases (53.9%) could be attributed to fatter profit margins, while labor costs contributed less than 8% of this increase. And yet, the Fed remains focused on cutting your wages.

► From NPR — FDA considers major shift in COVID vaccine strategy — The goal is to simplify vaccination against COVID and perhaps adopt an approach similar that used for the flu vaccine, with annual updates to match whatever strain of the virus is circulating.

 


NATIONAL

 

► From the EPI — Unionization increased by 200,000 in 2022 — In 2022, more than 16 million workers in the United States were represented by a union—an increase of 200,000 from 2021. The entire increase in unionization in 2022 was among workers of color—workers of color saw an increase of 231,000, while white workers saw a decrease of 31,000. Of all major racial and ethnic groups, Black workers continue to have the highest unionization rates, at 12.8%. This compares with 11.2% for white workers, 10.0% for Latinx workers, and 9.2% for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) workers.

The Stand (Jan. 19) — Washington is the 3rd most unionized state — According to the latest BLS report, Washington had 615,000 union members in 2022, representing 18 percent of the state’s workforce. Only New York and Hawaii had a higher percentage of union members in their workforces than Washington state.

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 ABC News — Kroger union files class action lawsuit alleging widespread wage theft — A group of Kroger associates from the Mid-Atlantic region have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Richmond. The lawsuit filed on Thursday alleges their employer has engaged in widespread wage theft resulting from repeated and ongoing problems with payroll.

The Stand (Dec. 14, 2022) — Union to Kroger: Fix your payroll problems at Fred Meyer, QFC

► From Reuters — CNH Industrial union workers end strike at two U.S. plants with deal — Members of two local unions at CNH Industrial NV factories in Wisconsin and Iowa reached an agreement over a new labor contract on Saturday, ending a strike that has been ongoing since last May, the United Auto Workers union said.

► From the AP — Tech industry job cuts come rapidly and in big numbers — However, even with all of the layoffs announced in recent weeks, most tech companies are still vastly larger than they were three years ago.

 


INTERNATIONAL

 

► From Reuters — Ford job cuts plan triggers union threat of Europe-wide disruption — German union IG Metall warned Ford on Monday that it would take measures impacting production across Europe if the company did not reverse plans to cut thousands of jobs in development in Germany and divert capacity to the United States.

 


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

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