Thursday, March 9, 2023
► From KXLY — ‘She blazed a path of love and light’: Mentor remembers woman who died in construction accident — Ana Vetter, the woman who died in a construction accident at the Spokane Tribe Casino on Tuesday, loved her job and was an inspiration to other women in the construction field, according to her family and friends. “She just wanted nothing more than to be a carpenter, to make it, to become a journey woman, and to pass it on,” friend and mentor Lisa Marx said. Marx says Vetter was thrilled to be on the job site building a new hotel at the casino. She’d also recently been sworn into her local union.
► From the Yakima H-R — Three YVC unions voice complaints about staffing and workplace policies — Frustrated with what they see as the Yakima Valley College administration’s inadequate policies, staffing issues and transparency, employees from several unions staged a public protest in front of the Yakima campus. About 50 members of the YVC faculty and staff gathered midday Tuesday to voice their grievances and urge the public to attend Thursday’s YVC Board of Trustees meeting.
TAKE A STAND — The unions are asking the public to support them by coming to the Yakima Valley College Board of Trustees meeting TODAY (Thursday, March 9) at 4:30 p.m. at S. 16th Ave. and Nob Hill Blvd.
TODAY at The Stand — Yakima Valley College faculty, staff fed up over school policies
► From the Olympian — Olympia elementary school closures on the table due to budget deficit, officials say — Some Olympia elementary schools are being eyed for consolidation as a potential solution to the school district’s $17 million budget deficit.
► From the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum CLC — A night to remember: The 2nd Annual SW Washington Labor Awards — Feb. 25 saw nearly 200 union members and working people as yet unaffiliated with Organized Labor brave the snow and ice to gather at the Vancouver Hilton for the Second Annual Southwest Washington Labor Awards. The evening kicked off with a joint presentation of the newly-renamed Shannon Myers In Solidarity Award by the Southwest Washington Central Labor Council and Cowlitz Wahkiakum Central Labor Council to former SWWACLC President Shannon Myers.
► From KXLY — From Camp Hope to the classroom — A group of people from Camp Hope are now getting an opportunity to change their lives in a big way. Through the PEPP Program, the Pre-Employment Preparation Program, some folks who have lived at Camp Hope for over a year are now looking at a very bright future.
EDITOR’S NOTE — PEPP is a a 501(c)3 program created in partnership between the NE Washington & Northern Idaho Building Trades Council and the Spokane Regional Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
► From the Senate Democrats — Kuderer bill protects jobs of our essential rail workers — On a bipartisan 42-7 vote, a bill to protect our rail worker labor force taking leave passed the Senate. SB 5267, sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue), aims to protect rail workers from employer discipline and termination for taking unpaid time off for illnesses, and injuries of themselves or their immediate family members. The bill establishes state enforcement for workers seeking an avenue of recourse from employer retaliation for taking leave to stay safe.
TODAY at The Stand — Status report on pro-worker bills in Olympia — UPDATED this morning after yesterday’s house-of-origin cutoff deadline.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Attend town hall meetings, urge support for pro-worker bills — Tell your elected officials to pass a budget that funds public employee contracts, advances other working family priorities.
► From Crosscut — Three years in, five Washingtonians a day are still dying of COVID — While restrictions are being lifted and hospitals are no longer besieged, the pandemic’s impact persists.
► From KUOW — Stockpile of Boeing 737 MAX jets assures Moses Lake years of work — When the MAX was grounded in 2019 after two deadly accidents, Boeing kept manufacturing the airplane. Today, 100 or more undelivered MAX’s are still parked at the airfield in Moses Lake, awaiting modifications. The work is lasting so long that some technicians and machinists who were sent there from Boeing’s Puget Sound facilities are now buying homes and putting down roots.
► From The Hill — Kroger hires Boehner in lobbying push to secure mega-merger — Kroger is contracting with former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a lobbying push to win approval of its proposed merger with Albertsons. Kroger is hiring several well-connected lobbyists as it seeks to dissuade concerns in the nation’s capital about the $25 billion merger between two of the largest supermarket chains. Unions representing more than 100,000 Kroger and Albertsons workers are rallying against the merger, arguing that it would lead to job losses and price hikes.
► From HuffPost — Democrats propose tax reforms to boost union membership, discourage union-busting — The legislation rolled out by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) would use tax law to accomplish those goals. One bill, which has 40 cosponsors, would restore a tax break that union members enjoyed until Republicans overhauled the tax code under Trump.
► From the AP — Norfolk Southern brings apology, aid to derailment hearing — Norfolk Southern’s CEO is apologizing to Congress on Thursday and pledging millions of dollars to help East Palestine, Ohio, recover from the fiery hazardous materials train derailment.
► A related story from Politico — Norfolk Southern’s accident rate spiked over the last decade — Norfolk Southern had the biggest increase in its accident rate over the last 10 years, rising nearly three times as fast as the industry average, according to a new analysis.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Also in the past decade, Class I railroads have cut their workforce to the bare bones to reduce costs and increase profits, decreasing their workforce by 29% or roughly 45,000 employees, over the last six years. Just sayin’.
► From The Hill — Markey staff to be first in Senate to unionize — Sen. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) office is set to become the first in the Senate to unionize, after the Massachusetts Democrat was asked for formal recognition on Wednesday.
► From The Hill — ‘Shut your mouth’: GOP senator clashes with union leader during hearing — Teamsters President Sean O’Brien got into a heated argument with Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) during a Wednesday Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on union busting tactics. O’Brien told Mullin he was “out of line” after the GOP senator said that the union leader was “sucking the paycheck” out of workers to earn his salary. “Don’t tell me I’m out of line,” Mullin said. “You need to shut your mouth.” O’Brien responded: “We hold greedy CEOs like yourself accountable. You want to attack my salary, I’ll attack yours. What did you make when you owned your company?” Mullin, who owned non-union plumbing companies before selling his majority stakes in 2021, had a net worth ranging between $31.6 million and $75.6 million in 2020.
► From the AP — Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell hospitalized after fall
► From the Detroit News — Michigan House passes right-to-work repeal, prevailing wage restoration — The Democratic-led Michigan House approved a package of bills Wednesday repealing the state’s decade-old right-to-work law and restoring prevailing wage requirements for government contracts, reversing two key policies enacted in the last decade by the previous Republican-majority chambers. The package of bills gives “union members their power back” to make working conditions safer and more dignified, said Rep. Jim Haadsma (D-Battle Creek). “This bill is not about making history,” he said. “It is about restoring the rights of workers from whose work we’ve all benefited.”
► From The Hill — Flight attendants fear for safety amid unruly flier spike — AFA/CWA President Sara Nelson said when distractions are created in the cabin, it takes away from flight attendants’ abilities to monitor the cabin for actual emergencies such as a medical emergency.
► From the Washington Post — Details in a lawsuit against Texas’s abortion ban shock the conscience (by Jennifer Rubin) — Though Texas’s right-wing courts might well reject the suit based on its reading of the Texas constitution, the bracing and enlightening facts set out in the complaint should be mandatory reading for lawmakers who want to strip women of essential health care. Unlike most suits that are brought by advocacy groups, this action has real, live plaintiffs with heart-wrenching personal stories.
► From the Washington Post — California suspends $54M Walgreens contract over abortion pills policy — The pharmacy chain has decided not to distribute mifepristone in at least 20 states, including some where abortion is legal, as conflict over the drug used in medication abortions continues to escalate.
► From NPR — How Americans went from record savings to record debt in just two years — Millennials have seen their debt rise by nearly 30% since before the pandemic, to about $3.8 trillion. What’s so strange about this is that back in 2021, that debt had fallen to near-record lows.
► From the Washington Post — Workers don’t have to hush for severance anymore. Here’s why it matters. — Employers can no longer limit workers’ ability to speak about their company in exchange for settlement or severance payments, according to a recent ruling by the NLRB.
► From the NY Times — Why poverty persists in America (by Pulitzer Prize-winning sociologist Matthew Desmond) — In the past 50 years, scientists have mapped the entire human genome and eradicated smallpox. Here in the United States, infant-mortality rates and deaths from heart disease have fallen by roughly 70 percent, and the average American has gained almost a decade of life. Climate change was recognized as an existential threat. The internet was invented. Why, then, when it comes to poverty reduction, have we had 50 years of nothing?
When I first started looking into this depressing state of affairs, I assumed America’s efforts to reduce poverty had stalled because we stopped trying to solve the problem. But instead I found that we have approached the poverty question by pointing to poor people themselves, when we should have been focusing on exploitation. There are, it would seem, deep structural forces at play, ones that have to do with the way the American poor are routinely taken advantage of. The primary reason for our stalled progress on poverty reduction has to do with the fact that we have not confronted the unrelenting exploitation of the poor in the labor, housing and financial markets.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.