Friday, March 10, 2023
► From the Spokesman-Review — ‘A rising star’: Carpenter Ana Vetter remembered as passionate and hardworking, days after her death at Spokane Tribe Casino construction site — Ana Vetter found the job that “just made her come alive,” her mother told a room full of tradespeople Thursday evening, just days after Vetter died building a new hotel at the Spokane Tribe Casino. The Southwest Carpenters’ Local 59 union hall was packed for a vigil Thursday night to “Give a true nod to Ana’s awesomeness,” said Antonio Acosta, president of the chapter. Just days before her death, Vetter was officially sworn in at Local 59, Acosta said. She wanted to help, whether it was volunteering to paint the union hall, like she did earlier this month, or helping build tiny houses for those in need, like she did as an apprentice when living in Western Washington.
EDITOR’S NOTE — A celebration of Ana’s life is planned Saturday at the Carpenters Local 70 hall, 1387 Pacific Dr. in Burlington, WA.
► From the News Tribune — Tacoma firefighters will stage procession, memorial Saturday for fallen colleague — Robert “Bo” Schiemer, 46, died Jan. 29 from a form of cancer that state law identifies as an occupational disease for firefighters.
► From KIMA — Local firefighters say they are struggling to provide lifesaving services — Yakima firefighters say they’re struggling to respond to emergencies in the lower valley due to decades-old stations and trucks that are severely overdue for an upgrade.
► From the union-busting Columbian — Proposed budget reductions shock Evergreen Public Schools staff — News of impending budget cuts in Evergreen Public Schools circulating this week is being met with shock and frustration by teachers and community members, who say the reductions don’t match the district’s goals to prioritize equity and protect students. The district’s recommended reductions for the 2023-24 school year, which amount to an estimated $19.14 million and/or 140 full-time equivalent positions, appear to mostly target staff at the elementary and secondary level.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Educators at Evergreen Public Schools have launched this petition to protect equitable access to education for all marginalized groups of students.
► From KXLY — 90 Central Valley School District teachers facing layoffs due to low enrollment — This year is the first for many teachers at Spokane’s Central Valley School District, but due to lower enrollment and funding, it could also be their last.
► From America’s Work Force Union Podcast — March 9, 2023 edition — Washington Women in Trades Project Manager Cindy Payne appeared on the podcast and gave an overview of the WWIT organization, its history, and the current and future needs of area tradeswomen.
► From the Ironworkers Local 29 (Portland) Podcast — March 7, 2023 edition — A conversation with Steve Petermann, the Construction Trades Manager with the Washington State Dept. of Corrections, who also manages the Pre-Apprenticeship program TRAC (Trades Related Apprenticeship Coaching).
► From the (Everett) Herald — Biden budget has $250M for Lynnwood light rail — Potential savings could go toward other Sound Transit projects in development, including the Everett extension.
► From Reuters — Boeing to set up 737 freighter conversion facility in India — Boeing said on Friday it would set up a facility in India to convert 737 passenger planes into dedicated freighters. The investment adds to the company’s expansion into India amid a record plane order by flag carrier Air India.
► From CNN — Two 10-year-old Boeing 787s are already being scrapped — Except for a testbed scrapped in 2018, these are the first Dreamliners to be retired. Their disassembly is taking place at Prestwick Airport near Glasgow, Scotland.
► From KXLY — ‘Going to at least boost them’: What you need to qualify for the Working Families Tax Credit — The Washington Working Families Tax Credit is being offered right now for the first time, and individuals and families are starting to receive their refund checks after the application went live in February. The tax credit is available to lower income families. It’s sponsored by the Department of Revenue, and so far, 100,000 have applied. It’s estimated that nearly 400,000 households are eligible.
► From the Columbian — Former state, Vancouver political leader Jim Moeller dies — Former Washington legislator and Vancouver city councilor Jim Moeller died Wednesday following a yearslong battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 67. State Rep. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver) announced Moeller’s passing from the House floor Wednesday afternoon.
► From the Columbia Basin Herald — Bill to protect retired public employees’ health insurance passes Senate — “Our public retirees have worked hard throughout their lives and deserve to enjoy their retirement without the stress of financial uncertainty. Health insurance is a critical component of ensuring they can afford the medical care they need to stay healthy and happy,” said Sen. June Robinson (D-Everett), sponsor of the bill.
The Stand (updated March 9) — Status report on pro-worker bills in Olympia — What remains in play after Wednesday’s house-of-origin cutoff.
The Stand(March 9) — Attend town hall meetings, urge support for pro-worker bills
► From the People’s World — Dems support, most Republicans cool to PRO Act labor law overhaul — Senate Labor Committee Democrats gave strong support, but all but two of its Republicans ranged from cool to hostile as three top union leaders strongly pushed for enacting the Protect The Right To Organize (PRO) Act. AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, and Teamsters President Sean O’Brien said the comprehensive pro-worker rewrite of U.S. labor law is needed to, as Shuler put it, enact “simple steps to ensure fairness” in workplaces.
The Stand (March 1) — Richard L. Trumka PRO Act reintroduced in Congress — Both Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) sponsored the 2021 version of the PRO Act. Every Democratic member of Washington’s House delegation — Reps. Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Marilyn Strickland — co-sponsored and voted to pass it that year. Since then, Washington has added another Democratic House member, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, from southwest Washington’s 3rd District. On Tuesday, she expressed her strong support for the bill.
TAKE A STAND — Please sign this AFL-CIO petition and add your name to the list of supporters of the Richard L. Trumka PRO Act.
► From the AP — U.S. adds a robust 311,000 jobs despite Fed’s rate hikes — America’s employers added a substantial 311,000 jobs in February, fewer than January’s huge gain but enough to keep pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates aggressively to fight inflation. Fed Chair Jerome Powell told Congress this week that the Fed would likely ratchet up its rate hikes if signs continued to point to a robust economy and persistently high inflation.
EDITOR’S NOTE — More jobs? Oh no! We suppose that the good news for the Fed is that unemployment increased from a 52-year low of 3.4% to 3.6%, and average hourly earnings increased just 0.2% last month after gaining 0.3% in January. Hey, Jerome! That’s a 50% reduction in wage gains! Can you stop trying to force a recession now?
► From The Hill — McConnell’s hospitalization raises questions for GOP’s future — Senate Republicans found themselves shaken and disoriented Thursday after finding out their leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) was in the hospital after tripping at a private event, raising questions about his health and future leadership of the GOP conference.
► From HuffPost — Norfolk Southern CEO won’t commit to concrete changes after train derailment — CEO Alan Shaw insisted his company will improve safety and “do what’s right” after the disastrous train derailment in Ohio, but outlined few specifics.
► From the Guardian — Scabby the Rat is an American labor icon. Why are his manufacturers disowning him? — Scabby is, as one organizer told NPR in 2021, an “iconic symbol of a labor dispute.” One aspect of Scabby’s backstory is agreed upon — nearly all of the rat balloons across the country have come from a sole distributor: a Plainfield, Illinois, company called Big Sky Balloons. But these days, America’s Scabby supply may be running dry. When I called Big Sky last week, a woman identifying herself as Michelle said that, in the past month, the business had come under new ownership. “We don’t do any of the unions or the rat stuff any more,” she said. “We have nothing to do with the inflatable rats.”
UPDATE (March 14) — A reader of The Stand personally investigated and found that a different company,, now sells Scabbies. The company’s owner writes: “Wanted to let you know that Inflatable images® is the manufacturer that has been partnering with Big Sky to produce Scabby the Rat since 1994. (Big Sky owners) Mike and Peggy O’Connor have decided to retire, and have since sold the Union Inflatable portion of their business to us to keep the tradition of Scabby alive!”
So get your Scabby — plus other great union-themed inflatables — right here!
► From the Guardian — ‘It was traumatic’: Uber, Lyft drivers decry low pay and unfair deactivations — A report published by the Asian Law Caucus and Rideshare Drivers United, based on survey responses from 810 rideshare drivers for Uber and Lyft in California, found two-thirds of drivers have experienced temporary or permanent deactivations of their accounts, with drivers of color and immigrant drivers disproportionately affected.
► From NBC Philadelphia — Striking grad students reach tentative agreement with Temple University — Striking graduate student teaching and research assistants reached a tentative agreement, putting them on the verge of finally ending a walkout that has lasted longer than a month.
► From Reuters — American Airlines pilots union sets April strike authorization vote — It underscores a broader push by North American pilots to make gains on salary and working conditions as air traffic increases sharply.
► From the Hollywood Reporter — ‘SNL’ postproduction workers set potential strike date as negotiations proceed — The group, represented by the Motion Picture Editors Guild, has set a potential work stoppage for April 1.
► From the AP — BP CEO pay doubles to $12M as high energy costs surge profit
► Ready to feel old? Today the Entire Staff of The Stand wishes Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament a happy 60th(!) birthday. Arriving in Seattle from Montana in 1983, Ament worked at a Belltown coffee shop before joining a series of local bands that led up to the formation of Pearl Jam in 1990. Since then, they’ve produced 11 albums and countless live recordings/bootlegs. But it was their first and most commercially successful album, 1991’s Ten, that — alongside Nirvana’s Nevermind also released that year — heralded the rise of alternative rock in the 1990s. Here’s the band performing the second single from that record, with Ament wearing the giant puffy hat. Enjoy.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.