Wednesday, March 29, 2023
► From the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee — No company is above the law: The need to end illegal union busting at Starbucks — Watch the full hearing with former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.
TODAY at The Stand — WSLC’s Sims: Howard Schultz is ‘an embarrassment’ to Washington — Leader of state’s largest labor organization says the former Starbucks CEO’s legacy has been “permanently stained” by illegal – and unsuccessful – efforts to prevent his employees from unionizing.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, the Unfair Labor Practices continue…
► From Bloomberg — Starbucks illegally refused to bargain on Zoom, NLRB lawyer says — Starbucks violated federal law by refusing to fairly negotiate with workers at dozens of newly unionized cafes across the country, U.S. labor board prosecutors alleged. The general counsel of the NLRB determined that the coffee chain violated labor law by refusing to participate in collective bargaining sessions if some workers were present via videoconference.
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle City Council approves paid sick leave for gig workers — The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to permanently give most gig workers paid sick leave and paid safe time, the latest in the expansion of labor rights for app-based workers, and the first statute of its kind nationally. The vote broadens and cements the pandemic-era policy that previously allowed food delivery workers to accrue paid sick and safe time, or PSST, until April 30, six months after the end of the city’s emergency order. Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who sponsored the legislation, said:
“The pandemic has shown us that we all benefit when people are able to take a day off when they’re sick or their loved one is sick. And we have to let people stay home to stay healthy.”
► From the Peninsula Daily News — PASD plans for staffing cuts; 10 percent reduction expected — The Port Angeles School District is preparing for a 10% reduction in its workforce as it moves ahead with plans to cut $5,692,243 from its 2023-2024 budget.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Walmart announces Everett store on Highway 99 will close on April 21 — The Arkansas-based retail giant said the 20-year-old Walmart location was “underperforming financially.”
► From the (Longview) Daily News — Fisher Investments: Camas offices won’t close over HQ shift to Texas
► From the union-busting Columbian — L&I: Vancouver contractor owes $201,223 to 20 workers — The state Department of Labor & Industries found that Vancouver-based contractor 360 Sheet Metal violated state prevailing wage laws during construction projects at four schools in Clark County. An investigation launched in 2020 found the company owes $201,223 in wages and interest to about 20 employees. In one case, 360 Sheet Metal “workers were paid minimum wage, $13.50 per hour at the time, when they should have been paid $62.52 per hour for the specialized fabricated ductwork,” according to the department.
► From the News Tribune — WA construction workers have died horrific deaths. These tragedies were preventable (by L&I Director Joel Sacks) — Construction workers nationwide have died preventable deaths on the job. Trenching, or excavation, is the process of digging on a work site, often to place or repair buried infrastructure. It’s a known hazard in the construction industry with well-established protections to keep workers safe from cave-ins. L&I is responding to the wave of injuries and deaths by stepping up enforcement.
► From the Seattle Times — WA lawmakers advance bill to block some public employee info from view — State lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday that would allow public employees who have experienced harassment, stalking, assault or abuse to block information like their names, job titles and work sites from public view. A Senate committee voted to move a version that would allow news media to continue to access the information that would be blocked from the broader public.
The Stand (updated today) — Where pro-worker bills stand in Olympia
► From The Hill — Majorities in new poll want overall spending cuts with increases for infrastructure, health care, Social Security — While 60% said they think the government is spending too much, 63% said the U.S. is spending too little on health care, while another 62% each said the same of Social Security and infrastructure. This seemingly contradictory split comes as Congress is gearing up for a spending battle over the debt ceiling. House Republicans have vowed to tie an increase in the debt limit to spending cuts but have faced pushback on proposed cuts to certain areas, including Social Security and Medicare.
► From Roll Call — Biden rejects McCarthy’s call for meeting without a GOP budget — “I look forward to talking with you about our Nation’s economic and fiscal future,” President Biden wrote to Speaker Kevin McCarthy. “But for that conversation to be productive, we should both tell the American people what we are for.”
► From Reuters — Supply shortages threaten U.S. infrastructure and war efforts — Manufacturers of everything from pickup trucks to homes are still grappling with tight supplies of microchips and cement – shortages that could translate into delays and higher costs for federal efforts to arm Ukraine against Russian aggression and rebuild U.S. crumbling infrastructure and manufacturing.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Oh, but please, let’s keep raising interest rates to fight inflation by boosting unemployment, lowering wages, and if we’re lucky, creating a recession. Learn more from Jon Stewart.
► From Reuters — Banking turmoil means recession fears are creeping back
► From HuffPost — Idaho is about to become the first state to restrict interstate travel for abortion — A bill would create a whole new crime — a felony dubbed “abortion trafficking” — which aims to limit minors’ ability to travel for abortion care without parental consent… Restricting anyone’s ability to travel looks and sounds unconstitutional. But in the U.S. — a country where the Supreme Court repealed nearly 50 years of precedent, lawmakers are vowing to surveil and prosecute pregnant people, and a lawsuit with no scientific basis is threatening access to medication widely used for abortion and miscarriage care — what’s constitutional or unconstitutional is up for debate.
The Stand: (June 27, 2022) — Amid attacks on abortion rights, unions must fight back (by Shaunie Wheeler James and Cherika Carter, June 27, 2022) — We have the tools to transform protests into concrete actions defending bodily autonomy.
► MUST-READ from the Washington Post — Schools forced to divert staff amid historic flood of records requests — School districts across the nation are facing a mounting pile of increasingly complex records requests from parents, community members or attorneys representing education advocacy groups — all of whom say they want greater transparency about how local children are educated. The requests are expansive, with filers seeking hundreds of thousands of pages of school emails, lesson plans and other internal documents, all of which must be carefully reviewed for student and employee personal information in compliance with federal privacy laws. School leaders warn that resources are being diverted away from students’ academic needs at the exact instant America is facing dropping test scores, a teen mental health crisis and a teacher shortage.
► From Common Dreams — AFT President Randi Weingarten delivers major national address ‘in defense of public education’ — American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten has issued a clarion call to defend public education, transform learning and support children as the institution comes under existential threat from extremist, culture-war peddling politicians. AFT has set up a Freedom to Teach hotline—888-873-7227—that will serve as a clearinghouse for reports of political interference. If Americans see something, they should say something.
► Case in point, from Vice — Florida school bans movie about school segregation after one complaint from a parent — The parent reportedly thought the Disney movie based on a true story of civil rights pioneer Ruby Bridges would “teach white children to hate Black children.”
TODAY at The Stand — Anything dividing our solidarity is a threat — Thousands of union members have participated in the WSLC’s Race & Labor training to develop a shared understanding of how racism is used as a strategy for dividing worker solidarity for the benefit of bosses and billionaires. You can help us reach thousands more.
► From the NY Times — Republicans face setbacks in push to tighten voting laws on college campuses — Party officials across the country have sought to erect more barriers for young voters, who tilt heavily Democratic, after several cycles in which their turnout surged.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.