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Amazon walkout | WA train derailments | Black health inequities

Tuesday, May 23, 2023




May Day 2023 marchers pass Amazon’s downtown Seattle headquarters.

► From the Seattle Times — Amazon employees plan walkout over return to office, layoffs — Some Amazon employees in Seattle plan to walk off the job to show their frustration with recent layoffs, return-to-office mandates and a lack of action to address the company’s impact on climate change, organizers said. A group of workers is urging their colleagues to walk out May 31, a week after Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting and a month after the company’s return-to-office mandate took effect.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The Washington Post’s coverage of this story included this quote from a Seattle-based Amazon employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their job:

“I think there is so much frustration with the company on so many fronts, and it’s all stemming from the same place: Leadership is making unilateral decision without the input of its workers. And I believe that a lot of people are in a similar position where they are just done. They’re fed up. They want to be heard.”

If you want a voice at work… you need a seat at the table! Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for better pay and working conditions. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► From the Container Board — As Wallula plant idles, union says it’s offering support to workers — The union representing hundreds of workers who recently were laid off from the Packaging Corporation of America plant in Wallula is offering support and assistance, a top union official said. The AWPPW and the WSLC will continue to make sure the laid off workers receive the support they need in applying for unemployment, said Greg Pallesen, AWPPW general president.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The WSLC’s Workforce Development Department provides direct worker support for applying for and troubleshooting problems with unemployment insurance.




► From KING — Train derailments in Washington have more than doubled in the last 10 years — On Monday, a group of transportation leaders got together in Seattle to discuss recent legislation they believe will reduce the number of derailments, and increase safety. Herb Krohn is a train conductor and the Washington State Legislative Director for the transportation union SMART-TD. “What people don’t realize is that no one is monitoring the freight on a freight train,” said Krohn. He said employees are concerned for their safety specifically because of workforce cuts in the maintenance department. “We’re concerned about not only our safety and the safety of our brothers and sisters that we’re working with, but the public and the communities that we’re moving our trains through.”

► From the WA State Standard — State roads chief: Transportation system is on ‘glidepath to failure’ — Gov. Jay Inslee voiced similar concerns, saying lawmakers dumped too much money into new projects and too little into preserving existing roads. Legislators counter that spending decisions reflect bipartisan agreement.

► From the union-busting Columbian — Goldendale Energy Storage project wins water quality OK — The Washington Department of Ecology on Monday issued a water quality certification for the Goldendale Energy Storage project, a development that would generate up 1,200 megawatts of electricity from the Columbia River.

► From KING — Director of state’s Office of Equity fired by Gov. Inslee’s office — Inslee’s office cited high turnover and budgetary concerns as reasons for Dr. Karen Johnson’s firing. Johnson said was fired for shaking up state government.




► From OPB — Nurses at St. Charles Hospital in Bend vote to authorize strike — The Oregon Nurses Association, which represents nurses at St. Charles Health System in Bend, announced on Monday that they have authorized a strike, possibly setting up the hospital’s first nurses’ strike in more than 40 years. Nurses at the hospital — the largest employer in Central Oregon — are preparing for a strike due to what they say is chronic understaffing that endangers patients and is overworking staff.

► From KNKX — Victims of deadly Oregon highway crash were farmworkers, union says — The victims of one of Oregon’s deadliest highway crashes were farmworkers traveling in a van at an hour when agricultural laborers typically commute home after toiling in the harvest, the state’s farmworkers union and Mexican officials said.

► From the Oregonian — Oregon’s largest private sector union wants to recall top Democratic lawmaker — UFCW 555’s relationships with Democratic leaders chilled during the pandemic as the union lobbied unsuccessfully to use federal relief money for bonuses to grocery workers and to prioritize them for vaccines. Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene), House speaker pro tempore, most recently frustrated the union by killing a bill that would have made it easier for cannabis workers to unionize. The union announced its recall effort against Holvey on Monday.




► From the AP — No debt ceiling agreement, but Biden and McCarthy call White House talks productive — President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy both said they had a productive debt ceiling discussion late Monday at the White House, but there was no agreement as negotiators strained to raise the nation’s borrowing limit in time to avert a potentially chaotic federal default.

► From Politico — GOP’s cut to IRS funding in debt limit plan would backfire — Congressional analysts say dinging the agency would put the U.S. $120B deeper in the hole.

► From Vox — Why progressives want Joe Biden to consider going it alone on the debt ceiling — They’ve urged Biden to invoke the 14th Amendment to tackle the issue solo. That could be complicated.

► From Politico — House Republicans look to line up student debt relief votes amid White House opposition — Although the measure’s fate in the Senate is unclear, the push could force moderate Democrats to take a public position.

► From The Hill — White House threatens to veto GOP measure blocking student loan debt relief program




► From the NY Times — Companies are taking a harder line on union organizers, workers say — A pattern of similar worker accusations — and corporate denials — has arisen at Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and REI as retail workers have sought to form unions in the past two years. Initially, the employers countered the organizing campaigns with criticism of unions and other means of dissuasion. At Starbucks, there were staffing and management changes at the local level, and top executives were dispatched. But workers say that in each case, after unionization efforts succeeded at one or two stores, the companies became more aggressive.

► From the Credit Union Times — As CUNA Mutual Union strike continues, both sides expected to meet this week — OPEIU Local 39, which represents more than 450 CMG/TruStage employees in Madison, Wisconsin, said it put forward 10 days for bargaining with or without a federal mediator.

TODAY at The Stand Sign solidarity petition with CUNA strikers in Wisconsin

► From Vanity Fair — When will the writers strike end? Three scenarios, from fantasy to hellish dystopia — Three weeks into picketing, it may take additional pressure from actors and directors to resolve the dispute—or a miraculous Hollywood ending.

Not polled: “A Union Contract.”

► From the Washington Post — Here’s what workers really care about, according to a Post-Ipsos poll — Most workers say that a variety of factors influence their experience: their pay, their boss, health and retirement benefits, amount of vacation, friendliness of co-workers, whether they’re helping people or society, options for remote work and opportunities for advancement. When asked to rank the most important factors in a job, 45 percent put pay in the top slot. Having a good boss comes in second, with 14 percent of workers ranking it as the most important.

► From Vox — One state just became a national leader on child care. Here’s how they did it. — Action in Congress to support child care has been stalled for years. But in Vermont, lawmakers have just approved an ambitious plan that would pour tens of millions of new dollars into the state’s starved child care system.

► From NPR — Abortion bans drive off doctors and close clinics, putting other health care at risk — The rush in conservative states to ban abortion after the overturn of Roe v. Wade is resulting in a startling consequence that abortion opponents may not have considered: fewer medical services available for all women living in those states.




► A special report from the AP — From birth to death: Black Americans and a lifetime of disparity — From birth to death, Black Americans fare worse in measures of health compared to their white counterparts. They have higher rates of infant and maternal mortality, more difficulty treating mental health as teens, and greater rates of high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses. The Associated Press spent the past year exploring how the legacy of racism in America has laid the foundation for the health inequities that Black people face.


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!