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DOH’s $2.5M Mindset | Starbucks’ bad faith | Don’t default | Hot Cure

Wednesday, May 24, 2023


The Entire Staff of The Stand will be away from our undisclosed location through May 31. So this is our final Daily News of May 2023. We’ll be back on Thursday, June 1.




► A special report from WFSE — Mind games at the Department of Health — State employees should be able to do their work without adhering to any religious creed. They should be able to look at their union contract, which is legally binding and signed by their employer, to learn how their work performance will be evaluated. They should be able to engage in federally protected union activity, such as raising concerns about wages and workplace conditions, without facing intimidation or discipline. None of these are the case at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Since 2019, DOH has paid over $2.5 million in taxpayer dollars for Outward Mindset training from the Arbinger Institute, an organization with roots in racist, homophobic, and religious ideology.

TAKE A STAND — Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on faith-based “empathy training” that silences discrimination concerns and penalizes protected union activity. DOH employees are calling for it to stop. Sign their petition here.

► From KUOW — Rail workers call for safety improvements in Washington state — This week, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said that lawmakers need to pass new safety rules to help prevent train derailments and prepare communities in case of railway emergencies. Proposed legislation would do that, and also increase penalties for companies that violate federal rail safety statutes. The bill would create new rules, such as requiring a two-person crew on certain freight trains. Some railways have proposed having one person operate some trains. Herb Krohn, who works as a train conductor, brake person and switch person, is also Washington state legislative director for SMART Transportation Division. He says two people managing dozens of cars on a long train is the bare minimum for safety:

“When you’re on the head end of a train, unless you’re on a curve, you can rarely even see the first couple of commodity cars depending on how many locomotives you have and that’s a problem; nobody’s monitoring the freight on freight trains.”

► From the Seattle Times — New WA laws expand voting access and convenience (editorial) — All of these changes are reasonable and welcome, and come at time when trust in our voting system has been challenged. These new measures help safeguard voting just in time for this year’s elections and beyond.




► From the Oregonian — Starbucks to close downtown Portland location; workers say store targeted because of union push — Starbucks workers say a downtown Portland location marked for closure, and two others, were selected to tamp down on a union push that’s swept the coffee chain’s stores. Employees staged a strike Tuesday and Wednesday at the chain’s location in the U.S. Bancorp Tower, 555 S.W. Oak St., to protest its planned closure of the store on June 2.

► From HuffPost — Starbucks union demands company bargain a national contract — The union Workers United has been trying to negotiate first contracts for the more than 300 Starbucks locations that have formed unions since late 2021. But since those stores unionized one by one, the coffee chain has maintained that each store should negotiate its own contract. Lynne Fox, the union’s president, told HuffPost that workers want to consolidate the talks so they can start making headway on an accord. Workers have gotten nowhere with the company even though many unionized more than a year ago, she said. In reality, a company in Starbucks’ position has little incentive to reach a deal that could encourage more stores to organize. Employers can drag out the process to undermine the broader union effort and make workers believe organizing would be a waste of time. It is illegal for an employer to bargain in “bad faith,” but the penalties for doing so are notoriously weak.

► From KUOW — UW students want school to stop serving Starbucks coffee — University of Washington students, staff and alumni are asking that the school terminate its contract with the coffee giant Starbucks. They say allegations of union busting make the Seattle-based company unfit to serve those on campus.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, the beat goes on…




► From KUOW — Seattle introduces legislation to protect gig workers from abrupt termination — Network companies such as Uber and GrubHub use the term “deactivation” to describe workers being effectively fired and no longer able to accept new work orders. This week the Seattle City Council will introduce a bill aimed at protecting gig workers from sudden deactivation, which will provide transparency guidelines for companies that engage in the practice.

► From KIMA — Yakima firefighters’ union and people frustrated with city leaders as fire cuts are presented — Yakima city officials have proposed cutting 12 firefighters from their staff and closing station 92 in West Valley.




► From the AFL-CIO — Send a letter: Don’t default on working people — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has introduced legislation that forces deep cuts to health care, retirement and many other kitchen-table priorities for working people. It is an economic crisis in the making, and it is completely unnecessary. Working families shouldn’t be asked to pay the price before the rich are asked to pay their fair share.

TAKE A STANDPlease email your U.S. Representatives urging them to vote to raise the debt ceiling without preconditions and to reject McCarthy’s devastating spending cuts.

The Stand (May 5) — How Republican spending cuts will hurt Washington state — Washington Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse both voted to approve the “Limit, Save, Grow Act,” which forces major cuts in federal spending in exchange for extending the government’s borrowing authority into next year. If either one of them had voted “no,” it would have failed to pass.

► From the Washington Post — GOP unites in brinkmanship over default, rejecting Biden compromises — After refusing to negotiate for months, President Biden’s aides last week offered the GOP substantial concessions on the federal budget — including a freeze on spending for two years — that nonpartisan estimates have projected could cut deficits by as much as $1 trillion over the next decade. But Republicans are determined to push for more concessions that weren’t even in that legislation.

► From HuffPost — House Republicans pretty much admit they are taking debt limit ‘hostage’ — Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.): “I think my conservative colleagues for the most part support Limit, Save, Grow & they don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage.”

► From the NY Times — Default on U.S. debt risks ‘permanently’ denting nation’s credit rating — If the government misses an interest payment, even by a few hours, its creditworthiness will suffer, possibly for a long time.

► From The Hill — South Carolina Senate passes abortion ban, setting up Supreme Court showdown — The Republican-led South Carolina Senate on Tuesday passed a ban on abortions after an ultrasound detects cardiac activity, which is usually at about six weeks, a time that most women don’t know they are pregnant. It will set up a showdown with the state Supreme Court, which earlier this year overturned a similar 2021 six-week abortion ban as a violation of the state constitution’s right to privacy.

EDITOR’S NOTE — In the wake of last year’s Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court, Boeing announced that it will cover employees’ expenses for travel for medical procedures, including abortion. The company has an estimated 7,500 employees at its South Carolina 787 assembly facility.




► From In These Times — In 49 states, your boss can hold you captive and rant at you about why they hate unions — Minnesota just banned captive audience meetings, presumably understanding that it is unreasonable to force working people to attend mandatory meetings at which their boss delivers to them the equivalent of an Ayn Rand book reading.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington state legislators considered similar legislation this year: SB 5417, The Employee Free Choice Act sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines). Although it failed to advance from the Senate, it will be back.

► From the LA Times — Inside the writers’ ‘guerrilla tactics’ to shut down live productions — The focus on shutting down individual productions such as ‘The Chi’ reflects the more aggressive tactics being used by Writers Guild members compared to the previous strike in 2007-2008.

► From the Hollywood Reporter — “Your fight is our fight”: John Leguizamo, Busy Philipps, Tony Kushner and unions show solidarity with WGA — “Today we say to Hollywood, all of labor stands behind the writers,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said during Tuesday’s Writers Guild picket outside 30 Rock, which also saw appearances from Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon.

► From the NY Times — The New York Times reaches a contract deal with its newsroom union — The new agreement, if ratified, will give union members immediate salary increases of up to 12.5 percent.

► From Politico — Florida school bans Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem after parental complaint — A Miami-Dade elementary school has removed Amanda Gorman’s presidential inauguration poem, The Hill We Climb, from circulation after a parent complained that it contained indirect “hate messages.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Naturally, the complaining parent reportedly has ties to a white supremacy organization. Welcome to the Florida of Ron DeSantis.

► From the Washington Post — Workers want a four-day week. Why hasn’t it happened? — A poll conducted this spring shows that 75 percent of workers would prefer working four 10-hour days versus five eight-hour days, including majorities across generations, income levels and partisan groups. Hurdles including companies’ concerns about staffing, lower productivity, increased costs and complex changes to operations are keeping the shortened workweek from being widely adopted.




► The Entire Staff of The Stand will be away from our undisclosed location through May 31. So in this, our final Daily News of May 2023, we present the band that Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield declares “this summer’s hottest rock tour.” The Cure plays a sold-out Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle on June 1. When he wrote this song, the band’s singer Robert Smith — who Tim Burton said inspired the look for Edward Scissorhands — told his bandmates, “I’ll never write something this good again.” (But this one remains TESOTS’s favorite.) “Just Like Heaven” is about a dreamy day near the seashore with a girlfriend, inspired by his sweetheart Mary Poole who he met at age 14 in drama class. He married her in 1988, a year after this song was released, and they remain married today. Enjoy. We’ll be back on The Cure day.


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

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