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Affirmative action nixed | UPS strike imminent | Bidenomics works

Thursday, June 29, 2023




► From the AP — Supreme Court strikes down affirmative action in college admissions and says race cannot be a factor — The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down affirmative action in college admissions, forcing institutions of higher education to look for new ways to achieve diverse student bodies. The court’s conservative majority overturned admissions plans at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, the nation’s oldest private and public colleges, respectively. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in dissent that the decision “rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.” In a separate dissent, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson — the court’s first Black female justice — called the decision “truly a tragedy for us all.” The vote was 6-3 in the North Carolina case and 6-2 in the Harvard case. Jackson sat out the Harvard case because she had been a member of an advisory governing board there.

► From the USA Today — Supreme Court backs Christian who wanted Sundays off in ruling that may affect employers — The Supreme Court on Thursday sided with an evangelical Christian USPS employee who was denied requests to take Sundays off in a narrower ruling than some religious freedom advocates sought. The plaintiff’s attorneys had asked the Supreme Court to toss out a 1977 precedent that made it easier for some companies to deny such requests. The court instead decided to send a signal to lower courts to interpret that 46-year-old precedent as being more generous to employees.

► From NPR — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and the crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court — Polls show that Americans of all political stripes are increasingly troubled by the lack of a code of ethics for the high court. Chief Justice John Roberts has more than once said the court is working on an ethics code for itself, but so far, crickets.




► From the Teamsters — Teamsters: Nationwide UPS strike is imminent — On Wednesday, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters walked away from the national bargaining table and officially demanded UPS exchange its last, best, and final offer no later than June 30. The Teamsters gave UPS a one-week notice on Tuesday to act responsibly and exchange a stronger economic proposal for more than 340,000 full- and part-time workers. UPS executives couldn’t make it one more day without insulting and ignoring union leaders and rank-and-filers as negotiations resumed on Wednesday. Despite the Teamsters having reached consensus on 55 non-economic issues with the company on June 19, UPS has continued to seek a cost-neutral contract during economic negotiations. The world’s largest delivery company that raked in more than $100 billion in revenue last year has made it clear to its union workforce that it has no desire to reward or respectfully compensate UPS Teamsters for their labor and sacrifice. Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien:

“The largest single-employer strike in American history now appears inevitable. Executives at UPS, some of whom get tens of millions of dollars a year, do not care about the hundreds of thousands of American workers who make this company run. They don’t care about our members’ families. UPS doesn’t want to pay up. Their actions and insults at the bargaining table have proven they are just another corporation that wants to keep all the money at the top. Working people who bust their asses every single day do not matter, not to UPS.”




► From UW Daily — ‘Massive gains’ secured for postdocs and researchers following 9-day strike — Following a nine-day strike, UW postdocs and research scientists and engineers reached a tentative contract agreement with UW. The contract was ratified by 99% of members across the research and engineer and postdoc units. “Every single day on the picket lines, we came together as workers united in a shared struggle to improve our working conditions for the sustainability of our positions now and into the future,” Tricia Wu, research scientist in biological structure, said. “I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish with this contract.”

► From the Wall Street Journal — Female interviewees for Bill Gates’s private office were asked sexually explicit questionsJob candidates say an extreme vetting process by a security firm sometimes included questions about pornography and sexual histories; Gates’s office says such questioning would be unacceptable.

► From the PS Business Journal — Theo Chocolate to close Seattle plant as part of merger — Theo Chocolate on Wednesday announced it is closing its Seattle manufacturing and relocating some operations, resulting in around five dozen layoffs.




► From L&I — Updated heat protections for outdoor workers go into effect July 17, 2023 — As hotter, drier weather sets in, farmworkers, construction workers, and other outdoor workers will be better protected from heatstroke and other hot-weather hazards because of updated workplace heat rules that take effect in mid-July. Washington is one of only a few states with heat protections for outdoor workers, having first put rules in place in 2008. This week, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) filed a formal update to those rules, expanding existing requirements to keep workers safe.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Average 2022 annual wage in Washington grew 2% to $84,167 — The average annual wage will be used to calculate unemployment benefits for claims opened on or after July 2, 2023; paid family and medical leave benefits filed on or after Jan. 1, 2024; and employers’ unemployment taxes beginning Jan. 1, 2024. The Department of Labor and Industries also uses this information to determine workers’ compensation benefits.

► From the Seattle Times — Northwest ICE detention center to remain open after WA law deemed unenforceable — A 2021 law passed by Washington state Democrats that aimed to shut down one of the nation’s largest for-profit privately run immigration jails has been rendered toothless. The Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, which holds people the federal government is seeking to deport, will not be forced to shut down in 2025, despite the law, which explicitly sought to close the facility.

► From the Seattle Times — Inslee: Install speed-enforcement cameras on WA highways — He told the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and his staff to research possible options, and come back with advice.




► From the Washington Post — Embracing ‘Bidenomics,’ president seeks to turn insult into strength — On Wednesday, the president delivered a major speech on his economic vision, with an eye toward the 2024 campaign. The Old Post Office in Chicago where Biden spoke was festooned with American flags and posters trumpeting Bidenomics, a term the White House embraced this week as a shorthand for the president’s policies, which Biden said are focused on helping the middle class.

TODAY at The Stand ‘Biden is making good on his promises to workers’ — Washington’s Building Trades unions gather in Seattle and spotlight job creation under Biden Administration.

► From the Washington Post — Bidenomics is transformative. Biden needs to ensure voters know it. (by Jennifer Rubin) — President Biden finds himself in an unusual spot: An economic record that has been working far better than most people anticipated but that the electorate doesn’t yet recognize.

► From the Washington Post — If ‘Bidenomics’ works, it will be a very big deal (by E.J. Dionne) — Government is no longer shying away from pushing investment toward specific goals and industries. Spending on public works is back in fashion. New free-trade treaties are no longer at the heart of the nation’s international strategy. Challenging monopolies and providing support for unionization efforts are higher priorities.

► From The Hill — Biden mocks Tuberville for touting broadband funding he voted against




► From the Washington Post — Heat and smoke are smothering most of the U.S., putting lives at risk — Much of the United States felt like a blazing inferno on Wednesday, as record heat attacked the South like a blowtorch, thick smoke from Canadian wildfires blanketed the Great Lakes region, and triple-digit temperatures threatened to wallop California for the first time this year.

► From The Hill — Texas heat wave invigorates calls for worker heat protections — An ongoing heat wave, which has sent temperatures in Texas into the triple-digits, is fueling calls from advocates and others for worker protections, especially as climate change is expected to exacerbate such conditions in the years to come.

► From Deadline — WGA pickets come to D.C.: Members, supporters demonstrate at Disney/Marvel’s ‘Captain America’ shoot — About two dozen started picketing in late afternoon about a block away from the White House, near the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street.

► From the L.A. Times — As a hotel workers’ strike looms, Anime Expo attendees sound off — Anime Expo is one of the events likely to be disrupted if thousands of hotel workers strike as early as Saturday in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

► From Mlive — 600 additional Michigan Medicine workers join health professionals union — A 900-member Michigan Medicine union now has hundreds of additional members who work in the surgery and eye and dental care fields.

► From Vox — Amazon, Walmart, and the price we pay for low prices — Amazon and Walmart are fixtures of commerce in the United States today, retail behemoths that have a stronghold on what consumers buy, online and off. We have played a key role in helping them get there, often neglecting to weigh the trade-offs we make when we resort to them when we shop.

► From the Guardian — Master Lock’s Milwaukee plant to close after 100 years and send jobs abroad — Master Lock reported record revenue of $860 million in 2022 and its parent company has noted in investor materials plans to boost profits from $50 million to $75 million through “footprint improvements” that include the closure of the plant.

► From The Hill — DoorDash updates to include a minimum hourly wage for drivers — The new compensation option will allow DoorDash delivery drivers to choose to be paid an hourly rate from when they accept an offer to when it is delivered, as well as guarantee 100 percent of the tips made on that order.




► From Jacobin — Unionizing made me a different person (by Emily Markwiese) — Forming a union with my coworkers at the immersive arts company Meow Wolf wasn’t easy. It was stressful and scary. But we pushed past that fear — and ended up transforming our lives in the process… Sometimes, when it gets really hard, and it will get hard, you will feel like you just want everything to go back to normal. You’ll maybe feel like you’re tired of fighting, of being in difficult conversations. You might feel frightened by the understanding you are at the steering wheel of a ship that is going to change yours and others’ lives forever. You are going to have to challenge the parts of yourself that are afraid of conflict and discomfort. But what is waiting at the end of that tunnel is a significantly better quality of life for you and your coworkers. What is on the other side of that fear is the true meaning of solidarity, when you take a risk for people you don’t know because you don’t want them to go through the things you have gone through. Do not let your fears drive you. You are going to be a different person at the end of this, and that is a precious thing that can never be taken away.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Ready for a better quality of life? Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!


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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!