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Ever-growing union | State seeks safer refineries | Weight of the world

Friday, August 11, 2023




► From the Yakima H-R — U.S. Labor Department orders Ostrom to pay $130K for H-2A violations — The U.S. Department of Labor ordered Ostrom Mushroom Farms to pay more than $130,000 for violating H-2A program rules, the agency announced Thursday. The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Ostrom did not pay H-2A workers the required wages, that it didn’t provide cooking facilities in worker housing and that one worker paid a recruiter $10,000 for a visa. Ostrom opened the mushroom farm on Midvale Road in Sunnyside in 2019 and sold it to Windmill Farms, a Canadian mushroom grower, in February. Farmworkers at the facility voted to unionize with United Farm Workers.

The Stand (May 18) — Mushroom workers get $3.4M for violations — State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s announcement comes as Ostrom (now Windmill Farms) workers continue to demand recognition of their union with UFW.

► From KUOW — Facing another budget deficit and possible school closures, SPS seeks community feedback — As Seattle Public Schools faces another budget deficit of roughly $100 million — and school closures are likely on the horizon — the district is looking for feedback at a series of community meetings this month. On Tuesday, over 100 parents and community members gathered at Garfield High School for the first of six community meetings in August.




► From the Cascadia Daily News — State proposes tighter safety regulations for refinery workers years after tragedy — Increased safety regulations for employees working with “highly hazardous chemicals” in oil refineries are on the table as environmental activists and union members push for stricter petroleum operation rules. Regulations proposed by L&I in June would update the 1992 “Process Safety Management” guidelines for thousands of workers at Washington’s five refineries, including the BP and Phillips 66 refineries at Cherry Point. The plan increases safety checks to minimize “the consequences of catastrophic releases of toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive chemicals,” according to the L&I proposal.

The Stand (June 26) — USW hails Washington state’s proposed refinery safety rule

► From the Washington State Standard — Federal judge orders redrawing of Yakima Valley legislative district — U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik finds “ample evidence” that the lines for the 15th District impair the ability of Latino voters to participate equally with other voters. But it’s unclear whether there’s support among lawmakers to bring the commission back.

► From the WSNA — WSNA names members to state staffing advisory committee — WSNA, along with SEIU 199NW and UFCW 3000, has named members to the advisory committee that will oversee many elements of the 2023 safe staffing law implementation. Representing WSNA will be Duncan Camacho and David Keepnews.

► From KXLY — Keller Ferry closed indefinitely for mechanical issue

► From the Peninsula Daily News — State treasurer: Lack of retirement savings could mean future crisis — A large portion of Americans have little to no retirement savings, and state officials are concerned about an impending “retirement crisis” in several decades when current workers reach retirement age.

EDITOR’S NOTE — State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti’s “Future of Retirement Security” town hall meetings featuring a panel of experts — including WSLC President April Sims — continue Aug. 17 in Yakima, Aug. 22 in Everett, and Aug. 28 in Steilacoom. Check The Stand’s Calendar for details.




► From Politico — Dems revive calls for Clarence Thomas resignation after new report — Democratic lawmakers revived their calls for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign from his position Thursday after a new ProPublica report revealed he had taken more unreported luxury vacations funded by billionaires than was previously known.

The Stand (June 21) — Supreme Court’s ethical lapses are a call to action — Justices’ inappropriate coziness with billionaire benefactors is another reminder of what’s at stake in re-election of President Biden.

► From The Hill — Manchin ‘thinking seriously’ about leaving Democratic Party — West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) says he is “thinking seriously” about leaving the Democratic Party and declaring himself an independent before the 2024 election, when he will have to decide whether to run for a fourth Senate term or wage a third-party bid for president.




► From the LA Times — Hot labor summer: How L.A. became the epicenter of solidarity — It’s hot, sweaty and built on solidarity: Los Angeles has become a city of picket lines this summer, with more than 100,000 workers out on strike in the region. Each set of workers — screenwriters, actors, hotel employees, city staffers and more — is fighting its own particular fight, but organized labor is having a moment on the streets of L.A. “There’s a perception that we have little in common, but we’re both fighting for our future,” playwright Sam Chanse said recently as she walked a picket line alongside hotel workers.

► From the NY Times — Striking writers and studios agree to restart negotiations — As television and movie writers started their 101st day on strike on Thursday, the leaders of their union said they had agreed to formally restart negotiations with studios for a new three-year contract.

► From Politico — California unions revive bid to pay unemployment to striking workers — Striking workers in California would get to draw unemployment benefits under a proposal Democrats are preparing to introduce in the final stretch of the legislative session.

► From the LA Times — Will reality TV stars unionize? SAG-AFTRA throws support behind Bethenny Frankel — “The Real Housewives of New York City” veteran Bethenny Frankel‘s push to gain union protections for reality television stars has taken a step forward.

► From the USA Today — Full-time UPS drivers will earn $170,000 a year, on average, in new contract, CEO says — Full-time UPS drivers will earn an average of $170,000 in annual pay and benefits at the end of a five-year contract agreement, UPS CEO Carol Tomé said during an earnings call Tuesday. The salary ranges for full-time and part-time drivers were among the details to come out this week as the Teamsters union begins the process of ratifying the tentative agreement that emerged last month as a strike appeared imminent.

The Stand (July 25) — Teamsters announce historic contract at UPS

EDITOR’S NOTE — Ready for a raise? Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for better wages and working conditions — and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► From Bloomberg — UPS pay hikes for package handlers raise pressure on FedEx — While the salaries that unionized UPS drivers will make under the tentative five-year agreement have grabbed headlines — ones with a few years experience could earn nearly $50 an hour — the bigger problem for FedEx might be that workers in sorting centers are getting even bigger pay hikes, with some increases hitting 55%.




► We lost another giant in the music industry this week with the passing of Robbie Robertson, best known as the lead guitarist and songwriter for The Band. He was the Canadian who popularized Americana music. PBS described his 1968 classic, “The Weight,” as “a masterpiece of Biblical allusions, enigmatic lines and iconic characters” and notes its enduring popularity as “an essential part of the American songbook.” For the song’s 50th anniversary, Robertson worked with Playing for Change, an organization dedicated to uniting and inspiring musicians from around the world, to make this version of the song. He said the recording “was like a dream to me… it gives it a very special soul.” R.I.P., Robbie.


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!