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Union wins 32-hour workweek | DeJoy plan failing | Strikers’ ‘resolve’

Wednesday, August 23, 2023




► From the Seattle Times — Workers for San Juan County are getting a 32-hour work week — The San Juan County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the change, which officials negotiated with AFSCME 1849, which represents 142 nurses, environmental stewards, road-crew workers, park workers, clerks and other county employees. They account for about 70% of the county’s labor force. “Wherever this has been implemented, elsewhere in the world, productivity has actually increased,” said Frances Robertson, a marine biologist with the county who was on the AFSCME 1849 union’s negotiating team.

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

► From KUOW — Seattle-Tacoma wages rose between 2022 and 2023 — Wages in the Seattle-Tacoma area received a bump over the past year, beating out the national average. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wages and salaries for private industry workers went up by 5.4% between June 2022 and June 2023. At the same time, the United States averaged 4.6%.

► From the Seattle Times — Century-old paper mill once famous for wafting ‘Aroma of Tacoma’ to close — The closure, announced earlier this month, is expected to take effect on Sept. 30. WestRock employs approximately 400 workers at its waterfront facility in Tacoma. Those workers are expected to receive severance and outplacement assistance, the company said. The Longview facility is expected to take on some employees from the Tacoma mill — though exactly how many is unclear. WestRock did not return a request for comment.

► From the Seattle Times — A library at risk puts democracy at risk (editorial) — If the Columbia County censors in Southeast Washington succeed, Washington would earn the dubious distinction of becoming the first state in which voters chose to shut down their own public library because they don’t like a few books among the many thousands on the shelves.




► From KXLY — Oregon Road Fire remains 0% contained, 80 structures confirmed lost — Over 800 personnel are now fighting the Oregon Road Fire burning near Elk, Washington, that’s burned over 11,000 acres and is still 0% contained. It has burned over 10,000, threatening homes and forcing many to evacuate.

The Stand (Aug. 21) — Disaster relief from wildfires available for union members — Union members: If you and your family are experiencing hardship as a result of wildfires or some other natural disaster in Washington state, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO urges you to apply for disaster relief from the Foundation for Working Families.




► From the Yakima H-R — Yakima town hall addresses lack of retirement planning and possible solutions — A town hall meeting on retirement security isn’t the most exciting-sounding event for a Thursday night. But as Washington state Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti and other panelists stated during their Aug. 17 session at the Yakima Convention & Event Center, a failure to address retirement savings and planning now will have drastic and severe impacts in the years ahead – both for individuals and the state as a whole. Dulce Gutierrez, a Yakima community organizer for the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, a Millennial herself, said retirement planning is not a phrase that inspires much interest among her peers, but it’s an important topic: “If we framed this as ‘financial literacy’ we would probably get more participation from young people.”

► From the Washington State Standard — Washington agency under fire for chopping down a memorial tree next to the Capitol — Lt. Gov. Denny Heck calls removal of the tree and plaque honoring the late Cal Anderson “a desecration.” Talks are underway on a new site for the memorial.




► From the USA Today — USPS’ turnaround plan falling short, potentially risking future mail delivery — The U.S. Postal Service’s 10-year plan to stop operating at a loss isn’t going well. And, if they can’t get back on track, that could threaten its ability to deliver the mail and pay its retirees’ benefits. According to a federal watchdog group, expenses have grown faster than revenues for years partly because of the drop in first-class mail, it’s most profitable product. USPS also faces competition for package delivery from private companies while key costs, such as employee compensation, have continued to rise… In a meeting this month with the Postal Service Board of Governors, CEO Louis DeJoy said getting the financial ledger closer to goals will require “more aggressive cost reductions.”

► From the Washington State Standard — Here’s what to know about new federal policies for repaying student loans — Following the Supreme Court’s summer ruling against 40 million federal student loan borrowers who would have qualified for debt relief, the Biden administration crafted a year-long delay in repayments. The policy, known as an on-ramp, is set to begin next month.




► From the AP — UPS workers approve 5-year contract, capping contentious negotiations — The union representing 340,000 UPS workers said Tuesday that its members voted to approve the tentative contract agreement reached last month. The Teamsters said in a statement that 86% of the votes casts were in favor of ratifying the national contract. They also said it was passed by the highest vote for a contract in the history of the Teamsters at UPS.

TODAY at The Stand Teamsters ratify historic UPS contract with 86.3% ‘yes’ vote

► From the LA Times — Hollywood unions (and stars) rally near Disney amid strikes. ‘They underestimated our resolve’ — More than 3,000 union members gathered near Walt Disney Co.’s Burbank headquarters in support of striking Hollywood actors — buoyed by impassioned speeches from Olivia Pope, President Jed Bartlet and Hellboy.

► From 11 Alive — Atlanta writers, actors participate in National Day of Solidarity amid strike — Hundreds of Atlanta members of SAG-AFTRA which is the actors and artists union, showed up for a rally on Tuesday night in Atlanta to support their ongoing strike.

► From the NY Times — Hollywood studios disclose their offer on Day 113 of writers strike — The public disclosure of the Aug. 11 proposal was an unusual step and suggested an attempt to go around union leadership and appeal to rank-and-file members.

► From the LA Times — Labor unions, business groups clash over giving unemployment benefits to striking workers — California lawmakers are resurrecting legislation that would allow workers on strike to collect unemployment benefits, reigniting a familiar political battle between labor unions and businesses.

► From the NY Times — In a hot job market, the minimum wage becomes an afterthought — The red-hot labor market of the past two years has led to rapid pay increases, particularly in retail, hospitality and other low-wage industries. It has also rendered the federal minimum wage — which has remained at $7.25 per hour for 14 years — increasingly meaningless.

► From the AP — Minneapolis mayor vetoes measure for minimum wage to Uber and Lyft drivers — Mayor Jacob Frey instead negotiated with Uber, securing an agreement for higher pay for only those drivers. Lyft drivers are not covered by the mayor’s deal.


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

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

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!