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Kaiser strike vote | GOP shutdown ahead | UAW’s stand-up strike

Monday, September 18, 2023




► From the union-busting Columbian — Kaiser workers in Clark County, elsewhere vote to authorize strike — As a strike vote comes to a close, the union that represents Kaiser Permanente health care workers announced Thursday that 98 percent of its members have voted to authorize a strike. “Understaffing in Kaiser Permanente facilities is a crisis, and health care workers will not stand by as Kaiser fails to act and fails to even bargain in good faith with their dedicated frontline staff,” said SEIU Local 49 President Meg Niemi. Kaiser operates five medical offices in Clark County, as well as two dental offices. The union, which includes members in Oregon and Washington, has about 700 members who live in Clark County, and nearly 400 who work here.

► From the Oregonian — Northwest Kaiser Permanente workers authorize strike as contract nears expiration — If a new contract cannot be reached before the end of September, union officials say the breakdown of negotiations could lead to the largest ever healthcare strike in U.S. history. In addition to the workers in the Pacific Northwest, nearly 60,000 in California and more than 3,000 in Colorado have also authorized a strike.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Racist messages against Black Pasco councilman didn’t start with campaign signs — A Tri-Cities labor union has made public a second incident of hate speech targeting Pasco’s only Black city councilman. Russell Shjerven, secretary-treasurer of the Teamster Local Union No. 839, says it’s proof a racist message left last month at a vandalized campaign sign for Councilman Irving Brown Sr. wasn’t “an isolated incident.”

The Stand (Sept. 12) — Teamsters rally in support of Pasco’s Irving Brown

► From the Tri-City Herald — DOE agrees to new work at radioactively contaminated site in Eastern WA after $1M fine — The Department of Energy has committed to two new environmental restoration projects at the Hanford nuclear site rather than pay a state fine that at one time was more than $1 million.




► From the Seattle Times — Fewer workers, higher pay, robots: aerospace suppliers push automation — A small manufacturing facility in Kirkland — a clean, high-tech, extensively automated operation — has begun to churn out aerospace parts with a workforce of just two people. Is that a bright vision of the future for a local industry that currently faces a severe labor shortage? Or a glimpse ahead to a largely peopleless dystopia?




► From the Washington State Standard — Workers sue WA Department of Corrections over Larch closure — Teamsters Local 117 filed its complaint Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court, alleging Corrections refused to bargain on its closure plan and improperly offered jobs to members in exchange for them ceasing union activities. The complaint also alleges that the state agency  violated an emergency proclamation from the governor concerning the state’s wildfire fighting efforts.

TODAY at The StandAlleging DOC mistakes, Teamsters sue to halt Larch closure

► From the Seattle Times — After court ruling, new Central WA legislative maps could mean shakeup in Olympia — The newly drawn map could potentially add a few more Democrats to the mix in Olympia.

► From the Seattle Times — Health insurance rates are about to jump for thousands of WA residents — Health insurance premiums paid by more than 200,000 Washington residents will increase by an average of nearly 9% next year, with some rising by as much as 17.8%.

► From the Washington State Standard — Washington’s reworked heat pump rules get a cool reception from critics — The push to install electric heat pumps, rather than natural gas furnaces, in new homes cleared a key panel Friday amid continuing concern from builders that it will drive up costs.




► From The Hill — House GOP strikes internal deal as shutdown approaches — The deal would avoid a looming Oct. 1 shutdown by funding the government through Oct. 31, keeping Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs at current levels while cutting all discretionary spending by 8 percent. The hope is to bring it to the House floor this week. But even if it passes the House, it faces slim odds of passing in the Senate and being signed into law by the White House — and signs emerged on Sunday night that the plan faces an uphill battle getting through the slim House GOP majority.

► From the Washington State Standard — Hospitals plead with Congress to avert $8 billion in cuts in Medicaid funding — Health care representatives from across the United States are urging Congress to halt cuts to funding that helps hospitals care for uninsured or low-income patients who rely on Medicaid. More than 250 hospitals and health systems asked lawmakers to avert or delay a forthcoming $8 billion cut to “America’s health care safety net.”




► From CNN — UAW workers launch unprecedented strike against all Big Three automakers — The United Auto Workers union is on strike against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, the first time in its history that it has struck all three of America’s unionized automakers at the same time. Workers on Friday walked out of three plants – one each from the Big Three automakers – in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio. Picketers were met with cheers from sign-waving union members.

► From Reuters — UAW and automakers GM, Ford and Stellantis try to reach deal before strike widens — The UAW and Chrysler-parent Stellantis are set to resume bargaining talks Monday morning as a strike against the Detroit Three automakers enters its fourth day. About 12,700 UAW workers are on strike as part of a labor action targeting three U.S. assembly plants — one at each of the Detroit Three — after the prior four-year labor agreements expired. Analysts and industry executives question how long it will be before the UAW strikes at additional plants in a move to raise pressure on the automakers.

► From the AP — UAW calls talks with Ford productive as strike continues

► From the AP — UAW justifies wage demands by pointing to CEO pay raises. So how high were they? — “The reason we ask for 40% pay increases is because in the last four years alone, the CEO pay went up 40%. They’re already millionaires,” UAW President Shawn Fain said. “Our demands are just. We’re asking for our fair share in this economy and the fruits of our labor.”

► From the Lever — Automakers hand billions to shareholders while stiffing workers — The Big 3 car companies have authorized $5 billion in stock buybacks over the past year.

► From Bloomberg — How auto executives misread the UAW ahead of historic strike — GM, Ford and Stellantis underestimated just how combative union leadership has become after decades of discontent.

► From the AFL-CIO — Working people united in fight to win fair contracts autoworkers deserve — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler:

“This fight isn’t just about autoworkers and their families, this is about creating a future where everyone can prosper. Gone are the days of corporations running roughshod over workers with impunity. We’re fed up and ready to do whatever is necessary to ensure companies give us the basic respect on the job we deserve, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.

“And the public is firmly in our corner. Seventy-five percent of Americans support autoworkers in this fight. That’s because working people realize the only way we can get ahead in an economy that’s been rigged against us for decades is through the solidarity and unity a union provides.”

► From Politico — Biden on UAW strike: ‘I understand the workers’ frustration’ — The president, expressing hope for a “win-win agreement,” said he was sending his top labor advisers to Detroit to “offer support.”

► From Jacobin — Bernie Sanders to UAW rally: ‘We refuse to live in an oligarchy’




► From the NY Times — Unions keep up their hardball tactics — In contract disputes from Detroit to Hollywood, organized labor leaders are holding firm in their efforts to gain more pay and job security for members.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Ready to play some hardball? 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 Guardian — Flight attendants threaten strikes over low pay and unpaid work — Major US airlines have recovered from Covid-19 pandemic losses and are amassing vast profits, but amid those record-setting financial performances flight attendants are threatening strikes and calling for substantial wage increases and improvements in working conditions. Alaska Airlines, American and United could all be disrupted.

The Stand (Aug. 16) — Alaska’s flight attendants: Pay Us or Chaos!

► From Variety — Drew Barrymore halts talk show return after backlash, will resume when strike ends — “I have listened to everyone, and I am making the decision to pause the show’s premiere until the strike is over,” Barrymore wrote on Instagram.

The Stand (Sept. 12) — Drew Barrymore ‘owns this choice’ of being a scab (by Sarah Tucker)

► From the LA Times — Drew Barrymore spent years building her brand. Without writers, it unraveled in a week (by Meredith Blake) — Even the Onion weighed in with the tongue-in-cheek headline, “Drew Barrymore Opens GM Assembly Plant Amid Impending Autoworker Strike.” When your once-beloved name becomes so synonymous with “scab” that it can be used in effective satire, you’re probably doing something wrong.


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!