Wednesday, September 20, 2023
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle workers rally for new contract, express outrage over city proposal — Over 1,000 people gathered Tuesday on the steps of City Hall, demanding a fair contract for city of Seattle workers after a year of negotiations and outrage over a proposed cost of living adjustment they find inadequate. Union leaders and workers expressed concerns over being able to afford housing and remain safe on the job, also criticizing the city’s initial cost of living proposal amid an estimated 8% inflation rate in one of the most expensive U.S. cities, where the income gap has grown exponentially. WSLC Secretary Treasurer Cherika Carter told the crowd Seattle holds itself up as a progressive city that cares about public services and the workers who provide them, but that city leaders are trying to balance the budget on the backs of their employees.
TODAY at The Stand — 1,000 Seattle city workers rally for #RSPCT — After a year of bargaining, Coalition of City Unions demands a fair contract.
► From KUOW — Starbucks and union face off in Seattle over negotiation rules — Starbucks and the union representing hundreds of its stores faced off at a historic hearing in Seattle on Tuesday. The NLRB and Starbucks Workers United are seeking a federal order forcing Starbucks to the bargaining table. But Starbucks says it’s been there the whole time, waiting to negotiate in good faith. Both sides blame each other for stalling bargaining over a flashpoint many workers are familiar with: a hybrid meeting model that allows some organizers to join by Zoom.
► From KING — New labor agreement protects Washington Uber drivers from unwarranted termination — Uber drivers in Washington state are now protected against unwarranted termination, entitlement to lost wages and more, thanks to a new labor agreement. Drivers Union, which represents Uber and Lyft drivers in Washington, announced this week that a landmark labor agreement is enacting the nation’s first Just Cause protections and statewide appeal rights for Uber drivers.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Some Northwest colleges bounce back from pandemic enrollment slump, while others are still seeing fewer freshmen — Student enrollment at regional universities has been unsettled since the COVID-19 pandemic. While EWU’s freshmen enrollment is static from last year, it remains about 500 shy of the 2019 class of about 1,800.
► From the Seattle Times — Amazon to hire 7,000 WA workers to prepare for holiday season — Facing pressure from employees to improve working conditions in its warehouses and ongoing investigations from workplace safety regulators, Amazon said this year’s seasonal hiring push will come with increased pay and safety training.
► From Crosscut — Facing burnout, Washington nurses are exploring new career paths — Nurses leaving health care are part of a sweeping national health care staffing shortage, one exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic but whose root causes long precede it. In April, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a safe-staffing bill into law, establishing new staffing ratio requirements and financial penalties for organizations that violate them, but the regulations are still being implemented, and advocates say their efficacy remains unclear. In the meantime, nurses like Laurel McCallon have simply chosen to leave health care altogether, embracing new paths and professions.
► From Crosscut — Stressors push WA nurses to leave their jobs behind (podcast) — Reporter Megan Burbank spoke with former nurses who, amid grievances like staffing shortages and low pay, changed their careers.
► From the Washington State Standard — As paid family leave claims rise in Washington, the wait for benefits gets longer — The time to process an application could reach four months unless dozens more workers are hired, say administrators of the popular state program. Joe Kendo, chief of staff for the WSLC and member of the program’s advisory committee, said the unflagging demand shows the program is “pretty effective in meeting the needs of Washington families.”
“We’ve been watching the wait times. The delays are a real issue. I’m hopeful legislators will work with us.”
► From the Washington Post — A federal government shutdown looks more and more likely: What to know — During a government shutdown — when none of the 12 annual appropriations bills are enacted — no new money flows into government coffers, meaning hundreds of thousands of federal workers don’t receive a timely paycheck, facilities such as national parks are closed and food stamp payments go unfulfilled.
► From the Washington Post — House flounders as GOP fails to appease hard-right members on funding — House Republicans’ inability to find agreement on even a stopgap funding bill that is destined to fail in the Senate again puts into focus the challenge before House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as he tries to unite his party and avoid a government shutdown.
Instead of working to avoid a govt shutdown by passing sensible 2024 funding bills, far right House Republicans introduced a budget resolution slashing trillions from programs: Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, and infrastructure. MAGA Republicans only care about billionaires and CEOs
— AFL-CIO ✊ (@AFLCIO) September 20, 2023
► From The Hill — GOP senators alarmed by chaos over House spending bills — Republican senators are growing increasingly alarmed at Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) inability to pass spending legislation over the staunch opposition of a small group of conservative rebels, and fear a government shutdown may be days away.
► From the NY Times — Unions fight in the states to make Biden’s climate agenda work for workers — Labor leaders worry that some federal incentives for renewable energy do not come with strict standards on pay. In Maine, they added their own.
► From The Hill — UAW strike expands to Mercedes supplier in Alabama — A drivetrain plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., went on strike on Wednesday, joining several United Auto Workers (UAW) in the Midwest striking against major automakers. ZF Chassis Systems, which supplies the nearby Mercedes factory, is the fourth UAW plant to join the effort since the union began striking last Friday. Other plants involved are near St. Louis, Detroit and Toledo, Ohio.
► From Reuters — On the Ohio-to-Michigan highway, U.S. auto workers drive for solidarity — A Toledo grocery store parking lot was full of Jeeps and Fords on Tuesday morning in a show of strength by auto workers on strike from Stellantis’s nearby Jeep plant. Dozens set out in an Ohio-to-Michigan convoy to rally support for their walkout, many Jeeps adorned with signs reading “No Justice, No Jeeps.”
► From Reuters — UAW strikes at automakers highlight skyrocketing U.S. CEO pay — UAW President Shawn Fain initially asked for a 40% increase in worker’s pay over the next four years — a figure based off an approximately 40% increase in CEO pay at the companies over the last four years at a time of stable profits for two of the three automakers.
► From the LA Times — Who’s to blame for the United Auto Workers strike? Start with Wall Street (editorial) — Wall Street’s shadow also hovers over these negotiations. As Stellantis made crystal-clear when it authorized stock buybacks this year, the industry is more than willing to divert badly needed investment funds into the pockets of top executives and powerful Wall Street firms.
► From the Rewire News Group — Labor rights are reproductive rights (by Crystal Grabowski) — To be a unionized abortion care worker, or a worker in this field dreaming of unionization, is to be stuck between every rock and every hard place. While the image of hospital nurses rallying for better wages with their union is usually seen as a normal and admirable sight, an abortion worker doing the same is prone to a few more side eyes from every party.
► From the Washington State Standard — States and cities eye stronger protections for gig economy workers — At least 10 states have considered sick leave and other benefits for gig workers.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.