Thursday, September 21, 2023
► From Crosscut — With 3 recent wins, Starbucks union gains traction in Eastern Washington — Reduced hours and dwindling benefits spur baristas to action as a small Prosser cafe becomes the 27th in the state to vote to unionize. They voted 21 to 6 on Tuesday to join the national Workers United union — a rare occurrence in Eastern Washington since organizing started at the coffee giant’s franchises nearly two years ago. Starbucks employee Tony Warwick said:
“Maybe it will inspire some rural communities, not just in Washington, Oregon and California but on the East Coast. The goal is to get more stores to stand up.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Ready to stand up? Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for better wages and working conditoins. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
► From the PS Business Journal — As Kroger CEO touts sales of stores related to megamerger, unions speak out in opposition — Kroger Co. CEO Rodney McMullen said the proposed $24.6 billion acquisition of Albertsons won’t repeat a debacle when a similar deal was struck eight years ago involving Albertsons. But grocery worker union leaders and members spoke out Wednesday in vehement opposition of the acquisition going through and sounded the alarm that the store divestiture plan has all-too-many similarities to the failed Haggen Inc. acquisition of nearly 150 Albertsons and Safeway stores in 2015 when those companies merged.
The Stand (July 27) — Urge FTC to block Kroger-Albertsons merger — UFCW 367 calls on the community to contact the FTC, voice concerns over proposed megamerger.
► From the union-busting Columbian — C-Tran cleans buses several times a day to guard health, safety of riders, workers — Drugs on public transit have been in the spotlight after a study conducted by the University of Washington released earlier this month found small amounts of methamphetamine, fentanyl and cocaine were traceable on buses and trains operated by Sound Transit, King County Metro, Community Transit, Everett Transit and TriMet.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Proposition to close Columbia County Library is unconstitutional, court commissioner rules — Closing the library would be an irreparable loss that would disproportionately affect the poorest members of the community, Columbia County Superior Court Commissioner Julie Karl said at Wednesday’s hearing.
► From the Seattle Times — Prices skyrocket on WA transportation projects, and fewer contractors want the jobs — As state lawmakers look toward a more than 15-year sprint to build out Washington’s highways, bridges, ferries and more, it’s a worrisome trend that casts a shadow over their lofty ambitions. WSDOT has raised particular alarm about a trend noticed over the last year and a half: declining competition for large design-build contracts. As recently as 2021, the state averaged more than six bids per project. So far in 2023, that number has dropped to around 2½.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Northwest lawmakers weigh in as House GOP infighting raises government shutdown risk — Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Wash., 1st) said the House could easily avert a shutdown if McCarthy agreed to bring a bill to the floor that would simply fund the government at current levels – often called a “clean” continuing resolution – to give Congress time to pass a full-year spending bill. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash., 5th) declined an interview request.
► From the Washington Post — House Republicans expected to break logjam on Pentagon funding bill Thursday — House Republicans on Thursday are expected to advance a Department of Defense appropriations bill after successfully appeasing some hard-right lawmakers to end a broader blockade on considering long-term spending bills.
► From Politico — Major doubts cloud the House GOP’s supposed ‘breakthrough’ — It remains totally unclear whether House Republicans actually have the votes to pass the Defense appropriations bill, let alone the new continuing resolution.
► From The Hill — Senate GOP predicts McCarthy will go to Democrats for votes
► From Politico — Republicans resigned to being the villains in the inevitable government shutdown — Washington, D.C. is reaching a consensus: the government will shut down in 10 days — and Republicans will bear the brunt of voter disgust over it. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho): “Name one time that we’ve shut the government down and we haven’t got the blame.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Umm. Give that quote another read.
► From the AP — U.S. allowing hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans in the country to work legally — The Biden administration says it’s granting temporary legal status to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who are already in the country — quickly making them eligible to work — as it grapples with growing numbers of people fleeing the South American country and elsewhere to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border.
► From The Guardian — U.S. autoworkers to expand strikes amid contract stalemate: ‘We’re not messing around’ — The UAW looks set to escalate strike actions against U.S. car plants on Friday as the union struggles to reach a deal with the automakers General Motors, Stellantis and Ford. UAW President Shawn Fain:
“If we don’t make serious progress by noon on Friday, September 22nd, more locals will be called on to stand up and join the strike. Autoworkers have waited long enough to make things right at the big three. We’re not waiting around and we’re not messing around, so noon on September 22nd is a new deadline.”
► From Reuters — Detroit Three under pressure to progress UAW talks, avoid wider auto strikes — The UAW and the Detroit Three automakers on Thursday have a final full day to make significant progress on a new contract before the union plans to otherwise announce an expansion of its U.S. strikes.
► From Reuters — Americans broadly support auto and Hollywood strikes, Reuters poll finds — The poll found that 58% of Americans support the first-ever simultaneous strike by the UAW against the Big Three to win better pay and benefits, while 32% oppose the action and 10% were unsure. Similarly, 60% of Americans support the dual strikes by screenwriters and actors to win better pay and protections in the entertainment industry, while 27% oppose it and 13% were unsure.
► From CBS News — WGA, studios resume negotiations, more talks Thursday — Striking writers and Hollywood studios returned to the bargaining table Wednesday in hopes of making progress toward ending the work stoppage that began in early May, and the sides will keep talking Thursday.
► From the NY Times — Top studio executives join writers’ strike negotiations — The stalemate is in its fifth month, and talks between the union and the Hollywood studios resumed for the first time since August.
► From Bloomberg — Why U.S. hotels are missing more than 238,000 employees — “Companies — not just here in Vegas, but across the country — are capitalizing on the pandemic,” said Ted Pappageorge of the culinary union. “We’re seeing these massive corporations try to eliminate labor and replace it with technology, or simply reduce services and attempt to modify the guests’ behavior to service themselves.”
► From the NY Times — ‘Only God can thank you’: Female health workers fight to be paid — Community health workers put in long hours to protect people in developing countries from diseases such as malaria, COVID-19 and H.I.V. But most are compensated minimally, or not paid at all.
► From Vice — Google flat-out refuses to bargain with workers, prompting YouTube music strike — In an email, Google tells YouTube Music workers it will “not be participating in collective bargaining.”
OH, AND THEN THERE’S THIS…
► From The Guardian — AI-focused tech firms locked in ‘race to the bottom’, warns MIT professor — Physicist Max Tegmark says the competition is too intense for tech executives to pause development to consider AI risks. His letter warned of an “out-of-control race” to develop minds that no one could “understand, predict, or reliably control”, and urged governments to intervene if a moratorium on developing systems more powerful than GPT-4 could not be agreed between leading AI companies such as Google, ChatGPT owner OpenAI and Microsoft. It asked: “Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?”
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.