Thursday, October 5, 2023
► From the union-busting Columbian — Kaiser health care workers in Vancouver join thousands across the country on picket lines — Unionized health care workers picketed outside of Kaiser Permanente’s Cascade Park Medical Office this morning, marking the start of the largest health care strike in U.S. history. About 300 members of the SEIU Local 49, which represents more than 15,000 health care employees across southwest Washington and Oregon, gathered outside the Mill Plain Boulevard office on a foggy morning wearing matching shirts and holding signs that read “patients over profits.”
The Stand (Oct. 4) — Kaiser unions launch nationwide strike over low pay, staffing
TAKE A STAND — Join the picket line at the Kaiser Permanente Cascade Park Medical Office, 12607 SE Mill Plain Blvd in Vancouver, WA, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Friday. Click here for details or to RSVP. Although the union is directing supporters to join five main picket locations in Oregon and Vancouver, you may see other picket locations in southwest Washington, including in Longview…
► From the NY Times — The Kaiser strike isn’t your typical labor action (by Dr. Craig Spencer) — In most places, the Kaiser strike is expected to last only three days. But the issues that pushed health care workers to the picket line will remain. And although the strike at Kaiser may be the largest of a U.S. health care institution in history, without overhauling the conditions under which health care workers do our jobs, it undoubtedly won’t be the last.
► From KING 5 — Providence Everett nurses are willing to strike amid ongoing staffing shortage — Nurses at Snohomish County’s biggest hospital said staffing levels have been on a steady decline, which is creating potentially dangerous situations for patients. The union representing Providence Regional Medical Center Everett’s nurses, UFCW 3000, said 600 have left or retired since 2021. Nurses are willing to strike if the hospital doesn’t meet some of their contract demands.
► From KING 5 — Bus operators, passengers react to fatal shooting on King County Metro bus — King County Metro said in a statement that it added security on the H Line for the foreseeable future. Metro is also expanding the number of transit security officers that patrol buses and transit centers.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Clean energy projects could cover 19K acres near Tri-Cities. Will they create enough jobs? — DOE is looking for organizations interested in leasing 19,000 acres, or about 30 square miles, designated for industrial use for clean energy generation and storage.
► From KING 5 — New SeaTac minimum wage among highest in U.S. — The City of SeaTac will be raising its minimum wage from $19.06 an hour to $19.71 an hour for workers in the hospitality and transportation industries. The increase will be starting Jan. 1, 2024.
The Stand (Oct. 2) — State minimum wage will increase to $16.28/hour in 2024
► From the Washington State Standard — WA may avoid child care cliff, but many providers are still struggling — Washington is unlikely to see a huge drop in child care services even as federal pandemic aid supporting providers dries up. But that doesn’t mean Washington’s system is thriving, as providers remain short-staffed following a pandemic-era dip in the workforce.
► From the (Everett) Herald — 800K Washingtonians must restart student loan payments this month — After a three-year pause, former students face a big budget adjustment, like Kira Violette, who works at Everett Community College.
► From the Washington Post — As House GOP flails, government shutdown fears reemerge — Kevin McCarthy’s ouster from the House speakership Tuesday appears to have increased the risk that the U.S. government will shut down next month, as the far-right lawmakers who toppled him demand that the GOP extract impossibly large concessions from the White House and Democratic-controlled Senate.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Larsen: ‘Fractured caucus’ of House Republicans is ‘unable to lead’ — Following removal of the House speaker, a shutdown still looms. Congress has until Nov. 17 to devise a spending plan.
► From Politico — Florida sues Biden administration in new dispute over unions — Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a federal lawsuit that asserts top White House officials are violating federal law because they are threatening to withhold hundreds of millions in federal grants unless a state panel grants waivers to Florida’s new union law. The law, which took effect on July 1, includes including a prohibition on public employers from deducting union dues from employee paychecks and making it easier to decertify unions.
► From Roll Call — Tensions high as Medicare drug negotiations advance — At least seven drugmakers that agreed to negotiate prices of drugs for Medicare are also challenging the law in court.
► From the NY Times — Workers exposed to extreme temperatures have few protections — Millions of Americans are struggling to cope with soaring heat. OSHA is developing new federal safety standards, but the process is plodding and labyrinthine.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington state does have heat rules to protect workers.
► From Reuters — UAW, automakers signal progress after days of stalemate, sources say — Negotiators for the UAW and Ford have narrowed their differences on pay increases after a new offer from the automaker amid “really active” talks, sources say.
► From the AP — Auto worker strike highlights disparities between temporary and permanent employees — Automakers have used the lower-paid workers for years to fill in for absent and vacationing full-time employees and to staff up when production increases. Today, union leaders say the Detroit automakers are abusing the system to save money by treating temps like full-time workers — one major point of contention in current contract talks that has led to more than 25,000 auto workers going on strike.
► From the Washington Post — Here’s what the UAW is demanding and what each automaker is offering — The union and automakers have drawn closer in their demands and offers for a new, four-year contract but are still far enough apart to prevent a deal. Here’s where the talks stand.
► From the NY Times — New UAW chief has a nonnegotiable demand: Eat the rich — Shawn Fain’s disdain for the “billionaire class” informs his showdown with Detroit’s automakers. Now he must prove that his hard-core tactics pay off.
► From the Hollywood Reporter — ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ writers decline to return — The daytime talk show is coming back Oct. 16, but the show’s three WGA writers — Chelsea White, Cristina Kinon and Liz Koe — have turned down an offer to return with it.
The Stand (Sept. 12) — Drew Barrymore ‘owns this choice’ of being a scab
► From Jacobin — Unionized Starbucks workers are considering calling for a boycott — Starbucks Workers United has not yet asked supporters to stop frequenting Starbucks locations. But unionized workers have been ramping up customer solidarity organizing, potentially laying the groundwork for a Starbucks boycott.
► From Vice — Child labor is such a big problem that California will teach kids their rights at school — The new law creates “Workplace Readiness Week,” which requires schools to educate kids in the state about workplace safety and California’s child labor laws in an effort to “prevent child labor exploitation” as such cases continue to rise in the U.S.
EDITOR’S NOTE — You thought Republicans were mad about school curricula before, wait ’til they get a load of this.
► From the LA Times — A new study shows museum workers struggling. We need to evolve to meet the moment (by Carolina Miranda) — The numbers are dispiriting: 68% of art museum workers have considered leaving the field, 74% cannot always cover basic living expenses, and it takes an average of 12 years before a worker receives a promotion. Turnover is high — art museums lost 30% of full-time employees hired between 2020 and 2022 — and rates were especially elevated among those making less than $50,000 a year. Museums espouse lots of high-minded ideas about the elevating power of culture, but as workplaces, they leave a lot — a lot — to be desired.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Ready for better pay and working conditions? 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!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.