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Starbucks talks the talk | Union-busting Nikki | AFL-CIO’s AI deal

Monday, December 11, 2023




“Starbucks walked out on us during union bargaining!” — @UnionTyler, Oct. 24, 2022

► From the Seattle Times — Starbucks bids to finalize all union contracts in 2024, with a caveat — After months of negotiation gridlocks, Starbucks union workers represented by Workers United may have a contract in sight. Starbucks sent a letter Friday to Workers United President Lynne Fox saying the company is ready to bargain and wants to finalize contracts for all stores in 2024. Fox welcomed the letter as a positive move for bargaining and said in a statement Friday the union never declined a meeting with Starbucks. A major roadblock to contract negotiation has been how bargaining is done: in person or hybrid. Friday’s letter reiterated Starbucks’ position that it is willing to proceed with negotiations in person only to allow for “open, honest discussions.” The union has protested in-person bargaining in the past because it could deter other workers from participating. Fox didn’t immediately comment on the “in-person” request.

► From the Yakima H-R — Mediator joins negotiations between YVC and faculty union — A mediator has become involved with negotiations between Yakima Valley College and its faculty union over the collective bargaining agreement that expired June 30. Union members have met with the mediator from the state PERC twice, Rachel Dorn, president of the faculty union, said recently. The AFT Local 1485 union members also planned to meet the mediator Friday, she said.

The STAND (May 10)Yakima Valley College faculty vote ‘no confidence’ in president
(March 9)Yakima Valley College faculty, staff fed up over school policies




► From Crosscut — WA fines Yakima grower $290k after two fatal tractor rollovers — L&I issued Borton & Sons five willful serious citations after two workers died in tractor rollovers this summer, citing them for failing to ensure a rollover protection system was being used and that workers wore seatbelts. Willful violations are given when L&I believes employers knew or should have known the safety standards, but failed to make sure they were being followed.

► From the News Tribune — New minimum wage, other laws take effect in new year — On Jan. 1, workers over the age of 16 can expect a 3.4% statewide minimum wage increase from $15.74 per hour to $16.28, according to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Cities such as Seattle, SeaTac and Tukwila have higher wages, as cities are able to set a higher minimum wage than the state’s. Workers can expect other changes as well, such as a 4.9% increase in average workers’ compensation premiums for 2024.

► From Crosscut — Washington caps insulin costs at $35/month. More reforms may come — Policy changes in the works for 2024 are intended to slash red tape for people with diabetes and avoid deadly insulin rationing.

► From the Washington State Standard — Cascadia bullet train stuck at the station as feds dole out big bucks for rail — Supporters say the dream of a speedy train between Portland and Vancouver, BC, is not derailed. Meanwhile, other rail fans want to see more money directed to existing Amtrak lines in the region.

► From the union-busting Columbian — SW Washington lawmakers say health care, worker shortage, public safety among priorities for upcoming session




► From the Peninsula Daily News — Pickens to run for state position — Eric Pickens, a Sequim Democrat, is running in 2024 for the Legislative District 24 seat now held by Mike Chapman, who is running for State Senate. Pickens cited his background as a working parent, an educator and labor leader. He is president of the Sequim School Board and a Port Angeles school teacher.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Everett council president backs down from ban on holding 2 offices — On Wednesday, over 20 speakers showed up to support City Council member Rep. Mary Fosse’s (D-Everett) ability to serve in the state Legislature.

► From the AP — Biden goes into 2024 with the economy getting stronger, but voters feel horrible about itPresident Joe Biden goes into next year’s election with a vexing challenge: Just as the U.S. economy is getting stronger, people are still feeling horrible about it. Pollsters and economists say there has never been as wide a gap between the underlying health of the economy and public perception. The divergence could be a decisive factor in whether the Democrat secures a second term next year.

The STAND (June 16)AFL-CIO votes to endorse President Biden for re-election

► From HuffPost — Nikki Haley is proud of her ‘union-buster’ record — The Republican presidential candidate boasts of her rabidly anti-union past, but her views on labor are out of step with the American mood. As governor of South Carolina, she waged a years-long personal crusade against a union organizing a Charleston-area Boeing factory, putting an anti-union lawyer in her administration expressly to help her “fight” the campaign. She later lent her voice to radio ads urging factory workers to reject the union effort. And she once declared that she didn’t want jobs coming to her state at all if they were going to be union jobs. “We don’t want to taint the water,” she said… Haley accepted a seat on Boeing’s board of directors in 2019, after her time as governor. Boeing paid her $256,322, including $135,000 in stock. She resigned from the board in 2020, citing her opposition to a pandemic-era bailout of the airline industry.

EDITOR’S NOTE — As it turns out, Boeing didn’t accept any federal money from the pandemic-era bailout after all. But Haley’s resignation also coincided with a historic failure by Boeing’s Board of Directors that cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2021, Boeing’s then-current and former company directors — including Haley — reached a $237.5 million settlement after being sued by shareholders over the board’s failure to conduct proper safety oversight of the 737 MAX aircraft. Following two fatal 737 MAX crashes in the space of five months in 2018-19 that killed 346 people, Boeing’s best-selling plane was grounded for 20 months. It was the largest-ever monetary recovery in a lawsuit that directors failed to protect shareholders against the risk of harm. Part of the settlement was that Boeing’s board members admitted no wrongdoing.

► From the Washington Post — The Trump dictatorship: How to stop it (by Robert Kagan) — Some readers of my last essay (about the increasing inevitability of a Trump dictatorship) asked fairly: What can an ordinary citizen do? If every American who fears a Trump dictatorship acted on those fears, voiced them, convinced others, influenced their elected officials, then yes, that could make a difference. Another ship is passing that can still save us. Will we swim toward it this time, or will we let it pass, as we have all the others? I am deeply pessimistic, but I could not more fervently wish to be proved wrong.




► From Reuters — China says Boeing welcome to deepen development in its market — China’s aviation regulator’s deputy head on Friday told a Boeing executive in Beijing the airplane maker was welcome to deepen its development in the Chinese market. The meeting comes as China was reportedly considering resuming purchases of its bestselling 737 Max aircraft to Chinese airlines more than four years after they were halted following two deadly crashes

► From the News Tribune — Want a high-salary job at Boeing? A local high school is a pipeline for young people (by Trisha Fry) — Boeing recently celebrated its 1,000th hire from the Core Plus Aerospace, a program for high school students to earn credits while learning, hands-on, the skills needed to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing.




► From Reuters — Microsoft, AFL-CIO reach deal on AI, labor neutrality — Microsoft and the AFL-CIO said Monday they had struck a deal whereby the U.S. software giant will remain neutral in efforts by unions to encourage workers to become members. The two sides will also work together on the future of artificial intelligence, in a first-of-its-kind partnership on AI and the future of the workforce as business and labor grapple with the impact of the technology.

► From the AFL-CIO — AFL-CIO and Microsoft announce new tech-labor partnership on AI and the future of the workforce — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler:

“The labor movement looks forward to partnering with Microsoft to expand workers’ role in the creation of worker-centered design, workforce training, and trustworthy AI practices.”

► From NPR — Supreme Courts in 3 states will hear cases about abortion access this week — The future of reproductive rights for a wide swath of the Mountain West may be decided next week, as state Supreme Courts in Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming hear arguments in cases that will determine abortion access in the region.

► From Politico — A deadly delivery highlights ‘falsified’ heat records at USPS — Letter carrier Eugene Gates’ death is part of a storm of allegations that the U.S. Postal Service ignored its own heat safety programs and manipulated official records to hide those actions ahead of an unrelenting summer of extreme heat that killed scores of people across the U.S. Under its own policy, the agency is required to train letter carriers each spring to recognize the symptoms of heat illness and what to do if they feel sick. But Gates didn’t receive training, and his managers “falsified” official records before his death to hide it, according to his widow, Carla, and leaders of the National Association of Letter Carriers union who are involved in the grievance. And he’s not the only one.

► From the Washington Post — The racial homeownership gap is widening. New rules might make it worse. — An unusual alliance of big banks and some housing affordability advocates is arguing that a proposal meant to boost the financial stability of banks would make mortgages more expensive for cash-poor home buyers — disproportionately people of color.

► From the Wisconsin State Journal — TruStage, union reach tentative labor contract agreement — Madison-based insurance company TruStage and its union have reached a tentative labor contract agreement after nearly two years of contentious negotiations that led to a weekslong strike by OPEIU Local 39 last spring.




► From the Seattle Times — Why doctors and pharmacists are in revolt — Dr. John Wust does not come off as a labor agitator. A longtime OB-GYN from Louisiana with a penchant for bow ties, Wust spent the first 15 years of his career as a partner in a small business — that is, running his own practice with colleagues. Long after he took a position at Allina Health, a large nonprofit health care system in 2009, he did not see himself as the kind of employee who might benefit from collective bargaining. But that changed in the months leading up to March, when his group of more than 100 doctors at an Allina hospital near Minneapolis voted to unionize. Wust, who has spoken with colleagues about the potential benefits of a union, said doctors were at a loss on how to ease their unsustainable workload because they had less input at the hospital than ever before. He said:

“The way the system is going, I didn’t see any other solution legally available to us.”

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