Wednesday, December 13, 2023
► From the NY Times — Microsoft agrees to remain neutral in union campaigns — Punctuating a year of major gains for organized labor, Microsoft has announced that it will stay neutral if any group of U.S.-based workers seeks to unionize. Roughly 100,000 workers would be eligible to unionize under the framework, which was disclosed Monday by Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, and the AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler during a forum at the labor federation’s headquarters in Washington. The deal effectively broadens a neutrality agreement between Microsoft and the CWA, under which hundreds of the company’s video game workers unionized early this year without a formal NLRB election. Officially, it provides a framework in which any group of Microsoft workers can negotiate their own neutrality agreements with similar terms.
► From the Seattle Times — Starbucks accused by a second union of bargaining in bad faith — The Teamsters union, which represents workers at a Starbucks location in Greensburg, Penn., filed a complaint to the NLRB on Nov. 17. It accuses the coffee chain of engaging in “a protracted campaign of bad faith and surface bargaining” — a term for going through the motions of negotiations without sincerely trying to resolve issues. According to the complaint, “no meaningful progress has been made” over a dozen negotiating sessions held since employees unionized in June 2022. While the Teamsters represents only one cafe, its claims could help reinforce those of Workers United, the labor group locked in a long-running conflict with Starbucks over which side is preventing progress at the bargaining table.
► From the Crosscut — The Starbucks labor movement is brewing in WA (podcast) — But there still isn’t a contract. Crosscut reporter Lizz Giordano updates us on employees’ unionizing efforts.
► From Q13 — Nurses demand change at Seattle Children’s (video) — Many who work in the mental health unit say they don’t feel comfortable going to work. They want more resources to help them care for the children in their unit.
Today at The STAND — Nurses at Seattle Children’s unit hold vigil for improved safety
► From the News Tribune — Kroger and Albertsons want to merge. We work there. This is all about greed (by UFCW 3000 members Candi Williams and Kim Bristlin) — We are two of the more than 35,000 grocery store workers from across the Pacific Northwest who work at Safeway, Albertsons, Haggen, Fred Meyer or QFC stores owned by the Kroger or Albertsons corporations. And we are deeply concerned about the proposed mega-merger of the two corporations, including the impacts that, if approved, it would have on workers and customers. When the multi-millionaire CEOs of these billion-dollar companies tell us we have nothing to worry about with their proposed merger, we think they’re wrong. There’s plenty to worry about.
► From the Tri-City Herald — 19 apply to replace Kennewick mayor who resigned. Why they want the job — The Kennewick City Council will interview applicants Friday, including Jason Lohr, a journeyman wireman at Schmitt Electric, who is a delegate to the Washington State Labor Council and member of IBEW Local 112. Also, Jordan Huck, a steamfitter welder foreman with Apollo Mechanical contracting and member of UA Local 598.
► From the Seattle Times — Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm is leaving — Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm is leaving mid-January after a short 16 months on the job, throwing the agency into another search for a leader amid the nation’s largest transit expansion program.
► From the Seattle Times — Boeing shifts policy, wants all employees back in the office full time — In October, Boeing Commercial Airplanes boss Stan Deal, eager to leave the COVID-19 pandemic behind, instructed his managers to get all employees back in the office full time, five days a week. While no deadline has been set, one group has been told they will be full time in the office when they return to work after the holiday break. With that, as Boeing engineers and business operations staff lose the perk of days without commutes and an easier work-life balance, a thin silver lining of the dark pandemic era is dissolving. SPEEA’s Ray Goforth said he has heard from some members that they will leave Boeing if they are forced to be in-office full time.
► From the Seattle Times — In November, Boeing won big jet orders and ramped up 737 MAX deliveries — Boeing delivered 56 commercial airplanes, including 45 MAXs, last month. That compares to 18 MAXs in October and just 15 MAXs in September.
► From the AP — U.S. proposes replacing engine-housing parts on Boeing jets like one involved in passenger’s death — Federal officials are proposing modifications and additional inspections on nearly 2,000 Boeing planes to prevent a repeat of the engine-housing breakup that killed a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight in 2018.
► From the (Everett) Herald — State lacks Spanish-speaking nurses; for Everett student, it’s personal — Elizabeth Cervantes, an undocumented immigrant, has interpreted for her parents at the doctor’s office since she was a child. Now she’s in an Everett nursing program to care for Spanish speakers in their own language. Hispanic people make up 14% of the state’s population. A diversity snapshot last year showed Hispanic nurses were the most underrepresented in the state, making up 5% of registered nurses and 5% of registered nursing students.
EDITOR’S NOTE — As of November, everyone who lives in Washington can buy health and dental insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder, regardless of immigration status. Low-income people may be eligible for financial aid to help cover costs. As a free resource, Healthplanfinder pairs people with local organizations to help navigate health coverage and care options in 45 languages.
► From the WA State Standard — Petitions filed for ‘parents’ bill of rights’ ballot measure in Washington — Conservative groups are behind the initiative to embolden parents of public school students. Many of the provisions exist in current law, state education officials say.
► From Vox — The Supreme Court will hear its biggest abortion case since it overruled Roe v. Wade — The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it will give a full hearing to a long-simmering dispute over whether far-right federal courts may ban the abortion drug mifepristone. It is part of a two-drug treatment that causes the uterus to expel pregnancy tissue. This two-drug regime, which may be taken up to the 70th day of a pregnancy, is often a safer alternative than surgical abortion — and it is also a less invasive procedure. More than half of all U.S. abortions are medication abortions, which use mifepristone.
► From the AP — House set for key vote on Biden impeachment inquiry as Republicans unite behind investigation — The House is pushing toward a vote Wednesday to formally authorize the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden as Republicans rally behind the charged process despite lingering concerns among some in the party that the investigation has yet to produce evidence of misconduct by the president.
► From the LA Times — A new initiative by Biden that might finally bring drug prices down (by Michael Hiltzik) — The most frustrating thing about America’s failure to rein in drug prices is that a weapon against Big Pharma’s profiteering has been hiding in plain sight — and never used — for more than 40 years. But it’s now being unsheathed by the Biden White House. We’re talking about a provision of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which was enacted to give private enterprise more latitude to exploit government-funded research in the public interest.
► From the Washington Post — Lawsuit alleges forced prison labor scheme involving private employers — Ten current and former Alabama prisoners say they were forced to participate in work programs that raised money for the state while providing cheap labor to public- and private-sector employers, including franchisees of Burger King, McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday. The plaintiffs, who also include several labor unions and the criminal justice nonprofit Woods Foundation, say the system amounts to a “modern-day form of slavery” comparable to convict-leasing programs that existed after the Civil War.
EDITOR’S NOTE — AFL-CIO President Fred Redmond tweets:
“The disproportionate impact of forced prison labor on Black Alabamians is a stark reminder of how systemic racism contributes to the vulnerability of certain populations, enabling their exploitation for financial gain. Justice must be served.”
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.