Tuesday, December 19, 2023
► From KIRO — Alaska Airlines flight attendants picketing today at Sea-Tac ahead of strike vote — Travelers at Sea-Tac Airport will see a group of Alaska Airlines flight attendants demonstrating on Tuesday. They are calling the nationwide pickets a “day of action.” Alaska flight attendants (AFA-CWA) are demanding a fair contract with significant pay increases. According to the union, flight attendants were angered when Alaska’s management told them their proposals were not “economically feasible,” but months later, the airline announced plans to buy Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 billion. Contract negotiations with the union and the airline stalled in October. Meanwhile, the union announced on Tuesday that Alaska flight attendants will vote on whether to authorize a strike.
TAKE A STAND — All are invited to join today’s picket from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Meet at the Flag Pavilion at the corner of International Blvd and Airport Expressway.
The STAND (Aug. 16) — Alaska’s flight attendants: Pay Us or Chaos! — Alaska’s flight attendants are working under a nine-year-old contract that has been extended twice, first due to the merger with Virgin America and second due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While Alaska Airlines has reported record revenue of $9.6 billion in 2022, Alaska Airlines’ flight attendants have not received a significant pay increase in nine years.
► From PubliCola — Seattle city unions reach tentative contract — The Coalition of City Unions, an umbrella group for 11 unions that represent more than 8,000 city of Seattle employees, reached a tentative agreement with the city this week that will—if the unions approve the contract—provide a 5 percent retroactive cost-of-living adjustment for 2023 and a 4.5 percent COLA next year, resulting in a total 9.5 percent boost for city workers in 2024.
EDITOR’S NOTE — See more details via PROTEC 17.
The STAND (Sept. 20) — More than 1,000 Seattle city workers rally for #RSPCT
(April 19) — 50-foot petition to Seattle mayor, council: RSPCT city workers!
► From KOMO — Seattle DHL operations hit hard by solidarity walkout during nationwide strike — A nationwide strike involving DHL employees impacted the company’s Seattle operations, with undelivered packages piling up at DHL facilities at Sea-Tac Airport and Boeing Field. According to Teamsters Local 174, none of the company’s western Washington employees were actually on strike themselves. Instead, they walked off the job as a show of solidarity with the workers who were on strike nationwide.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Everett nurses reject tentative agreement with Providence — Nurses have rejected a potential union contract with Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Nearly 900 nurses (UFCW 3000) voted Friday on a tentative agreement following eight months of bargaining with the hospital and a five-day strike in November. The vote failed, with 51.8% of nurses voting against. The contract needed a majority to pass. Nurses also declined a second strike by a 47% vote. Two-thirds of nurses would have needed to vote in favor for a strike to go forward. As a next step, the union will survey nurses for specific feedback on the contract offer. Providence and the union are set to continue contract talks in January.
EDITOR’S NOTE — See the UFCW 3000 statement on the votes here.
► From WSU-CASE — LAST CHANCE: Strike Announcement — At Sunday’s Mass Meeting we decided to set a strike date of Jan. 17, 2024, if the Washington State University administration has still not come to agreement on a contract that reflects the dignity and worth of Academic Student Employees at WSU by then.
The STAND (Dec. 7) — WSU ASEs demand fair contract at Chancellor’s Office sit-in
(Nov. 8) — WSU Academic Student Employees vote to OK strike
► From KIRO — Washington Macy’s workers will start bargaining before Christmas — Macy’s workers across Washington (UFCW 3000) are going to the bargaining table with the company right before Christmas.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Hanford vit plant workers donate thousands to Toys for Tots, Bikes for Tikes — Team members at the Hanford Vitrification Plant donated more than $23,000 in toys and cash to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots and Local 598’s Bikes for Tikes campaigns.
► From the NW Labor Press — Judge orders Starbucks to rehire fired baristas — In their combined 34 years at Starbucks, Heather Clark and Gail Kleeman had just two disciplinary write-ups between the two of them — until they told managers they wanted a union. Within 10 months of signing cards to join Starbucks Workers United, both were fired, allegedly for violating Starbucks policies. On Nov. 27, a federal administrative law judge found that the coffee giant’s real reason for firing them was their support of the union, and ruled the firing illegal. Judge Sharon Levinson Steckler ordered Starbucks to give Clark and Kleeman their jobs back and pay them any wages and benefits they lost. It’s the first Oregon case where a NLRB judge has reinstated pro-union baristas, but it likely won’t be the last.
EDITOR’S NOTE — It’s almost as if last week’s Starbucks press offensive — in which the company announced its willingness to finally obey the law and negotiate a contract with unionized employees after more than two years — was in anticipation of this decision. It’s also worth noting that $28 million CEO Laxman Narasimhan and company still refuse to concede the biggest obstacle to those negotiations: their refusal to allow hybrid negotiations.
► From the Seattle Times — Inslee’s legacy? It’s likely up for one final vote (by Danny Westneat) — At a cost of $7 million to qualify statewide initiatives so far, Republicans will be essentially “calling the question” — asking for an up-or-down vote — on years of Democratic rule. One bad day could wipe out decades of work. If they all qualify for the ballot, the six initiatives would cancel the “cap and invest” climate act (and ban any similar one in the future); repeal the capital gains tax on the wealthy that goes to schools; ban income taxes; make the new long-term care tax optional; re-allow police car chases in most situations; and establish a “bill of rights” for school parents.
► From the WA State Standard — Inslee takes early step to hand off power to a new governor — The governor’s office is requesting nearly $3 million to cover the cost of the transition to Gov. Jay Inslee’s successor.
► From the WA State Standard — State finalizes deal for 20,000 acres of logging lands in southwest Washington — It’s a $121 million purchase. A nonprofit is paying over half the total sale price for 11,000 acres that the state will have the option to take ownership of later.
► From the WA State Standard — Investigation finds Washington lawmaker berated, bullied staff — A report says state Rep. Michelle Caldier’s (R-Gig Harbor) behavior toward legislative employees dating back to 2022 violated House policy. She’s appealing the findings.
► From the Seattle Times — Head of Washington State Ferries Patty Rubstello to step down — Patty Rubstello leaves the department at a time of great uncertainty for the ferry system. Crumbling boats and thin staffing have reduced sailings and made service unpredictable.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Longtime state ferry commuters: ‘This is the worst it’s been’ — Thousands of commuters rely on the Edmonds-Kingston and Mukilteo-Clinton ferries. But delays and cancellations have piled up.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Past, present Hanford nuclear workers getting federal help for lung scarring disease — Hanford site workers will get timely medical help after being unknowingly exposed to a toxic metal at the nuclear reservation, thanks to a new law. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) got legislation to help Hanford workers who were exposed to particles of beryllium at the Hanford site included in the National Defense Authorization Act. It passed the U.S. House on Thursday after being approved by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday and has been sent to Biden for his signature. Murray said:
“Hanford workers should not have to jump through unnecessary hoops to get the care they need.”
► From Crain’s — Federal officials roll out final project labor agreement rules — Nearly all large-scale federal government construction projects will be required to have a project labor agreement (PLA) in place, according to a new rule issued by President Joe Biden’s administration. It requires PLAs, beginning in 2024, on projects costing the federal government $35 million or more.
► From the AFL-CIO — New Project Labor Agreement rule is a win for workers — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler: “This ensures that employees are prioritized on the jobsite and have the security and peace of mind they deserve. PLAs are known to benefit both union and nonunion workers by preventing worker exploitation and ensuring accountability in construction projects that directly result in wins for the economy and our communities.”
► From NPR — Biden has big plans for semiconductors. But there’s a big hole: not enough workers — To meet the expected demand, the White House says the United States needs 90,000 to 100,000 more semiconductor technicians – and needs to triple the number of engineering grads – by 2030. The engineering shortage could be as high as 300,000 by the end of the decade, according to one report.
► From The Hill — Fetterman says he’ll work to block ‘absolutely outrageous’ U.S. Steel sale — Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) vowed Monday to work to block the $14.9 billion sale of U.S. Steel Corp. to Japanese steelmaker Nippon Steel, which he described as an “outrageous” move. “This is yet another example of hard-working Americans being blindsided by greedy corporations willing to sell out their communities to serve their shareholders. I stand with the men and women of the Steelworkers and their union way of life,” Fetterman said.
► From The Hill — Senate Republicans recoil at Trump ‘poisoning the blood of our country’ remarks — Senate Republicans on Monday recoiled at former President Trump’s comments at a rally in New Hampshire over the weekend, where he said the thousands of immigrants streaming into the United States on a daily basis are “poisoning the blood of our country.”
► From Roll Call — Dangers faced by firefighters compounded by ‘forever chemicals’ — In the growing mass of litigation over the impacts of “forever chemicals,” cases filed by thousands of firefighters are getting increased attention, both in Congress and in the courts.
► From Roll Call — O’Malley confirmed as Social Security commissioner — The Senate confirmed former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley as Social Security commissioner, putting in place the first Senate-approved head of the agency in more than two years.
► From the LA Times — Progress builds toward L.A. hotel strike settlement as union reaches deals with 10 more hotels — UNITE HERE Local 11 has reached tentative contract agreements with 10 more Southern California hotels covering hundreds of housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers, servers and front desk workers who have been pushing for higher pay and better benefits. Momentum is building to resolve the 5-month-old strike that initially involved 60 hotels and over 15,000 workers and is believed to be the largest hotel strike in U.S. history.
► From the LA Times — Amazon’s takeover of the Inland Empire is a textbook case of corporate manipulation (editorial) — A leaked memo details the company’s public relations efforts to sway decisions in the region to serve its own interests. The plan for 2024 included strategic donations, currying favor with local politicians, methods of cultivating allies and placing of “Amazonians” within community groups and local boards like sleeper spies. Together, these are intended to overcome vocal community opposition to Amazon’s labor exploitation and union-busting tactics and the environmental harms of warehouse proliferation.
► From ProPublica — When railroad workers get hurt on the job, some supervisors go to extremes to keep it quiet — When questioned by federal officials or faced with an accident, the nation’s powerful freight railroad companies say they are among the safest employers in America and tout their injury records to prove it. But those statistics belie a troubling dynamic within the companies, ProPublica found: a culture that blames workers when they get hurt and motivates supervisors to go to extreme, and sometimes dangerous, lengths to keep injuries off the books.
► From Vox — Canada is promoting child care for $10 a day — A massive social policy experiment is unfolding in Canada to provide families throughout the country with child care for an average of $10 a day. The plan, which was introduced in 2021 amid the turmoil of the pandemic, aims to spend up to $30 billion Canadian by 2026 to bring down child care costs for parents and to create 250,000 new slots. The federally backed effort brings Canada’s safety net closer to that of other Western democracies that have stepped up on child care, including Finland, Sweden, France, Germany, and Australia, and it could prove an inspiration to other countries whose systems still lag, like the United States.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.