Tuesday, January 9, 2024
► From the NW Labor Press — The year 2023 in review (by WSLC President April Sims) — Nothing moves without workers. Our labor is the backbone of our economy. In 2023, workers fought and won. From pandemic years, sky-rocketing inflation, and corporate greed, working folks’ backs are up against the wall. At the same time, our eyes are open to fundamental truths. And rather than accept the rough hand we’ve been dealt, workers are fighting back… In 2024, the stakes are rising, with massive contract fights and a pivotal national election on the horizon. But working people are ready to reclaim our power and energize our movement. United, we’ll continue to win for working communities on the job site, in the streets, and in the halls of power.
► From Q13 — Washington power outages: Tens of thousands lose power as storm moves through Pacific Northwest — Tens of thousands of people were without power Tuesday as rain, snow and gusty winds hit the greater Seattle area.
► From KXLY — High winds and mountain snow continue today and tonight
EDITOR’S NOTE — A big thank you to all of the road maintenance and power line crews and others working overtime on our behalf. Stay safe!
► From the NW Labor Press — Camas and Evergreen school districts spent big on outside attorneys — Two Southwest Washington school districts spent close to $200,000 for legal advice during recent contract negotiations with teachers. Though it’s a small share of district budgets, bargaining could have been handled in-house by district administrators.
Previously from The STAND:
— Camas educators ratify deal to end strike (Sept. 8, 2023)
— Strike ends in Vancouver; Evergreen educators ratify deal (Sept. 11, 2023)
► From the union-busting Columbian — Labor shortages in construction industry cause delays, drive up costs in Clark County, nationally — For years, the local construction industry has seen labor shortages. Experts say the trend is driving up the cost of building and causing delays. It’s the same nationally. The construction industry had 459,000 job openings nationwide in November, the highest since the end of 2022, according to the U.S.
► From the NW Labor Press — Longview-Kelso Building Trades Council breaks record: Two tons — Sometimes solidarity looks like two tons of meat delivered by workers in Santa hats and union T-shirts. On Dec. 18, volunteers from two dozen Southwest Washington labor groups donated 4,814 pounds of ham to Lower Columbia CAP (Community Action Program), a nonprofit that runs assistance programs for low income families in Cowlitz County. The Longview-Kelso Building and Construction Trades Council has raised money to purchase the hams annually since 2009. It started with a single $500 donation from the council but has grown every year to include contributions from council affiliates and, more recently, other local unions.
► From the Seattle Times — Legislature kicks off short session with optimism, lengthy agenda — Monday’s opening ceremonies kicked off what is expected to be an active two months. Lawmakers will pass an updated budget, including untangling the mathematical knot caused by a massive increase in the cost of transportation projects. They will also work on some of the biggest issues facing Washington: homelessness, the lack of affordable child care and the quest to provide more treatment for people with substance use disorders amid record overdose deaths.
Previously at The STAND:
— Support unemployment benefits for strikers, Employee Free Choice Act (Jan. 8) — A public hearing on HB 1893 is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today (follow the links to watch on TVW) in the House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards. A hearing on SB 5777 will also be at 10:30 a.m. today in the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce. (The WSLC will be live-tweeting @WAAFLCIO.)
TAKE A STAND! — Please send a message to your Washington state legislators in support of two bills: Unemployment Insurance for Strikers (SB 5777 / HB 1893) and the Employee Free Choice Act (SB 5778 / HB 1940).
► From the AP — Busy Washington state legislative session kicks off with a focus on the housing crisis — Democratic House Speaker Laurie Jinkins kicked off the Washington state legislative session on Monday determined to address the housing crisis, explaining that while lawmakers made strides last year, there is plenty of work left to do.
► From the NW Labor Press — Long-awaited I-5 replacement bridge starting to get real — The proposal to replace the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River got its first big federal funding commitment Dec. 15 when the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the project will receive a $600 million grant. That’s on top of $1 billion the Washington Legislature committed during its 2022 session, and another $1 billion authorized by the Oregon Legislature in 2023.
► From the WA State Standard — Washington House passes bill to allow splitting of residential lots — The state House on Monday voted to require cities to allow residential property owners to split their lots into smaller parcels – the first of many proposals this year aimed at getting more housing built across Washington.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER
► From the NW Labor Press — UFCW Local 555 health trust drops Kaiser, citing wait times — Oregon’s largest private sector union dropped Kaiser Permanente as a health care option for members — an estimated $17.9 million a year of lost business for the nation’s largest managed care organization. Trustees for the UFCW Local 555 Employers Health Trust voted to remove Kaiser effective Jan. 1 on the grounds that members had reported waiting months for doctors appointments.
► From the NW Labor Press — Safeway bargaining lasts two years… for six bakers — Safeway demanded separate agreements after three new units in Portland-area stores voted in 2021 to join Bakers Local 114. Then Safeway stalled negotiations.
EDITOR’S NOTE — For more great labor news in Oregon and Southwest Washington, subscribe to the Northwest Labor Press!
► From the AP — Airlines say they found loose parts in door panels during inspections of Boeing Max 9 jets — Federal investigators say a door panel slid up before flying off an Alaska Airlines jetliner last week, and they are looking at whether four bolts that were supposed to help hold the panel in place might have been missing when the plane took off. The comments Monday from the NTSB came shortly after Alaska and United Airlines reported separately that they found loose parts in the panels — or door plugs — of some other Boeing 737 Max 9 jets.
► From the Washington Post — Millions of gig workers could qualify as employees under new Biden-era rule — Millions of gig workers, janitors, home-care workers, construction workers and truckers could be considered employees rather than independent contractors under a final rule announced Tuesday by the Labor Department. The rule effectively expands the reach of federal labor laws that require employers to extend certain benefits and protections to workers classified as employees. Those include the right to the minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment insurance and Social Security benefits — which employers are not required to provide to independent contractors.
► From HuffPost — Biden reversing Trump labor rule to prevent misuse of ‘independent contractor’ status — The regulation would make it harder for employers to misclassify workers as a way to exclude them from basic protections and benefits.
► From the AP — Biden renominates Julie Su for labor secretary after Senate declined to confirm her for ten months — The White House announced Monday that President Joe Biden has renominated Julie Su to serve as labor secretary as her confirmation has languished in the Senate for more than 10 months. Su’s nomination cleared a key Senate committee in April, but with no Republicans on record supporting her, the Biden administration and her backers have scrambled to lock down 50 Democratic votes needed to confirm her. Wavering senators say that she had minimal experience in negotiations between workers and management, and point to perceptions that she’s anti-business.
► From the Washington Post — House lawmakers release bipartisan paid family leave plan — The House bipartisan working group on paid leave has released a modest, draft framework aiming to enhance access to paid family leave. The framework, which the group says focuses on policies with “current consensus,” is a significant step in the quest for federal paid leave, which has divided Congress for decades.
► From the Washington Post — House GOP stares down another internal fiscal fight as deadline looms — House Republicans will return to Washington on Tuesday once again staring down divisions within the conference over how to fund the government. The announcement of a funding framework sparked immediate outrage among the hard-right House Freedom Caucus and confusion among other conservatives, who said they have yet to hear directly from House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) about the deal, or how the conference will proceed to ensure the government is not partially shut down as soon as next week.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Patty Murray pledges to work ‘around the clock’ to fund government after congressional leaders reach $1.6 trillion deal
► From Reuters — Las Vegas hospitality worker unions set Feb 2 strike deadline — Unions representing hospitality workers in Las Vegas said on Monday they will ask their 7,700 members to go on a strike on Feb. 2, if they do not have a labor contract by then. The Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions are engaged in contract negotiations with 21 casino resorts in Las Vegas. The unions warned that they might launch targeted strikes sooner at individual properties if contract negotiations break down ahead of the strike deadline.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.