Friday, January 12, 2024
► From Crosscut — Washington unions wary of proposed Kroger/Albertsons supermarket merger — Kroger and Albertsons have not disclosed which stores they plan to sell if the acquisition is approved by federal antitrust regulators, but significant market overlap in Washington means more stores are being offered up in this state than any other. Kroger has published a commitment that “no stores will close as a result of the merger,” “frontline associates will remain employed” and “collective bargaining agreements will be honored.” But workers, union representatives and dozens of supporter organizations aren’t convinced.
► From Bloomberg — Washington state poised to sue over Kroger-Albertsons deal — Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is expected to file a lawsuit seeking to block Kroger’s proposed takeover of Albertsons. Ferguson previously sued in an unsuccessful effort to stop Albertsons from paying $4 billion to shareholders as a special dividend after it announced the Kroger deal. The antitrust review by the FTC and other states remains ongoing.
The 2024 AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference begins today and runs through Sunday. This event is running during a crucial moment for the labor and civil rights movements, as workers across the country are organizing at historic rates for dignity, respect and justice, both on the job and in our communities. We are facing unprecedented attacks on our rights from politicians and judges who would rather put the interests of corporations over the needs of working people. We will come together not only to strengthen the bond between our two movements, but also to reignite our shared commitment to democracy and winning racial and economic justice for all. Select sessions will be livestreamed starting Friday morning, and you can watch along at TheMLKConference.org.
► From the Spokesman-Review — ‘This is a day on, not off’: Spokane set to celebrate, honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day — Spokane will honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with a bevy of community events, workshops and commemorative services in the coming days honoring the late minister’s decades of Civil Rights work.
MORE local coverage of community celebrations and volunteer opportunities in the Walla-Walla Union Bulletin, and the union-busting (Vancouver) Columbian. Check your local newspaper for more information.
From The Calendar at The STAND — The Seattle MLK Jr. Coalition will present “MLK Jr.’s Dream Unfinished,” a series of events leading up to its annual Rally and March starting at 11 a.m. at Garfield High School on Monday, Jan. 15. Get details.
► From the Seattle Times — Boeing is under fire after Alaska Airlines MAX 9 blowout. So is the FAA. — Nearly a week after a panel blew off an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 aircraft midflight, lawmakers and federal regulators are starting to look to the Boeing plane’s troubled history to understand what happened — and what didn’t. On Thursday, fingers started pointing. On Friday, the FAA announced that it would intensify its oversight and audit Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 production line, as well as the company’s parts suppliers.
► From the Seattle Times archives (Jan. 20, 2019) — Boeing overhauls quality controls: more high-tech tracking but fewer inspectors — Boeing has begun a sweeping transformation of its quality system, including the use of “smart” tools and automation. It will also eliminate thousands of quality checks as no longer necessary. Boeing has told the union it will cut about 450 quality inspector positions this year and potentially a similar number next year.
► From the WA State Standard — Why
strippers dancers in Washington are fighting for stronger workplace protections (by Madison Zack-Wu) — Here in Washington, well-intentioned but flawed state laws have given rise to a predatory business model for strip clubs. Dancers are trying to change that. We’re now fighting to pass legislation to make our state’s strip clubs safer workplaces. We are mostly women, people of color, LGBTQ+, single moms, and coming up from poverty. Holding a “nontraditional” job like this has always been about making sure our work can work for us. And our labor organizing is accomplishing just that.
► From KUOW — Washington schools chief calls for changes to better fund special education — Washington’s chief of public schools wants the state to fully fund special education this legislative session. At a time when school districts across the state grapple with big budget shortfalls fueled by declining enrollment, Superintendent Chris Reykdal said this isn’t the time to cut corners on special education:
“This isn’t a choice. This isn’t a nice to have. These are civil rights of kids based on federal and state law.”
► From Crosscut — Legislature aims to regulate AI — but treads cautiously — “You don’t want to stop innovation. You don’t want to stop commerce. But you don’t want to stop people’s civil rights.”
► From the House Democrats — Senn bill to electrify school buses receives early hearing — HB 1368 requires a gradual shift towards zero-emission school buses, such that by 2027, all new school bus purchases must be zero-emission. Supporters include include Climate Solutions, IBEW, Washington Education Association, WSPTA, Seattle Aquarium, League of Women Voters, students and dozens of others.
EDITOR’S NOTE — HB 1368 is also supported by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
► From the WA State Standard — Washington lawmakers look to cap rent increases — A proposal making its way through the Legislature would also place limits on move-in and late payment fees. It faces opposition from landlords, developers and Republicans.
► From the WA State Standard — For second time, Washington House backs tougher penalties for threatening election workers
► From The Hill — McConnell stands in way of Brown, Vance victory on Rail Safety Act — The bipartisan legislation would enhance safety procedures for trains carrying hazardous materials, require emergency response plans and stricter regulations to prevent wheel bearing failures, require two-person crews for freight trains, and would substantially increase fines for safety violations. It faces stiff opposition from the freight rail industry.
EDITOR’S NOTE — For more information, check out ProPublica’s excellent investigative series, Train Country, about how powerful railroad companies have raced to maximize profits through efficiency, but safety is left behind.
► From the AP — IRS says it collected $360 million more from rich tax cheats as its funding is threatened yet again — The IRS says it has collected an additional $360 million in overdue taxes from delinquent millionaires as the agency’s leadership tries to promote the latest work it has done to modernize the agency with Inflation Reduction Act funding that Republicans are threatening to chip away.
► From the LA Times — Cal State faculty just got a 5% raise. Here’s why they’re upset — California State University officials are unilaterally raising faculty pay by 5%, rejecting demands for much higher increases and ending contract negotiations with the faculty union, a move that has ramped up labor strife as a systemwide, weeklong walkout approaches. The pay hike effective Jan. 31 is far from the 12% increase for the 2023-24 academic year sought by the California Faculty Assn.
► From the Hollywood Reporter — IATSE chief: Workers ‘ready to fight in upcoming contract talks with studios — The crew union leader and reps from SAG-AFTRA, the Writers Guild of America and Teamsters had strong words for the AMPTP during a labor innovation and technology summit at CES: “My folks aren’t going to just settle.”
► From the Denver Post — Denver Art Museum workers will form union to combat wage, safety concerns — The drive to unionize, which includes the majority of DAM’s 250 eligible employees, was announced Thursday morning.
From The STAND — Tacoma Art Museum Workers United victory a model for other museums (Dec. 5, 2023)
► When Luke Combs’ cover of “Fast Car” became country hit last year, lots of folks discovered the brilliant singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman for the first time. This 1988 performance of the song — where most of the world first discovered Chapman at the televised Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute at London’s Wembley Stadium — is blowing up on social media this week. Surprise guest Stevie Wonder had experienced technical problems and could not perform, so 24-year-old Chapman (who had played a couple of songs earlier in the day) was sent back on stage with nothing but a microphone and an acoustic guitar to perform this quiet, beautiful song in front of 60,000 people while the crew set up for the next act. In the ensuing days, her debut album’s sales exploded and the rest is history. Enjoy.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.