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SLOW DOWN | Access to unemployment benefits | Legislators’ staff rights

Wednesday, January 24, 2024




► From the union-busting Columbian — ‘If it sounds like we’re angry … we’re angry’: WSDOT leaders push back after road workers injured in I-5 crash — Road officials were angry Tuesday morning as they reflected on a Sunday night crash that hospitalized six Washington State Department of Transportation workers who were attempting to fix potholes on I-5 north just past where it merges with I-205. WSDOT urges drivers to slow down and be vigilant as data shows Sunday’s crash is part of a grim uptick in crashes involving road crews.

► From L&I — Teen worker loses both legs to trenching machine, leading to L&I fines — A 16-year old boy was using a walk-behind trencher on a job site in La Center this summer when he was dragged underneath the blade, causing injuries so severe that he lost both legs to amputation. Rotschy LLC, the Vancouver construction company that sent him to operate the machine without supervision or adequate safety measures is facing more than $150,000 in fines.

► From HuffPost — Union demands financial disclosures from Starbucks and its high-powered law firm — The union that organized nearly 400 Starbucks stores has asked regulators to demand financial disclosures from the coffee chain and its law firm related to their long-running campaign against the organizing effort. Workers United sent a complaint to the Labor Department on Tuesday, arguing that both Starbucks and the firm, Littler Mendelson, should have to reveal details about their relationship, including how much Starbucks is paying the firm. Starbucks has deployed dozens of Littler attorneys around the country in a two-year legal effort to blunt the organizing campaign.

► From McClatchy — Feds criticize Hanford contractor for ‘excessively idle’ employees, limit company pay — The Department of Energy awarded its Hanford support services contractor only $2.9 million of a possible $8.4 million in incentive pay in its subjective evaluation for fiscal 2023. DOE was unhappy with the contractor’s management of fire system maintenance workers, work activities and associated costs.

► From the Yakima H-R — U.S. Postal Service might move some processing operations out of Yakima — One option is to move some operations out of Yakima’s processing and distribution center on Washington Avenue, according to the USPS. If that happens, the Yakima facility would be “modernized and repurposed” into a local processing center, a sorting and delivery center, or both. Yakima’s facility will not be closed, the USPS said.

► From the Seattle Times — Seattle City Council chooses Tanya Woo for open seat — The Seattle City Council appointed hotel owner Tanya Woo to join its ranks on Tuesday, filling the vacant citywide seat left by Teresa Mosqueda with a member far more moderate than the onetime progressive standard-bearer.




► From Teamsters 117 — Video: Protect and empower workers – pass SB 5777 — Teamsters 117 Vice President Brenda Wiest reviews an important bill for workers. SB 5777 would provide striking workers access to unemployment insurance. It will help empower workers by restoring the balance of power between workers and management. Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and tell your legislators to support the bill!

From The STAND (Jan. 8)Support unemployment benefits for strikers, Employee Free Choice Act — Rather than negotiate a fair contract, employers can weaponize the economic instability of workers — especially low-income workers — to force a strike and “starve them out.” Striking workers and their families should have access to some economic support.

TAKE A STAND! — Please send a message to your Washington state legislators in support of these two bills: Unemployment Insurance for Strikers (SB 5777 / HB 1893) and the Employee Free Choice Act (SB 5778 / HB 1940).

► From Crosscut — Legislators are shaping their staff’s collective bargaining rights — But workers it would affect can’t weigh in. Ethics rules prevent them from lobbying on bills — even ones that would define their ability to unionize.

► From the Seattle Times — Lawmakers should make it easier for school levies to pass (editorial) — Year after year, school districts go to voters to request funding for capital improvements, and year after year, many are rejected. It’s difficult to persuade 60% of voters to increase their own taxes, especially when other costs are going up. A bipartisan remedy is now before the Legislature that would ask voters statewide this fall to lower the current 60% voter approval threshold to 55%.

► From the Seattle Times — Bill aims to increase WA school board pay for first time since 1987 — A 1987 law caps the yearly earnings for school board members at $4,800 — adjusted for inflation, that would have been $13,240 in the late 1980s.

► From the WA State Standard — Using public land to fund child care? WA lawmakers are considering it — The plan calls for using revenue from logging and carbon sequestration on state forestlands to help pay for new child care centers.

► From the WA State Standard — ‘Verge of collapse’: Washington public defenders swamped by cases — “I am hearing people are not getting the proper representation,” says one lawmaker working to shore up a system strained by heavy caseloads and too few lawyers.




► From the Seattle Times — Boeing, not Spirit, mis-installed piece that blew off Alaska MAX 9 jet, industry source says — The fuselage panel that blew off an Alaska Airlines jet earlier this month was removed for repair then reinstalled improperly by Boeing mechanics on the Renton final assembly line, a source says. If verified by the NTSB investigation, this would leave Boeing primarily at fault for the accident, rather than its supplier Spirit AeroSystems, which originally installed the panel into the 737 MAX 9 fuselage in Wichita, Kan.

► From the Seattle Times — Boeing plans safety ‘stand down’ as United reconsiders 737 MAX orders — On the same day United Airlines said it would consider alternatives to Boeing for its next airplane order, the manufacturer announced a one-day work pause on Thursday at its Renton factory for employees to learn and focus on quality assurance.

► From Reuters — Alaska CEO: Loose bolts found on ‘many’ MAX 9 jets

► Form KOMO — Boeing CEO to meet with US senators amid investigation

► From The Guardian — Nose wheel falls off Boeing 757 passenger jet awaiting takeoff — Delta Air Lines jet was due to depart from Atlanta airport and none of six crew or 184 passengers were hurt.

► From Reuters — Boeing to boost manufacturing in Vietnam as supplier builds plant

► From the Seattle Times — Boeing’s manufacturing, ethical lapses go back decades (by Any Pasztor) — Historically, instead of ensuring that promised internal changes were fully embraced and demonstrated through performance, Boeing behaved as though slogans, public relations efforts and bureaucratic shuffles were adequate in fixing its problems.




► From the AP — Americans’ economic outlook brightens as inflation slows and wages outpace prices — After an extended period of gloom, Americans are starting to feel better about inflation and the economy — a trend that could sustain consumer spending, fuel economic growth and potentially affect President Joe Biden’s political fortunes. Paychecks have outpaced inflation over the past year, thereby easing Americans’ adjustment to a higher cost of living.

► From the AP — Biden will speak at UAW forum as he woos the blue-collar vote in battleground states — President Joe Biden will be the keynote speaker Wednesday at a United Auto Workers’ political convention as he works to sway blue-collar workers his way in critical auto-making swing states such as Michigan and Wisconsin.

From The STAND (Jan. 19)I knew Biden was old when I voted for him… and I will again (by Mark Riker) — As unionists, we’ve never experienced a presidential administration that has prioritized our interests so well. Maybe we need to show that same support back more openly, more aggressively, and with more appreciation. Biden-Harris 2024!

► From the AP — Biden wins New Hampshire primary with write-in effort

► From Vice — Trump won New Hampshire. Next up: A pummeling in court.




► From HuffPost — Union membership rate at historic low despite recent labor victories — U.S. unions managed to add thousands of members last year amid a wave of U.S. labor activism, but their footprint shrank slightly as an overall share of the workforce. U.S. unions managed to add thousands of members last year amid a wave of U.S. labor activism, but their footprint shrank slightly as an overall share of the workforce.

From The STAND (Jan. 23)Latest data on the Union Difference: 15.9% higher wages — Union membership slips in Washington, but state remains 3rd most unionized in the nation.

► From AFSCME — Union membership numbers show momentum remains strong despite staffing shortages — “It is not a surprise to see that severe staffing shortages and job vacancies in public service have contributed to a small dip in union membership,” AFSCME said in a statement.

READY FOR A VOICE AT WORK? Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for better wages and working conditions. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► From Reuters — Southwest Airlines flight attendants vote to approve strike authorization — Southwest Airlines flight attendants voted to approve a strike against the carrier, TWU Local 556 said on Tuesday. Over 98% of the members voted in favor, marking the first time in the union’s history that flight attendants authorized a strike against the company.

► From Axios — Condé Nast union workers walk out following layoff announcement — Yesterday’s one-day strike came months after Condé Nast said it would lay off approximately 5% of its staff, or roughly 300 people.

► From Variety — Anne Hathaway walks out of Vanity Fair photo shoot in solidarity with Condé Nast union work stoppage — “Once Anne was made aware of what was going on, she just got up from hair and makeup and left.”

► From Politico — LA Times slashes newsroom as paper struggles under billionaire owner — The union said cuts of at least 115 jobs fell disproportionately on Black, Latino and Asian employees.

► From NPR — eBay to lay off 1,000 workers as tech job losses continue


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!