Monday, February 5, 2024
► From the Tri-City Herald — Dial-A-Ride drivers cry foul over $3M outsourcing they say will make disabled less safe — A third of the calls for Dial-a-Ride services for riders with disabilities and limited service in outlying Tri-Cities areas will be contracted out to a private firm rather than filling open Ben Franklin Transit driver positions. It’s part of two job-cutting initiatives planned for this year that could eliminate as many as 30 positions. But the recent vote by the public transit board drew immediate outrage from union employees, saying they fear the change puts the agency’s most medically fragile and youngest riders at risk. Teamsters Local 839 Secretary Russell Shjerven said the BFT manager Rachelle Glazier is trying to privatize the public service instead of filling open positions.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Beverage distributor laying off 125 workers on both sides of Washington state — Penske Logistics is laying off 125 workers (Teamsters 174) in Benton City, Auburn, Arlington and Spokane beginning March 31. Republic National Distributing Company has elected to handle the trucking and warehousing work Penske currently provides. Penske is working with Republic to ensure the affected workers will be able to apply to work for the company.
► From the Seattle Times — Behemoths’ merger is bad for WA grocery shoppers (editorial) — Combining Washington’s largest supermarket chains is a gamble that could lead to shuttered stores, lost jobs and increased prices for customers. That’s the argument at the root of a Washington Attorney General’s Office lawsuit against Albertsons and Kroger filed earlier this month. The litigation is unconnected to federal regulators’ own possible lawsuit. Those pursuing this $25 billion megamerger maintain it will benefit consumers and workers. Fat chance. The skeptics are right on this one: This deal is bad for grocery shoppers.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Bonds, levies key to students’ educational needs (editorial) — Operational levies, capital levies and bonds — above the basic education funded by the state — remain a necessary investment by the voters of local school districts in students’ educational opportunities.
► From the (Tacoma) News Tribune — Tacoma Public Schools bond and Puyallup Schools levy (editorial) — Don’t let the Feb. 13 election pass you by. Local schools — and the students and teachers who bring them to life — are depending on local support.
► From KIRO — Controversy brews in Marysville schools as teachers, parents push to oust superintendent — The Marysville Education Association overwhelmingly voted “no confidence” in Superintendent Dr. Zachary Robbins as well as the district’s chief of finance. Teachers accuse Robbins and his staff of botching the school district’s finances.
► From the union-busting Columbian — Washougal schools may cut 26 positions to address deficit
► From the Seattle Times — Number of Boeing workers in WA jumped 11% last year — In 2023, Boeing hired people steadily, building the workforce from its pandemic-era low point as jet production rates crept back up and retirements of more experienced employees demanded replacements. Taking account of losses due to attrition and additions from new hires, data released Thursday by the company shows Boeing’s Washington state workforce grew last year by 11%, a net increase of 6,553 jobs. At the end of 2023, the number of Boeing employees in the state bumped up to 66,792 — still shy of the pre-pandemic count of 71,829.
► From the AP — Boeing flags potential delays after supplier finds another problem with some 737 fuselages — Boeing discovered another problem in some of its 737 fuselages that may delay deliveries of about 50 aircraft in the latest quality gaffe to plague the manufacturer. Improperly drilled holes were discovered by Spirit AeroSystems, a major supplier that provides Boeing with fuselages, according to a letter from Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division, who wrote:
“We currently believe we will have to perform rework on about 50 undelivered planes.”
► From NPR — Why problems at a key Boeing supplier may help explain the company’s 737 MAX 9 mess — At the factory in Wichita, Kan., where Spirit AeroSystems builds the fuselage for the Boeing 737 MAX, management would sometimes throw a pizza party to celebrate a drop in the number of problems reported on the line. But Joshua Dean, a former quality auditor at the factory, says many of the workers knew something was off:
“We’re having a pizza party because we’re lowering defects. But we’re not lowering defects. We just ain’t reporting them, you know what I mean?”
ICYMI on Friday — Please support UI for Strikers (HB 1893 / SB 5777) — Washington state legislators must act now to support HB 1893 / SB 5777, which would allow striking workers to access unemployment benefits! HB 1893 must advance from House Appropriations Committee by a cutoff deadline on Monday, Feb. 5, and SB 5777 needs to get a floor vote in the Senate.
► From the Tri-City Herald — State council supports cutting half of proposed giant wind turbines near Tri-Cities — The Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council agreed last week that close to half of the turbines proposed for the Horse Heaven wind farm just south of the Tri-Cities should not be allowed. But it stopped short of agreeing to prohibiting all turbines, solar arrays and infrastructures east of Straub Canyon to protect tribal cultural resources.
From The STAND (June 9, 2022) — Tri-Cities trades unions reach deal to build Horse Heaven
► From the News Tribune — ICE won’t let inspectors into Tacoma immigration lockup despite court order, state says — Lawsuits are mounting over state oversight of the privately-run federal immigration detention center in Tacoma after health and workplace inspectors were repeatedly denied access to investigate complaints from detainees and alleged workplace safety violations.
► From the AP — The U.S. didn’t just avoid a recession — it’s adding hundreds of thousands of new jobs — The nation’s employers delivered a stunning burst of hiring to begin 2024, adding 353,000 jobs in January in the latest sign of the economy’s continuing ability to shrug off the highest interest rates in two decades. Friday’s government report showed that last month’s job gain — roughly twice what economists had predicted — topped the December gain of 333,000, a figure that was itself revised sharply higher. The unemployment rate stayed at 3.7%, just above a half-century low.
► From MTN — Trump campaign paid $20K to fake a union rally — The Trump campaign paid Drake Enterprises, a non-union auto parts shop in Clinton Township, $20,000 to stage a fake event with people holding up “Union Members for Trump” signs behind him to make it look like he was holding a rally with union auto workers on strike.
► From the WA State Standard — Child care costs far outpace wages, but dependent care tax credit stuck at 2001 rate — The U.S. House voted overwhelmingly last week to assist low-income families through an expansion of the child tax credit and the bill now awaits approval in the Senate. But some organizations are also highlighting a separate tax credit for child and dependent care, which they say is not providing adequate assistance to families and providers amid rising costs.
► From Roll Call — Senate unveils national security bill, border policy deal — Senate negotiators on Sunday released the text of a $118.3 billion bill that would provide emergency national security funding for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and others and would change how the U.S. handles immigration through the southern border.
► From the AFL-CIO — Black History Month profiles — This year at the AFL-CIO blog and on social media @AFLCIO, we’re taking a look at a group of leaders who are currently active making Black history across the labor movement. Check back daily for a new profile and meet some of the people working to improve not only their community, but also to improve conditions for working people across the country.
Today at The STAND — Join AFL-CIO in a month of lifting Black history, culture
► From KTVI — Teamsters warn that Anheuser Busch strike seems ‘unavoidable’ — Teamsters are demanding Anheuser Busch submit its final offer in contract negotiations. The union warns of a potential strike by 5,000 Teamsters by March 1 if an agreement is not reached.
► From AP — Union reaches deal with 4 hotel-casinos, 3 others still poised to strike at start of Super Bowl week — The Culinary Workers Union representing hospitality workers has reached a tentative agreement with four hotel-casinos in downtown Las Vegas (Binion’s, Four Queens, Fremont and Main Street, covering about 1,000 workers), but employees at three other properties (Golden Nugget, Downtown Grand and Virgin Las Vegas) remained poised to strike Monday when the city kicks off Super Bowl week.
► From HuffPost — These workers are in a ‘fight for their lives’ against secondhand smoke — Atlantic City’s slot machines and card tables are just about the only indoor common spaces left to light up in New Jersey ― a gross injustice, some say, to the thousands of workers who deal cards, serve drinks and supervise games in the Monopoly city.
► From the AP — Union calls for Lufthansa ground staff at major German airports to strike on Wednesday — The Ver.di union said Monday it is calling on ground staff for the German airline at Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin and Duesseldorf airports to strike from 4 a.m. Wednesday. The union is seeking a 12.5% pay raise, or at least an extra 500 euros ($539) per month, in negotiations for nearly 25,000 employees, including check-in, aircraft handling, maintenance and freight staff.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.