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The right to walk | Colorado v. Kroger | Record profits are unpaid wages

Thursday, February 15, 2024

 


THIS WASHINGTON

 

► From More Perfect Union — States are cracking down on a key union-busting tactic — Over the past year, pro-labor legislatures have begun scrutinizing one of corporate America’s most important and oft-used union-busting tools: the captive audience meeting. These meetings are usually held while workers are on the clock, robbing them of the choice to not attend if they’re already convinced that a union is the right move for them. They can include management as well as the high-priced anti-union consultants advising management, often on how to scare and pressure them against unionizing. In the last year alone, New York, Maine, and Minnesota have all joined Connecticut (2022) and Oregon (2010) in banning captive audience meetings, and legislators in more than a half-dozen other states have introduced legislation since 2022 to outlaw such meetings. Last week, Washington’s State Senate voted to ban captive audience meetings.

From The STAND (Feb. 8)Employee Free Choice Act passes State Senate — Sen. Karen Keiser’s SB 5778, which would protect workers who opt out of “captive audience” meetings, passed the Senate on a 28-20 vote.

► From the WA State Standard — The bills that are dead and still alive in Washington’s 2024 legislative session — As this year’s action in Olympia moves deeper into its second half, some bills have expired as others chug along.

From The STAND (Feb. 14)What bills survived the latest cutoff in Olympia

► From the WA State Standard — With new revenue report, WA lawmakers prep for their budget reveal — Democrats will unveil their plans to supplement spending in the coming days. Republicans hope there’s a contingency for the possible capital gains tax repeal.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Translation: Republicans in Olympia want to take more than $1 billion a year away from public schools and give it to the richest 0.01% in the state. That’s a non-starter in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. But when it’s on the ballot this fall — thanks to the hedge fund CEO the Seattle Times called “Tim Eyman with a gigantic bank account” — those rich people will finance a campaign to convince Washington’s 99.99% that we are somehow better off by repealing the capital gains tax.

► From the Olympian — State Democrats preparing to hold hearings for 4 of 6 ballot initiatives — Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) said there are only two initiatives that will not get hearings and will head directly to the ballot for voters in November: one to repeal the state’s capital gains tax and the other to repeal sections of the Climate Commitment Act.

 


LOCAL

 

► From the Seattle Times — Russell Wilson-backed charter school could face closure — In recent months, more than a dozen former students and staff at the Why Not You Academy have come forward alleging a chaotic and toxic culture at the school. The charter school environment can be especially stressful for educators, said Jeb Binns, president of the Highline Education Association teachers union. They are often dealing with the workload of traditional public school teachers but without the guardrails of a union contract.

► From the union-busting Columbian — Clark College reports 10% enrollment increase

 


THAT WASHINGTON

 

► From the WA State Standard — Biden administration picks airports for nearly $1 billion in terminal upgrades — The $970 million in grants will go to 144 airports in 44 states and three territories. Earmarked for terminal improvements, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other administration officials said the grants would fund projects to improve the passenger experience and create jobs.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The Sea-Tac and Spokane airports are among the recipients and will receive millions for airport upgrades.

► From the Wall Street Journal — World’s major economies fall behind U.S. — Economies in the U.K. and Japan shrank at the end of last year, underlining the widening gulf between robust growth in the U.S. and more anemic conditions in the rest of the world.

 


NATIONAL

 

► From Bloomberg — Colorado files lawsuit to block Kroger-Albertsons merger — Colorado sued to block Kroger’s $24.6 billion acquisition of Albertsons in court Wednesday, becoming the second state to challenge the deal. Attorney General Phil Weiser said the acquisition would leave some Colorado communities with less access to groceries.

From The STAND (Jan. 16)Ferguson files lawsuit to block Kroger-Albertsons merger

► From the LA Daily News — Workers at LAX and LA Grand Hotel launch strikes over wages, staffing Labor unrest erupted at two Southland locations Wednesday, Feb. 14 as LAX food and beverage workers launched a three-day strike over wage concerns, and LA Grand Hotel workers also walked off the job, demanding higher wages and increased staffing. The actions highlight a wave of union activity that has swept Southern California in recent years as employees at restaurants, hotels and healthcare facilities rally for wages allowing them to keep pace with the region’s soaring housing costs.

► From Vox — Why Lyft and Uber drivers did their largest strike ever — The strikes, which took place in as many as 44 cities across the country, lasted at least two hours and featured drivers refusing to give rides while gathering at airports in cities including Chicago, Newark, and Philadelphia. Drivers are protesting the wages they’re being paid, a lack of transparency around how pay is calculated, and concerns about abrupt account deactivations by the apps.

► From the AP — Carmaker Stellantis’ second-half profits hit by North American strikes — Carmaker Stellantis on Thursday reported an 13% decrease in net profits in the second half of 2023 due to the impact of strikes in North America, its profit center.

EDITOR’S NOTE — File this report under: How It Should Be. The world’s third-largest carmaker reported a net profit of $8.3 billion in the second half of 2023, down from $9.5 billion in the same period the previous year. They say that blip was because their employees temporarily withheld their labor to demand better pay — and won. Stellantis is doing just fine.

► From the LA Times — Disneyland character performers move to unionize: ‘We are the Magic’ — Calling themselves “Magic United,” cast members in the resort’s Characters and Parades departments said Tuesday that they plan to unionize with Actors’ Equity Assn., which represents 51,000 professional actors and stage members on Broadway and in live theater around the country.

► From Polygon — No matter what happens next, unionizing at ZeniMax worked (by Autumn Mitchell) — Not very long ago, I was one of the thousands of video game workers feeling gnawed on by this competitive, volatile industry. It felt like things were quickly becoming unsustainable. But something happened. During this round of layoffs, I felt something in addition to the familiar sadness and dread: I felt empowered.

READY TO BE EMPOWERED?  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 the Chicago S-T — MCA becomes latest Chicago museum to form union

From The STAND (Dec. 5, 2023)Tacoma Art Museum Workers United victory a model for other museums

 


COVID

 

► From Vox — The CDC is finally going to loosen COVID isolation guidelines. Here’s why that’s a good thing. (by Keren Landman, MD) — The guidelines, which are expected to drop in April, will reportedly no longer recommend that most Americans infected with the virus stay away from work and school for five days. Instead, they will advise people that they can leave home if they’ve been fever-free for at least 24 hours (without fever-reducing medicine like ibuprofen or acetaminophen) and have mild and improving symptoms… Guidelines that adhere to the highest standards of infection control might please purists in public health who don’t have to make policies for the real world. However, guidelines that seem to acknowledge that workers often don’t have paid sick leave and emergency child care, and that social interactions are important to folks, are more likely not only to be followed but to engender trust in public health authorities.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Or… we could fight to ensure that more workers have paid sick leave and affordable child care. Just spitballin’ here.

 


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!