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Friday, February 16, 2024




► From the Seattle Times — Sound Transit sets a date for Bellevue-Redmond trains — Light rail trains will finally roll through the Eastside, beginning Saturday, April 27, and provide local service every 10 minutes, Sound Transit announced. The new East Link Starter Line, also called the 2 Line, will make eight stops from South Bellevue to Redmond Technology stations, both of which have park-and-ride garages and bus bays. Trains take 17 minutes to cover the entire 6.6 miles.




► From KUOW — Washington grocery workers hope for protections if Kroger-Albertsons merger goes through — Grocery workers concerned about the Kroger-Albertsons merger’s impact on their jobs, are hoping a bill in Olympia will offer some protection. ESSB 6007 would require the new company to retain workers for six months. Those who are let go would be compensated. The bill passed the Senate 32-16 earlier this month. Now it’s in the House for consideration.

► From the WA State Standard — WA Senate pitches new spending for school construction, housing and 2026 World Cup — Senate budget writers on Thursday released their $1.3 billion capital budget proposal, which funds construction and infrastructure projects across the state. It includes new money for affordable housing, K-12 schools and behavioral health facilities, with increases of more than $100 million in each of those areas. Nearly half the money in the plan comes from the state’s new auction of air pollution allowances to businesses with carbon emissions. A looming Republican-backed initiative to repeal the Climate Commitment Act threatens to jeopardize these funds in the future.

► From the WA State Standard — Washington lawmakers again look to increase special education funding — House lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill to increase special education funding by another $185 million in the coming years. While the funding is in line with a request from Gov. Jay Inslee, critics say it does not go far enough.

► From KOMO — Lawmakers urge Inslee to declare state of emergency for Washington State Ferries — More than a dozen Washington state lawmakers are pushing Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency for WSF. The end goal of the move is to make it possible for the state to get two new ferries within two years.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Bill seeks to improve ferry reliability with a work group — While the state Department of Transportation isn’t completely on board, Rep. Greg Nance (D-23rd) thinks his bill will help ferries long-term.




► From the NY Times — Amazon argues NLRB is unconstitutional — In the latest sign of a growing backlash within corporate America to the 88-year-old federal agency that enforces labor rights, Amazon argued in a legal filing on Thursday that the National Labor Relations Board was unconstitutional. The move followed a similar argument by SpaceX, the rocket company founded and run by Elon Musk, in a legal complaint in January, and by Trader Joe’s during a labor board hearing a few weeks later. Amazon’s filing was part of a case before an administrative judge in which labor board prosecutors have accused Amazon of illegally retaliating against workers at a Staten Island warehouse known as JFK8, which unionized two years ago.

► From Reuters — Anti-union efforts to cost Starbucks at least $240 million, labor group tells SEC — A Starbucks labor group on Friday sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission calling on the company to disclose costs arising from anti-union campaigns, which the alliance estimates to be at least $240 million. The coffee giant has faced nationwide campaign to unionize its stores.

From The STAND:

Starbucks faces 47 new charges of illegal union-busting (Feb. 7)
Amid union-busting, Starbucks workers just keep organizing (Jan. 30)




► From Roll Call — Democrats, unions ramp up pressure against fiscal commission — A proposed fiscal commission to fast-track deficit reduction measures, already under attack from the right, also faces a stepped-up assault from the left. Rep. John B. Larson (D-Conn.) led labor union leaders at a news conference Thursday to protest legislation that would create a bipartisan, bicameral commission that would devise a plan to curb red ink and require Congress to take an up-or-down vote on it with no amendments. While anti-tax activists on the right warned the move would open the door to major tax increases, union leaders said the commission would lay the groundwork for cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

► From Common Dreams — Labor leaders: GOP fiscal commission as anti-worker ‘power grab’ — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler: “The labor movement stands united in our belief that slashing crucial programs like Medicare and Social Security… will make people poorer, sicker, hungrier and even lose their homes.”

From The STAND (Feb. 15)AFL-CIO denounces GOP plan to cut earned benefits

► From the AP — Trump wants to fire thousands of government workers. Liberals are preparing to fight back if he wins. — Former President Donald Trump has plans to radically reshape the federal government if he returns to the White House, from promising to deport millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally to abolishing government agencies and firing tens of thousands of workers and replacing them with loyalists. A collection of activists, advocates and legal experts is promoting new federal rules to limit presidential power while urging Biden’s White House to do more to protect his accomplishments and limit Trump in a possible second term.

► From CNBC — Kamala Harris touts strength of labor unions to build the middle class — Unions boost pay 10% to 15% for members and improve fringe benefits, bolstering the middle class and economy, a U.S. Department of the Treasury report released this week said. “Union workers make our middle class and our entire economy more strong,” Vice President Kamala Harris said on a call outlining the administration’s efforts to support unions.

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

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 the AP — Number of American workers hitting the picket lines more than doubled last year as unions flexed — Auto workers held waves of walkouts. Hollywood actors and writers picketed for months. And healthcare, education and hospitality employees also withheld their labor while calling for improved pay and job conditions. The number of U.S. workers on strike more than doubled last year. According to an annual report from the Labor Action Tracker, those involved in work stoppages climbed 141% in 2023 to a total of 539,000 striking workers — up from 224,000 in 2022.

► From the AP — Ford CEO says company will rethink where it builds vehicles after last year’s autoworkers strike — Last fall’s contentious UAW strike changed Ford’s relationship with the union to the point where it will “think carefully” about where it builds future vehicles, Ford CEO Jim Farley said. UAW President Shawn Fain said the company should stay focused on building the best auto industry, not on a race to lower wages:

“Maybe Ford doesn’t need to move factories to find the cheapest labor on Earth. Maybe it needs to recommit to American workers and find a CEO who’s interested in the future of this country’s auto industry.”

► From the Guardian — Unions target the housing affordability crisis as their ‘biggest issue’ — Organized labor across the country is now setting its sights on housing costs as rents and mortgages continue to soar.




► Last week, the obvious choice for TGIF video was the Grammys duet of “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs, which has launched the classic song back onto the Billboard Hot 100. But we had coincidentally just posted Chapman’s legendary 1988 Mandela Tribute performance of the song a month ago, and we don’t like to repeat ourselves. But here’s a compromise. Nice & Smooth sampled “Fast Car” in 1992 for this banger. We love the ’90s Party atmosphere here, but the sample is pretty hard to hear, so you can also check out the studio version. Enjoy!


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!