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Optimism for a new contract | Lives on the line | Biden boosts Hanford

Monday, March 11, 2024




► From the Seattle Times — Machinists, Boeing profess optimism for a deal as contract talks begin — Boeing’s Machinists union presented its initial proposal for a new contract to the company Friday as negotiations formally opened. Afterward, both sides professed optimism that they can reach a deal without a damaging strike. Following a news conference at the union headquarters in South Park, Jon Holden, leader of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751, said in an interview:

“I believe there’s a path to get an agreement… There’s a lot of work to do. We have to push them farther than they’ve gone in the past. We intend to do so.”

Today at The STAND‘Washington’s union movement has IAM 751 members’ backs’ — As Machinists at Boeing begin contract talks, labor solidarity is evident.

► From the Seattle Times — Boeing admits it can’t find records on the Alaska Airlines door plug work — Boeing leadership admitted Friday in a letter sent to Sen. Maria Cantwell that it cannot find any record of the work done on the 737 MAX final assembly line in Renton to open and reinstall the panel that blew out Jan. 5 on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282… It looks like no records were kept, or, if they were, they were deleted. Either way, this is a serious, potentially illegal, lapse in standard aviation manufacturing quality processes.

► From the Washington Post — Justice Dept. opens criminal probe of mid-flight blowout on 737 MAX plane — Federal prosecutors have interviewed several witnesses in connection with the criminal investigation, including the pilots and aircrew of the Alaska flight. A grand jury has been convened to examine evidence.

► From the Wall St. Journal — Behind the Alaska blowout: A manufacturing habit Boeing can’t break — Snafus in production means work gets completed out of sequence. “It creates opportunities for failure.”

► From Bloomberg — Boeing to face ‘enormous’ scrutiny after mishaps: Buttigieg




► From KING — 3 WSDOT workers hospitalized after driver crashes into I-5 work zone — Though drivers are often urged to pay attention while driving in work zones, the Washington State Department of Transportation is reminding drivers that paying attention could be the difference between life and death for its workers. Since the beginning of the year, at least nine WSDOT workers have hospitalized after drivers crashed into work zones.

► From the Tri-City Herald — $175M plant south of Tri-Cities will turn volcanic rock into insulation, create 125 jobs — Rockwool North America, which makes insulation products from volcanic rock and other materials, will build a $175 million plant at Wallula Gap that will employ 125 when it opens.




► From the union-busting Columbian — Overworked and under-recognized: Clark County schools struggle to hire and retain paraeducators — Districts struggle to hire and retain workers for the 30-hour-a-week, 10-month-a-year positions with wages between $20 to $24 an hour. Most school leaders say the root of the problem is the state’s failure to recognize paraeducators’ importance in the classroom and provide adequate funding for them.

► From the union-busting Columbian — Lawmakers, Gov. Inslee aim to help paraeducators — The governor’s supplemental budget includes $64 million to support an estimated $3 per hour wage increase for paraeducators, adjusted by region. The boost would amount to an approximate 11 percent wage increase on average, according to the governor’s office. The budget will not be finalized until April. However, the Legislature passed two bills, now headed to the governor’s desk, that would increase state supports for paraeducators and other classified personnel.

► From the Seattle Times — WA expanding health care options for undocumented immigrants — By the close of Washington’s legislative session last week, state lawmakers had added more funding to help reduce health care insurance costs for undocumented immigrants, as the state also prepares to expand Apple Health, its free or low-cost health insurance, to the same population in July.

► From the Seattle Times — GOP-backed initiatives will lead to epic WA election fight (analysis) — Now that the last gavel has fallen in Olympia for the year, Democrats and their labor and environmental allies will try to persuade the public to reject three initiatives and uphold key pillars of their policy agenda: a payroll tax funding a long-term care insurance benefit, a capital gains tax on the wealthiest investors, and the state’s landmark climate cap-and-trade law.




► From the Tri-City Herald — Biden signs record $3B annual spending for Hanford nuclear site in Eastern WA — President Biden signed a spending bill Saturday that includes a record annual budget of just over $3 billion for the Hanford nuclear site in Eastern Washington and averted a partial government shutdown that would have included the Department of Energy. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, advocated for the record Hanford budget.

From The STAND (March 7)UA 598 thanks Sen. Murray for record Hanford funding

► From the AP — Federal judge in Texas blocks NLRB rule that would make it easier for workers to unionize — The rule, which was due to go into effect Monday, would have set new standards for determining when two companies should be considered “joint employers” in labor negotiations. Under the current NLRB rule, which was passed by a Republican-dominated board in 2020, a company like McDonald’s isn’t considered a joint employer of most of its workers since they are directly employed by franchisees. Business groups sued the NLRB in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas to block the rule. In his decision Friday granting the plaintiffs’ motion for a summary judgement, U.S. District Court Judge J. Campbell Barker concluded that the NLRB’s new rule would be “contrary to law” and that it was “arbitrary and capricious” in regard to how it would change the existing rule.

► From the Guardian — Major U.S. corporations threaten to return labor to ‘law of the jungle’ — Upset by the surge in union drives, several of the best-known corporations in the U.S. — Elon Musk’s SpaceX as well as Amazon, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s — are seeking to cripple the country’s top labor watchdog, the National Labor Relations Board, by having it declared unconstitutional. Some labor experts warn that if those efforts succeed, U.S. labor relations might return to “the law of the jungle.”

Today at The STANDWhat’s behind the corporate effort to kneecap the NLRB?

► From The Hill — Biden budget proposal would raise taxes on large corporations, lower deficit over 10 years — Presiudent Biden will unveil his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year Monday, calling for tax increases for large corporations, and for billionaires to pay a minimum 25% tax rate. The president’s budget proposal for fiscal 2025 would reduce the federal deficit by about $3 trillion over a 10-year period, the White House said,

► From the Washington Post — How Big Pharma is fighting Biden’s program to lower seniors’ drug costs — Pharmaceutical giants are mounting a vigorous legal battle against President Biden’s plan to lower seniors’ prescription drug costs, urging federal judges here and around the country to invalidate a new program that aims to reduce the price of medications for high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

► From HuffPost — Why this red-state Democrat is backing a corporate merger that has unions furious — Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-Ohio) support for the merger also puts him at odds with the influential labor unions involved, who oppose the deal because of expected layoffs. Antitrust experts also insist that by reducing options in key markets, the merger would hammer consumers.

► From the Washington Post — Bad laws are the main obstacle to the unions workers want (by Lynn Rhinehart) — Even before the recent boom in union organizing, research showed that 52% of nonunion workers — 60 million people — wanted a union at their workplace. This sentiment has not yet translated into significant growth in union membership because our weak labor laws allow employers to campaign against and interfere with workers forming unions. And there are no monetary penalties when employers break a law and violate workers’ rights.




► From the Hollywood Reporter — Jimmy Kimmel says ‘we will stand with you’ to IATSE members amid strike threat at Oscars 2024 — At the 2024 Academy Awards, Kimmel addressed the actor and writer’s strikes, while spotlighting the IATSE negotiations that began on March 4.

► From the Verge — Activision QA workers form the largest U.S. video game union yet — Around 600 workers in Activision Publishing’s quality assurance department have formed a union. Assisted by the Communications Workers of America, the employees completed their vote with the results certified on Friday, March 8. With that, Activision Quality Assurance United – CWA becomes the latest union to arise out of Microsoft’s gaming division and the largest video game union in the United States.

► From the NY Times — About 600 workers unionize at Microsoft-owned Activision — The group will become the largest union at a video game company in the United States, while Microsoft pledged to stay neutral on the vote.

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 USA Today — Schools are hiring more teachers than ever. So why aren’t there enough of them? — The number of teacher job openings has surged, but the supply of prospective educators hasn’t changed. Stagnant wages are a big reason.




► From the AP — A union for German train drivers calls for another strike in a bitter dispute over working hours — A union representing many of Germany’s train drivers has called for another strike in a long and bitter dispute with the state-owned main railway operator over working hours and pay, drawing sharp criticism from the country’s transport minister.


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

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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!