Register now for the Feb. 16 WSLC Legislative Conference
■ In today's NY Times -- Wal-Mart
in their cites, states press for health benefits -- Lawmakers in 30
states (including Washington) are introducing legislation that would require
large corporations to increase spending on employee health insurance.
AFL-CIO press conference is this morning.
■ In today's Seattle P-I -- Don't
let Tim Eyman slip-slide away (Sen. Kline op-ed) --
Tim, if you're going to sell us another initiative, pretend to speak for the
little guy, and rail against "fraud, waste, and abuse" by us evil
"politicians," then answer the doggone question. Where's the fat?
■ In today's Bellingham Herald -- Ericksen
outlines state GOP agenda -- House and Senate Republicans pledge to join
together to support their "Commitment to Washington" plan.
■ In the new Stranger -- Strategy
session: This year's session will be all about election posturing
■ In today's Everett Herald -- Council
OKs all-mail voting -- Snohomish County joins 33 other counties in
Washington that hold all-mail elections.
■ In today's Yakima H-R -- Global
Horizons fixed all but one labor violation -- Newspaper must have gotten
another threatening letter from GH's lawyers. Meanwhile GH's president vows
to appeal the state's decision to revoke the company's license. See yesterday's
GH news for more info.
■ In today's Seattle P-I -- State
Basic Health Plan's oversight criticized -- Audit: The program that
provides health coverage to about 102,000 low-wage workers lacks oversight
■ In today's Spokesman-Review -- Sacred
Heart talks ongoing -- About 450 technical workers (UFCW 1001)
anticipate a new contract this month as union bargaining with the hospital
moves along. The employees have been working without a contract since Dec.
■ In today's Everett Herald -- Care
service (OPEIU 8) to shut down -- The program, run by Visiting Nurse
Services of the Northwest, serves some 200 seniors and disabled people in
■ In today's Kitsap Sun -- Decision
on Southworth passenger ferry still out to sea
■ In today's Bellingham Herald -- Fire
District 10 aiming to correct weaknesses (editorial)
■ In today's Seattle P-I -- Tragedy
reminds us that not every worker is safe in the U.S. (Virgin
■ In today's News Tribune -- West
Virginia's tragedy, America's debt (editorial)
■ In today's NY Times -- Company
owner says cost cutting didn't lead to mine explosion
■ In today's NY Times -- The
Sago Mine disaster (editorial) --
Just as Hurricane Katrina forced us to look at the face of lingering poverty
and racism, this tragedy should focus us all on another forgotten,
mistreated corner of society. The dozen dead miners deserve to be
memorialized with fresh scrutiny of mine safety regulation and a
resurrection of political leadership willing to look beyond Big Coal to the
interests of those who risk their lives in the mines.
■ Today from Bloomberg -- Machinists
object to cuts at Northwest Airlines -- The company is trying to
eliminate almost half of the union members’ jobs to cut costs in
■ In today's Capital Times -- Alito's
rulings put him at odds with workers (op-ed from
■ In today's LA Times -- GOP
tries to outrun Abramoff scandal -- From the White House to Capitol
Hill, prominent Republicans scramble to shed campaign contributions linked
to the disgraced lobbyist, and a painful debate opens within the party over
its leadership and direction.
■ In today's Seattle Times -- Abramoff
tribal clients donated thousands to state lawmakers
■ In today's Washington Post -- Cheney
defends spying on Americans -- Taking a break from his campaign to
legalize torture, the vice president says domestic spying could have averted
■ Today's from AP -- Attacks
in Iraq kill 110 as post-election violence escalates -- Also today, five
more American soldiers were killed when their vehicle struck an improvised
Today from AP -- Farm
labor contractor Global Horizons loses license -- Global did not apply
to renew its license for 2006 by the Dec. 31 deadline, so it cannot legally
operate in Washington.
Also see our Oct. 19
posting -- UFW:
Global Horizons labor abuses continue after settlement
And our Sept. 23 posting --
settles with firm accused of exploiting Thai farm laborers
Also, for your continued reading pleasure -- Check
out an Aug. 31
letter from a Global Horizons attorney demanding that the Yakima
Herald-Republic publish a correction and retraction of "Chicken
Little assertions won't solve farm labor issue," an op-ed
co-written by the WSLC's Jeff Johnson and the UFW's Erik Nicholson, and
finally, the WSLC's
response to the attorney.
Today from AP -- Legislators
promise prompt action -- Legislative leaders all agreed they need to set
aside part of the surplus to whittle down a $4 billion unfunded liability
for public pension systems. Gregoire seeks $176 million, but some say more
should be put into a pension reserve.
In today's Seattle P-I
plan to "tweak" '05 agenda -- Democrats want to spend more on
education, health care and an economic-development plan that centers on
In today's Olympian -- Legislators
likely to leave big issues for 2007 and beyond
In the Seattle Weekly
new year agenda -- Democratic leaders resolve to combine "kitchen
table" issues, like education and jobs, with fiscal prudence. It's an
election year, after all.
In today's Everett
Herald -- Lawmakers'
first task: Move the primary date (editorial) --
The need for this change is so obvious that it hardly needs explaining. With
the majority of voters now casting ballots by mail, seven weeks between
primary and general elections simply isn't enough.
In today's News Tribune
data to bear on state health spending (editorial)
-- Something clearly needs fixing, and Gov. Christine Gregoire is making a
brave stab at the problem.
In today's Seattle
Times -- Run
Southworth ferry privately, adviser suggests -- A passenger-ferry
service using private operators, makes the most financial sense among three
ferry proposals reviewed by a consultant hired by a task force looking at
Puget Sound foot-ferry service.
In today's Seattle P-I
now turns to building the 787 -- With it looking like a best seller,
Boeing and its partners are about to take a giant step in the life of a new
From AP -- "Buy
American" dropped from refueling tanker program, allowing Airbus to
In today's Seattle
Times -- Horror
follows joy; 12 miners found dead in W.Va. coal mine
In today's Wash. Post
violations have piled up at coal mine -- In the past two years, the mine
was cited 273 times for safety violations, a third of which were
"significant and substantial."
At AFLCIO.org -- President
Bush delivers "stunning blow," to America's steel pipe workers
Today at Working Life
blog -- Watching
Wal-Mart in Maryland -- Next week, keep an eye on the Maryland state
legislature. It looks like it will override the governor's veto of a bill
that would require retailers like Wal-Mart to increase their share of
spending on healthcare for its workers.
JAN. 3 ■
Karen Keiser's retirement party
TONIGHT at Seattle
news: The 2006 session convenes Monday, January 9. Learn more at www.leg.wa.gov.
In today's Yakima H-R -- Legislators,
spend energy resolving three big issues (editorial)
-- Stay the course on the WASL, take the initiative on
tort reform, and tighten the law on sex offenders.
In today's Seattle P-I
$30 car tabs? They could be coming back -- "We feel (weight-based
surcharges are) reasonable," said Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano
Island. "There is a direct correlation between the weight of a car and
(its) wear and tear on roads."
In the Columbian -- Proponents
of renewable energy say they'll pursue 2006 ballot initiative
Today from AP -- Lobbying
in Olympia, environmentalists now touting benefits to economy
In today's Seattle P-I
NASCAR go-round -- Some say a speedway in
Kitsap County would spark an economic boost for the region and state, but it
will have to overcome deep and widespread suspicion in Olympia about using
public dollars to finance another sports complex.
of the Unions news:
Yesterday from Gannett -- AFL-CIO
president upbeat about labor's future -- Sweeney: "America's labor
movement is stronger when we are united and the AFL-CIO will continue to
look for ways to speak with a unified voice... the agreement we came to with
the solidarity charters for the local labor movement... was a big step in
keeping our unions united at the local level."
Washington Post -- Love,
labor, loss -- A daughter's death stirred SEIU President Andrew Stern to
challenge himself -- and unionism.
He has taken the American labor movement to the brink of a new era, for
better or worse, while an interior dialogue of grief and loss has shaped his
leadership, adding volume to an already voluble voice.
In today's NY Times -- A
fair day's pay (editorial) --
Unions and others are increasingly taking minimum wage increases directly to
voters. Their intentions are laudable, but the efforts only highlight
Congress's failure to set the federal minimum wage at a reasonable level.
(Also see yesterday's post: Washington's
workers celebrate minimum wage increase to $7.63)
In today's Washington Post -- Hispanics
underrepresented in the federal workforce
In today's LA Times -- Workers'
comp to be revisited in California -- An overhaul of the state's
once-troubled system has cut premiums, but Democrats say some were denied
In today's Seattle Times
U.S. automakers: A view on "Buy American" from the Left (op-ed)
-- Rescuing American automakers from competitive
quicksand and high health-care costs with "buy American" campaigns
only encourages more self-indulgent greed.
In today's Seattle Times
U.S. automakers: A view on "Buy American" from the Right (op-ed)
-- We cannot afford to shrug off the downturn of an
industry that directly contributes 3.5% of our GDP and accounts for
more economic productivity per worker than almost any other.
In today's Washington
Post -- A
life, wasted (guest column) --
Early on Aug. 3, 2005, we heard that 14 Marines had been killed in Haditha,
Iraq. Our son, Lance Cpl. Edward "Augie" Schroeder II, was among
them. Let's stop this war before more heroes like our son are killed.
In today's Military
Times -- Military
poll finds high morale, but less support for Bush, war -- Approval of
Bush’s Iraq policy fell 9 percentage points from 2004; a bare majority,
54%, now say they view his performance on Iraq as favorable. Support for his
overall performance fell 11%.
JAN. 2 ■
Keiser's retirement party Tuesday night at Seattle
the Puget Sound Business Journal -- In
person: Talking with Karen Keiser, State Senator
workers celebrate minimum wage increase to $7.63
In today's NY Times -- States
take lead in push to raise minimum wages
In today's NY Times -- Another
Marie Antoinette moment (editorial) --
If the minimum wage had advanced at the same rate as CEO compensation since
1990, America's bottom-of-the-barrel working poor would be enjoying salad
days, with legal wages at $23.03 an hour instead of $5.15. It would be nice
to see corporate America put more effort -- and money -- into fair living
wages for workers and less into exorbitant pay packages and bonuses for
■ In the
Dec. 30 Seattle P-I -- Heating
oil truck drivers (IBT 174) agree to contracts, end strike
In the Dec. 24 Everett
Herald -- AWPPW
has contract agreement at Kimberly-Clark mill in Everett
■ In the
Dec. 30 Kitsap Sun -- IBU,
ferry food operator OK plan -- Union
agrees to health-care
cuts, avoiding a planned Jan.
31 shutdown of the galleys on the
■ In today's
Seattle P-I -- Ferry
food: Work it out (editorial) -- Food
service on ferry vessels isn't just a profit center; it's part of the
service that should be reasonably expected onboard. For the sake of customer
service, one would expect the ferry system to support those trying to
In today's Everett
Herald -- Pensions
go the way of the dinosaurs (Benbow column) -- If
you've got one, count your blessings. Even
financially strong companies are dumping them
today's News Tribune -- New
vehicle fees kick in, but could crumble to Eyman initiative
From AP -- Rep.
Steve Kirby wants to repeal "sin taxes" -- House
Democrat is asking colleagues to give his blue-collar constituents a break
by repealing new liquor and cigarette taxes.
■ In today's
King Co. Journal -- Lawmakers
to discuss Snoqualmie Pass fixes Tuesday at Gonzaga
In today's Seattle Times
bill only a half measure (editorial) -- Better
enforcement must be part of immigration reform. But a one-sided approach
that doesn't consider the economic ramifications on businesses and whole
communities is bound to fail.
■ Today from
AP -- Cruise
lines hire low-cost workers -- To support their families, thousands of
workers on U.S. based ships work 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week for
10 months at a stretch -- some for salaries as low as $75 per month. (They)
are a critical ingredient in an industry that avoids U.S. tax and labor laws
and reaps billions in profits every year.
Previous weeks' news: Dec. 12-16 -- Dec. 5-8 -- Nov. 28-Dec. 2
THURSDAY, JANUARY 5, 2006Register now for the Feb. 16
WSLC Legislative Conference
Legislative Update newsletter will be distributed Friday
(click here to see it) and will outline the WSLC's legislative agenda for
2006. If you don't already receive regular
e-mails from the WSLC -- or you would like to have a printed version of
this newsletter mailed to you -- make sure you Get
on The List!
2006 legislative session begins Monday and there are many challenges ahead:
an improving economy with basic needs still greater than revenue, more
families without health care, attacks on Unemployment Insurance benefits and
We, in the labor movement, will meet these challenges head on and
continue to work towards an agenda that improves the lives of working
session will require a continuation of our rank-and-file activism as we work
with the legislature to do its job to protect working families.
Our progress and priorities in those efforts will be discussed at the Washington
State Labor Council's 2006 Legislative Conference beginning at 8:30 a.m. on
Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Olympia Red Lion Hotel, with registration starting
at 7:30 a.m. We will define, with you, the steps we must take to make
progress for working people.
WSLC urges all union leaders, staffers, and especially rank-and-file member
activists to attend this conference and find out what is happening in
Olympia and what they can do to help us all achieve our goals.
Various legislative leaders have been invited to speak at the
conference and all state legislators have been invited to join us for lunch
at the end of the half-day conference.
usual, the night before the conference on Wednesday, Feb. 15, there will be
a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the hotel.
There will be many legislators and other state officials in
All conference attendees are urged to join us at this reception and
engage in informal conversation with legislators and other officials.
If you would like to bring a guest(s) to the reception on Wednesday
night, there will be a nominal fee of $15 per guest.
To make the registration for the reception (and conference) go faster
and smoother, we will be opening early registration in the hotel lobby at 2
p.m. on Wednesday.
conference registration fee, which includes materials, lunch and one
admission to the reception, is $30.
Click here to download a
registration form (in Word format) or call 206-281-8901 to have one mailed
or faxed to you. A
block of rooms has been reserved at the Olympia Red Lion Hotel, but the
block will be released Jan. 20.
Make your reservations now by calling 1-800-325-4000 or 360-943-4000.
Tell them you are entitled to the Washington State Labor Council
urge all who plan to attend to fill out and return their registration forms,
with their registration fees, by Friday, Jan. 27 so
we can more effectively plan to accommodate all who will join us. Thank you
for registering early, and urging your co-workers and other rank-and-file
union members to attend.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 3, 2006tonight at Seattle
Karen Keiser retirement
Having served as Communications Director for the Washington State Labor
Council, AFL-CIO, since 1981, Karen Keiser is retiring to focus on her
positions as State Senator and Chair of the Senate Health Care Committee. So
please join us for a casual, fun get-together to recognize her years of WSLC
service advocating for Washington's working families.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 3
5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Seattle Labor Temple, Hall 1, 2800
At Karen's request, this will be a fundraiser for the King County Labor
Agency food bank, and admission will be $20 per person. There will be a
hosted bar, light hors d'oeuvres, and music.
See you tonight!
For more information about Karen's retirement, see our Nov. 23 posting: WSLC
Communications Director Karen Keiser to retire
JANUARY 2, 2006Washington's
workers celebrate minimum wage increase
Yesterday, the Washington state minimum wage increased 28 cents to $7.63
an hour. The regular annual adjustment for inflation is the result of
Initiative 688, filed by Washington State Labor Council President Rick
Bender, supported by the state labor movement and dozens of community
organizations, and ultimately approved by voters by a 2-to-1 margin in 1998.
The initiative set out to take the politics out of the minimum wage issue
by requiring an annual cost-of-living adjustment based on changes in the
federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers
(CPI-W). For the 12 months ending August 2005, that nationwide index
increased 3.8 percent. The new wage applies to workers in both agricultural
and non-agricultural jobs; 14- and 15-year-olds may be paid 85 percent of
the adult minimum wage.
"It's great news for minimum wage earners every year that they will
be getting the cost-of-living raise they deserve," Bender said,
"but $7.63 an hour is still poverty wages for thousands of Washington
families who are struggling to afford a tank of gas or a trip to the doctor.
Every year, we should congratulate ourselves that the law is working as
voters intended, and then rededicate ourselves to the fight for maintaining
and creating good family-wage jobs."
At $7.63 an hour, a full-time worker would earn $15,870 a year.
Washington was the first state to approve a state minimum wage increase
that included annual inflationary adjustments, but the idea caught on in
Oregon, where voters approved an initiative similar to I-688. Oregon's
minimum wage rose to $7.50 an hour on Jan. 1. In Alaska, the current minimum
wage is $7.15. California's is $6.75, and will remain there after Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent veto of a bill to increase it and index it
for inflation. Other states with minimum wages above $7 are Vermont and
Connecticut. (State minimum wage rates are posted at the DOL
The reason many states are raising the minimum wage is that the
federal minimum wage remains at a shameful $5.15 an hour, or $10,712 a year.
(See today's New York Times story, States
take lead in push to raise minimum wages.) Under the Bush
administration and the Republican-controlled Congress, the wages of the
lowest paid workers in the country have been allowed to stagnate -- and be
eroded by inflation -- for more than eight years now. There is still
no sign that President Bush or Congress intend to address the issue.
Washington's indexed minimum wage has prevented the state rate from
becoming mired in politics as it has in the other Washington. But the
powerful restaurant and agriculture industries continue to pressure the
state legislature every year to try to exempt their industries' workers from
the wage requirement or stop the annual adjustments. The labor movement has
aggressively opposed those efforts, and so far, attempts to create
sub-minimum wages for certain workers or employees who earn tips have been
Working Well: Washington's Minimum Wage," a 2004 study by the
Economic Opportunity Institute, demonstrated that Washington's indexed
minimum wage is helping the state's lowest-paid workers as intended with no
demonstrable negative effect on employment in retail, restaurant and other
minimum-wage paying industries.
For more information on Washington's minimum wage, visit the state
Department of Labor and Industries' web site: http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/Wages/Minimum/default.asp.