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NEXT UPDATE:  Monday, Feb. 3 by 9 a.m. Pacific Why so long? 

Links to commercial press stories are functional at the date of posting. In some cases, links "expire" when the source would like to begin charging you for old news. WSLC Reports Today  links to all stories of interest to organized labor; some positive, some negative. The intention is to inform.  The creation of a link does not constitute an endorsement of that story's content.

Reports for January 21-24, 2003

Previous weeks' news: Jan. 13-17 -- Jan. 6-10 -- Jan 2-3

FRIDAY, Jan. 24 -- WSLC Legislative Update: Drug bill off to a strong start --
Reps. McDermott, Inslee and Smith urge union rights for airport screeners
At -- The great tech job exodus: Microsoft, other tech firms moving offshore
— In today's Bellingham Herald -- Prescription drug bill progresses -- Budget-balancing plan teeters right -- Conservative corporate think tank drives budget debate in Olympia with (surprise) privatization and deregulation. All together now: "It's the Economy, Stupid!"
— In today's Spokesman-Review -- Battle brews (again) over workplace ergonomics rule -- Qwest to close Spokane call center, lay off 63 workers (CWA 7818) -- Spokane mayor Powers hires former Kaiser spokeswoman Ashe to handle legislative affairs (Her "good track record" includes advocating against unemployment benefits for locked-out workers.)
— In today's Olympian -- Panel proposes one-year freeze in legislators' pay
— In today's Everett Herald -- Condit to Airbus: No. 1 means more than deliveries (It's layoffs, too!)
— In today's Seattle P-I -- Smallpox vaccination risks emphasized  (Also, in the S.F. Chronicle: State health chief takes issue with smallpox plan, tells CDC liability issues may delay inoculations) -- Kitsap County dusts off plan to run its own passenger-only ferries
— In yesterday's Bremerton Sun -- Business dollar dynamics vs. Pleasant Valley (Must-read op-ed) 
— In today's Salem S-J -- Oregon Gov. Kulongoski: "PERS as we know it is over"
Today from the CWA -- CWA joins AFL-CIO in opposing unilateral war against Iraq
At -- Labor chief Chao urged to reinstate Mass Layoffs Statistic Reports
(PDF file)

— In today's Washington Post -- Economic slowdown is a global out-of-work in progress -- Bush plan would redefine Medicare; drug benefit linked to managed care -- Rangel's challenge -- Dionne column: It is neither race-baiting nor class warfare to suggest that a democratic society has a problem when members of its most privileged classes are not among the first to rally to the colors at a time of trouble.
— In today's L.A. Times -- Privatized Army in harm's way; critics question costs of contracting out
— In today's N.Y. Times -- A boy and his benefits -- Kristof column:
It seems unfair to jump up and down about the injustice of preferences for blacks while acquiescing in preferential admissions for jocks, rich kids and certain Texans.

THURSDAY, Jan. 23 -- "America's Wealth Gap" community forum is Jan. 29 in Seattle --
Anne Feeney to perform at Jan. 31, Feb. 8 benefit concerts for Jobs with Justice --
Tell Pizza Hut to hold the Pictsweet mushrooms on your Super Bowl pizza 
— In today's News Tribune -- Longshore workers vote "yes"
— In today's Seattle P-I -- Dockworkers vote to ratify contract by 89% margin -- Balanced prescription drug bill is good medicine (editorial)
— In today's Tri-City Herald -- Business deregulation bills heard; Sen. Pam Roach snaps
— In today's Olympian -- Miller Brewing, union (IBT 378) in layoff talks; closing date not yet set
— In today's Seattle Times -- American Airlines still buying Boeing jets it can't afford
— In today's Yakima H-R -- Wal-Mart pinpoints April for distribution center groundbreaking -- Treat state employees equally: Freeze state officials' pay (editorial)
— In today's Oregonian -- Study says highly touted federal aid was little boon to Northwest loggers
— In today's Bellingham Herald -- More Americans turn north to save on prescription drugs
— In today's Washington Post -- U.S. Supreme Court considers cost of prescriptions -- AFL-CIO Transportation Dept. warns 4 Democrats about restricting airline union rights -- SEC allows auditors as tax consultants, abandons proposed ban
— In today's N.Y. Times -- Downsized corporate reforms -- Editorial: Business lobbyists have succeeded in getting the SEC to back down on the more aggressive reforms it was considering. -- Boxgate: Bush's business backdrop papers over "Made in China"

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 22 -- Register now for WSLC Legislative Conference on Feb. 28
— In today's News Tribune -- It looks like a longshore landslide in contract vote
— In today's Seattle Times -- Port lockout had limited economic effect -- Remember when Bush cited (and the press echoed) that $1-billion-a-day figure, as he invoked Taft-Hartley to force dockworkers back on the job? As is the case with many corporate facts, it apparently was plucked from the sky. -- The first two taxes on state businesses -- Editorial: There should be no business tax hikes because they are already having to pay higher workers comp and unemployment premiums. That's two "tax" increases. Three, if you count the minimum wage hike. (The Times does.)
— In today's Bremerton Sun -- Drug company gets behind prescription drug effort -- GlaxoSmithKline may support bill now. Also today, benevolent Glaxo cuts Canada off for selling us cheaper drugs.
— In today's Seattle P-I -- Air Force retiring aging tankers, intensifying pressure to ink Boeing deal -- If state workers don't get a raise, state officials shouldn't either (Op-ed by Sen. Hewitt)
— In yesterday's Columbian -- GOP Sen. Carlson would support tax increase for colleges
— Also in today's News Tribune -- Union's gift (IAFF) masks city's budget woes (editorial)
— In today's Spokesman-Review -- Federal retraining offered to laid-off Vaagen sawmill workers
— In yesterday's Aberdeen Daily World -- Willapa Harbor nurses (USNU 141) still without a contract
— In today's Washington Post -- Bush convenes panel of economist "yes"-men (again) for tax plan
— In today's N.Y. Times -- Then there are the poor -- Editorial: One week after President Bush proposed billions in tax breaks for fretful stock owners, he revived a plan to wring an additional 10 hours of work each week from women with small children under the federal welfare reform program.
— In today's S.F. Chronicle -- The rise and fall of Frank -- The story of one Bay-area Web engineer, making well over $100,000 for years, who just took a minimum wage job. He's not alone. 

TUESDAY, Jan. 21 -- Apprenticeship fair set for Wednesday, Jan. 29 in Chehalis
— In today's Seattle P-I -- GOP transportation plan calls for 5-cent gas tax hike, after 5 reforms -- Reforms include privatizing foot ferries and cutting road workers' wages in rural areas (prevailing wage would apply only to projects costing over $250,000 and in areas where population exceeds 75,000). -- New push under way in 2003 Legislature to reduce prescription drug costs
— In the P.S. Business Journal -- Battle over wages: Critics say minimum wage is too high
— In today's King County Journal -- Boeing says it isn't selling its Auburn plant
— In today's Bremerton Sun -- New PSNS "mission funding" worries labor unions
— In today's Olympian -- Department of Ecology faulted for low minority hiring -- School levy supermajority rule is unfair (editorial)
— In today's Seattle Times -- Twin whammy: No job, no unemployment benefits
— In yesterday's Oregonian -- Farmers see Kulongoski as chance to pass collective-bargaining bill
— In today's Washington Post -- Airlines' pension problems growing -- Pressure builds on union-owned Ullico, Georgine amid claims of insider trading
— In today's L.A. Times -- Sprint faces strike by 2,300 CWA workers in five states (including Oregon)
— In today's N.Y. Times -- A touch of class -- Krugman column:
When people stress how few Americans will gain from Bush's tax plan, we're not talking about envy; we're talking about priorities.

Previous weeks' news: Jan. 13-17 -- Jan. 6-10 -- Jan 2-3

Wash. congressmen urge union rights for airport screeners

U.S. Reps. Brian Baird, Jim McDermott, Jay Inslee and Adam Smith have signed onto a letter urging President George W. Bush and the Transportation Security Administration to reconsider its ruling to prohibit federal airport screeners from unionizing.

Federal baggage and passenger screeners from four major U.S. airports, including New York's La Guardia Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Airport, recently sought to organize with the American Federation of Government Employees. Some screeners have complained about delayed paychecks, unpaid overtime and training hours, instances of sexual harassment and unpredictable and constantly changing work schedules.

In response, Transportation Security Administrator James L. Loy issued a ruling effectively blocking federal airport baggage and passenger screeners from unionizing and declared that collective bargaining is "not compatible" with fighting terrorism.

"That is just not true," said Rep. Smith. "A federal screener turnover rate of 30-35% and a disgruntled workforce guarding commercial airlines is a more viable threat to the country's safety and a stronger setback in the fight against terrorism."  Allowing screeners to unionize would stabilize the work environment, enhance worker satisfaction and enable employees to concentrate on their work while union representatives address issues of grievance, he added.

The AFGE filed a lawsuit Jan. 10 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging Loy's authority under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act to prohibit screeners from organizing. “AFGE is going to vigorously fight on behalf of the 56,000 airport screeners throughout the U.S. to overturn this unlawful decision by Bush Administration officials,” said AFGE President Bobby Harnage.

"America's Wealth Gap" community forum is Jan. 29 in Seattle

What happens to a democratic society when too much wealth and power is concentrated in too few hands? That question will be explored by special guests Bill Gates, Sr. and Responsible Wealth co-founder Chuck Collins at "America's Wealth Gap: Tax Fairness, the Estate Tax and the Quest for Adequate Income," a community forum planned for Wednesday, Jan. 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 124 21st Ave., in Seattle.

This forum will articulate the call for tax fairness in Washington state, discuss making ends meet in times of budget deficits, and celebrate the publication of Gates and Collins' new book, Wealth and Our Commonwealth.

Admission is free and music will be provided by the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church Choir with refreshments to follow.

The event is sponsored by the Washington Association of Churches, Washington Tax Fairness Coalition, Washington Living Wage Movement, United for a Fair Economy and Responsible Wealth. For more information, contact Michael Ramos at (206) 625-9790 x12.

Anne Feeney to perform benefit concerts for Jobs with Justice 

Anne Feeney and Chris Chandler—along with Tacoma “Longshore Troubadour” (and new WSLC Vice President) Vance Lelli—will perform at two benefits concerts for Washington State Jobs with Justice on Jan. 31 in King County and Feb. 8 in Pierce County.

Perhaps best known locally for her rousing rendition of "Have You Been to Jail for Justice?" performed at the Seattle WTO protests, noted folk singer/storyteller Utah Phillips says, "Anne Feeney is the greatest labor singer in America today."

The Friday, Jan. 31 concert will be in Hall 8 of the Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 First Ave., with a reception starting at 5:30 p.m. and the performance at 6 p.m.

The Saturday, Feb. 8 concert will be at the ILWU Local 23 Hall, 1306 Alexander Ave. E. in Fife, with a reception beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the performance at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $8 in advance (call the JwJ office at 206-441-4969) or $10 at the door.  Proceeds will benefits Washington State Jobs with Justice, an organization dedicated to improving working people's standard of living, fighting for job security and protecting workers' right to organize.

Tell Pizza Hut to hold the Pictsweet mushrooms 

Ordering pizza from Pizza Hut for the Super Bowl? Think twice before adding mushrooms.

Mushroom workers at Pictsweet Mushrooms in Ventura, Calif., have been trying for years to win fair pay, benefits and, most of all, safe working conditions. Conditions at Pictsweet in Ventura are cruel and dangerous. Mushroom workers labor in dark and damp rooms. Floors are slippery. Only the
lights on their helmets guide them. Workers say that over time their vision deteriorates because they lack proper lighting.

Because of these conditions, workers are asking customers to stop buying Pictsweet mushrooms.

You can help. Pizza Hut is one of Pictsweet's largest customers and has refused to do the right thing by keeping Pictsweet mushrooms off its pizzas until Pictsweet signs a union contract and workers win safe and healthy jobs and better pay.

Click here to send a fax to Pizza Hut President and Chief Concept Officer Michael Rawlings telling the company to stop buying Pictsweet mushrooms!

Register now for WSLC Legislative Conference on Feb. 28 

The $2.4 billion budget shortfall isn't the only issue being tackled in Olympia this year. To make Washington more "business friendly," bills have been introduced that would freeze the minimum wage and create a sub-minimum "training" wage, exempt certain highway projects from prevailing wage standards, reduce or make it harder to qualify for workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits, and repeal the state ergonomics rule (just to name a few).

Union members who support the legal rights and standards protecting workers from exploitation and abuse in this state must be vigilant to protect them—now more than ever. That means staying informed and staying involved. Two great ways to do this are by subscribing to the Washington State Labor Council's free weekly Legislative Update newsletter and by attending the 2003 WSLC Legislative Conference on Friday, Feb. 28 at the WestCoast Olympia Hotel.

Make plans to join us at this worthwhile conference where you'll get updates on the WSLC's "Put People First" agenda and other important working families' issues not only from WSLC leaders and lobbyists, but also from the government and legislative leaders themselves.

Registration is open to all union members and costs $30 per person, which includes lunch and materials. The conference will begin at 8:30 a.m. sharp Feb. 28 and conclude after lunch so that participants can schedule afternoon meetings with their elected representatives to discuss their priority issues.

The night before the conference—Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the hotel—will be the WSLC Legislative Reception, a great opportunity to meet and mingle with state lawmakers, as well as other union members and leaders, in an informal setting. Admission is free to those registered for Friday’s conference, but any guests will be charged $15 to help cover the costs of refreshments.

To sign up for the WSLC Legislative Conference, download a registration form (in MS Word format), or call (206) 281-8901 to have a form mailed or faxed to you.  The deadline for pre-registration is Feb. 14.  A block of rooms has been reserved at the WestCoast Olympia Hotel, but will be held only until Jan. 27, so call now at 1-800-325-4000 or (360) 943-4000 for reservations.

Apprenticeship fair set for Wednesday, Jan. 29 in Chehalis

An apprenticeship fair will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29 at Yard Birds Mall, 2100 N. National Ave., in Chehalis.

Open to residents of Thurston, Lewis, Mason, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and Clark counties, admission is free.

  • Learn how to access apprenticeship programs
  • Explore the qualifications and skill requirements necessary for apprenticeship training
  • Meet with Representatives from Laborers; Operating Engineers; Pipe Trades; Boilermakers; Roofer & Waterproofers; Ironworkers; Millmen; Sheet Metal Workers; Electricians; Cement Masons; Lathing, Acoustical & Drywall Systems; Carpenters; Boilermakers; Masonry; Department of Corrections and more.

The event is sponsored by Northwest Laborers' Employers Training Trust, Thurston-Lewis Labor Council, Laborers Local 252, Grays Harbor Central Labor Council, Olympia and Vicinity Building Trades, and WorkSource Lewis County.

If you have news items regarding unions or workplace issues in Washington state that you would like to see posted here, please submit them via e-mail to David Groves or via fax to 206-285-5805.

Copyright © 2003  Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO