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Reports for January 21-24, 2003
-- WSLC Legislative Update: Drug
bill off to a strong start
Wealth Gap" community forum is Jan. 29 in Seattle
now for WSLC Legislative Conference on Feb. 28
fair set for Wednesday, Jan. 29 in Chehalis
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.
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 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.
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 $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 Conferenceon 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.
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
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.
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.
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