Reports for January 24-28, 2005
Previous weeks' news: Jan.
17-21 -- Jan.
10-14 -- Jan.
-- State tax system
"unconscionable" (WSLC Legislative Update)
Also today -- U.S. union membership still
dropping; Washington ranks 6th
...plus -- IAM plans informational picket Jan. 31 to save Alaska
— In today's Seattle P-I -- Boeing
lands key order -- After months of negotiations, delays and political
intrigue, Boeing will finally get its long-awaited order today from Chinese
airlines for 60 787 jetliners. That's right: 787s. Boeing will also announce
this new name for the Jet Formerly Known As 7E7.
— Today from AP -- Boeing
draws line, calls for "full elimination" of European subsidies to
— In today's Bellingham Herald -- WWU
faculty debates union eligibility -- Vote on campus union will be
delayed as WWU administration seeks to exclude department chairs and others
— In the Centralia Chronicle -- Would-be
workers learn about the original 4-year degree -- In 2003, Paige
Tracy was referred to the apprenticeship fair. The Chehalis resident was
unemployed, going through a divorce and raising five children.
Laborers Local 252 thought she was a good candidate and sent her for
training and testing. She scored 98 out of 100. Two days later, she was
working, getting paid a minimum of $14.06 per hour plus benefits.
“I raised five children on this program,” said Tracy.
Today from SEIU 775 -- Take
action: Help stop the DSHS cuts
in homecare workers' hours
— In today's Seattle P-I -- Budget
writers see ray of hope; state revenues are up as economy improves
— In yesterday's (Vancouver) Columbian -- Legislative
panel OKs bill to scrutinize tax breaks
— In today's King County Journal -- Gregoire
seeks revenue-neutral tax cut for small businesses -- The
$52 million tax break would be financed by taking some existing tax
exemptions off the books.
— Today from AP -- Gregoire:
Let's manage the state better -- Governor aims to require agencies to
set up systems to measure the effectiveness of services and whether intended
results are achieved.
...plus -- Nip,
tuck... and tax? Bill seeks "vanity tax" to elective cosmetic
surgery -- Sen. Karen Keiser, the bill's sponsor, says she's never gone
under the knife for beauty, but wouldn't rule it out.
Today from AFL-CIO -- Sweeney:
Bush's civil service changes endanger public safety
— In today's NY Times -- Four
unions sue over new rules for Homeland Security workers
— In today's Wash. Post -- Hill
urges caution on civil service changes -- Bush should wait and see how
personnel systems work before spreading them government-wide,
say key members of Congress.
...plus -- Bush
faces new skepticism from Republicans on Hill -- Bush is accustomed to
getting his way with Congress, but mid-level and rank-and-file Republicans
have begun to assert themselves on issues including intelligence reform,
immigration and a major restructuring of Social Security.
— In today's Seattle P-I -- A
smart experiment -- Editorial: A
group of 60 corporations is experimenting with a new way to extend health
insurance to workers who don't qualify for traditional benefits, including
part-time workers, contractors, temporary workers, consultants and early
— In today's LA Times -- Costs
make employers see smokers as a drag -- Pointing to rising health costs
and the oversized proportion of insurance claims attributed to smokers, some
U.S. employers are refusing to hire applicants who smoke and, sometimes,
firing employees who refuse to quit.
-- Sweeney to unionists: Are you ready to fight for
...plus -- Festival of Workers' Culture will be Feb. 18-20
at Seattle Labor Temple
today's Bremerton Sun --
voting charge diluted (or "Why the GOP will lose in court") --
BIAW alleges 11 felons in Kitsap County illegally voted, and forwards that
list to the GOP for their suit. But a Sun investigation shows just two of
the felons on the list actually voted illegally. The rest didn't vote, had
voting rights restored or had them stripped after the election. But here's
the kicker, both felons The Sun was able to interview, including one of the
"illegal voters," say they voted for Rossi! Why?
Because Rossi was the preferred candidate of felons
— In today's Seattle P-I -- GOP
says 300 voted illegally -- Boss Vance refuses to provide list (see
— In the Seattle Weekly -- The
minus touch -- A study of electronic voting in
Snohomish County suggests the machines switched votes for Rossi. But there's no
way to prove it. Rossi, who says he's suing to "restore public
confidence," doesn't seem
too concerned by these unvetted touch-screen votes, despite the study's
conclusion that his Snohomish victory was "a mathematical impossibility."
— In today's Yakima H-R --
concedes his decision to sue risks his political future -- Rossi:
"Some people were saying, 'You've
got to preserve your political future,' and not contest it. And I said I
resigned from the Senate. I don't need a political future."
— In today's Olympian -- School
levy supermajorities focus of bill
...plus -- Firm:
Give state leaders a raise
— In today's News Tribune -- Quirky
process begins for state leaders' raises -- “I just don’t think
it’s right for legislators who aren’t allowing state workers to receive
an increase to receive one themselves,” says one especially astute,
thoughtful member of the citizen's commission
that will decide the issue.
— In today's Seattle Times -- Judge
rejects suit over Western State Hospital firing
...plus -- Bigger
737 gets a closer look -- A high-level review begins today in Seattle,
as company officials weigh whether to offer a new, bigger version of the
— Today from AP -- China
gives 7E7 a long look; carriers balancing jet's virtues against Airbus A380
Todat at AFLCIO.org
Schwab: Don't pick our pockets to line yours! -- Protests held
outside Schwab offices in response to the financial firm's advocacy for
Social Security privatization. Of course, it's not just Schwab and Wall
Street pushing Bush's plan, Boeing
and other companies based in Washington are also pushing privatization
because they're afraid payroll taxes might go up.
— In today's NY Times -- Chile's
retirees find shortfall in private plan -- Chileans
find that their pension system, which Bush cites as a model for Social
Security privatization, is falling short of expectations.
— In today's Washington Post -- Civil
service system on the way out at Homeland Security -- Bush unveils a new
personnel system dramatically changing the way workers are paid, promoted,
deployed and disciplined -- and soon will ask Congress to grant all federal
agencies similar authority.
"They are encouraging a management of coercion and intimidation,"
says AFGE President John Gage.
...plus -- Unions
strongly disagree with Ridge on new personnel rules
— In today's NY Times -- Republicans
squaring off over Bush plan on immigration
...plus -- Love
for sale -- Dowd column:
I'm herewith resigning as a member
of the liberal media elite. I'm joining up with the conservative media
elite. They get paid better.
— In today's LA Times -- L.A.
hotels face NLRB charges that they improperly declared impasse
-- Hotel spokesguy downplays significance of NLRB action, saying the appeal
process can take years. Welcome to workplace justice, American-style. This
is exactly why we need labor
-- WFSE sets up rapid response to distortions about
state workers' contracts
— In today's Tri-City Herald -- Report
blasts meat companies -- Human Rights Watch accuses U.S. meat and
poultry companies, including Tyson Foods Inc., of exposing workers to
hazardous working conditions and using unethical tactics to fight union
organization. (Don't forget Saturday's
event in Pasco to support Tyson workers.)
— In today's Everett Herald -- Issues
for talks haven't changed -- SPEEA
has started contract talks with BAE Systems, which bought
Boeing's commercial airplanes electronics division, and IAM is surveying workers about health care concerns,
in preparation for its Boeing contract talks.
— In the Seattle Weekly -- Tough
times -- The Seattle Times offers a severance package to union in
exchange for "flexibility" in which 110 employees they fire.
— In today's Daily World -- Grays
Harbor backs Sierra mill -- "All
we hear these days is cuts," said one AWPPW rep. "It's
nice to hear about the creation of family-wage jobs."
today's Yakima H-R -- There's
hope for growers of asparagus; might not be "train wreck" after
— In today's Seattle P-I -- Payroll
cause of Seattle schools' budget woes (op-ed
by school board's Dick Lilly)
— Today from AP -- State
legislators look to Canadian drugs
— In today's News Tribune -- Your
company's entitled to cash in on your death (Voelpel
— In the Seattle Weekly -- The
minus touch -- A study of touch-screen voting in
Snohomish County suggests that machines favored Dino Rossi. But there's no
way to prove it. Republicans who are suing for a new election, don't seem
too bothered by the unvetted touch-screen votes.
National news: —
In today's LA Times -- $427
billion budget deficit to set record
-- In July, the White House projected this year's budget deficit would be
$331 billion. Today they say Bush will still keep his promise to cut the
deficit in half by 2008. Meanwhile, they will fight to make Bush's tax cuts
permanent and to privatize Social Security despite its more than $1 trillion
— In today's SF Chronicle -- Bush's
Social Security plan pressures workers -- Lazarus column: It's gradually
becoming clear what Bush means by an "ownership society": You're
on your own.
— In today's NY Times -- Senators
urge Bush to sell overhaul of Social Security -- Republican senators
caution Bush that his privatization plan is faltering because the public was
not convinced that a fundamental overhaul was necessary. They urge him to
"calm the seniors and win the youth."
...plus -- The
wrong Attorney General -- Editorial: Gonzales's
tainted record makes him unqualified to ensure that justice prevails at home
or to represent the American justice system to the world.
— In today's Washington Post -- A
degrading policy -- Editorial: Alberto Gozales was vague, unresponsive
and misleading in his testimony to Congress the Bush administration's
detention of foreign prisoners. In anticipation of today's vote on his
nomination as attorney general, he was clearer -- disturbingly so. He has
now confirmed that the Bush administration is violating human rights as a
matter of policy.
— In The
Onion -- U.S.
children still traumatized one year after Super Bowl breast exposure --
"Mommy has dirty chest bumps," said a 5-year-old boy in one
of the thousands of FCC case studies. "She's like the bad lady on TV.
I'm afraid Mommy will take off her shirt and scare everyone. I hate
-- ACTION ALERT: Tell legislators to support
At AFLCIO.org -- Meat,
poultry workers often risk their lives on job, report finds -- Read
this report and then make plans to support
Pasco's Tyson Foods workers this Saturday.
— In today's Seattle P-I --
Health ratifies pacts -- GHC succeeded in introducing medical insurance
premiums for the first time, but workers beat back the steeper premiums than
GHC pushed last year.
can provide psychic payback -- Virgin column: The Washington State Labor
Council is a big proponent of (performance audits for tax breaks),
but the benefits of such audits are often oversold. That said, as fads go,
this one is relatively harmless, and could even deliver some benefit.
— In yesterday's Columbian --
likely to approve reviews of tax breaks
— In today's Olympian --
1070 limiting retro fees is pure retaliation -- Editorial: (The bill) is
little more than sweet political payback. It strips the BIAW of a major
source of their campaign cash. But political retribution is bad public
policy. So is censorship of free speech. And that's what HB 1070 is.
— In Sunday's News Tribune --
benefits unions at workers' expense -- Op-ed by the former campaign
manager for right-wing radio host John Carlson's gubernatorial campaign (no
recount necessary on that one). He argues that the evildoing public-employee
unions and Governor Locke negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that
forces "mandatory dues" on state employees. He forgets to mention
that state workers elected their own bargaining representatives and VOTED
for this contract. Apparently, democracy has no place in the American
workplace, only in oil-rich Middle East nations.
— Today from AP -- New
sawmill at Port of Everett is a pleasant surprise
— In today's Seattle Times -- Hanford
shipping extends its lease at Port of Seattle until 2015
— In today's King Co. Journal -- Black
employees at Boeing get class-action status in discrimination suit
— In today's Seattle Times -- Crackdown unlikely on felon voters
— In today's Bremerton Sun -- WSF
should stay out of foot ferries (editorial)
...plus -- "This
will destroy the community" -- Despite neighbors' vocal opposition,
a private ferry firm insists on using a community dock instead of
Southworth because they "don't want to operate from a facility in which
Washington State Ferries' labor unions have a stake." Kitsap Transit
— In today's News Tribune --
hats are tight fit for State Senator -- Ethics Board considers GOP Sen.
Don Benton's new business, selling an electronic clipping service that
compiles articles published each day on government, politics and public
policy. (What a great idea!)
— In today's Seattle Times --
for Lefty" is a labor-movement history lesson (theater
National news: —
Today from AP --
digs in heels on Social Security, opposes privatization
halt survey of migrant farm workers -- DOL has decided to quit
collecting data on migrant farm workers even as its reports showed the share
of illegal immigrants holding those jobs grew from 7 percent to more than 50
percent in just a decade. Sgt. Schultz
— In today's LA Times --
union in Bay Area reach deal; two-tier wage system avoided
— In today's NY Times --
looking for ways to ease opposition to Social Security plan -- One way
being suggested is to champion a constitutional amendment banning same-sex
— In today's Washington Post -- Report
sheds light on changing role of federal regulation
Health caregivers overwhelmingly ratify new contract
— In Saturday's Olympian --
WSLC clash over member lists -- In response to WSLC
efforts to identify public entities in the BIAW's retro group, the BIAW
acquired a list of all unionized public employees. For what? "The only
way I would use that list is if they use ours," said BIAW boss Tom
McCabe. Should such a list of public employees be public? Without irony, the
man who fought to keep his list secret, says he's opposed to limiting public
documents "on principle." Learn
— In Sunday's Tri-City Herald --
test's focus must stay on workers -- Editorial: Critics of the testing
have valid concerns, but the the agricultural community must work with the
state to ensure that everything possible is being done to help L&I's
monitoring efforts protect workers.
— In today's Olympian --
push agenda backlog -- "Fast-track" bill list includes
performance audits of agencies AND tax breaks, prescription drug bills,
mental health parity and apprenticeship.
— In Sunday's Columbian --
right thing -- Editorial: Republican objections to regular performance
audits of tax breaks sound thin. (Approving this legislation) is the right
thing to do.
— Sunday from AP --
dance surrounds state taxes -- The early talk is "sin taxes"
and an array of fees, and not an increase in the Big 3 -- sales, business
and property taxes.
— In the PS Business Journal --
soon: toll roads -- "There's no question that tolls will be a part
of new infrastructure," said Senate Transportation chair Mary Margaret
Haugen (D-Camano Island).
— Today from AP --
not felons and dead voters, key to election challenge
— In today's Seattle Times -- Democrats
prefer election fight at Capitol
...plus -- Down
payment on children's health -- Editorial: Gov. Gregoire showed the
right priorities in launching her term by reversing rules that could've cost
19,000 children their health-care coverage.
— In today's NY Times --
see risks for the GOP in new strength -- Bush's new clout is already
being tested by Republican doubts about his domestic agenda, rising national
unease about Iraq and the threat of second-term overreaching, officials in
both parties say.
bridge to sell -- Editorial: All told (under Bush's proposals), by 2030,
the national debt would be as big as the economy itself. To compare,
consider that in the last 50 years, national debt has equaled only 38
percent of the economy, which includes the tremendous debt from World War
Previous weeks' news: Jan.
17-21 -- Jan.
10-14 -- Jan.
U.S. union membership still dropping,
Washington ranks 6th
The U.S. Department of Labor's
Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on union membership
Thursday and unionization rates continue to drop nationally. The overall
number of American union members fell last year to 15.5 million, down
300,000 from 2003, and the union membership rate dropped from 12.9% in 2003
to 12.5% in 2004. That national rate has steadily declined from a high of
20.1% in 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available.
In Washington state, the number
of union members climbed 8,000 to an estimated 510,000, but the overall
union membership rate dropped from 19.7% in 2003 to 19.3% in 2004 as the
state emerged from the national recession and added some 106,000 jobs.
Washington now ranks 6th highest in the nation in terms of the unionization
Note: The DOL news release on
union membership statistics is posted in HTML at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm
The drop in national union
membership was fueled by President George W. Bush and the
Republican-controlled Congress which stripped many federal employees of
their right to be union members. The three states suffering the biggest
declines in union membership rates were Maryland, Virginia and Washington
D.C., which combined to lose more than 120,000 members, accounting for more
than a third of nationwide membership losses in 2004.
That trend may continue at a
state level in 2005 as Republican governors move to strip state employees of
their right to be union members. This month, when the new Republican
governors of Indiana and Missouri took office, they immediately ordered an
end to collective bargaining rights for state employees.
The DOL's latest report on
declining union membership comes at a time when organized labor is debating
how to reverse its steady decline. A number of international unions have
called for a restructuring of the AFL-CIO to increase its focus on
recruiting new members and better assist affiliated unions in their
organizing campaigns. (For more information, visit Strengthening
Our Union Movement for the Future, a website
where union members, activists and leaders can add their ideas about the
union movement’s challenges and opportunities, and keep up-to-date on
proposals for change.)
"The numbers illustrate the
convergence of two painful trends for America's working families," said
AFL-CIO spokeswoman Sarah Massey. "The climate for workers who want to
organize unions to better their economic situation is increasingly
antagonistic, and good jobs are still disappearing."
Recent surveys have indicated
that about half of all American workers say they would join a union today if
they could. But unscrupulous employers and a multi-billion dollar
union-avoidance consulting industry routinely fire, harass and intimidate
workers who express interest in joining unions -- even though that's
Cornell University scholar Kate
Bronfenbrenner studied hundreds of organizing campaigns, and found:
When faced with employees
who want to join together in a union, 92 percent of private-sector
employers force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear
anti-union propaganda; 80 percent require supervisors to attend training
sessions on attacking unions; and 78 percent require that supervisors
deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee.
75 percent hire outside
consultants to run anti-union campaigns, often based on mass psychology
and distorting the law.
Half of employers threaten
to shut down partially or totally if employees join a union.
In 25 percent of organizing
campaigns, private-sector employers illegally fire workers because they
want to form a union.
Even after workers
successfully form a union, in one-third of the instances, employers
never negotiate a contract.
That's why the national AFL-CIO has
a multi-year campaign to restore the freedom of U.S. workers to join unions.
The AFL-CIO, its affiliated international unions, and its state and local
federations -- including the Washington State Labor Council -- have made
growing unions their No. 1 priority.
As part of that campaign, historic
legislation called the Employee
Free Choice Act was introduced in Congress last year. This bill is
intended to articulate the kind of labor law reform that will ultimately be
necessary level the playing field for American workers. All of Washington's
Democratic representatives in Congress have signed on as co-sponsors, but
the measure has little chance of passing given Republican control of the
White House and both houses of Congress.
So union activists are reaching out to
community groups, religious leaders and elected officials to involve them in
workers’ efforts to join unions. These allies educate the public about how
unions help lift up communities by raising the standard of living and show
workers they’re not alone in their struggle. Click
here for more information.
IAM plans informational picket Jan. 31
to save Alaska Air jobs
The Washington State Labor
Council urges all union members and community supporters to attend the
following rally and support Alaska Airlines workers:
to Save Hundreds of Jobs at Alaska Airlines
SEATAC – The International Association of
Machinists and Aerospace Workers has organized an informational picket and
rally to protest Alaska Airlines proposal to subcontract their ramp jobs to
an outside vendor. These are family-wage jobs represented by the Machinists
Union that should remain a part of Alaska Airlines.
WHAT: Rally to Save 500+ Machinists
Union Jobs at Alaska Airlines in the Puget Sound Region
WHO: IAM Members, Other Unions,
WHEN: Monday, January 31, 2005
10 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: Alaska Airlines Corporate
Pacific Hwy S. in SeaTac
WHY: Alaska Airlines has
proposed subcontracting these 600 area jobs to the lowest bidder. IAM
members have proudly done this work for Alaska and should continue as Alaska
Airlines employees. Don’t let these family-wage jobs be
CONTACTS: Mark Walker 253-228-8247 or 206-878-5498
For more information about Alaska Airlines
threat to contract out the IAM jobs, see the Jan. 19 Seattle Times story: Alaska
might outsource 500 jobs; SeaTac baggage handlers at risk
Festival of Workers' Culture planned
at Seattle Labor Temple
Following is a recent press release from
Northwest Labor History Association:
Pacific Northwest Labor History Association, RiseUp! Productions and the
Seattle Labor Chorus have teamed up to present an exciting celebration of
February 18-20, 2005, A Festival of Workers’ Culture will be held at the
Seattle Labor Temple. This Festival of labor music, art, poetry and
theater will highlight the 100th anniversary of the Industrial Workers of
the World (IWW).
general sessions will explore such issues as free speech, the culture of
itinerant workers, and the use of culture in organizing -- historically in
relation to the IWW, as well as in the context of the present day labor
We will be
bringing performers and presenters together with other interested trade
unionists and friends of labor to not just exchange songs, stories and
ideas, but to devise ways of integrating this culture into the life of
workers and their unions.
participatory feature that will run throughout the festival is the “Arts
Exchange,” during which time festival attendees can sign up to “be on
stage” for five minutes to perform a song, recite a poem, tell a story,
etc. A number of interesting workshops will also be presented, on such
topics as The Use of Video in Organizing, Racism and Labor, The Soldier as
Worker, and Library Workers as Cultural Workers.
Saturday evening session will feature a presentation of “Hold The Fort,”
written and performed by singer and songwriter John O’Connor. It is
a narrative of IWW history in the Pacific Northwest, interspersed with
Wobbly songs as well as songs written by Mr. O’Connor.
festival will culminate Sunday evening with a public concert featuring both
nationally acclaimed performers and the songs, stories and poems created by
the festival participants.
information on the festival program, schedule and registration, contact:
Ross Rieder at (206) 524-0346 or RossR241@aol.com;
or Janet Stecher at (206) 524-7753 or email@example.com.
Sweeney to unionists: Are you
ready to fight for what's right?
Following is an open letter to union
activists written by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney that was distributed
Wednesday. For more information, visit the AFL-CIO
Dear Union Activist:
Every day I hear from working
family activists who are ready and eager to fight for what we believe is
best about America. They are not discouraged by the start of President
Bush’s second term, even though he and his allies in Congress attack our
jobs, paychecks, health care, retirement security and basic rights. In
fact, they are more revved up than ever.
Everywhere around the country,
working people are telling me they won’t allow our country to be
hijacked by an agenda based on corrupt principles. We have a vision of
what this country should be, they say, and we are not giving it up.
The president was re-elected
by the narrowest of margins. He has not won a mandate for
his proposed assaults on basic security, basic decency and our basic
values. We won’t accept his effort to privatize Social Security, cut
taxes for the wealthy and raise them for workers, slash investment in
schools and health care, roll back environmental protections, free
corporations from accountability and pack the courts with ideologues
intent on turning back the rights of women and others.
I believe America will reject
his agenda designed to benefit the wealthy, corporate special interests
and right-wing extremists at the expense of working families.
But it’s going to be a
battle. Let me tell you what’s coming.
We are going to stop President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security
that would cut benefits drastically, make retirement less rather than more
secure and saddle our children with $2 trillion in debt in the first 10
years alone. You’ve already made a difference by getting more than
500,000 copies of the Petition to Protect Social Security to lawmakers and
urging investment companies like Charles Schwab to drop support for
privatization. In the coming weeks we will do much more together as the
fight for Social Security heats up.
Together we’re going to turn around the trend of rewarding companies for
exporting good U.S. jobs and hold corporations accountable for the
Wal-Marting of jobs and benefits. No more trade agreements that sell out
America to the lowest bidder. No more sweetheart deals for rich companies
that pay so little and offer such lousy benefits their workers end up on
Medicaid. We need jobs that pay living wages and provide family health
care coverage and secure retirement benefits. We’re through taking a
backseat to corporate greed and the politicians who coddle it.
Freedom to Choose a
Union: U.S. and international law promise us the basic right to
choose for ourselves whether to join together with coworkers to bargain
with our employers for safe jobs, decent working conditions and the best
way to get work done. Today that’s an empty promise because employers
routinely harass, intimidate and even fire workers who try to form unions.
Our labor laws are too weak and our government, led by the most anti-union
administration in modern times, fails to enforce even those inadequate
protections. Together we’re going to blow the whistle on worker
abuses—we’re going to take the fight for workers’ freedom to form
unions and bargain to the boardroom, city hall, the state house and the
U.S. Capitol and say in our loudest voices: "No more!"
Again and again over the
coming months we are going work together for what we believe in—we’re
going to rally, picket, phone and fax, e-mail and talk to everyone we know
to enlist a powerful army in the fight for working families. It’s going
to take determination, nonstop commitment and unlimited energy. It’s
going to take every one of us. And it’s going to succeed.
I’m not ready to give up on
what I know America can be and should be and will be. I know you are not
either. I look forward to our work together.
Jan. 26, 2005
WFSE sets up rapid response to
distortions about contracts
Following is an excerpt from the newsletter
of the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28
newsletter to its members. It concerns an op-ed in Sunday's News Tribune by
benefits unions at workers' expense -- written by the former campaign
manager for right-wing radio host John Carlson's gubernatorial campaign who
now runs a business-funded think tank.
THE FEDERATION'S RAPID RESPONSE TEAM
the Senate holds its first hearing today (Tuesday) on your negotiated pay
and benefits, several groups are waging a war in the editorial pages to
undermine your efforts to win the first pay raises in four years and
stabilized health costs.
Tacoma News Tribune on Sunday ran an “op-ed” piece penned by the
president of the Washington Policy Center, a conservative “think tank”
founded years ago by conservative talk radio host John Carlson, who ran for
governor and lost in a landslide in 2000.
author said those covered by the contract and legislators were somehow
aren’t well served by the law and the process. Now, you know what your
Federation leaders and the hundreds of bargaining team members think of the
negotiated contracts. We know there’s controversy among non-members about
the union security clause.
whatever you think, do you think the Washington Policy Center really has
your best interests in mind? After all, this is a group whose website boasts
that it helped write the state’s new contracting out rules. Is the
Washington Policy Center really interested in your economic well being? Or
is its prime interest the economic well being of its board members from
business interests that would benefit from contracting out? A group whose
board also includes a former congressman and several legislators who rarely
if ever supported better pay and benefits for you. This makes it odd that
this group would attack a law and process (including fair share/union
security) that was approved in 2002 by a bi-partisan majority that included
such Republican stalwarts as Sen. Don Benton, Sen. Pam Roach, Sen. Dan
Swecker and former Sen. Don Carlson. What does the Washington Policy Center
know that Sens. Benton, Roach and Swecker didn’t?
biggest distortion is that legislators somehow gave up power under
collective bargaining. The fact is the 2002 law required that a select
committee of legislative leaders be consulted during bargaining. There are
other checks and balances in the law -- lawmakers can turn thumbs down on
pay and benefits, but that rejection would trigger new negotiations, not a
death sentence to the negotiated economic terms of the agreement. And there
are other safety valves in the case of a serious economic crisis, as
determined by the governor or Legislature. The Legislature maintains its
prime role in the process. The only way that wouldn’t be true is if the
collective bargaining law bypassed the Legislature -- something it did not
do and constitutionally could not do.
final major distortion is union dues. The Washington Policy Center op-ed
article said the contracts increased your dues. That’s false. Union dues
are set by the membership at convention; it requires a change in the
union’s constitution. And union dues have not been raised by the
convention in several years -- and certainly were not raised at the last
convention in October 2004.
of you have asked for help writing letters to the editor to respond to these
ongoing attacks. Feel free to use any of the information to write letters to
the editor responding to the Tacoma News Tribune. You can send letters to:
The Editor, TNT, P.O. Box 11000, Tacoma, WA 98411; fax (253) 597-8451;
If you’d like to be part of the Federation Rapid Response Team, e-mail us
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ACTION ALERT: Tell
legislators to support apprenticeship!
HB 1028 and SB 5097, companion bills to
promote apprenticeship utilization in Washington state, are on the move in
Olympia. But so are the construction lobbying groups that oppose them.
HB 1028 would codify and make permanent the rules
that have been in place for nearly five years requiring 15 percent of work
hours on major public works projects be performed by state-approved
apprentices. (See the WSLC's Jan. 21 Legislative Update for details.) On Monday, it was approved by the
House Labor and Commerce Committee and is now ready for a vote on the House
floor where Speaker Frank Chopp has included it on his list of fast-track
bills to move early. Likewise in the Senate, SB 5097 is expected to advance
from committee later this week.
But construction lobbying groups have mounted
an effort to oppose this "government mandate" and are urging
contractors to call their legislators in opposition to the bills. That's why
supporters of family-wage job opportunities and effective
earn-while-you-learn job training must respond in kind.
ACTION ALERT: Please
call the Legislative Hotline today at 1-800-562-6000. Leave a message for
both your State Representatives and your State Senator to SUPPORT HB 1028
and SB 5097. Tell them that apprenticeship is a model job training
program, a proven success in creating family-wage careers, and doesn't cost
the state government precious tax dollars. The state should promote this
"other four-year degree" when it spends our money on major public
Thank you for taking the time to make this
Health caregivers overwhelmingly ratify new contract
The following press release was
distributed this afternoon by District 1199NW of the Service Employees
Health Caregivers Contain Health Costs, Make Improvements to Boost
Recruitment and Retention for Quality Patient Care
Members Vote Overwhelmingly to Approve Tentative Agreements
STATE—Registered nurses, medical assistants, licensed practical nurses,
social workers, therapists, clinic team assistants, custodians, and other
SEIU members at Group Health Cooperative statewide have voted
overwhelmingly in favor of new contracts that contain health care costs
and make other improvements to boost recruitment and retention of
frontline staff. Over 96 percent voted in
favor of the agreements.
proud of the stand we took for the principle that working families need
affordable health care,” said Vicki Neumeier, a RN at Group Health.
“Attracting and retaining quality staff helps our patients. What we have
won will help accomplish that. At the same time, we know that everyone
needs health care and the only way that will happen is to organize a
strong grassroots movement in our communities.”
back health care cost increases that
Group Health imposed on
LPNs, medical assistants, and other workers in service job
classifications in October of 2004.
costs to maintain affordable care for
frontline staff. At the time of the five-day strike in August 2004,
Group Health had demanded that an RN making the average salary pay a
$2,404 annual premium for family health care coverage and threatened
to impose a $1,200 per year surcharge to cover spouses who chose Group
Health coverage instead of another employer’s. Under the new
agreements, the annual premium for family coverage will increase to
$480 per year in July 2005, go up to $720 per year in 2006, stay at
that level for the duration of 2007, and then increase to $840 per
year in 2008. SEIU members will not pay a spousal surcharge.
coverage. Caregivers won a new vision
care benefit that will provide $150 per year for frames, lenses, and
pay to attract and retain staff. RNs, LPNs, medical assistants,
and service staff in
won across-the-board pay increases that raise wages a minimum of 15
percent between now and July 2007.
staff won raises ranging from 12 to 13 percent. All hourly service and
social worker employees won a $1 per hour premium for working on
weekends. SEIU employees also significantly improved annual wage steps
that reward longevity and encourage staff retention. Because of the
period that staff went without pay raises while the contracts were
expired, SEIU members won “Catch Up Pay” bonuses of up to $1,375.
standing united, SEIU Group Health caregivers turned back a powerful
campaign by GHC management to dramatically weaken their contracts by
undermining overtime protections and
making other changes. SEIU members won key victories that
strengthen their union voice for the future: all SEIU bargaining units
will have common contract expiration dates and Group Health agreed to
recognize that all staff will be part of organization-wide bargaining
groups. (GHC had previously tried to separate
staff into different contracts. The LPN/MA/Service contract previously
expired on a different timeline than the other groups.)
contracts covering three different groups of workers—registered nurses,
social workers and therapists, and LPNs/medical assistants/service
employees—will expire on
June 30, 2008
1199NW members at Group Health negotiate contracts for three bargaining
groups: approximately 1,060 LPN/medical assistant/service workers; about
1,000 RNs; and about 115 social workers and behavioral therapists.
Health caregivers are united in Service Employees International Union
District 1199NW, which includes more than 18,000 nurses and health care
employees working in hospitals and clinics across
. SEIU is the nation's largest and fastest-growing health care union, with
more than 760,000 health care workers united for quality patient care and
more information, contact SEIU 1199NW Communications Director Carter
Wright at 425-917-1199.