Reports for February
Previous weeks' news: Feb.
14-18 -- Feb.
7-11 -- Feb.
Feb. 23 --
Social Security petition: "Fix it, don't risk it."
In today's Everett Herald -- Privatizing
Social Security won't fix solvency problem (Rep.
In today's Wash. Post -- Social
Security tactics escalate; unions, businesses seek to influence debate
Olympia news: The
clock is ticking on the HCRA (the
latest WSLC Legislative Update)
In today's Seattle Times -- Longtime
legislator Ruth Fisher dies
In today's News Tribune -- Ruth
Fisher, a lawmaker with vision and spine (editorial)
In yesterday's Walla Walla U-B -- Washington's
minimum wage law needs to be modified (editorial)
Editorials urging that the State
Senate pass the simple-majority school levy bill and "let the voters
decide" appear in today's Everett
County Journal and the Seattle
In today's Yakima H-R -- More
trouble ahead, Snokist growers told -- While Snokist was able to operate
its cannery this fall despite a 5-month strike, Woerner told the
cooperative's annual meeting that the troubles facing the industry haven't
gone away. If anything, they've worsened.
In today's Seattle P-I -- Boeing
sells 3 plants in the Plains -- See SPEEA
In today's Everett Herald -- Jet
within a jet: Boeing's 747 large cargo freighter
pivotal to 787 production
Today from BusinessWeek -- Boeing
catches a tailwind -- News analysis: Since New
Year's, the jetmaker has racked up orders for 138 new planes, compared with
just 38 for its European rival.
In today's Olympian -- Team
of doctors will buy outpatient clinic at St. Peter -- SEIU Local 1199NW
is working to minimize the loss of jobs from the proposed sale.
In today's Seattle P-I -- Seattle
Times Co. to cut 99 jobs by September
In today's Seattle P-I -- Who
won the illegal votes of felons? -- Was it the chief law enforcement
officer of the state, or was it the man whose career was mentored
by a felon?
In today's Washington Post -- In
search of... working-class Democrats -- Must-read Meyerson column: Democrats
kid themselves if they think this problem is Kerry-specific. De-unionization
has taken a huge chunk out of Democratic vote totals. Plus, on
a broad range of economic matters, Democrats have alarmingly little to say
to working-class Americans.
Today from the AP -- California
pension overhaul draws fire -- The state's
public workers question Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to convert funds
into 401(k)-type plans.
More Social Security news:
In today's NY Times -- Some
inheritance -- Editorial: As he
stumps for Social Security privatization, Bush always gets a big round of
applause for promising that the money in a private account could be passed
on to one's heirs. If those happy clappers only knew the details.
...plus -- Appeal
to young on Social Security plan gets attention of their elders
...plus -- Conservative
group makes pre-emptive strike against AARP -- The advertisement had two
pictures, one of an American soldier that was crossed out and the other
showing two men in tuxedos kissing each other and carrying a check mark. It
carried the slogan "the real AARP agenda."
In The Onion -- New
generation of dynamic, can-do seniors taking on second jobs -- "Whoever
said people should settle into just one job at 65 never witnessed the pride
of an 80-year-old grocery bagger," said Skip Eldrud, CEO of the
job-placement company Vital Signs Temporary Labor.
Feb. 22 --
DOL to host
meetings on nuclear illness compensation
In yesterday's News Tribune --
for the right word -- Zeek Green is a longshoreman
and poet who works Tacoma's waterfront for meaning. He's also part of today's
"Call to Conscience" event.
Everett Herald -- Keeping
energy prices low will be a battle -- The
lack of a congressional
powerbroker could make Bush's
BPA rate hike hard to stop.
(Meanwhile, a lie is debunked. At one time, Bush argued that, through
energy markets was good for consumers. BPA now sells at cost, but will have
to double its prices to reach Bush's goal of "market
In today's Seattle P-I -- Closing
the divide for mental illness -- Rep. Schual-Berke: "The
distinction between mental and physical health is an artificial one and one
it is time for us to end."
...plus -- House
proposes simple majority for school levies -- Measure passes House
73-25, but its Senate sponsor says the Republican votes are not yet there to
allow voters to decide this issue.
In today's Seattle Times -- Question
of the day: How will we pay? -- A day in the life of Gov. Gregoire.
In today's Wash. Post -- At
home, a hard sell touting Bush' plan on Social Security
In today's NY Times -- Latin
America fails to deliver on basic needs -- As
privatization is rejected across Latin America, the job of providing basic
services is being returned to ill-equipped states.
...plus -- Pension
funds think twice about stocks -- Some pension
officials say stocks and pensions were a bad marriage, and the pursuit of
higher returns exposed their companies to too much risk.
the dog protection -- Krugman column: The campaign against Social
Security is going so badly that longtime critics of President Bush,
accustomed to seeing their efforts to point out flaws in administration
initiatives brushed aside, are pinching themselves. But they shouldn't
relax: if the past is any guide, the Bush administration will soon change
the subject back to national security.
In today's LA Times --
private pension funds make a weak showing -- Bush believes Americans are
so eager to join the "ownership society" that, given a chance,
two-thirds of those eligible would divert funds from Social Security into
the personal investment accounts he proposes. But when public employees in
seven states were offered the opportunity for similar accounts during the
last decade, nowhere near two-thirds signed up for them. In many instances,
the figure was closer to 5%.
...plus on Sunday -- Labor's
lost love -- Op-ed by President of National Writers Guild: Over the last
20 years, the labor movement has poured billions of our members' hard-earned
dollars into electoral politics -- and we've gotten very little to show for
it except a weaker labor movement, too many election day whuppings and too
many politicians who, when they do win, promptly turn their backs on working
men and women. It's time we turned off the spigot and put the money to
Feb. 21 --
Unions support plan to cut AFL-CIO contributions
In the Washington Post --
HERE president Wilhelm eyes bid to lead AFL-CIO
In Saturday's Tri-City Herald -- Union
files objection to Tyson vote -- Teamsters Local 556 lays out 22 charges
of illegal actions by Tyson management that interfered with decertification
vote, including alleged threats by Tyson managers to close the plant if the
In Sunday's Spokesman-Review --
fix it; it isn't broken -- Excellent Caldwell column: There
is no crisis in Social Security. The system is not broke, will not be broke
in 2018, nor will it be broke in 2042. Retirees, spouses and the disabled
will be paid benefits 75 years into the future, the planning horizon for the
system today. (paid subscription
required; e-mail us for a
...plus -- Upward
mobility: Demand is high for
electrical linemen -- "There will continue to be a shortage until
we can get people pumped through (apprenticeship programs)," said Don
Guillot, business manager for IBEW 77. "We do have a problem, but we
are trying to address it." (paid
In the Seattle Times --
newest import: Thai farmworkers and Guest
worker contracts in doubt
In Saturday's Seattle Times -- Labor
"harmony" set as criteria for Seattle's school-bus contract
In today's Seattle P-I --
celebs are turning out in Tacoma for "Call to Conscience"
In today's Seattle P-I --
push to share the burden for health care (re: HCRA)
In Sunday's Olympian -- The
challenge: Find $2.2 billion without raising taxes
...plus Saturday --
push plan to expand gasoline tax -- Less than two years after the state
gasoline tax hit motorists for an extra nickel a gallon, state legislators
are saying it wasn't enough.
In Sunday's Seattle Times --
state costs before raising taxes -- Editorial with suggestions on how to
close the budget gap, including laying off 3,000 state workers, more than
doubling state employee health premiums, repealing pension gainsharing, and
deferring the I-728 (again).
In Sunday's Walla Walla U-B --
should not consider raising taxes -- Editorial: Boosting
taxes could slow the state's economic growth and, as a result, curb the
projected revenue gains.
Saturday from the AP --
prescription drug bills pass House
In the PS Business Journal --
restaurateurs. a chilly visit to State Capitol
overboard: Let the private ferries sail (editorial)
Today from AP -- Debate
over pesticides, exposure growing again -- Take
In today's NY Times -- DOL
to investigate its treatment of Wal-Mart -- At issue is its agreement to
give Wal-Mart 15 days' notice before investigating any stores facing
complaints of child labor violations.
target for Swift Vets' advisors: AARP -- Conservative group to
orchestrate attacks against critics of Bush's Social Security privatization.
Says its director: "They are the boulder in the middle of the highway
to personal savings accounts. We will be the dynamite that removes
In Saturday's Washington Post -- Poorest
face most risk on Social Security privatization
Previous weeks' news: Feb.
14-18 -- Feb.
7-11 -- Feb.
AFL-CIO's Social Security petition: "Fix
it, don't risk it."
The AFL-CIO has set up a new website at
to urge members of Congress to sign a pledge to strengthen, not privatize,
the Social Security system. At the site, union members and other supporters
are urged to download
and collect signatures on a citizens' petition, and to send an e-mail to
their members of Congress.
The "Pledge to Strengthen Social Security"
that members of Congress are asked to sign reads:
I pledge to the people of my district and
to the American people that I will work to strengthen retirement security,
including Social Security.
I will oppose Social Security privatization
proposals that would:
- Require cuts in guaranteed benefits to
pay for private accounts.
- Weaken the system by diverting money
from the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for private accounts.
- Increase the federal deficit to pay
for private accounts.
- Increase the retirement age.
The Washington State Labor Council will not only
formally request that each member of Washington's congressional delegation
sign this pledge, it will also be asking state legislators to sign the
pledge. We will post at this site the names of all the representatives and
senators who agree to sign the pledge, and all of those who don't.
8014 and HJM
4015 are resolutions introduced in Olympia requesting that Congress
reject the privatization of Social Security. A handful of Republicans have
8008, a resolution supporting Bush's effort to privatize Social
Make sure you visit the www.SocialSecurityPledge.org
website for more information about President Bush's plan to privatize Social
DOL hosts Richland meetings on nuclear
Following is an announcement from the U.S.
Department of Labor:
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) officials
will be available to answer questions about the Energy Employees
Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) at a town hall
meeting to be held on March 9-10, 2005 in Richland, Washington. In
addition, current and former employees of contractors, subcontractors, and
eligible survivors will receive information about Part E of the EEOICPA.
The town hall meeting will be held at the Shilo Inn in Richland.
Part E replaces the Part D program formerly
run by the Department of Energy. In October of 2004, the President
signed into law an amendment creating Part E to provide monetary
compensation and medical benefits to contractor and subcontractor
employees, or their survivors, who worked at DOE facilities and sustained
an occupational illness as a result of exposure to toxic substances.
Thousands of workers sacrificed to keep
our country safe, said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment
Standards Victoria A. Lipnic. It is our responsibility to ensure these
workers and their families are well served by the new energy workers
Workers who need assistance filling out
claim forms may schedule appointments following the town hall meeting or
by calling toll-free, (888) 654-0014.
March 9 -- 6 p.m.; and March 10
-- 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Shilo Inn, 50 Comstock, Richland,
The Labor Department also administers Part
B of EEOICPA. Over the past four years, the department has issued
more than $1 billion in compensation and medical payments to over 13,000
claimants. Part B provides a lump sum payment of $150,000 and
medical expenses to current and former DOE employees who became ill as a
result of their exposure to radiation, beryllium or silica. DOE
contractor employees, and certain survivors, are also potentially
eligible. Covered conditions include radiogenic cancers, beryllium
diseases and chronic silicosis. Qualified survivors of deceased
covered employees may also be eligible for the lump sum compensation of
Unions support plan to cut AFL-CIO
following story by Steven Greenhouse appeared
in Saturday's edition of the New York Times: (For more information, visit Strengthening
Our Union Movement for the Future, an AFL-CIO web
site where union members, activists and leaders can add their ideas about
the union movements challenges and opportunities and keep up to date on
proposals for change.)
Many of the nation's largest labor unions,
including the Teamsters and Service Employees International Union, are
pushing a plan to cut in half most unions' contributions to the A.F.L.-C.I.O.
and instead devote the money to organizing workers, several labor leaders
With union membership and power steadily
declining, such a move would in theory increase membership, although it
would weaken the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and force it to lay off many employees.
The push for these changes comes as a few
union presidents are quietly maneuvering to persuade John J. Sweeney, the
federation's president, not to run for a new four-year term.
At a meeting in Washington on Thursday, the
presidents of several major labor unions backed a Teamsters-led plan to
cut contributions to the federation, hoping the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s executive
council will approve the plan at its meeting in Las Vegas in early March.
Under the Teamsters' plan, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.,
a federation of 59 unions representing 13 million workers, would be forced
to cut its staff of 425 and to narrow its focus mostly to politics,
lobbying and serving as a spokesman for workers.
"I support the Teamsters' proposal
because it puts the financial resources where they belong -- into
organizing," said Bruce Raynor, president of Unite Here, the newly
merged union representing apparel, hotel and restaurant workers. "We
need to do everything we can to reverse the decline in living standards
for American workers, which has been brought about by declining union
The percentage of workers in unions has
plunged to 12.5 percent from nearly 35 percent in the 1950's.
Among the presidents at Thursday's meeting
supporting the 50 percent cut in contributions were Mr. Raynor, James P.
Hoffa of the Teamsters and Andrew Stern of the service employees. Although
in the hospital, Joseph Hansen, president of the United Food and
Commercial Workers, participated by telephone to back the plan. Terence M.
O'Sullivan of the Laborers' International Union has also voiced support.
Together, these unions represent almost
five million workers, nearly 40 percent of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s membership.
Union officials say Mr. Stern and Mr.
Raynor have told other labor leaders that while they believe Mr. Sweeney
is doing the best he can to reverse labor's decline, it is time for new,
more forceful leadership. Mr. Sweeney is viewed as a consensus builder,
who acknowledges that he has not succeeded in persuading many unions to
increase their organizing as much as he had hoped.
When Mr. Sweeney, 70, was first elected
federation president in 1995, he said he would serve at most 10 years. But
he has reversed himself and has said repeatedly in recent months that he
wants to head the federation for four more years.
"What we're seeing is a little what we
saw before, when some labor leaders thought it was time to get rid of Lane
Kirkland," said Charles Craver, a labor relations expert at George
Washington University, referring to Mr. Sweeney's predecessor.
"There's a feeling that the organization has not been moving forward.
John Sweeney has tried very hard to turn things around, but if you look at
the bottom line, there is no significant change. The decline has continued
In 1995, several union leaders maneuvered
openly to pressure Mr. Kirkland to retire, and that effort succeeded. The
effort to nudge Mr. Sweeney aside is smaller, quieter and less forceful,
partly because he is so well liked and respected.
"John has talked to a lot of union
presidents, and he has more than 50 percent backing for re-election,"
said Mr. Sweeney's spokeswoman, Denise Mitchell.
Several union presidents at Thursday's
meeting have told others that they hope that John W. Wilhelm, one of the
two top leaders of Unite Here, will run for the federation's presidency if
Mr. Sweeney decides not to run again -- and perhaps even if he decides to
Mr. Wilhelm declined to comment, although
at a forum last week in Los Angeles he indicated he would not be
interested in the federation's presidency unless union leaders embraced
some of the proposed structural changes.
Richard Trumka, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s
secretary treasurer and a former president of the United Mine Workers, has
signaled that he plans to seek the federation's presidency if Mr. Sweeney
At Thursday's meeting, several officials
said, the presidents backed a proposal to have unions focus more on
organizing workers in their core industries, an idea intended to get
unions to stop undercutting one another in recruiting workers and in
negotiating contracts. Under the Teamsters' plan, unions would have their
contribution to the A.F.L.-C.I.O. cut only if they pledged to spend more
than 10 percent of their budgets on organizing. The reduced contributions
could reach $35 million a year.
"What I'm picking up is there is
growing sentiment for major changes, and certainly the current A.F.L.-C.I.O.
leadership is going to have to respond one way or another to the call for
changes," said Greg Tarpinian, a labor consultant and adviser to Mr.
Hoffa. "Once that happens, then the next course of action will be
Ms. Mitchell, Mr. Sweeney's spokeswoman,
said, "John agrees with some of these reform ideas."
She said Mr. Sweeney supported some form of
cut in dues payments by unions.