JULY 1 ■
at a Crossroads: WSLC Convention is Aug. 4-6 in Spokane
In today's Seattle Times --
approves CAFTA; Murray, Cantwell vote "yes" -- But Rep. Jay
Inslee announces his opposition to the Central American trade deal, boosting
chances of blocking the measure in the House. Only Rep. McMorris remains
"undecided." Take action!
today’s Bellingham Herald --
say free trade deal would benefit states -- Sen. Patty Murray says CAFTA
will "help Washington state to compete globally."
today’s NY Times -- Bush's
DOL quashed report criticizing labor standards in Central America
Today at WFSE.org -- WFSE
moves to block contracting out at Employment Security
today's Olympian -- Employment
Security cuts jobs; timing of state workers' layoffs riles union
today's Seattle P-I -- In
stunning setback for Seattle monorail, city council kills financing plan
Bellingham Herald -- BPA
decision threatens Alcoa Intalco Works
today's Yakima H-R -- BPA
offers Golden NW Aluminum enough power to start one smelter line
Today from AP -- State
Supreme Court ruling threatens future of Seattle P-I
In today's Olympian -- State
employees to pay more for parking
today's Seattle P-I -- Seattle
schools district ordered to pay fees, apologize in labor case
today’s Seattle Times -- Keep
the region moving (op-ed by Bellevue
business leaders) -- We have taken a big
step in the right direction with the 2005 statewide transportation funding
package. No one likes new taxes, but enhancing mobility will cost money, and
delays only drive costs higher.
■ In yesterday's
Columbian -- Evergreen
teachers approve contract boosting incentive pay
■ In today's
Salem S-J -- SEIU
state employees in Oregon rally for a new contract
from AP -- Rossi
focusing on family, not foes -- But Washington's sorest loser can't
resist another swipe at the state Supreme Court, again suggesting
justices would have decided his case based on politics rather than the rule
of law: "I don't pull back from any
of that (criticism).''
In today's Seattle P-I -- New
Boeing chief says 787 is No. 1 priority
In today's Seattle P-I -- Boeing
veterans like choice of outsider -- IAM 751 declines comment.
In today's Seattle Times -- Expectations
sky-high for new leader -- SPEEA offers cautious welcome.
today's Everett Herald -- JAL
deal gives 767 new life, Boeing delays decision to close line
Today from AP --
Day O'Connor announces retirement from Supreme Court
today's Washington Post --
approves pay raise for federal employees -- The
House OKs a 3.1% pay raise for 1.8 million federal civilian employees,
exceeding Bush's proposal of 2.3%.
today's NY Times --
officer is suing Wal-Mart -- A former exec
responsible for inspecting apparel factories says he was fired for being too
aggressive about finding workplace violations.
from AP -- Minnesota
government shuts down; 9,000 jobless in budget stalemate
today's Washington Post -- United
Airlines flight attendants threaten strike
Throes" news: ■
In today's SF Chronicle -- Why
victory in Iraq is not a matter of U.S. troops
today's NY Times -- America
held hostage (Krugman column) -- It's time to face up to three
realities. First, the war is helping, not hurting, the terrorists. Second,
the kind of clear victory the hawks promised is no longer possible, if it
ever was. Third, a time limit on our commitment will do more good than
harm... The presence of American
forces in Iraq is making our country less safe. So it's time to start
winding down the war.
today's Seattle Times (editorial) -- Sen.
Murray's war for U.S. veterans (editorial) -- Murray
did a superlative job this week in holding Bush accountable for all of the
expenses of the war in Iraq.
JUNE 30 ■
splits open (op-ed
in The Nation)
today’s NY Times -- A
more perfect union (op-ed by UCLA sociologist) --
The proposed consolidation of the AFL-CIO's 58 affiliates threatens
vested interests, including officials at smaller unions.
But SEIU's track record is the best case for taking its proposal seriously:
it has tripled in size over the past quarter-century, as membership in most
other unions plunged.
In today's LA Times -- Senate
committee OKs CAFTA -- Senate passage predicted today or tomorrow, but
the big battle will come when the House takes it up. Take
from AP -- DOL
blocked release of Central American labor studies -- The Labor
Department worked for more than a year to maintain secrecy for studies
critical of working conditions in Central America, the region the Bush
administration wants in a new trade pact.
today's NY Times -- Trade
pacts to the South losing appeal -- Increasingly, Latin Americans view
free trade with the United States with suspicion, as the region has in
recent years shifted to the left and become increasingly wary of
Washington's economic prescriptions.
today’s Seattle P-I -- 3M's
McNerney named Boeing CEO -- Mullaly: "That sucks."
Today at BusinessWeek.com -- 3M
CEO lands at Boeing (news analysis) -- He
faces a challenging task at Boeing. He'll inherit two high-risk aerospace
programs still in their early stages: the new fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner
airplane and the Future Combat Systems, a vast and complex information
network for the U.S. Army. And he'll have to win back the trust of skeptical
U.S. senators and Pentagon officials infuriated by Boeing's aggressiveness
and ethical violations.
today's Seattle Times -- San
Antonio to gain 4,200 WaMu jobs -- The
company never considered Washington because it wanted to locate in the
Central time zone. Sound familiar? When Boeing moved it's HQ for
geographical reasons, conservatives created the myth that Washington's
"unfriendly" business climate was to blame. Tune in to talk radio
today, and hear the spin begin.
In today's News tribune -- Tacoma
firefighters secure new contract
today's Spokesman-Review -- Kaiser
files bankruptcy reorganization plan -- Anticipated
for many months, it calls for conducting business with a fresh balance sheet
and new labor agreements.
today’s Seattle Times -- Staunch
allies of Seattle monorail warn agency: Change or fail
today's Oregonian -- Health
care for poor lacking in Clark County, report says
In yesterday’s Aberdeen
Daily World -- Area
legislators assess outcome of session
today's King County Journal -- David
Irons says poll (he paid for) shows dead heat with Ron Sims
In today's Washington Post -- House
GOP plans vote on Social Security
today’s NY Times -- U.S.
plans rackets lawsuit over dockworkers' union -- A civil racketeering
lawsuit will be filed against the International Longshoremen's Association
in the government's most aggressive attempt ever to wrest the nation's
Atlantic and Gulf Coast docks and the union that represents their workers
from what prosecutors say is a half-century of mob control.
today's Washington Post -- Immigration
plan may have gone awry -- Bush's guest worker plan has actually helped
fuel illegal immigration because some believed he is offering amnesty.
Throes" update: ■
In today's NY Times -- The
true cost of war (editorial) -- There
is no excuse for treating the needs of wounded and damaged warriors as a
today's Washington Post -- Bush's
words reflect public opinion -- The president's full-speed-ahead message
reflects a purposeful strategy based on extensive study of public opinion
about how to maintain support for a costly and problem-plagued military
today's NY Times -- Dangerous
incompetence (Herbert column) -- On
July 2, 2003, Bush said, "There are some who feel that the conditions
are such that they can attack us (in Iraq). My answer is, Bring 'em
on." It was an immature display of street-corner machismo that appalled
people familiar with the agonizing ordeals of combat. After
1,730 U.S. troops' deaths, it is clear Bush's incompetence
has undermined the troops who have fought honorably and bravely in Iraq.
JUNE 29 ■ Now
that it's before Congress, take action against CAFTA
today’s NY Times --
prices are barrier to CAFTA passage -- President Bush ran into new
problems with his trade agenda on Tuesday, as attempts to entice support
from the sugar industry for his Central American trade agreement veered
■ In today’s
Oregonian -- Angry
sugar producers stymie Central American trade deal
In today's Tri-City Herald
vitrification plant put on hold -- DOE plans to stop construction on key
parts of the plant as part of a plan to address problems there.
■ Also in today's Tri-City-Herald -- Program
to pay injured Hanford workers is working, officials say
today's Seattle Times -- Monorail
backers launch offensive to ease rising anxiety about project
In today's Olympian -- Capitol
chat with WPEA/UFCW Director Leslie Liddle (transcript)
In today's News Tribune -- Police
oversight passes -- A divided Tacoma City Council establishes citizen
oversight despite objections from police labor unions and Chief Don Ramsdell.
today's KCJ -- Cooperation
needed for our economic future (editorial
on Prosperity Partnership)
■ Today from AP -- Eyman
initiative on audits heads toward vote
today's Oregonian -- Union
(AWPPW) rejects contract offer at Blue Heron plant in Oregon City
Throes" update: ■
In today's LA Times -- Bush
defends Iraq policy -- Facing eroding support, he
says the war is a crucial front in fighting terrorism. He indicates no
change in strategy.
in today's LA Times -- As
war shifts, so does the message (analysis) --
Bush has retooled his original argument for the Iraq war (again). Now he is
justifying the U.S. military presence there as the solution to a problem
that critics say the war itself caused.
■ In today's
Washington Post -- Bush
on Iraq (editorial) -- Once
again, President Bush has missed an opportunity to fully level with
■ In the NY Times -- Bush
on Iraq (editorial) -- His
only answered questions no one is asking.
today's News Tribune -- Angry
Sen. Murray blasts VA funding shortfall -- Money for veterans’ health
care could come up $2.5 billion short, VA Secretary now says, just three
months after he assured Congress his department had enough money.
today’s Wichita Herald --
ponders Onex contract proposal
today's NY Times --
(Writers Guild) plans to file suit for reality TV workers
today's SF Chronicle --
39% of Californians say they'd vote for Schwarzenegger again
JUNE 28 ■ Volunteers needed to oppose I-912 during final
today’s Olympian --
probation, parole officers vote to retain WFSE
In today’s Seattle Times
of Seattle City Council now troubled by monorail project
from AP -- Hanford
safety panel to be created; it will hear workers' health concerns
today's Tri-City Herald -- Bechtel
postpones construction layoffs -- About 350 workers at the Hanford
nuclear reservation's vitrification plant get a 30-day reprieve.
■ In today’s
to truckers' tax going into effect; installments no longer an option
In today's Seattle Times --
pays $15,000 to end election suit -- Republicans pay state Democratic
Party to cover some court costs associated with Desperate Dino's
unsuccessful lawsuit. GOP's check-cutting Boss Vance says, "It's a
today's Spokesman-Review -- Jim
West appealing recall to Supreme Court (paid
in today's S-R -- Recall
based on false accusations (Jim West
op-ed) -- I am not a crook.
news: ■ Today
from Bloomberg --
to buy back 20 million shares -- Stock up 19% in '05.
Sunday's Wichita Eagle --
overwhelmingly OKs Mid-Western Aircraft (Onex) contract -- About
4,400 former Boeing workers accept 5-year deal similar
to the one rejected last month.
today's Wichita Eagle -- SPEEA:
Wage cut not on table in talks with Mid-Western
Family leave: Cry us a river (editorial)
-- When resisting
regulation, business groups and the Bush administration love to talk about
the value of flexibility. Workers should have flexibility to take care of
themselves and their families.
from AP -- Union
leaders endorse Sweeney, but Carpenters join
today's Seattle P-I -- U.S.
Trade Rep uses CAFTA threat to help drug companies (op-ed)
today's SF Chronicle --
war support ebbs, Bush will try to rally nation tonight (analysis)
today's NY Times --
speech the president should give (John Kerry
Bush fails to take these steps, we will stumble along, our troops at greater
risk, casualties rising, costs rising, the patience of the American people
wearing thin, and the specter of quagmire staring us in the face. Our troops
deserve better: they deserve leadership equal to their sacrifice.
today's Washington Post -- Right-wing
sucker punch (Cohen column) -- The
new book, "The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It,
and How Far She'll Go to Become President," insinuates epic
mendacities, sapphic sex, fiscal improprieties and marital rape -- all
without documentation. It is so beyond belief and good taste that the very
fact his book is selling like proverbial hotcakes starkly exposes the
anti-Clinton people as the village idiots of our time.
It takes one to buy this book.
At WFSE.org -- Jim
Cline guild fails to decertify WFSE at Community Corrections
today's Olympian -- State
unions gain size, influence -- Starting Friday, state worker unions will
grow -- a lot. The largest, the Washington Federation of State Employees, will almost double.
■ In today's Olympian -- More
than a year of hard work comes to fruition with signing of
■ Today from
AP -- Carpenters
join unions challenging AFL-CIO
■ In Sunday's LA Times -- Can
rebels revive the labor movement? (op-ed) -- It
is hard to see what Stern and Co. can do outside of the AFL-CIO that they
could not do equally well by remaining within. But if these erstwhile rebels
do manage to shake up the status quo, reviving some of the values that once
enthused CIO partisans, then their gambit might just pay off.
■ In the Everett Herald -- Don't
bet the farm on AFL-CIO or EU (McCusker column) --
The significance of the EU and AFL-CIO situations
isn't at all clear. From our economy's standpoint, should we be cheering or
booing, smiling or weeping?
912 news: ■
In the Tri-City Herald -- Sparks
fly as I-912 petition deadline nears
■ In today's Seattle Times -- Quarrel
escalates as gas-tax foes and backers file lawsuits
■ In the King Co. Journal -- Don't
tie up gas-tax issue in courts (editorial) -- Waiting
to make the necessary road improvements only means higher costs later and
even more traffic gridlock. Our economic future depends on dealing with the mess now.
Gas-tax opponents should back off.
■ In the News Tribune --
transportation woes require raising the gas tax (Richard
In today's News Tribune -- CAFTA:
Good for state, nation, Central America (editorial)
-- Unions have legitimate grievances against the Bush
Administration, but CAFTA should not be held hostage to those complaints.
■ In last week's News Tribune -- Fix
is still in for Longshore jobs (editorial) -- It
is called nepotism and favoritism. It’s an old way of passing out plum
jobs, on the waterfront and elsewhere, but it’s not how you go about
hiring if your overriding goal is to recruit the best possible employees.
■ ...and a response -- What
about "nepotism" enjoyed by the power elite? (letter
by Roofers' Martinez)
■ In the PSBJ -- State
policymakers wary of ruling on tax
incentives -- Ohio case could affect the incentive package for Boeing and the state's ability to offer other
tax incentives to businesses.
■ In Saturday's Aberdeen Daily World -- Local
truckers may park their rigs in protest over fees
■ In The Stranger -- King
County Labor Council assails anti-gay tenant at Lake Washington school
■ In the Oregonian -- Oregon
task force will consider changes in state prevailing wage law
■ In the Oregonian -- Developer
not bound by prevailing wage law at Portland Meier & Frank project
■ In today's Seattle Times -- Fellow
workers... (op-ed) -- The
Wobblies imagined a world where any wage-earning worker had a right to
belong to the "one big union," and where "an injury to one
would be an injury to all." The principles they fought for promoted
worker health and safety, gender and race equality, the protection of
children, and global worker
Security news: ■
In today's LA Times -- Bush's
plan hits the shoals -- After six months of
presidential speeches, town meetings and maneuvering, Republicans are coming
to grips with an unpleasant reality: The central pillars of President Bush's
proposal have crumbled on Capitol Hill.
■ In today's Everett Herald -- Privatization
is the wrong answer for Social Security (Raspberry
■ In Sunday's Everett Herald -- Democrats
need to get off sideline on Social Security (Broder
national news: ■
From Bloomberg -- Business
groups urge Bush to soften Family Leave Act
■ In today's NY Times -- Reading,
writing and retailing (op-ed by Dave Eggers, et
al) -- Most teachers love teaching, but teaching is
often not so easy to love.
■ In today's Wash. Post -- Rich rewards for corporate elite -- More than ever,
is pays to be
at the top.
■ Also in
today's Wash. Post -- And
on top of it all, gigantic pensions
Previous weeks' news:
June 13-17 -- June 6-10 -- May 31-June 3
Labor at a
Crossroads: WSLC Convention Aug. 4-6 in Spokane
2005 Convention of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO will
begin Thursday, August 4 at 9 a.m. at the WestCoast Ridpath Hotel in
Spokane. Convention business is expected to be completed by early Saturday
Under the theme, "Labor at a Crossroads," the convention will
include a report from WSLC President Rick Bender regarding the latest
developments following the national AFL-CIO Convention in July, the
restructuring of the labor federation, and how it impacts the mission and
operations of the WSLC and AFL-CIO central labor councils. Delegates will
also have an opportunity to weigh in on these historic developments by
participating in a special three-hour workshop discussion of the future of
the AFL-CIO and the American labor movement.
The annual WSLC Convention is an opportunity for union officers, staff
and rank-and-file delegates to hear from distinguished union and government
leaders, attend informative workshops, develop relationships with other
unions -- and have some fun. "The
Tournament in ‘05," the annual golf fund raiser to benefit community
service agencies, will be Wednesday, August 3, the day before convention,
with a 1:15 p.m. shotgun start. For registration information, contact Nancy
or Julie at the Puget Sound Labor Agency at 206-448-9277.
The Employment and Training Conference,
jointly sponsored by the Employment Security Department and the Washington
State Labor Council, which was to be held on Wednesday, August 3 in Spokane
before the WSLC Convention HAS BEEN POSTPONED at the request of the
Employment Security Department.
Among the convention speakers scheduled to appear are Gov. Christine
Gregoire, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, U.S.
Rep. Jay Inslee, MEBA National President Ron Davis, State
Secretary of Transportation Doug MacDonald, Department of Labor and
Industries Director Gary Weeks, Employment Security Department
Director Karen Lee, Health Care Authority Director Steve Hill,
Brown & Cole Stores CEO Craig Cole, and several other
distinguished speakers. Friday night’s convention banquet speaker
will be comedian Will Durst.
Issues to be addressed by panels and speakers include "What's Next
for Health Care in Washington," the state's union organizing campaigns,
the UFCW Wal-Mart campaign, Social Security, the state initiative on medical
malpractice, transportation, and other issues. Workshops are planned on
union organizing, the Project Help workers' compensation program, community
and technical colleges, economic development, the National Labor College,
family leave issues, tax fairness, political action, and more.
But the main business of the convention is to debate and establish the
WSLC's positions or policies on issues, programs and candidates by voting on
motions and resolutions, although this year is a non-Constitutional
convention. Any credentialed delegate representing their
WSLC-affiliated union may introduce motions to the convention, and any
affiliated union may submit resolutions to the convention. (See the 2004
Resolutions adopted at last year's convention.) Proposed resolutions
should be submitted as soon as possible to facilitate
distribution to the delegates.
WSLC-affiliated unions and councils have already received their official
convention calls, including notification of how many voting delegates to
which they are entitled, registration forms and hotel information. All
delegates from affiliated councils must be members of a local union
affiliated with that council and the WSLC. Delegates must be members of the
organization they represent.
For more information, contact Karen
White at (206) 281-8901.
opinion column by labor journalist David Moberg appeared
in the July 11 edition of The Nation:
After the 1952 election, union leaders were worried.
Republicans were in power. Labor rights had been weakened. Southern
organizing had failed. Unions were raiding one another. There were bitter
personal and federation rivalries. One big union threatened to
disaffiliate from its federation. In 1955, hoping to strengthen the labor
movement, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial
Fast-forward fifty years. There are echoes of those old
issues, but now the AFL-CIO is on the brink of a major breakup. Partly
that is because the original merger created a weak federation, not a
strong, unified labor movement. It marked labor's apogee and the beginning
of its decline.
Last year the Service Employees (SEIU) proposed changes
that, they argued, would strengthen the labor movement, including merging
unions, getting them to focus their organizing efforts strategically in
their core industries, cutting AFL-CIO staff and giving big unions more
direct control over the federation. In recent months SEIU and like-minded
unions have ratcheted up the pressure by making specific proposals to
AFL-CIO president John Sweeney. One from the Teamsters, for an AFL-CIO
dues rebate aimed at rewarding unions that invest in strategic organizing,
garnered support from unions representing nearly 40 percent of federation
members. Still, Sweeney has managed to consolidate support both for his
re-election at the late July convention and for his program--which moves
in the dissidents' direction without fully embracing their ideas--calling
for a bigger, year-round political operation, cutting one-fourth of
federation staff and modestly increasing organizing expenditures.
The debate has been muddied by personality issues. Union
presidents representing 63 percent of federation members back Sweeney,
partly because they like him (or dislike SEIU president Andy Stern's
style), but there are divisions within each camp.
The dissidents--SEIU, Teamsters, UNITE HERE (apparel and
hotel workers), Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Laborers--remain a
large minority with no presidential candidate. Three unions--SEIU, UNITE
HERE and UFCW--have authorized their executive boards to leave the
federation (a decision the Laborers aren't considering). In June they
launched the Change to Win Coalition to coordinate the work of willing
unions inside or outside the AFL-CIO, a formation that could become the
nucleus of a new federation. Having first stressed policies, many
dissidents now argue that Sweeney is the problem. "I hate to say it,
but John Sweeney is not supporting real change in the labor
movement," says SEIU secretary-treasurer Anna Burger, who managed
Sweeney's 1995 election. "I can't see how we can support a president
who is not committed to real change." Sweeney supporters emphasize
how much his proposals resemble the dissidents' ideas; his opponents
insist he offers only rhetorical change and is unwilling to push reluctant
affiliates to reform.
The biggest difference is over incentives to organize:
Sweeney offers much smaller rebates if unions devote 30 percent of
resources to organizing. But he claims that will generate $2.5 billion
over five years, compared with $1 billion claimed for the Teamsters plan.
Both figures are inflated, since rebates will reward unions already
meeting the targets, and neither rebate may be enough to spur any major
transformations. But many dissidents also see their rebate as a way to
shrink the AFL-CIO further and to push smaller unions to merge with big
Sweeney has won widest approval for beefing up labor's
political work, but his critics claim that organizing is short-changed and
labor is too subservient to Democrats (although only a few, like UNITE
HERE hospitality president John Wilhelm, advocate primary challenges to
Democrats in addition to wooing Republicans). Sweeney has tried to make
the historically balkanized labor movement more influential and coherent
by building up the federation's operations to represent the movement as a
whole. This has frustrated union presidents, who want to make decisions,
not have them made by AFL-CIO staff with minimal consultation. The Change
to Win unions want a smaller, centralized bureaucracy and more emphasis on
coordinated action among big unions calling the shots.
It seems almost certain that SEIU will leave the
federation, perhaps even before the convention. But it's still unclear
whether others will leave and whether Change to Win will become an
alternative federation. Ongoing negotiations could bear fruit; for
instance, Sweeney might still offer a bigger organizing rebate. There are
also discussions under way about creating committees of unions by industry
(like the airlines) and redefining federation rules and standards for
organizing in a particular industry.
Maybe there's still room for agreement. The idea that
well-conceived strategic campaigns in core industries should receive
incentives "is not a controversial issue at all," argues
Wilhelm. "It's been distorted into the idea that nobody could
organize outside their core jurisdiction. If that issue were joined with
the president of the AFL-CIO supporting it, it would pass. It's a
no-brainer." But the dissidents remain ready to play hardball.
"We're prepared to go to the convention and fight it out on
resolutions," says UFCW president Joe Hansen. "The status quo
will not stand, and we have to be prepared for other possibilities."
Sweeney insists labor unity is critical with hostile
Republicans in power. "We try very hard to understand why they would
split the labor movement during this time when there is such a need for a
strong labor movement," he says. "Anyone who leaves the labor
movement is on a path of cynicism, divisiveness and destruction. It sounds
like some may be interested in a power struggle." Wilhelm says
leaving would be "gut-wrenching," but labor's crisis--such as
destruction of airline pensions--demands drastic action. "If the
AFL-CIO is going to be a status quo organization, it won't survive in the
long run, and there has to be an alternative labor center," he
argues. "It's too bad 13 million AFL-CIO members don't get to vote.
No question there would be dramatic change."
So far the debate has engaged mainly union presidents, not
members or even intermediate-level leaders. But unionists trying to build
state and local labor movements are worried (not only for the financial
loss if SEIU departs, taking 10 percent of the national budget, and more
in many localities). "Mostly we feel like we're children of some
great parents who are getting divorced at the worst time of our
central labor council leader John Ryan. Recently Sweeney sent out notices
that unions leaving the AFL-CIO, such as the Carpenters or potentially
SEIU, can't participate in its local or state organizations. But enforcing
this longstanding rule could intensify conflict within the labor movement.
State and local leaders already are trying to figure out ways to follow
the rules but maintain labor unity.
Whether a federation breakup precipitates a dreaded labor
civil war depends largely on how Sweeney and others deal with groups like
Change to Win or local efforts to cooperate after the convention. "So
in the end, John runs, and John wins," observes Laborers president
Terry O'Sullivan. "What he wins is a divided labor movement. If
that's reality, how do we manage it? Do we go on attack against those who
are out? Do those who are out go on attack on those who are in?" The
labor movement has survived with unions operating outside the AFL-CIO, but
a major split would weaken labor in the short run and could make the
founding of a new movement even more difficult than reforming the old.
Workers would gain from a unified labor movement that
resolved many of the AFL-CIO's inherited weaknesses, at a minimum
demanding that unions implement some clear strategic approach to grow and
gain power for workers. Besides expanding accountability to members, labor
needs ways to hold individual unions accountable to one another for action
on fundamental decisions. Unions need both to better coordinate and to act
as a movement beyond narrow interests, such as by launching new unions in
unorganized sectors. Whatever happens at the convention, the battle over
rebuilding a labor movement that overcomes the shortcomings of a
half-century merger will continue, with an outcome that is far from
that it's before Congress, take action against CAFTA
Although the Central American Free Trade
Agreement was signed more than a year ago, it had not been introduced to
Congress until this week, due to lack of support.
The positions of
Washington's congressional delegation on CAFTA,
as of Friday, July 1:
Inslee (D-1st) -- OPPOSES
Larsen (D-2nd) -- OPPOSES
Baird (D-3rd) -- OPPOSES
Hastings (R-4th) -- SUPPORTS
McMorris (R-5th) -- not
Dicks (D-6th) -- SUPPORTS
McDermott (D-7th) -- OPPOSES
Reichert (R-8th) -- SUPPORTS
Smith (D-9th) -- OPPOSES
Murray (D-WA) -- Voted "Yes"
Cantwell (D-WA) -- Voted "Yes"
The Bush administration has decided to go for
broke and push for committee votes on CAFTA this week. On Thursday, it passed
the Senate 54-45, with both Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voting
But observers say the real battle is in the
House, where Rep. Jay Inslee this week joined Reps. Rick Larsen, Brian
Baird, Jim McDermott and Adam Smith in announcing opposition to CAFTA. Only
Rep. McMorris remains "undecided" on the issue.
The Fast Track "clock" is ticking
and a House floor vote
must happen within 15 session days of when it was introduced, with limited debate and no amendments
allowed. So the next three weeks are
critical for organized labor, environmental groups and the many others
opposed to this expansion of NAFTA.
CALL TO ACTION: Even
if you have contacted your U.S. Representatives before on this issue, and
even if they have already expressed support or opposition to CAFTA, PLEASE
CALL 1-866-340-9281 (a toll-free number provided by the United
Steelworkers of America), and give the Capitol Switchboard operator your
zip code to be connected to your Representative's office. Tell the office
you want your Representative to vote "NO" on CAFTA (and thank
them if they have expressed opposition to CAFTA). Then ask for
a response letter or email stating his or her position.
Like NAFTA before
it, CAFTA does not include protections for workers’ right to form a union
or safe work conditions. It is the first bilateral or regional
agreement the Bush administration has pushed since fierce opposition from
workers in North and South America and their community allies stymied trade
ministers in November 2003 from consolidating the Free Trade Area of the
Just as Congress begins considering CAFTA, a new AFL-CIO
study refutes claims by CAFTA’s supporters that it will create new jobs.
The legacy of NAFTA shows jobs would be lost in the United States and in
Central America, according to CAFTA:
A Two-Way Street to Job Loss in the Americas. Instead of
creating jobs, the study says, CAFTA will give more incentives to U.S.
employers to ship jobs overseas and displace many subsistence farmers in
Central America, creating widespread job loss.
News reports indicate CAFTA may fall short of the votes
needed to pass it in the U.S. House, because many moderate Democrats who
supported free-trade agreements in the past -- including some members of
Washington state's delegation (see "Where They Stand" above) --
are now saying "no" to CAFTA. Since the end of the Clinton-era
economic boom, the costs of trade, in the form of lost manufacturing jobs,
have become more important to many voters than the benefits.
In 2002, when the House passed
"Fast Track" trade negotiating authority for President Bush on a
215-212 vote, Republicans picked up 25 Democrats -- including Reps. Larsen
and Smith -- while losing 27 GOP colleagues. The CAFTA agreement is going to
be a hard sell for Republicans from textile areas and particularly from
areas that grow sugar beets or cane. The sugar industry strongly opposes the
small increase in sugar imports from CAFTA countries under the agreement.
"I support free trade and
have voted for past trade agreements because trade is an important spoke on
the wheel of U.S. economic policy," said Rep. Larsen.
"Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has ignored the rest of the
economic policy wheel."
Volunteers needed to oppose I-912 during final
of the job-killing Initiative 912, which would repeal the gas tax funding
for the 2005 investment in Washington's transportation infrastructure, have
only 10 more days to collect signatures.
are needed -- especially at large public events over the July 4 holiday
weekend -- to distribute educational materials on why the 2005
transportation investment is so important and why people should "Think
Before You Ink I-912." Download a Volunteer Sign-Up Sheet
that you can circulate at your office or
workplace. Those who sign up will be contacted by organizers about when and
where they are available to help distribute literature.
At stake are more than 270
highway, bridge, ferry and transit projects -- in every part of the state --
that are focused on fixing our most dangerous roads and worst congestion
points. Download a comprehensive statewide
list of projects (a 22-page PDF file) or a county-by-county
list (a 53-page PDF file) to see which projects will be happening in
The Washington State
Labor Council, the rest of organized labor, the state's business community,
Democrats and Republicans are all united in opposing Initiative 912. The
measure's sponsors have until July 8 to submit the 225,000-plus valid
petition signatures necessary to qualify for this fall's ballot, and they
say they've raised more than $150,000 to help buy the necessary signatures.
We need to inform the
public that our state can't afford another job-killing tax-cut initiative
that further postpones -- and makes more expensive -- these inevitable
safety improvements on our crumbling roads and bridges.
more information, check out What Union Members
Should Know About I-912.
leave: Cry us a river
following editorial appears
in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Most Americans consider family to be their
top priority. It turns out, their employers agree, in a way.
Relaxing the Family and Medical Leave Act's
burdens on companies has become a key goal for business groups. As a
Bloomberg News story in yesterday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported,
firms argue that the law can interfere with work schedules and mask other
problems with employees' performance.
The 1993 act is one of the few recent
advances for workers. Its modest provisions allow many workers up to 12
weeks of unpaid leave to care for children, spouses or parents and to
recover from serious health conditions.
Preserving or expanding the act's rights is
critical when lagging pay, long hours and job insecurity have all put
pressures on numerous families. If there are abuses, management has
options, including better management. It's hard to weep for firms that
can't figure out a way other than reducing everyone's rights to deal with
workers who regularly take sick leave at inconvenient times, such as
Friday afternoons. Spare us the fretting about global competition. As a
Harvard expert told Bloomberg, other nations regularly do better on such
related issues as maternity leave and sick days, usually with pay.
When resisting regulation, business groups
and the Bush administration love to talk about the value of flexibility.
Workers should have flexibility to take care of themselves and their