WSLC Online - Home

Contact
What's New
Upcoming Events
WSLC Reports Today
Monthly ReportsPresident's Column2000 Convention
2000 Resolutions
Who We Are
Why Join a Union?
Legislative Issues
Political Education
Site Map

 

 

 

 NEXT UPDATE -- Tuesday, Dec. 8 by 9 a.m. (Pacific)

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


Reports for
December 1-5,
2003

Previous weeks' news: Nov. 18-21 -- Nov. 10-14 -- Nov. 3-7

CALL TO ACTION: Final push to save overtime pay; vote Monday

FRIDAY, December 5 -- Support locked-out Teamsters: Don't buy Darigold products!
— In today's Seattle Times --
7E7 team wants Everett; board to meet Dec. 15 -- Boeing executives have long said the 7E7 site decision would be based on bottom-line factors such as the cost of workers, taxes and regulations. But in the final analysis, other factors played a major role, the insider said, including the potential impact on the morale of the Puget Sound work force if the 7E7 went elsewhere. Boeing, which has cut some 26,000 jobs here since it moved its headquarters to Chicago, needs cooperation from its unions and from nonunion workers as it continues to introduce aggressive, lean production techniques that will entail some downsizing and outsourcing.
Also today -- 500-plus home care workers ratify 1st contract at Spokane's Addus
— In today's Spokesman-Review -- Hospice workers go public with frustrations of stalled 1st contract
— In today's Seattle Times -- Delay of Boeing tanker deal could put 500 jobs "at risk"
...plus --
Could timber tariffs end like steel did?
— In today's News Tribune -- Forest-thinning initiative could create new jobs
— In today's Yakima H-R -- State adopts rule for checking farm workers for pesticide exposure
...plus -- Sen. Honeyford loses out as GOP chooses suburban moderate Finkbeiner as leader
— In today's Olympian -- GOP senators pick Finkbeiner to be new majority leader
— In yesterday's Daily News -- Powell's City of Books struggles with bitter labor dispute (AP)
— In today's Oregonian -- Oregonians: Halt free-trade accord
At AFLCIO.org -- Bush's steel tariff decision: "A betrayal of workers"
— In today's L.A. Times -- Bush rescinds steel tariffs, says aims met
— In today's Washington Post -- Pentagon advisor's article on tanker deal didn't disclose Boeing tie
— In today's N.Y. Times -- Dean's organizers take lessons from labor
...plus -- Looking to the future -- Krugman column: (Bush)
governs like there's no tomorrow. Nothing in our national experience prepared us for the spectacle of a government launching a war, increasing farm subsidies and establishing an expensive new Medicare entitlement, and not only failing to come up with a plan to pay for all this in the face of budget deficits, but cutting taxes at the same time.

THURSDAY, Dec. 4 -- Sen. Murray, Rep. Baird co-sponsor Employee Free Choice Act
— In today's Spokesman-Review -- Spokane jobs move across the border -- Garment maker relocates 75-plus jobs to Idaho, blaming Washington's high minimum wage and saying he either keeps wages and business costs down or he loses the work to competitors in Mexico, China or Indonesia.
— In today's Olympian -- WEA sues state over required pay hikes for new teachers
...plus -- Citing Marysville strike, senator urges binding arbitration for teacher contracts (AP)
— In today's Everett Herald -- Boeing tanker deal damage control begins (AP)
— In today's King Co. Journal -- Stonecipher's MD history may not mean much today
— In today's Seattle P-I -- Sounder commuter rail over budget -- again
— In today's Bellingham Herald -- 2nd PUD drops out of BPA deal
...plus -- 2 PUDs need to offer alternatives (editorial)
...plus -- Employees quit medication after drug plans are altered (AP)
— In today's Yakima H-R -- Group lays foundation for farmworker housing solution
— In today's Oregonian -- Petitions submitted to put repeal of $800 million tax increase on ballot
— In today's N.Y. Times -- Bush set to lift tariffs on steel
...plus -- Boeing lags in building satellites -- Boeing is more than a year behind schedule and billions of dollars over cost on a highly classified program to build the next generation of reconnaissance satellites, forcing the government to shift an estimated $4 billion from other spy programs.
...plus -- Colorado's new school voucher law struck down by state court
— In today's Miami Herald -- AFL-CIO seeks probe of Miami police conduct outside FTAA meetings
— In today's L.A. Times -- Grocery strike animates unions -- Op-ed: The 70,000 striking grocery workers received a much-needed morale boost when the Teamsters union announced it would honor their picket lines. But the Teamster action has an even broader significance: It suggests a return to labor's roots and the rebirth of labor solidarity.
...plus -- Gephardt joins California grocery pickets in show of worker support
— In today's Washington Post -- Alleging retaliation threat, 2 labor leaders want Gephardt aide fired

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 3
— In today's Seattle P-I -- Boeing tanker purchase put on hold
— In today's News Tribune -- 767 might not survive scandal (AP)
...plus -- In dark days, Boeing turned its back on people and lost its light (column)
— In the P.S. Business Journal -- Boeing loses out to Airbus with Qantas' new low-fare carrier
— In today's Spokesman-Review -- GOP set to pick new State Senate leader Thursday
— In today's Seattle Times -- Major donor says he's cutting off state Dems over Dean favoritism
— In today's News Tribune -- Tacoma city workers to get raises
— In yesterday's Columbian -- NEA audit: IRS rightly studying books of teachers' union (editorial)
At AFLCIO.org -- Sweeney letter to Bush: Steel tariffs are working; we must keep them
— In today's N.Y. Times -- Bush urged to maintain steel tariffs, says he's still undecided
...plus -- Sen. Lieberman proposes new payroll deduction to fund paid family leave program
— In today's Boston Globe -- Organized labor plans day of protest (Dec. 10) next week
— Today at BusinessWeek online -- U.S. programmers at overseas salaries -- Rather than send IT work to India, a Boston startup sought locals at the same money. The result: plenty of applicants -- and a lot of questions.

TUESDAY, Dec. 2 -- WSLC welcomes news of reduced hike in L&I premiums
— In today's Olympian -- L&I boosts workers' comp rates 9.8% for employers, employees
— In today's Bellingham Herald -- L&I to boost rates 9.8%; panel to study workers' comp reform (AP)
— In today's Seattle P-I -- New Boeing leader Stonecipher says he's strong supporter of 7E7
...plus -- Rank-and-file: "We are doomed" -- Also see other worker reaction stories in the Everett Herald, the King Co. Journal, the P.S. Business Journal , the News Tribune and the Seattle Times
— In today's Everett Herald -- Feelings won't decide where the 7E7 is built (editorial)
— In today's Seattle Times -- Teamsters warn they may raise a stink over landfill hours
— In today's Seattle P-I -- Sims' garbage plan still shaky; parties at odds, so are labor organizations
— In today's Yakima H-R -- Producers need to follow Wal-Mart's lead on "efficiency," says prof
At SaveOvertimePay.org -- Sign online petition telling Bush to withdraw OT pay takeaway
— In today's Washington Post -- AFL-CIO sues to block Bush's new financial reporting rules
...plus, breaking news -- Voters topple Washington state ergonomics rule -- "(It) sends a shot across the bow to other state legislatures thinking about passing regulations in this area," says Chamber.
...plus -- The politics of payoff -- Dionne column:
President Bush doesn't care a whit about deficits. That's because he is not a fiscal conservative. He is a political conservative out to buy himself a majority in 2004 and spending the next generation's money to do it.
— In today's N.Y. Times -- President in a political vise over steel tariff decision
...plus -- Trading favors -- Editorial: Steel companies warn that lifting the tariffs would amount to a "broken promise" that could cost Mr. Bush dearly. Rank-and-file steelworkers might sound equally disappointed if their union had not already endorsed Richard Gephardt's presidential candidacy.
— In the new Labor Notes -- SoCal grocery workers fight health cuts, job loss to vendors
— In the Sacramento Business Journal -- Safeway digs in for longer strike
— In today's L.A. Times -- California AG to probe grocers' profit-sharing as possible antitrust violation

MONDAY, Dec. 1 -- Tuesday night hearing: Do local employers violate human rights?
...plus -- Human Rights Violations Can Happen Here, Too
(column by WSLC President Bender)
— In today's Seattle P-I -- Boeing chairman Condit resigns -- Board decides "a new structure for the leadership of the company is needed;" names Lewis Platt, a Boeing board member and retired chairman of Hewlett-Packard, as non-executive chairman and Harry Stonecipher, who retired from Boeing last year, as president and chief executive officer.
— In today's N.Y. Times -- Boeing chief Condit steps down a week after firings over ethics
— In Sunday's Bremerton Sun -- Boeing board's decision: Build 7E7 or lose (more) face (AP)
— In today's Seattle Times -- Once great Boeing has drifted far off course (op-ed)
...plus -- Pesticide testing ahead for many of state's farmworkers
...plus last week -- State convict labor program comes under attack
...plus -- Wal-Mart's empire reshaping workplace and Wal-Mart wrings efficiency from Third World
— In the P.S. Business Journal -- Hard feelings at WestFarm/Darigold -- Locked out since August, Teamster dairy workers head to local groceries to urge boycott of WestFarm's dairy goods.
— In the Olympian -- Lawmakers finally eye a "no-brainer" session -- Note bulleted item at bottom: (SEIU has) pointedly invited Republican legislative leaders to its annual retreat and stiff-armed Democrats. The SEIU "remains outraged" at their treatment by Democrats in the last session and are "seriously considering a more bipartisan strategy in the 2004 elections," the union says.
— In today's News Tribune -- Will tax hikes for roads, rail fly? leaders ask
— In today's King County Journal -- King County librarians say contract talks stalled
— In today's Seattle P-I -- No news is good news at AT&T Wireless -- Company blocks employees from Internet access to newspaper story about the outsourcing of their jobs.
— In the Seattle Weekly -- Xporting tech jobs: Outsourcing hitting home for local tech workers
— In today's Salem (Ore.) S-J -- Federal one-stop job training centers not measuring up
— In today's Oregonian -- State's new slogan: We Love Dreamers (to compete with WA's "We Suck")
— In today's Bellingham Herald -- Medicare change a raw deal for state's seniors (Rep. Larsen op-ed)
Last week at AFLCIO.org -- Senate approves "first step toward dismantling Medicare"
— In the Boston Globe -- Unions moving (again) to protect overtime pay
— Today at MSNBC.com -- Grocers, union to resume contract talks on Tuesday
— In today's Washington Post -- President Bush to drop tariffs on steel
...plus -- No way to govern -- Editorial: As lawmakers headed home last week, they had completed work on just six of the 13 appropriations bills. Now the plan is to jam the rest into a $820 billion omnibus spending bill that includes non-budget items like defying the will of both houses on the new overtime pay rules and some others yet to be even debated. And it's not open to any amendments.
— In today's N.Y. Times -- As stimulus, tax cuts may soon go awry -- The one mitigating factor in President Bush's tax cuts has been economic stimulus. The tax cuts are helping to revive the economy by putting more spending money into people's pockets. But even that will soon backfire.
— From AP -- AFL-CIO facing major financial woes; staff taking unpaid leave to avoid layoffs

Previous weeks' news: Nov. 18-21 -- Nov. 10-14 -- Nov. 3-7

FRIDAY,  DECEMBER 5
Final push to save overtime pay; vote scheduled Monday

The good news is that, in just four days, more than 100,000 people have signed the petition at www.saveovertimepay.org to protect overtime pay standards and urge President Bush to abandon his attempts to deny time-and-a-half pay to some 8 million workers.

The bad news is that, after bipartisan votes in both the U.S. House and Senate to block Bush's OT pay cuts, the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on federal spending legislation and it appears the provision to block Bush's overtime pay take-away has been removed from the bill because of back-room maneuvering by the Bush administration.  That vote will happen when the U.S. House returns to for one day on Monday, Dec. 8.

CALL TO ACTION:  The will of Congress and the American public must not be denied!  Language blocking Bush's overtime pay cuts must be added back in! 

Please call your U.S. representative and tell him or her: "Please vote against the omnibus funding bill if it doesn't include overtime pay protections.  No worker should lose the right to overtime pay.  This is one of the issues I will use to judge your commitment to working people."

  • Rep. Jay INSLEE, D-1st, at (202) 225-6311 or (425) 640-0233
  • Rep. Rick LARSEN, D-2nd, at (202) 225-2605 or (425) 252-3188
  • Rep. Brian BAIRD, D-3rd, at (202) 225-3536 or (360) 695-6292
  • Rep. "Doc" HASTINGS, R-4th, at (202) 225-5816 or (509) 543-9396
  • Rep. George NETHERCUTT, R-5th, at (202) 225-2006 or (509) 353-2374
  • Rep. Norm DICKS, D-6th, at (202) 225-5916 or (253) 593-6536
  • Rep. Jim McDERMOTT, D-7th, at (202) 225-3106 or (206) 553-7170
  • Rep. Jennifer DUNN, R-8th, at (202) 225-7761 or (206) 275-3438
  • Rep. Adam SMITH, D-9th, at (202) 225-8901 or (253) 593-6600

All calls must be made before the vote on Monday, so please take a few moments to make this important call RIGHT NOW.  

And thank you for your efforts to protect overtime pay.

FRIDAY,  DECEMBER 5
Support locked-out Teamsters: Don't buy Darigold products!

Since August 30, some 200 workers in Issaquah and Seattle represented by Teamsters Local 66 have been locked out of their jobs by WestFarm Foods, a cooperative of 722 dairy farmers that produces dairy products under the brand name Darigold. The company has fired 60 drivers, subcontracted 14 union jobs to a non-union warehouse and hired scab replacement workers to keep the plants open.

This holiday season, these 200 locked-out workers now find themselves not only without a paycheck, but without health insurance for their families. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!  Here's what you can do to show solidarity with these workers and to help end this outrageous lockout:

BOYCOTT ALL DARIGOLD DAIRY PRODUCTS!  Please refuse to purchase any Darigold products this holiday season and until WestFarm Foods ends the lockout and negotiates in good faith for a new contract. Check out www.darigold.com for a complete list of products to avoid.

At the request of Teamsters Local 66 -- which is not affiliated with the Washington State Labor Council -- the AFL-CIO has just added Darigold to the national boycott list. That means the WSLC and King County Labor Council can now promote this ongoing boycott. The Teamsters also have begun a radio advertising campaign to publicize the boycott.

CONTACT WESTFARM FOODS CEO John Mueller and tell him you support the locked out workers and you refuse to buy any more Darigold products.  You can write Mueller at WestFarm Foods, 635 Elliott Ave. West, Seattle, WA, 98119; you can fax a letter to him at (206) 281-3456; or you can send an e-mail to his attention at Contact.WestFarm@WestFarm.com.  Here is a sample letter to get you started:

Dear Mr. Mueller:

As a union leader/member/supporter in the __________ area, I am deeply concerned that WestFarm/Darigold has locked out and fired many long-term dedicated employees in the Puget Sound region.  Darigold's actions create a hardship not only for those employees and their families, but places a burden on the entire community.

I urge you to return all locked out and fired employees to their jobs, and then to work toward a fair contract agreement with these workers.  Until that time, i will honor the AFL-CIO's national boycott of Darigold products and urge our members to do the same.

Sincerely, ____________

HELP LEAFLET AT GROCERY STORES:  The Teamsters are leafleting outside grocery stores around the Puget Sound area to inform shoppers about the WestFarm dispute, and urge them to refuse to buy Darigold products. Your help is critical with this important work. Check out the online schedules for Issaquah and Rainier Boycott Team Locations for more information.

MAKE A DONATION to the locked out workers' relief fund, and encourage your union or community organization to do the same. This will help these union families struggling to meet basic needs this holiday season. Make your check payable to Teamsters Local 66 and note that it is for the members' relief fund, and mail it to IBT Local 66 at 552 Denny Way, Seattle, WA, 98109.

FORWARD THIS MESSAGE to everyone in your Address Book.  Add a personal note to your friends, co-workers and family across the country to please stop buying any Darigold products.

Thank you for supporting these workers and the Darigold boycott!  For more information about this labor dispute, visit www.local66.org.

FRIDAY,  DECEMBER 5
500+ home care workers ratify 1st contract at Spokane's Addus

The following press release has been distributed by Service Employees International Union Local 775:

500+ Home Care Workers Ratify First Union Contract With Addus For Raise, Dental, & Vision Benefits 

Quick Contract Agreement Follows “Card Check” Recognition For Workers At Largest Home Care Agency In Eastern Washington

 

SPOKANE -- More than 500 home care workers have ratified a first union contract with Addus, the largest private home care agency in Eastern Washington and the second largest in the state. The agreement, which includes a seniority-based wage scale with significant increases for all workers, dental benefits and vision coverage, followed an unusually non-contentious campaign by workers to form a union, in which Addus recognized the union after a majority signed cards seeking union representation.

“This contract will help ensure that vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities can find qualified caregivers to help them live in their own homes,” said Spokane home care worker Susie Young. “With poverty wages and poor benefits, turnover is high and it’s often hard for people to do this kind of work. Getting this raise and getting dental and vision coverage will make a big difference for home care workers.”

The contract provides for:

 

    A first-ever wage scale, with pay starting at $8.32/hr and moving up to $9.02/hr based on experience. Workers will receive an immediate raise retroactive to October 1 of between $.62/hr and $1.07/hr.

    Dental benefits for the first time, with the employer paying half the monthly premium for full-time employees

    Vision benefits for the first time

    A “full-employment initiative” that will help workers increase their hours


Workers at Addus joined together with SEIU Local 775 through a “card-check” process in which the employer recognizes a union once a majority of workers sign cards saying they want union representation. The process avoids a lengthy and generally contentious election, in which employers use heavy-handed and often illegal tactics to discourage workers from joining a union.

“When workers are given the choice of joining together with their co-workers without being threatened and intimidated by their employers, time and time again they choose overwhelmingly to form a union,” said SEIU Local 775 President David Rolf .  “All workers should have that freedom – not just those lucky enough to work for a responsible employer like Addus.”

The effort by workers to win a first union contract is often as contentious as the drive to form a union itself, and employers often drag out contract negotiations for months or even years. In this case, it took only three months for workers to gain union recognition and negotiate and ratify their first union contract.

“This shows what can happen when enlightened employers respect the bargaining process and work quickly to reach a reasonable agreement,” said Rolf. “With politicians in Olympia cutting funding for home care services and forcing seniors onto a waiting list to get home care, we’re excited about having a positive relationship with Addus and working together with them to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities can get quality care in their own homes. We invite other home care agencies who share these goals to join with us as well.”

The agreement follows ratification of a union agreement by 1500 SEIU Local 775 home care workers at Catholic Community Services, the state’s largest home care agency. The CCS agreement established a seniority-based wage scale with a raise of at least 75-cents/hour for all home care workers.

Several thousand other Spokane-area home care workers who are paid directly by the state to care for elderly and disabled clients are still waiting for the legislature to honor and fund their union contract.

For more information contact SEIU 775 Communications Director Adam Glickman at aglickman@seiu775.org or (206) 838-3210.

THURSDAY,  DECEMBER 4
Sen. Murray, Rep. Baird co-sponsor Employee Free Choice Act
Act now to urge ALL of Washington's delegation to protect the freedom to join unions

The law says you have the right to join a union, and that you have the right to make that decision free from intimidation, harassment and coercion by your employer.  But those laws are not being enforced in America.  So the labor movement has launched the Voice@Work campaign to restore the freedom to organize unions.

As part of that effort, historic legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act was introduced Nov. 13 in Congress. This bill is intended to articulate the kind of labor law reform that will ultimately be necessary level the playing field for American workers and restore the freedom to organize unions.

Major rally Dec. 10 in Seattle

A Workers Rights Are Human Rights Rally will be held next week on Wednesday, Dec. 10 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Jackson Federal Building, 2nd & Marion in downtown Seattle featuring music, theater and speakers.

December 10 is a National Day of Voice@Work Action in cities throughout the U.S. marking the anniversary of the United Nations' adoption in 1948 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes international labor rights to join unions that are binding in many countries, but not the United States.  According to a recent Human Rights Watch report: "Legal obstacles tilt the playing field so steeply against workers' freedom of association that the United States is in violation of international human rights standards for workers."

The Dec. 10 rally is co-sponsored by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Pierce County Labor Council, AFL-CIO; International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers; Washington State Jobs with Justice; and many other labor organizations.

Co-sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), members of Washington state's delegation to Congress are beginning to sign onto the legislation as well.  Sen. Patty Murray has joined 23 U.S. Senators who have sponsored the measure to date.  Rep. Brian Baird joins 81 U.S. Representatives who have signed the bill.

The Employee Free Choice Act would:
(Links are to PDF files at AFLCIO.org explaining the necessity for each in more detail.)

 

CALL TO ACTION:  Act to protect the freedom to join a union!  We need to contact all members of Washington state's congressional delegation and urge them to co-sponsor this important measure.  (We also need to thank Sen. Murray and Rep. Baird for their strong support.)  CLICK HERE to send a message to your Representative and Senators.  Thank you!

The Voice@Work campaign involves much, much more than seeking more laws to protect our rights. It will involve taking those rights back on our own.

The first step is to educate policymakers, pundits, the community and even our own rank-and-file members about the disturbing realities faced every day by working families who want to improve their living and working conditions through a union.

Earlier this week, local political, religious and community leaders heard testimony from workers who have been denied their legal right to organize unions at a Workers' Rights Board Hearing in Seattle organized by Washington State Jobs with Justice.  They heard from a seafood processing ship worker among a group charged with “mutiny” for protesting an increase to a 16½-hour work day, a worker at a local Catholic hospital with a mission of “respect, justice and compassion” that hired a union busting firm to terrorize workers into voting against the union, and a local worker active in an organizing campaign who was fired for having “wet” hair.

These are local examples that reflect what happens all over the country.  Research by Cornell University's Kate Brofenbrenner indicates that when workers try to organize unions, employers:

  • Force 92% of workers to attend anti-union meetings

  • Illegally fire workers in 25% of organizing campaigns

  • 50% Threaten to shut down if employees unionize

Please become an active part of the historic Voice@Work campaign, and urge your union to do so as well.  You can start by attending -- and bringing friends, family and co-workers -- to a major rally planned in Seattle next week on Wednesday. Dec. 10.  Learn more about this rally.

TUESDAY,  DECEMBER 2
WSLC welcomes news of reduced hike in L&I premiums
Workers' comp rate hike smaller than business-backed UI tax increase

The Washington State Labor Council welcomed Monday's announcement by the state Department of Labor and Industries that the agency will reduce its proposed 2004 workers' compensation premium increase from 19.4% to 9.8%.

"We are pleased that the increase has been kept to single digits, at less than 10 percent," said WSLC Secretary-Treasurer Alan O. Link. "The lower rate increase is especially helpful since the business-backed unemployment insurance changes have created a 14 percent UI tax increase beginning in January."

The Employment Security Department and organized labor warned last legislative session that the $173 million UI tax increase would be unavoidable under the UI "reform" successfully pushed by business lobbying groups. But apparently lawmakers and business groups were willing to accept significant UI tax increases in the short term in order to achieve the major benefit cuts designed to reduce UI taxes, especially for big employers, in the long term. (See a 1-page summary of the UI changes and the June 3 WSLC Legislative Update outlining labor's UI proposal that would have frozen UI rates and avoided the 14% tax increase.)

The WSLC welcomes L&I's announcement of a lower workers' compensation rate increase not just because it's good news for businesses struggling in a weak national economy, but because it will directly benefit Washington workers who pay a significant portion of L&I costs. Washington is the only state in the nation where workers pay; on average, about 23% of the premiums collected by the state Department of Labor and Industries to cover the cost of on-the-job injuries.

However, the WSLC also cautioned that L&I's contingency reserve fund must remain strong enough to withstand continued economic weakness and potential stock market declines in the future.

Even with the announced increase, the cost of Washington’s public workers’ compensation system still ranks below at least 30 other states, according to L&I estimates. The most recent state rankings, performed in 2002 by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, listed Washington as having the 7th lowest premiums in the nation. Most other western states with private insurance systems have much higher costs and premiums. 

"We don’t want to end up like California, where workers’ comp costs come out of the general fund, and premium increases have skyrocketed," Link said.

The Department of L&I held several public hearings to discuss the proposed 2004 premium increase. Although the business community enjoyed eight years of stable and reduced premiums before 2003, the hearings revealed serious reservations among employers about the originally proposed 19.4% increase. A number of issues were raised about how the workers' compensation system could be changed to increase efficiency and lower costs.

In response, Governor Gary Locke has announced the formation of a panel of business and labor leaders to examine long-term changes to the state’s workers’ compensation system. WSLC President Rick Bender has agreed to serve on that panel.

Also see L&I's Monday news release about the reduced rate increase.

MONDAY,  DECEMBER 1
Tuesday night hearing: Do employers violate human rights?

Political, religious and community leaders will hear testimony from workers who say they have been denied their legal right to organize unions at a Workers' Rights Board Hearing from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday night at the University Baptist Church, 4554 12th Ave. N.E., in Seattle's University District.

Are local employers violating human rights?  Consider the following stories:

Seafood processing ship workers were charged with “mutiny” for protesting an increase to a 16½-hour work day.  A local Catholic hospital with a mission of “respect, justice and compassion” hired a union busting firm to terrorize workers into voting against the union.  A local worker active in an organizing campaign was fired for having “wet” hair.

Come hear from hospital workers, carpenters, painters, machinists and other workers who are struggling for their rights on the job at Tuesday night's hearing. There will also be expert testimony from Dr. Stephen Bezrucha of the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, and Tracy Lai, a professor at Seattle Central Community College. Panelists will include State Senator Rosa Franklin (D-20th), State Rep. John McCoy (D-38th) and other elected officials and community leaders.

You'll hear about local examples that reflect what happens all over the country. When workers try to organize unions, employers (research by Kate Brofenbrenner, Cornell University):

  • Force 92% of workers to attend anti-union meetings
  • Illegally fire workers in 25% of organizing campaigns
  • 50% threaten to shut down if employees unionize
Some 42 million Americans who say they want a union don’t have one.  Does the National Labor Relations Board, the very institution that is supposed to protect workers’ right to organize in the United States, now throw obstacles in the path of workers who try to organize?

Workers are supposed to have basic freedoms on the job.

“Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association… Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”
-- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(passed on December 10, 1948, by 80% of U.N. Member States)

The Workers Rights' Board Hearing is coordinated by Washington State Jobs with Justice; for more info, call Maya Baxter at (206) 441-4969. Download an event flier with more detail (MS Word). The hearing is part of the Voice@Work campaign to raise public awareness about the right to organize unions, and to restore those rights in the United States.

      

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

Copyright © 2003  Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO