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 August 12, 2008

Aug. 11: Show solidarity at coming labor events

Aug. 8: Labor Neighbor walk on August 16

Aug. 7: Cantwell: Change is in the air

WSLC Reports Today
Updated DAILY... Almost Every Day!™ by 9 a.m. Pacific
Next Update: Monday, Aug. 18 

Links are functional at date of posting, but sometimes expire. 
WSLC Reports Today links to stories of interest to organized labor; 
some positive, some negative. The intention is to inform.


What'd ya miss? Complete coverage of WSLC '08 convention
If you weren't able to attend the Washington State Labor Council's 2008 Constitutional Convention held last week in Vancouver -- or if you missed something while you were outside in the halls -- here is comprehensive coverage of that event, including TVW coverage of each plenary session and all of the 2008 Resolutions approved by convention delegates.  See the complete coverage.

Chelsea Orvella joins WSLC staff as WIA Labor Liaison
Chelsea Orvella was recently hired by the Washington State Labor Council as Labor Liaison for the Workforce Investment Act, working to find alternatives to plant closure and job dislocation. When such closures and layoffs can't be avoided, she will help the affected workers have access to job retraining and reemployment opportunities available through the WIA. Read more.


Boeing news:  Mark your calendar for SUNDAY, AUGUST 24 when Machinists District 751 invites all union members to a “Final Countdown Rally” in support a successful conclusion to contract negotiations with Boeing. Download and post a rally flier!  The rally begins at 12:30 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel in SeaTac. From there, participants will march to nearby Angle Lake Park.
▪  In today's Everett Herald -- Will Boeing walk away from tanker bid? -- Boeing will discuss the contract with the Pentagon today, after a report suggested it might quit the $35 billion contest because the revised specifications unfairly favor Northrop/EADS's larger tanker.
▪  In today's Seattle P-I -- Boeing weighs options on tanker bid -- Boeing disagrees with a report quoting unidentified sources as saying the company was "strongly considering" not submitting a bid. "That's too strong," a source told the Seattle P-I.
▪  In today's Everett Herald -- SPEEA demands pension data (brief) -- The union wants Boeing to disclose the funding source of its executive pension plans. SPEEA says it's worried Boeing is secretly funding those benefits in a manner described in an Aug. 4 Wall Street Journal report.
▪  In yesterday's Everett Herald -- Retirees help stem Boeing's brain drain -- Boeing is approaching a critical juncture in its history: half its work force in the Puget Sound region will be eligible for retirement in the next decade. With an influx of younger employees, Boeing is searching for ways to retain its knowledge base before its experienced Machinists and engineers leave.


Local news:
▪  In today's Seattle P-I -- Fall transit proposal has too few buses, critics say -- This fall's $22.2 billion Sound Transit expansion measure would add thousands of hours of bus service, in addition to 36 more miles of light rail. But Ron Sims, one of two members of the 18-person Sound Transit board who voted against the November initiative, says there should be even more money for buses.
▪  In today's News Tribune -- Western State Hospital short on answers on CEO's resignation -- State officials will only say the sudden resignation of Andrew Phillips was “mutually agreeable.”


Election 2008:
▪  In today's Seattle Times -- Dem cameraman forcibly evicted from Rossi event -- The incident (watch the You Tube video) was the roughest implementation yet of Republican Dino Rossi's long-standing policy not to allow Democratic Party workers to record his appearances. A Republican Party worker routinely videotapes appearances by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
▪  In today's Seattle Times -- Decision could be quick in state Supreme Court races -- This year's races for the state Supreme Court are so lacking in controversy, voters might not realize the two seats up for grabs could be decided in the Aug. 19 primary election.
▪  At Politico -- Tanker spills into Burner-Reichert race -- Rep. Dave Reichert raises campaign cash with a group of well-connected young Republicans that includes lobbyists for EADS/Airbus.
▪  At AFL-CIO Now -- McCain should fire lobbyist who killed Ohio jobs -- The deal that may kill thousands of Ohio jobs was made possible when McCain and lobbyist Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, pushed to allow a German company to take over DHL and get around antitrust laws.  
▪  In today's LA Times -- Longtime Republican voters are airing new views -- Many struggling families in the normally comfortable cul-de-sacs outside U.S. cities are thinking of switching parties.
▪  In the Yakima H-R -- Obama to campaign hard in Democratic-leaning Washington -- A chief campaign strategist tells statewide media that Barack Obama likely won't win the presidency "without a vigorous campaign in Washington state."


National news:
▪  In today's Atlanta J-C -- Put unionizing power back in workers' hands (op-ed) -- What's ironic about Wal-Mart's employee electioneering is that the Employee Free Choice Act is designed to combat exactly this kind of unfair corporate bullying. It isn't just Wal-Mart. Around the country, companies routinely intimidate, harass, coerce and even fire people who try to form unions, and our nation's labor laws are powerless to stop them. A worker must go through a complicated long-term process in order to file a complaint, and penalties for violations by companies are low.
▪  In today's Washington Post -- Many firms didn't pay taxes -- About two-thirds of corporations operating in the U.S. did not pay taxes annually from 1998 to 2005, according to a new GAO report.
Sen. Dorgan (D-N.D.) calls the findings "a shocking indictment of the current tax system. It's shameful that so many corporations make big profits and pay nothing to support our country."
▪  From AP -- Health care costs expected to rise 10% in 2009 -- Some say the comparatively small increase may be due to employee wellness efforts or disease management programs.
▪  From AP -- Pilots call for resignation on United's chief -- ALPA accuses Glenn Tilton of steering the carrier down a path to poor customer service, employee morale and financial performance.
▪  From AP -- Delta, Northwest pilots overwhelmingly ratify joint pact -- The ratification is an element of Delta’s efforts to achieve a smooth integration when it acquires Northwest later this year.


What'd ya miss? Complete coverage of WSLC 2008 convention

If you weren't able to attend the Washington State Labor Council's 2008 Constitutional Convention held last week in Vancouver -- or if you missed something while you were outside in the halls. Here is comprehensive coverage of that event, including TVW coverage of each plenary session. (Also, see the 2008 Resolutions approved by the convention delegates.)

Monday, August 4
Gov. Chris Gregoire gets a raucous welcome at WSLC Convention

Gov. Chris Gregoire received a hero's welcome at the opening session of the Washington State Labor Council's 2008 Convention in Vancouver on Monday, earning thunderous applause as she ticked down the list of accomplishments during her first term as governor. But rather than taking credit for these accomplishments as she enters a reelection campaign against Republican Dino Rossi, Gregoire thanked the leaders and rank-and-file members of organized labor for their role in advocating for good jobs, better access to health care, and strengthened safety nets for unemployed or injured workers. 

"There are those who say union workers are a special interest and all they care about is wages and benefits, but I have never looked at you as a special interest," Gregoire said. In addition to fighting for better wages and benefits, she said, unions have shared her values on improving our education system, advocating for high-quality affordable health care, improving our economy through job creation, and many other important goals.

"If those issues are special interest issues, then we are all special interests and we share the same values as the rest of the State of Washington," Gregoire said.

In the convention's opening address, Washington State Labor Council President Rick Bender emphasized the need to elect Barack Obama and re-elect Gov. Gregoire so that we can shift the nation's focus from the concerns of big corporations and the wealthy, to the concerns and needs of working people. (Download Bender's speech.)

Also speaking Monday were Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, who followed Gov. Gregoire on the agenda, quipped that she wished that California's labor movement could be fighting for four more years of a governor who cares about working family issues. (They can't.) Durazo detailed union organizing efforts in her area and urged delegates to work to elect Barack Obama as President. 

"As a Latina, I feel personally proud to elect the first black man, the first son of an immigrant and the first organizer to the White House," she said.

A panel at Monday's session, addressed efforts at the state and national levels to reform the health care system to improve access to affordable, quality care. The panel included Robby Stern of the Healthy Washington Coalition, Sarah Cherin of the Children's Alliance, Nick Unger of the AFL-CIO, and the WSLC's own Jeff Johnson.

Also addressing convention delegates on Monday were AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain and Paul Price of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Tuesday, August 5
Sen. Murray urges labor to elect Obama, fight for tanker contract


Sen. Patty Murray is excited.

"I'm excited because after eight... very... long... years, we are going to see a change in the White House," Washington's senior U.S. Senator told more than 400 delegates and guests at the Washington State Labor Council's 2008 Convention in Vancouver. As Tuesday's keynote speaker, Sen. Murray reminded everyone that electing Barack Obama was the key to restoring both the freedom to choose unions and the middle class in this country.

"We cannot afford to keep going down the path of George Bush and John McCain, it's time for an administration that puts working families first again!" she exclaimed, earning a standing ovation from the assembly. (See Sen. Murray's speech.)

But Sen. Murray's loudest ovation came when she pledged to continue fighting for the $35 billion Air Force refueling tanker contract to create jobs in this country, and in this state. The Air Force initially awarded the contract to European-based Airbus/EADS, but the Pentagon recently decided to reopen the competition for the contract after government auditors found significant errors in the Air Force's handling of the process.

"We’re going to have to keep fighting to make sure the Pentagon runs a fair and transparent competition – one that doesn’t tip the scales to favor one bidder," Murray said. "And I think you’ll all agree with me that it’s time we had someone in the White House who understands the need to preserve our domestic aerospace industry -- someone who values our workers and our leadership in that field.

"And we certainly don’t need someone who is fighting for the other team!" she added, referring to John McCain's efforts to help Airbus/EADS secure the contract.

Tuesday's session of the WSLC Convention began with a welcome from State Rep. Jim Moeller (D-49th) who told delegates that America doesn't have so much of a mortgage crisis as it has a pay crisis and blamed the looming recession on the Bush administration's failed economic policies. 

"So (President Bush said) Wall Street was drunk," Moeller said. "We're left to ask, who the hell was the bartender?"

Also addressing delegates Tuesday were Alison Eisinger, Director of the Seattle/ King County Coalition on Homelessness, on the need for affordable housing; Deb Bortner of the state Department of Financial Institutions on the foreclosure crisis; Stephanie Celt, Director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, on... fair trade; Janice Adair of the Department of Ecology on Cap and Trade proposals; State Treasurer Mike Murphy; John Ladenburg, the labor's endorsed candidate for State Attorney General; and British Columbia Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair who discussed the common challenges that trade unionists are facing with their Brothers and Sisters in Canada.

"There may be a border there that means a lot to some people," Sinclair said. "But it doesn't mean a lot to working people," who he said face similar battles over health care and corporate greed.

The WSLC Convention also honored to Union Sisters on Tuesday:

-- Former WSLC Political Director Diane McDaniel was given the Power to the People Award for her role in helping build the Washington State Labor Council political program into a model for AFL-CIO state federations across the country. She thanked delegates for the honor, and for keeping her grounded in the heady world of politics.

-- Terry Tilton, Assistant Executive Secretary of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, was given the Women's Committee's 2008 Elsie Schrader Award, which honors people who have helped advance women in leadership roles at their unions and for activism on behalf of women within the labor movement. Over the years, Tilton has mentored many women who are now successfully pursuing nontraditional construction occupations after personally experiencing being discouraged from entering the trades.

Wednesday, August 6
Sen. Cantwell: Change is in the air in D.C. for working families


In her keynote address of Wednesday's session of the Washington State Labor Council's 2008 Convention in Vancouver, Sen. Maria Cantwell told more than 400 assembled union delegates and guests that change is in the air in Washington, D.C., as the Bush presidency draws to a close and there's a real opportunity to set a new agenda for working families under a Barack Obama presidency.

"I just know that after all our efforts to fight the Bush Administration's anti-worker agenda, I can't wait to have a president who's going to sign the Employee Free Choice Act into law," Cantwell said, referring to labor law reform restoring the freedom to choose unions.

Cantwell, who has been a leading congressional advocate for consumers on energy issues, said that skyrocketing gas prices are just another example of the Bush administration failing to regulate industry while they run roughshod over American citizens. She drew attention to a new report finding that gas price increases in recent months were not based on supply-and-demand issues, but instead were caused by manipulation from certain industry players. Meanwhile, the Bush administration and federal regulators have done nothing.

"It's time to have a policeman on the beat," Cantwell said

"Organized labor has one of the best tools to move forward on a 21st Century energy policy -- apprenticeship programs," she added. "The U.S. is now 70 percent dependent on foreign oil, but if we would use programs like apprenticeships, we could have wind, solar and wave power."

Cantwell also said she intends to keep fighting to ensure that the $35 billion Air Force refueling tanker contract will create jobs in this country, and in this state. The Air Force initially awarded the contract to European-based Airbus/EADS, but the Pentagon recently decided to reopen the competition for the contract after government auditors found significant errors in the Air Force's handling of the process.

Cantwell told delegates that she intends to hold up the confirmation of the new Secretary of the Air Force until she is assured that the new bidding process maintains the original criteria, as opposed to changing them to favor any bidder. With this announcement, Cantwell earned a standing ovation from convention delegates.

Chopp: "Choice is clear" in governor's race

House Speaker Frank Chopp also addressed delegates Wednesday saying that in the race for governor, "the choice is clear. Anyway you look at it, this governor deserves reelection."

Chopp praised Gov. Chris Gregoire's efforts on issues ranging from the state minimum wage to the right to collective bargaining, while he pointed to the record of opposition on those issues by her opponent, former state Sen. Dino Rossi. Chopp pointed out that one of Rossi's most heartless votes on behalf of the business community was when he voted to deny unemployment benefits to domestic violence victims who must leave their jobs in order to flee their abusers. (That measure was overwhelmingly approved on a bipartisan vote, despite Rossi's opposition. Learn more.)

Also speaking Wednesday were state Rep. Deb Wallace (D-17th) who opened the session by welcoming delegates to the Vancouver area; Jim McIntire, the WSLC's endorsed candidate for State Treasurer; Peter Goldmark, the WSLC's endorsed candidate for Commissioner of Public Lands; David Alexander of the National Labor College; state Sen. Craig Pridemore (D-49th).

Like many others on the convention's agenda this year, banquet speaker U.S. Rep Brian Baird urged delegates to work diligently to help elect friends of working families this November, including Barack Obama for President, Chris Gregoire for Governor, and... him.  

In welcoming the delegates to Vancouver, Rep. Baird expressed how pleased he was that the city now has a unionized hotel (the Vancouver Hilton Hotel) that can host such gatherings, thanked the Washington State Labor Council for holding its convention there, and urged other labor organizations to come to "Vancouver -- not B.C. -- Washington -- not D.C." for their events and gatherings.

Baird, who preceded comedian Peggy Platt on the banquet agenda, then did a little comedy of his own with his award-winning impression of President George W. Bush.

Trade unionists honored

Delegates to the convention also honored two trade unionists with awards:

-- Operating Engineers Local 302 member Tami St. John was presented the 2008 Bruce Brennan Award for outstanding advocacy on behalf of apprenticeship training in Washington. She worked as a dozer and crane operator before becoming Apprenticeship Coordinator for the Operating Engineers Regional Training Center in Ellensburg, which has tripled its number of apprentices in the past four years.

-- The 2008 Mother Jones Awards for exemplary union activism by an individual and organization was awarded to sister Irene Hull for a lifetime of advocacy on behalf of working families, and to Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 8 for its successful four-year campaign to organize workers at the La Clinica community health center in the Tri-Cities.

The 2008 WSLC Convention concluded Thursday, Aug. 7 as delegates voted on resolutions. Also, see the 2008 Resolutions approved by convention delegates.

Chelsea Orvella joins WSLC staff as WIA Labor Liaison

Chelsea Orvella was recently hired by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO as Labor Liaison for the Workforce Investment Act. 

As WIA Liaison, Orvella will work to find alternatives to plant closure and job dislocation, and when such closures and layoffs can't be avoided, she will help the affected workers have access to job retraining and reemployment opportunities available through the WIA. She will work closely with the Washington State Labor Council's other WIA Liaison Bill Messenger.

Before joining the Washington State Labor Council, Orvella worked for U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-9th) from 1998 to 2008, the last six years from his Tacoma Congressional office, where she served as a liaison to organized labor. During her tenure with Rep. Smith, Orvella worked closely with local stakeholders to help craft improved Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation and assisted in local TAA petitions as the need unfortunately arose, as in the closure of the Miller Brewery in Tumwater. 

Previously, she worked in the Rep. Smith’s Washington, D.C. office, while earning her B.A. in English from George Washington University. Chelsea was raised in the South Sound by a third generation longshore family and currently resides in the Tacoma area with her husband, John -- a member of Operating Engineers Local 612 -- and their daughter, Grae.

"We're very pleased and fortunate to welcome Chelsea to our organization," said Rick Bender, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. "We know from our experience working with her at Rep. Adam Smith's office that she is a passionate, creative and effective advocate for working families who suffer the misfortune of plant closure or layoff."

Although Orvella's responsibilities will take her all across Washington state, she will be based out of the WSLC's Olympia office. She can be reached at 360-943-0608 or

Copyright © 2008 --  Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO