Published June 28, 2017 in Minneapolis Star Tribune
With the Minneapolis City Council set to vote on a $15-an-hour minimum wage as early as Friday, you can expect business lobbyists to tout a controversial new report from the University of Washington (http://bit.ly/2s8Co31) that purports to show Seattle’s groundbreaking move toward a $15-an-hour minimum wage cost the city jobs. Ignore the chicken littles. The sky is not falling in Seattle, and the report itself is fatally flawed. It’s also directly contradicted by a much more credible study released by the University of California, Berkeley, last week (http://bit.ly/2s27SE4) confirming that Seattle’s minimum wage is working: boosting worker pay without hurting the city’s dizzying job growth.
First, what’s not disputed: Since Seattle approved its $15 minimum wage (being raised incrementally, reaching the full amount in 2021), the city’s unemployment rate has fallen to a historic low of 2.6 percent, and jobs have grown in a few years from 510,000 to about 550,000. Pay has been rising at every level in Seattle’s hot labor market, as employers facing labor shortages compete for workers.
Using state-of-the-art research methods, the UC study focused on Seattle’s restaurant industry — the largest low-wage sector where any negative impact from the minimum wage most likely would be evident. It compared pay and job growth patterns from 2009 through 2016 with a composite constructed from comparable metropolitan economies across the U.S. After controlling for many other factors in Seattle’s and the national economy, the comparison shows that pay in Seattle’s food-service industry increased by nearly 1 percent overall and by 2.3 percent in limited-service restaurants such as fast-food franchises. Those findings are what you would expect, since the Seattle minimum wage went up faster for large employers such as limited-service fast-food chains. Read entire article
Published May 26, 2017 in The Seattle Times
By Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter
Boeing disclosed Friday that last year it saved $242 million thanks to Washington state’s aerospace industry tax incentives, $63 million less than the previous year. The figures indicate Boeing paid $68 million in B&O tax, the major portion of its state and local tax bill.
Boeing disclosed Friday that last year it saved $242 million thanks to Washington state’s aerospace-industry tax incentives.
That’s $63 million less than its state tax savings in 2015.
• $100 million from the 40 percent reduction in the Business & Occupation (B&O) tax rate.
• $82 million from B&O tax credits for activities related to setting up production equipment for the new 777X and the 737 MAX jets.
• $23 million in a Sales & Use tax exemption for the purchase of construction material.
Boeing did not disclose how much tax it actually paid in Washington state, but a portion of the taxes paid can be deduced. Read entire article
Published June 14, 2017 in the Tacoma News Tribune
By Dominic Gates
The Seattle Times
Boeing plans to transfer yet another substantial work group out of the Puget Sound region, the company confirmed Wednesday. The work shifting to Mesa, Ariz., could involve hundreds of jobs.
The changes are coming at Boeing’s Shard Services Group (SSG), which employs about 3,000 people in the Puget Sound region and provides a wide range of support services to Boeing’s corporate and production units.
The unit’s leadership has initiated a sweeping review and has begun to inform specific groups that their work is pegged for moving.
It’s part of Boeing’s intense corporate drive to cut costs, which is largely responsible for the loss of more than 18,300 Boeing jobs in the state since the most recent employment peak in fall 2012.
Boeing aims to complete the SSG reorganization by 2020, but SSG president Beverly Wysewill move from Renton to Mesa sooner.
Wyse, a longtime Boeing exec who previously ran Boeing’s South Carolina complex and headed the Renton 737 assembly plant, said in an interview that the reorganization will also take out some layers of management and is aimed at making SSG more efficient and productive.
Wyse said managers have begun meeting with employees and working out details. At this point, she said, it’s too early to tell how many jobs will be moved.
“In the next six to eight weeks, we’ll understand everyone’s preferences and develop a transition plan for each employee,” Wyse said. Read entire article
Published June 6, 2017 at www.AFSCME.org
On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump boasted about a major infrastructure overhaul. He talked up a $1 trillion plan to revitalize America’s roads, bridges, schools, airports and more. On election night, he described an infrastructure vision that would be “second to none,” putting millions of Americans to work.
However, the reality, like much of what Trump has promised, has proven quite different.
First, his newly-released, highly-touted infrastructure plan clocks in not at the auspicious $1 trillion mark, but rather a much more modest $200 billion investment.
On Monday, Trump convened a photo op to unveil his infrastructure proposal, but all he talked about was a misguided idea to privatize air traffic control operations.
AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders blasted that plan, calling the air-traffic privatization piece “one of the worst aspects of this scheme to cede control of our nation’s vital infrastructure to corporations and take power away from taxpayers.”
“The Trump infrastructure plan isn't an infrastructure plan at all,” Saunders said. “It’s a colossal $200 billion corporate handout, which will outsource good jobs to private interests at the expense of safety and accountability.”
But even the $200 billion number is misleading.
First, according to an Atlantic article, that number obscures the fact that many infrastructure programs will actually be cut. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) points out in this article from Politico, “the president’s $200 billion plan is more than wiped out by other cuts to key infrastructure programs.”
Second, the millions of people who’ll supposedly be put back to work won’t be the public service workers with the real expertise on how best to maintain complex infrastructure. Instead, the work of repairing America will go to private contractors, making the wealthy wealthier while stripping away accountability and forcing everyday citizens pay for basic services. Read entire article
Published June 2, 2017 at www.kiro7.com
Teachers unions around Western Washington are increasing the pressure on state lawmakers with rallies, vigils and even preliminary preparations for strike votes before school begins in the fall.
They're are frustrated with the lack of progress from the legislature in fully funding schools to meet the requirements imposed by the Washington State Supreme Court in the McCleary case.
Teachers in the Everett school district voted last night to meet in August to consider a strike vote if schools aren't fully funded or if collective bargaining rights are restricted.
KIRO-7's Essex Porter is talking with the Mukilteo teacher's union which is holding a similar meeting late this afternoon. He also reports from the protest that Snoqualmie Valley teachers held today. Watch his full report on-air or online here.
The Washington Education Association says teachers will also gather for a vigil at the State Capitol in Olympia at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 9th.
Published May 10, 2017 by the Economic Policy Institute
By David Cooper and Teresa Kroeger
What this report finds: This report assesses the prevalence and magnitude of one form of wage theft—minimum wage violations (workers being paid at an effective hourly rate below the binding minimum wage)—in the 10 most populous U.S. states. We find that, in these states, 2.4 million workers lose $8 billion annually (an average of $3,300 per year for year-round workers) to minimum wage violations—nearly a quarter of their earned wages. This form of wage theft affects 17 percent of low-wage workers, with workers in all demographic categories being cheated out of pay.
Why it matters: Minimum wage violations, by definition, affect the lowest-wage workers—those who can least afford to lose earnings. This form of wage theft causes many families to fall below the poverty line, and it increases workers’ reliance on public assistance, costing taxpayers money. Lost wages can hurt state and local economies, and it hurts other workers in affected industries by putting downward pressure on wages.
What can be done about it: Strengthen states’ legal protections against wage theft, increase penalties for violators, bolster enforcement capacities, and protect workers from retaliation when violations are reported.
For the past four decades, the majority of American workers have been shortchanged by economic policymaking that has suppressed the growth of hourly wages and prevented greater improvements in living standards. Achieving a secure, middle-class lifestyle has become increasingly difficult as hourly pay for most workers has either stagnated or declined. For millions of the country’s lowest-paid workers, financial security is even more fleeting because of unscrupulous employers stealing a portion of their paychecks. Read entire article
Published May 6, 2017 at www.businessinsider.com
By Nick Hanauer
From the fear-mongering headlines marking passage of $15 statutes in New York and California, you would think nobody ever dared raise the minimum wage before.
"Raising minimum wage risky," the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader tersely warned.
"Raising minimum wage hurts low-skill workers," the Detroit News bluntly declared.
"Even left-leaning economists say it's a gamble," Vox solemnly cautioned.
Nonsense. We have been raising the minimum wage for 78 years, and as a new study clearly reveals, 78 years of minimum-wage hikes have produced zero evidence of the "job-killing" consequences these headline writers want us to fear.
In a first-of-its-kind report, researchers at the National Employment Law Project pore over employment data from every federal increase since the minimum wage was first established, making "simple before-and-after comparisons of job-growth trends 12 months after each minimum-wage increase."
What did the researchers find? The paper's title says it all: "Raise Wages, Kill Jobs? Seven Decades of Historical Data Find No Correlation Between Minimum Wage Increases and Employment Levels."
The results were clear. Of the nearly two dozen federal minimum-wage hikes since 1938, total year-over-year employment actually increased 68% of the time.
In those industries most affected by the minimum wage, employment increases were even more common: 73% of the time in the retail sector, 82% in low-wage leisure and hospitality.
"These basic economic indicators show no correlation between federal minimum-wage increases and lower employment levels," the authors write.
In fact, if anything, the data suggest that increases in the federal minimum appeared to encourage job growth and hiring. Read entire article
Published May 4, 2017 at www.afscme.org
The House of Representatives voted to make your health care worse. The bill, authored by right-wing members, wouldn’t replace Obamacare with something better, as they promised; it would undermine it.
As AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders put it, “It will still leave at least 24 million Americans uninsured, still cut Medicaid in exchange for tax handouts for corporations and millionaires, still cause costs to skyrocket for older Americans and still eviscerate the protections for people with pre-existing conditions that are guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act.”
Known as the American Health Care Act, the bill approved today by the House is a tax cut for the wealthy disguised as health care legislation. It would harm average Americans, including millions of working families already struggling to make ends meet.
Among other things, the House bill would:
• Slash Medicaid by more than $800 billion. One in five Americans rely on Medicaid for their health insurance, and half of all recipients are children. These cuts would dramatically shift costs to states, eroding all public services. And they would reduce access by senior citizens to nursing-home and home-care services.
• Threaten the jobs of school nurses, school social workers, and school counselors and psychologists. The cuts to Medicaid will affect funding for our public schools, which provide healthcare screenings to all students, as well as crucial services to students with disabilities. The cuts will also cause jobs losses in health care fields, especially in homecare and in hospitals.
• Destroy Obamacare protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing insurance companies to raise rates for anyone with any pre-existing conditions. Read entire article
Published April 4, 2017 in NPR.org
By Yuki Noguchi
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka laid out his vision for organized labor Tuesday, taking on both political parties for catering to moneyed interests instead of focusing on the plight of American workers — the hallmark of the presidential campaign.
"Republicans, and too many Democrats, have rigged our economy to enrich a select few," the union chief told an audience at the National Press Club.
"Give every worker out there the right to bargain with their employer for better wages, better working conditions whether you have a union or not," he said.
Trumka's cautionary messages about allowing corporations to enrich themselves at the expense of workers, and the dangers of deregulation struck a familiar theme for unions. But the speech was also notable for the way it veered from traditional party politics, calling attention to a growing rift in the once-solid relationship between unions and the Democratic Party.
"We'll stand up to the corporate Republicans who attack working people and the neoliberal Democrats who take us for granted," Trumka said. During the last election, 37 percent of the AFL-CIO's membership voted for Trump. Both parties, he argued, are struggling with an identity crisis.
In the early days, Trumka and other union leaders supported the Trump administration's position against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. But more recently, he said, the administration has lost its focus on workers in favor of relaxing rules on employers.
"There is a Wall Street wing that seeks to undermine Donald Trump's promises to workers, and there's a competing wing that could actually win some progress that working people need," he said. "I'm concerned that the Wall Street wing of the White House is starting to hijack the agenda." Read entire article
Published March 22, 2017 in the Northwest Accountability Project
The anti-worker Freedom Foundation is working alongside, and apparently backing, a secretive group calling themselves the Pacific Northwest Child Care Association (PNWCCA). This deceitful alliance is no secret. The Freedom Foundation staff are regularly engaging with PNWCCA on social media and on a recent Podcast, Oregon Director Anne Marie Gurney hosted one of the leaders of the PNWCCA. The Freedom Foundation has bragged about their work with PNWCCA multiple times in newsletters to funders.
They are attempting to mislead child care workers and SEIU 925 union members in an effort to undermine their strength and to get members to drop their union and join up with the PNWCCA.
The Freedom Foundation is funded by out-of-state billionaires who aim to keep wages low and take away the voice of workers in the workplace. It should not shock anyone that home care workers are skeptical of the intentions of the PNWCCA because of their relationship with the Freedom Foundation. Read entire article
Published September 4, 2012 in CNN.com
By Donna Brazile
What have unions done for us lately? Other than give us Labor Day, and a three-day weekend to start football season.
The answers may surprise you.
Unions have long been part of our nation's history, fighting for better pay, safer working conditions, health care and retirement benefits, education and civic participation. Unions have brought diverse voices together, and their struggles have elevated the working conditions, the standard of living and the recognition of not just their members, but of all who labor.
Unions played a major role in ending the sweatshops and child labor so common at the beginning of the 20th century. The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, or ILGWU, was one of the first unions to have a primarily female membership. And in the aftermath of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, in which more than 100 mostly young immigrant women were killed, the ILGWU was at the forefront of reforming working conditions and pushing for comprehensive safety and workers' compensation laws.
Unions aren't a "thing of the past." They're a vital part of our social fabric and economic future. Did you know, for example, that unions run the largest career training program outside the military? Union apprenticeship programs generally partner with employers or industries to provide the kind of training that hard-wires excellence into workers and places them in good jobs that can support families. That's worth a lot when unemployment is stubbornly high and personal incomes are falling. I challenge you to watch this quick video about union-trained military vets who are rebuilding the World Trade Center without getting misty-eyed.
Did you know that union letter carriers save lives all the time by alerting officials when an elderly person hasn't collected her mail from the mailbox? That firefighters are fighting breast cancer? That in Erie, Pennsylvania, union members arranged haircuts for more than 700 kids going back to school? Read entire article
Published March 29, 2017 on NPR.org
By Maria Godoy
They come from places like Vietnam, China, Mexico and Guatemala, lured by promises of better-paying jobs and legal immigration. Instead, they're smuggled into the U.S., forced to work around the clock as bussers, wait staff and cooks, and housed in cramped living quarters. For this, they must pay exorbitant fees that become an insurmountable debt, even as their pay is often withheld, stolen or unfairly docked.
In restaurants, bars and food trucks across America, many workers are entrapped in a form of modern slavery. That's according to a new report by Polaris, an organization that fights human trafficking and helps survivors.
In the report the group offers a detailed portrait of human trafficking as it occurs in the U.S., breaking it down into 25 distinct business models, from nail salons to hotel work and domestic service.
"Because human trafficking is so diverse ... you can't fight it all at once and there are no single, silver bullet solutions. You have to ... fight it type by type," Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris, told reporters on a press call. "We see this report as a major breakthrough in the field."
He called the report the largest data set on human trafficking in the U.S. ever compiled and publicly analyzed. The Polaris team analyzed 32,208 reports of human trafficking, and 10,085 reports of labor exploitation processed through its hotlines for victims between 2007 and 2016. The goal: to identify profiles of traffickers and their victims — and the methods they use to recruit and control them — across industries, in order to better thwart them.
Janet Drake, a senior assistant attorney general in Colorado who has prosecuted human trafficking cases, called the new report "a game changer." Read entire article
Published March 13, 2017 in www.TheNextWeb.com
Over the past few years, Uber has been fighting to avoid acknowledging its drivers as employees, as doing so would cost them a lot more money than it does now to keep its ‘partners’ on its platform.
But as things begin to come to a head in Seattle, where drivers are inching closer towards forming a union, the company is struggling to find ways to dissuade them. Its latest tactic: forcing drivers to listen to Uber podcasts about voting rights, collective bargaining and city council hearings, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Drivers must reportedly listen to the company-run programming before they can begin accepting rides each day. In addition, they’re also receiving text messages and invites to meetings that may help convince them to ditch unionization plans. It hardly sounds like the dream freelance gig the company touts for its ‘partners’.
In December 2015, Seattle’s City Council voted unanimously to grant Uber drivers the ability to unionize. That would allow them to collectively bargain over working conditions and pay.
Of course, Uber wants none of that. According to The Stranger, it’s previously run TV ads urging drivers to avoid unionizing, over concerns that doing so would erode their freedom to work flexibly, accepting rides on the platform only when convenient to them.
However, the Teamsters labor union, which is working to organize Uber drivers, says that it has no interest in negotiating fixed schedules The situation is still in limbo, as Uber sued Seattle in January to block an ordinance allowing drivers to unionize and the hearing is yet to take place.
The tussle underlines Uber’s refusal to take responsibility for the welfare of its drivers, who it repeatedly says are crucial to the company’s success, but doesn’t care to spend on. Last April, it paid $84 million to settle lawsuits in California and Massachusetts to the 385,000 plaintiffs in cases brought against it in 2013, over whether its drivers should be classified as employees (and therefore receive benefits like fuel and vehicle maintenance costs being taken care of).
If the skyrocketing cost of a college degree seems intimidating, you might want to consider the skilled trades as an alternative – especially if you’re female.
That was the message at the Washington Women in Trades annual career fair at Seattle Center, where dozens of employers aimed to recruit young women, enticing them with the chance to try their hand as a carpenter, painter or steelworker.
Nettie Dokes manages metering electricians for Seattle City Light. She's also served as treasurer for Washington Women in Trades for years and says there are many advantages to these fields -- starting with the affordability of training programs, where you can earn as you learn.
"You know in college now, you may end up with a $40- or $50-thousand dollar bill," Dokes says. "This way, you may end up with a $40- or $50-thousand dollar bank account and a trade that you can use. And no matter what the economy does, up and down, you're always going to need a plumber. A physical person to come out and do that body of work. A roofer, an electrician, a line worker. Read entire article
Published March 2, 2017 in www.HeraldNet.com
By Julie Johnsson
Boeing is shrinking its Seattle-area workforce by at least 1,800 jobs this year as the company streamlines operations in a brutally competitive commercial-aircraft market.
The planemaker approved voluntary layoffs for 1,500 mechanics, according to a person familiar with the situation who asked not to be named because it hasn’t been made public. Another 305 engineers and technical workers are leaving voluntarily, Bill Dugovich, a spokesman for their union, said Thursday.
Boeing told employees in December that it would seek buyouts as part of an effort to cut costs and match employment to market requirements, company spokesman Paul Bergman said by email. Boeing also plans to cull commercial-airplane jobs by leaving open positions unfilled and through involuntary layoffs, he said. He declined to say how many buyouts have been approved.
The Chicago-based manufacturer has been winnowing employment in the Puget Sound area, its largest industrial base, over the past year as sales slowed for the jetliners, which accounted for 69 percent of total revenue last year. Boeing has trimmed its Washington state workforce by 9.2 percent to 71,036 since the start of last year even as Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg has emerged in meetings with President Donald Trump as an advocate for U.S. manufacturing.
Those earlier cuts included about 1,000 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and 850 members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in America who applied for voluntary layoffs. Another 350 SPEEA members lost their jobs involuntarily, Dugovich said.
Boeing officials last week told the engineering union to “expect a similar reduction in workforce in our units as we experienced last year,” he said.
Published February 17, 2017 by King 5 News
Dave Aardal conducted some of the most dangerous work at Hanford during his ten years of employment at the former nuclear weapons production facility. Part of his job included training on safety measures and equipment, during which he was assured that following the protocols would keep him safe from toxic chemicals and radioactive waste.
But six years after being removed from his job by Hanford medical professionals due to illness, Aardal, a 45-year-old father of three, is gravely sick and dying from a rare illness called chronic beryllium disease (CBD).
There is only one way to contract CBD: A person must be exposed to too much beryllium -- a highly toxic metal used in the production of nuclear weapons.
The U.S. Department of Energy, which manages the Hanford cleanup, concedes many facilities there has been significant beryllium contamination. And outside of some aerospace jobs in Western Washington, Hanford is one of the only places in the state where beryllium exists in sufficient quantities to pose a threat to health.
After Aardal’s diagnosis of CBD in 2008, he followed protocol and filed a workers compensation claim through the contractor tasked with managing the claims of Hanford workers, Penser North America. He believed approval would come quickly: When a person works at a site riddled with beryllium and is then diagnosed with CBD, top experts in the field say the illness should be presumed to stem from occupational exposure.
That’s not the way Penser and the Energy Department saw it. Penser’s medical professionals concluded that Aardal was ill with a different disease – sarcoidosis.
Sarcoidosis looks exactly like CBD, but it can’t be tied to occupational illness. In other words, Penser was telling Aardal he didn’t get sick from working at Hanford. Read entire article
Published February 15, 2017 at goiam.org
North Charleston, S.C., February 15, 2017 – Hourly production workers at Boeing’s South Carolina operations have voted not to join the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM) at the present time.
“We’re disappointed the workers at Boeing South Carolina will not yet have the opportunity to see all the benefits that come with union representation” said IAM lead organizer Mike Evans. “But more than anything, we are disheartened they will have to continue to work under a system that suppresses wages, fosters inconsistency and awards only a chosen few.”
South Carolina has the lowest percentage of union members in the United States. North Charleston Boeing workers endured a multi-faceted anti-union campaign, which included captive-audience meetings and massive TV, radio and billboard ad buys.
“Boeing management spent a lot of money to make sure power and profits remained concentrated at the very top. The company’s anti-union conduct reached new lows,” said Evans. “The IAM remains committed to getting Boeing South Carolina workers the respect, wages and consistency they deserve.” Read entire article
Published January 30, 2017 at The Daily Caller
By Ted Goodman
The public’s view towards labor unions significantly improved in the months before President Donald Trump announced his presidential run, and a new survey confirms the trend is continuing.
Sixty percent of adults today have a favorable view of labor unions, according to a new Pew Research Center survey released Monday. Public opinion towards labor unions have risen 12 percentage points since March, 2015, when just 48 percent of Americans had a favorable view towards labor unions.
President Trump’s campaign appealed to disaffected, rank-and file union members in the rust belt states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. While big labor bosses rushed to endorse former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, large swaths of working class voters were attracted to Trump’s message of “America First.”
The president’s victory came in large part to his appeal to Reagan Democrats in places like Macomb County, Michigan, where a large swath of the population blames trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement for widespread economic decay.
A CNN exit poll following the 2016 election revealed that Trump carried 42 percent of voters in union households, compared to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 51 percent. Trump’s positive numbers with unions are unheard of for Republican candidates since Reagan.
The survey measured the American public’s view towards labor unions and corporations. Fifty-six percent of American adults had a positive view toward corporations, which is an 8 percent jump from March, 2015. According to the Pew survey, the public generally held a favorable view towards both labor unions and corporations during the early 2000s, but those views soured during the great recession. Read entire article
Published February 1, 2017 at Teamster.org
By Annette Cary
Hanford workers would receive the same protections as firefighters in Washington if they developed serious illnesses, under a bill submitted Thursday for consideration by the state Legislature.
The extra protection is needed because of a lack of real-time monitoring and data for chemical vapors at the Hanford tank farms, said Nick Bumpaous, vice president of the Central Washington Building Trades.
Workers who become seriously ill after exposure to chemical vapors have trouble providing the proof needed to get a workers’ compensation claim accepted, he said.
Penser North America administers the Hanford workers’ compensation program, and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries allows or denies claims.
“My entire concern is supporting worker safety,” said Rep. Larry Haler, R-Wash., lead sponsor of the House bill and a past Hanford worker for 40 years.
He sees the bill as a step toward getting to the bottom of resolving the safety issue.
Three more Hanford workers reported suspicious smells that could be from chemical vapors Thursday afternoon at Hanford. Nine workers reported suspicious odors the day before outside a Hanford tank farm.
Workers are concerned that exposure to the chemicals could lead to serious health issues, including neurological and respiratory diseases.
The bill would require the workers’ compensation program to presume that a wide range of diseases were caused by occupational exposure. Read entire article