2012 Local Labor News

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Published Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at www.iam751.wordpress.com

Gary Allen general vice president Machinists Union

Gary Allen, General Vice President, Machinists Union's Western Territories.

IAM Leader: Workers' Rights at Heart of Human Rights

by Bryan Corliss, IAM District 751

EVERETT – Workers’ rights are at the heart of basic human rights, one of the top officers of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers said.

“The right to collectively bargain is a human right,” declared Gary Allen, who is the general vice president for the Machinists Union’s Western Territories. “The right to stand together, to protect ourselves and our loved ones against an inadequate and degrading lifestyle.”

Allen was one of the keynote speakers at the Snohomish County Human Rights Commission’s observance of International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. More than 100 human rights activists from around Puget Sound attended, including some 40 members of Machinists Union District Lodge 751 and Machinists Union District Lodge 160. Read entire article

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Published Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 at www.heraldnet.com

Talks on Hiatus: Boeing, SPEEA 'Very Far Apart'

By Michelle Dunlop

Herald Writer

Nearly eight months after contract talks began, the Boeing Co. and the union representing engineers and technical workers are no closer to reaching an agreement.

ISPEEA logon some respects, they're farther apart, judging by the increased level of frustration expressed by the company and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace. Late Wednesday, a federal mediator put talks on hold between Boeing and SPEEA until after the first of the year.

"It's certainly not a positive sign," Scott Hamilton, an analyst with Issaquah-based Leeham Co., said on Thursday. "It just tells me that the two sides are very far apart." Read entire article

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Published Friday, Nov. 2, 2012

IBEW Local 77 Linemen in New Jersey to Help Restore Electricity

Stan Sorscher EOI board memberAs New Jersey, New York and other devastated parts of the East Coast begin to recover from Superstorm Sandy, two Snohomish County Public Utility District line crews — all members of IBEW Local 77 -- are right in the middle of the restoration process. Six linemen, two foremen, two equipment operators and a supervisor flew to New Jersey on Thursday, Nov. 1 at the request of Jersey Central Power & Light.

“We’re proud that we can lend a helping hand to our fellow Americans during this difficult time,” said General Manager Steve Klein. “Just as we work as a utility to make a positive difference in our own customers’ lives, our skilled crews will bring that same dedication to serving the people impacted by this disaster.”

At least 2.4 million New Jersey utility customers lost power as Sandy’s powerful winds knocked down utility poles and uprooted trees. As of Friday, some 1.5 million remained without electricity in the state, and it was expected that some might have to wait 10 days or more for power to be restored.

Snohomish PUD crews will work with a group from Toledo, Ohio, said Roger Bauer, Senior Manager, Regional Design & Construction Services. Bauer selected the 11 PUD employees from a list of volunteers.

The crews include: Marcus Bailey, supervisor; Mick Conlon, lineman; JR Cornish, foreman; Scott Davis, lineman; Dave Deering, equipment operator; Dave Fawcett, equipment operator; Jeff Jewell, lineman; Lijah Manus, lineman; Curtis Rodorigo, lineman; Brandon Sandoval, lineman; and Randy Strege, foreman.

As of Wednesday, the PUD was the only utility from Washington sending crews back east.

PUD crews will work 16 hours on, 8 hours off. They’re expected to be there 10 days to two weeks, Bauer said. Their job will be to restore poles and wire, using Jersey Central’s equipment.

“I’m glad we have the chance to help in this disaster, and that we have such skilled people to send,” said Chris Heimgartner, AGM, Distribution & Engineering. “We are all part of a much larger community, and when customers and utilities anywhere in America are hit with a devastating event, they should know that help is available and on the way.”

PUD customers also expressed pride in their utility. Among dozens of Facebook posts were these:

  • “What a wonderful thing to do.”

  • “Sno PUD crews are the best! The east coast is in good hands!”

  • “Our crews rock! Thank you for your great work.”

  • “Kudos to our PUD for the wonderful work they do. Stay safe.”

Source: http://www.thestand.org/?p=18214

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Published Wednesday, October 17, 2012 in the Arlington Times

Protestors Show Support for Local Walmart Workers

By Kirk Boxleitner

Arlington Times Reporter

SMOKEY POINT -- Walmart stores throughout Western Washington, including Arlington and Tulalip, became the sites of actions on Wednesday, Oct. 10, on behalf of Walmart employees across America who have protested their working conditions.

Elena Perez, a coordinator with the Making Change at Walmart Coalition of Puget Sound, stood outside the front doors of the Tulalip Walmart at 9 a.m. and the Arlington Walmart at 3 p.m. that day, accompanied by fellow activists and a number of Teamsters.

“We’re supporting the striking workers who have protested the unlawful labor practices of Walmart to ensure they won’t be subjected to retaliation due to unsafe working conditions,” said Perez, who noted that neither the Tulalip nor Arlington Walmart stores had any such striking workers that she was aware of.

Perez and her fellow activists took care to stand on either side of the Walmart’s entryways to maintain open flows of foot traffic while they handed out their informational pamphlets to Walmart shoppers and passersby.

“The responses we’ve received so far have been enthusiastic,” said Perez, shortly before Bob Lewis, assistant manager of the Arlington Walmart, stepped out of the store to meet with the group that was visiting his store that afternoon.

Perez asserted the group’s free speech rights to Lewis, who acknowledged them and agreed to allow them to remain on the premises so long as they did not block customer access to the store.

“We support our associates and have an open-door policy for dealing with our workers’ problems,” Lewis said. “We pay more than the average retailer and are ahead of the state’s minimum wage.”

The week before the Western Washington actions, Walmart associates in Los Angeles walked off the job, calling for an end to retaliation, while workers at Walmart-controlled warehouses in Chicago extended their strike to 21 days to protest retaliation. Western Washington workers were among those who rallied at the Bentonville, Ark., corporate headquarters of Walmart during its meeting of shareholders on Oct. 10.

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Published Wednesday, October 17, 2012 in www.Heraldnet.com

SPEEA Lays Groundwork for 'Federally Protected' Strike

By Michelle Dunlop

Herald Writer

More than two weeks have passed since Puget Sound-area engineers and technical workers voted to reject a Boeing Co. contract offer. There has been little negotiation since, and there are signs their union is very quietly laying the groundwork to enable a strike during which the company cannot, by law, replace them.

Since the Oct. 1 rejection, negotiators for the company and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, which represents 22,765 union workers in the region, about half of whom work in Everett, have met only twice, for less than three hours in all.

Earlier this week, SPEEA leaders told members that "little progress" had been made since the two sides resumed talking on Oct. 2. Boeing and SPEEA were scheduled to meet again today.

Meanwhile, the union has filed formal complaints against the jet maker with the federal government, alleging unfair practices in the company's relationship with SPEEA.

The lack of progress and SPEEA's labor complaints have union members wondering if they are headed for a strike. In a document on SPEEA's website, the union answers members' questions about a potential strike but notes that there are "strategic reasons" for not answering all of them in writing. When it comes to anticipating the worst, SPEEA encourages members to talk to those who participated in the union's 40-day strike against Boeing in 2000.

"SPEEA is focused on negotiating a contract and avoiding a strike," union leaders wrote.

That said, in filing labor complaints against the company, SPEEA is setting the stage for what is known as a federally protected strike, should union leaders choose to call for one.

On Oct. 5, just days after SPEEA members voted 15,097 to 608 to reject Boeing's contract offer, the union filed two complaints against the jet maker with the National Labor Relations Board. Union leaders accused Boeing of video-recording SPEEA members at rallies and confiscating employee photos of the gatherings. The company's actions interfered with the union's right to demonstrate, an activity protected by labor law, the union said.

SPEEA also filed a complaint in August, alleging that Boeing representatives were telling union members they couldn't make negative comments about the company.

In short, SPEEA says, those were unfair labor practices as defined by law. If the NLRB investigates SPEEA's claims and finds "reasonable cause," the agency will issue a complaint, Nancy Cleeland, spokeswoman for the NLRB, wrote in an email.

The importance of such a finding is crucial: "If a strike is about unfair labor practices, as opposed to economics, then the strikers cannot be permanently replaced," Cleeland wrote. Workers who go on strike for economic reasons rather than unfair labor practices can be permanently replaced by their employer during a work stoppage, according to labor law.

In late September, the union gave Boeing notice that it would cease to recognize the present contract as of Nov. 25 -- another step toward securing protected status for a strike. That enables SPEEA leaders to ask members for strike authorization at any time, though SPEEA can't actually strike until Nov. 26.

Asking for strike authority doesn't mean there will be a work stoppage. A strike-authority vote gives union negotiators an "important leverage point" in talks with Boeing, SPEEA leaders wrote when answering member questions.

SPEEA has gone on strike against Boeing only twice: for one day in 1993 and for those 40 days in 2000.

So far, SPEEA's filings against Boeing have been about activities that aren't necessarily tied to negotiations, said Bill Dugovich, communications director for SPEEA. The union's labor charges don't mean that a strike is imminent. SPEEA could try another tactic, a concerted work slowdown, instead of a strike, Dugovich said.

Both Boeing and SPEEA are expected to provide updates from today's negotiating session.

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Published October 24, 2012

Prof & Tech Negotiations Update

Profits Top Estimates, Pace of Negotiations Picks Up

As corporate executives announced $1 billion in quarterly profits to Wall Street, Boeing negotiators today (Oct. 24) showed signs the company’s continued success, coupled with the overwhelming rejection of the original offer, is making movement possible.

Today’s negotiations were marked by a new spirit of collaborative problem solving.

The company and the union exchanged proposals on medical and pension issues.

“We had a good, productive discussion,” said Tom McCarty, SPEEA president and Prof Negotiation Team member. “Members’ activism and demonstrations of support are making a difference.”

Boeing’s announcement exceeded analysts’ expectations for the fifth consecutive quarter. With third quarter sales up 13% to $20 billion, the company now expects per-share profits to hit $4.95 for the year. The order backlog exceeds 4,100 aircraft.

SPEEA Prof Team member John McLaren listened to the Boeing earnings report before today’s negotiation session.

“I was pleased to hear the Boeing pension is so well funded the company does not need to make any contributions for the next year,” said McLaren.

After pressing Boeing to accelerate negotiation sessions last week, our teams spent the first part of this week preparing for the three days of scheduled talks. Members around the bargaining units are helping by showing their support with red shirts, visibility walks and attending information meetings.

Using every available strategy, our negotiating teams are confident we will achieve your goals in these negotiations. Members are encouraged to keep up their efforts.

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Published in the Everett Herald, Oct. 17, 2012

SPEEA Lays Groundwork for 'Federally Protected' Strike

By Michelle Dunlop

Herald Writer

More than two weeks have passed since Puget Sound-area engineers and technical workers voted to reject a Boeing Co. contract offer. There has been little negotiation since, and there are signs their union is very quietly laying the groundwork to enable a strike during which the company cannot, by law, replace them. Read entire article

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Published Thursday, September 6, 2012

Boeing and the Race to the Bottom

By Jon Talton

As a manager, I supervised union employees for years. It's easy, especially with professionals. Unless, of course, you are determined to continue redistributing income from the middle class to the very rich while rubbing the union's face in it. And that appears to be Boeing's strategy in dealing with the Society of Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA). The savage spirit of Jack Welch is alive and well in Chicago.

There are two sides in any negotiation and it's impossible to know all the details and nuances unless you're sitting at the table. Still, based on the reporting of the Seattle Times' Dominic Gates, it seems Boeing wants to pick a fight with its engineers. Put them in their place. This is odd coming from a company that croaks so much about the value of "labor peace." Such peace requires two sides working together.

Boeing is offering only a 3 percent raise, down from the 5 percent won in 2008. Also, "a key Boeing proposal would switch new hires from the pension plan that current employees have to a 401(k)-type plan that SPEEA says will deliver up to 40 percent less upon retirement than the current Boeing pension." This from a company that posted $4 billion in profits and has a vast backlog of orders.

Boeing says it wants to prepare for future competition by reining in compensation. That would have more credibility if it started at the top. CEO James McNerney was given total compensation of $22.9 million in 2011. It's also bad strategy. The engineers and Boeing's historic -- but neglected after the McDonnell takeover -- engineering culture represent a massive competitive advantage. Smart management would want to invest in this culture, especially the people, rather that low-balling them. "No nerds, no birds," indeed.

The American middle-class has been hollowed out by this kind of action across corporate America. It's a looter/taker mentality, with outrageous CEO pay, bad mergers, industry consolidation and a Wal-Mart attitude toward workers much at odds with the capitalism that made America great and exceptional.

In Boeing's case, here is a company that has received billions in incentives from the state of Washington, fawning special treatment and has the U.S. government as its No. 1 sales rep. Surely a company like this ("we built it") would seek to act in the national interest. And yet it wants to throw some of its most valuable employees (who do not inhabit the executive suites) into the circling drain of downward mobility. Maybe just a little dip of the toes for starters. But after 30 years of this across the economy, we know where it leads.

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Published Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SPEEA charges Boeing with Violating Labor Law During Employee Orientation

SEATTLE – Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges were filed against The Boeing Company on Tuesday, Aug. 21 after company officials told employees they are prohibited from saying negative things about their employment. Such discussions by union members are protected by the National Labor Relation Act (NLRA). Employers’ efforts to curb these discussions violate federal law.

The charges were filed by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, after representatives from Boeing Ethics made the comments to new employees during the weekly orientation meeting on Friday, Aug.17. Read more

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Published Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012

Davis Wire Settlement Includes "Poison Pill"

An open letter from Tracey Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local #117

Dear Friends and Allies,

After three full months on strike, our Davis Wire members made the extremely difficult choice last night to ratify a contract and return to work. While the ratified Last, Best and Final offer was a significant improvement from prior LBFs and included annual wage increases that we believe will offset increases in health care costs during the term of the agreement, the Company also included a poison pill – eight replacement workers will continue to work and will displace some of our members for up to six months. The inclusion of a such a proposal in the Last, Best and Final demonstrates the total inhumanity of Davis Wire owners and management. The only reason to include such a proposal is to break the spirit of the workers.

Our fight to improve the working conditions and economic security of our Davis Wire members, and to hold this Company accountable for its bad acts, does not end with ratification of a contract. Our fight takes a new direction and moves inside.

Your support has been phenomenal, and I am so grateful for it, but we continue to need your help. Several of our Davis Wire members are on the verge of losing their homes. Several others have lost their cars. Many of them have lost health insurance coverage and will need to pay COBRA premiums in order to continue to treat chronic health conditions. Three months without a meaningful income has had a devastating impact on these 83 families, and they continue to need financial assistance to try to get back to where they were before the strike. Your generosity in this regard is so appreciated.

And we will need your support as we move the fight inside. This employer needs to be held accountable for every unlawful act it commits: wage and hour violations, WISHA/OSHA violations, workplace discrimination. Your help in holding Davis Wire accountable will be critical to our success in transforming this workplace from a sweat shop to a decent place to work.

Many of you attended our Davis Wire rally back in July where I said that the men at Davis Wire are my heroes. Their vote yesterday was another heroic act. They looked into their own hearts and those of the brothers with whom they’ve been standing, they considered the struggles that many of them are facing, they realized that they could continue to fight their employer from the inside, and they made the difficult decision to end their strike. I trust you will see this courageous act for what it is, and continue to honor and support these amazing workers.

With deepest thanks,

Tracey

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Published Monday, Aug. 6, 2012

Recycle & Yard Waste Drivers Ratify 6-Year Contract Agreement

Recycle and yard waste drivers, represented by Teamsters Local 117, voted to ratify a 6-year contract agreement Friday, Aug. 3rd. The contract vote was held after a 9 a.m. meeting at the Teamsters building in Tukwila. The Local 117 leadership and bargaining committee fully recommended the proposal for ratification by the membership.

“This deal recognizes Seattle-area recycle and yard waste drivers for the tremendous job they do in performing difficult, dangerous work that protects the public health and the environment,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “Recycling is our future. We thank our drivers for their critical role in keeping our cities clean and for helping to make our region one of the leaders in the industry.”

Local 117 recycle and yard waste drivers said they would resume servicing their customers in King and Snohomish counties later Friday. Garbage drivers, represented by Teamsters Local 174, returned to work earlier, while members of Teamsters 231 in Skagit County were also back on the job on Thursday to service their regular collection routes.

“We value our customers – they are our number one priority,” said Brent Barrett, a 11-year yard waste driver who works out of Waste Management’s facility in Seattle. “We look forward to getting back in our trucks, cleaning up our cities and neighborhoods, and continuing to provide the highest-quality service to our customers.”

Local 117 wished to thank their supporters for their role in arriving at this contract agreement.

“We want to thank our Teamster brothers and sisters, especially members of Teamsters Local 174 and Teamsters Local 231, for their unwavering solidarity during the strike. We are also grateful to the many unions, community organizations, municipalities, public officials, and members of our community for their tremendous support that made this outcome possible,” Thompson said.

“In the end, it was our area’s recycle and yard waste drivers who showed incredible courage, solidarity, and determination in their effort to achieve a fair contract that preserves their livelihood and their ability to provide for their families,” she said.

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Posted 6-18-2012 at www.huffingtonpost.com

So-Called Free Trade -- Bad Policy and Wrong Debate

 

By Stan Sorscher

Labor Representative, Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace

 

An editorial in my local paper is a good example of how we trivialize our public discussion of globalization and trade policy.

The editorial follows this logic: Trade is good. All trade is good. More trade is better than less trade. Maximum possible trade! Anyone who disagrees is protectionist or resentful.

I can immediately correct one misunderstanding. Everyone I know is in favor of trade. I am 100 percent in favor of trade. The issue is not "trade." The issue is good trade policy, which raises my standard of living, or bad trade policy, which lowers it.

Similarly, I am in favor of capitalism. Even so, we can have real, significant, meaningful, legitimate debates about good rules for capitalism and bad rules for capitalism. Read entire Huffington Post article

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RESOLUTION TO OPPOSE THE STATE TAKEOVER OF K-12 HEALTH CARE

Below is a resolution adopted unanimously by delegates to the Snohomish County Labor Council at the Wed., January 25th meeting.
Whereas, the Legislature directed the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) to develop a plan for a state takeover of the K-12 health benefits system; and
Whereas, the proposed takeover eliminates collective bargaining rights for health care; and
Whereas, the takeover shifts an additional $25 million per year to K-12 employees through higher premiums and “point of service cost-sharing;” and
Whereas, the plan provides no cost savings and would actually cost taxpayers millions of dollars; and
Whereas, all future costs risks would be shifted to the school districts for costs above the state allocation; and
Whereas, the plan abandons a system that today costs less and provides more than the state program; and
Whereas, the proposal requires lower overall benefits to avoid immediate cost increases; and
Whereas, the plan wipes out health care coverage entirely for thousands of part-time employees who work less than half-time; and
Whereas, the proposal adds another costly function to the state bureaucracy at a time when vital funding for K-12 education and other services is being cut; and
Whereas, K-12 employees have had the option to enroll in the state employee health care plan since 1995, and less than one percent of the K-12 employees have made that choice; therefore be it
Resolved, that the Snohomish County Labor Council opposes this anti-union legislation mandating a state takeover of the K-12 health benefits system; and be it further
Resolved, that the Snohomish County Labor Council supports the coalition opposed to this collective bargaining and health care takeaway; and be it further
Resolved, that this action and resolution be communicated to the legislative leadership, all legislators representing Snohomish County citizens, and the Governor; and be it finally
Resolved, that Snohomish County Labor Council will forward this resolution to the Washington State Labor Council with a request that they adopt a similar resolution.

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