- Today is Public Employee Appreciation Day in King County!
- Justices Back Employee in Wage Complaint Case
- Free Tax Preparation Available Now!
- New Middle Ground on Workers' Comp?
- Peacekeepers Needed for the Olympia 'We Are One' Rally
- There's Still Time to Save Up to $500!
- The Nationwide Campaign Against Working Families
- Workers' Comp Reforms Signed By Gov. Gregoire
- New Website Launched for Participants of UPS/IBT Full-Time Employee Pension Plan
- Rich Geraghty Passes
- 100 Years Ago WA State Was 1st in the Nation
- Michigan Bill Would Impose "Financial Martial Law"
- Gregoire, Unions May Have a Ferry Deal
- As Union Membership Has Declined, Income Inequality Has Skyrocketed In The United States
- U.S. Agrees to Allow Mexican Long-haul Ttrucks
- Unions Wary of Dems' Convention Plans in N.C.
- Corporations Don't Have 'Personal Privacy' Rights, Supreme Court Rules
- So-Called Right to Work Laws Don't Boost Jobs
- Celebrating Tanker Win for Boeing and Washington State Workers
- Report: House Budget Plan Would Kill 700k Jobs
Today is Public Employee Appreciation Day in King County!
Posted March 29, 2011
I am pleased to announce that today the Metropolitan King County Council recognized the work and the sacrifice of the 13,000 people employed by King County with our unanimous adoption of "Public Employee Appreciation Day" in King County. I was pleased to co-sponsor the legislation and proclamation.
The adopted motion acknowledges the essential public services provided by public employees at all levels of government, from police and firefighters, to doctors and nurses, to teachers and social workers. The motion states that many public employees are represented by unions and the Council supports the right of unions to bargain collectively for its members. The motion highlights the fact that the majority of the County's union employees volunteered to forego cost-of-living-adjustments as part of the adopted 2011 King County Budget to ensure that public services would not be cut. The adopted motion also declares that every fourth Monday in March will be recognized as "Public Employee Appreciation Day." Immediately after the adoption of the motion, we presented this year's proclamation to Dustin Frederick, Co-Chair of the King County Labor Coalition and David Freiboth, Executive Secretary of the Martin Luther King County, Jr. Labor Council.
King County workers are on the 'frontlines' for keeping people safe and healthy, responding to citizen questions and concerns, and getting people to their destinations on transit. During this Great Economic Recession, King County employees have made significant personal sacrifices to keep delivering services people need despite steep declines in public revenues. Nationally, those very public employees who teach our children and care for our elderly are under assault, but here in King County we are setting a tone of appreciation for workers who provide the public with the services they need and require.
Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of workers and a sustainable economy. I appreciate the opportunity to share this update with you.
Sincerely, Larry Phillips, Councilmember
Metropolitan King County Council, District Four
Justices Back Employee in Wage Complaint Case
Posted March 28, 2011
Workers who complain to their employers about wage violations are protected from retaliation whether the complaints are oral or written, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday in a 6-to-2 decision.
The question in the case, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the majority, was whether the phrase "filed any complaint" in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 applied only to written complaints. Read the source story here.
Free Tax Preparation Available Now!
The United Way of King County is currently offering free tax preparation assistance at 18 locations throughout King County for households making less than $50,000 in 2010. Taxes are prepared by IRS-certified volunteers and e-filed for quick refunds. Tax sites can also prepare tax returns for up to three prior years, and help clients apply for Individual Taxpayer ID Numbers. Services are available in many languages.
This service is available until April 17th.
For a list of times and locations visit www.uwkc.org/taxhelp or call 2-1-1.
New Middle Ground on Workers' Comp?
Posted March 24, 2011
In our special report last week, "The Truth About Compromise and Release," the Washington State Labor Council offered some perspective on the workers' compensation debate. Advocates for ESB 5566 -- which would allow employers to negotiate lump-sum buyouts to injured workers of less than what they would otherwise get -- have succeeded in creating a sense of panic among some legislators that our 100-year-old system is in imminent danger of collapse unless dramatic cuts are immediately imposed.
So it is important to remind everyone about the history of rate increases and reductions (as recently as 2007), the historical impact of recessions on those rates, and the fact that last year's State Auditor's report was not entitled "The Sky Is Falling." Rather, it included assurances that the system is NOT broke and payments to injured workers were not in jeopardy in the near term.
Hopefully, the report was a timely reminder than Washington has one of the best systems in the country, in terms of keeping costs relatively low while maintaining decent benefits. We must not rush to dismantle the system with ESB 5566, which would turn it from one that guarantees "sure and certain relief" to injured workers into one that depends on access to good attorneys and a stomach for litigious negotiations.
But pointing out these facts does not mean that organized labor is deaf to the warnings from the Governor, the State Auditor and legislative leaders that changes are needed to ensure the system's long-term solvency. Clearly, all of us who are advocates for injured workers have an interest in keeping the system healthy for the next 100 years.
Peacekeepers Needed for the Olympia 'We Are One' Rally
The Washington State Labor Council needs Peacekeeprs for the 'We Are One' rally in Olympia, on April 8th, and is having training/refresher sessions for peacekeepers on the following dates and times:
Saturday, March 26th, in Seattle, 10 am-12 noon
Washington State Labor Council
314 First Ave. West
Tuesday, March 29, in Seattle, 6-8 pm
Washington State Labor Council
314 First Ave. West
Monday, April 4th in Olympia, 5:30-7:30 pm
Washington State Labor Council
906 Columbia SW
For those who have peacekeeping experience, and cannot make the meetings, peacekeepers will meet in Olympia on April 8th at the Tivoli Fountain, (northeast of the Legislative Building, alongside Capitol Way on the west campus – there will be a Solidarity Tent there) at 10 a.m. Go to http://www.ga.wa.gov/visitor/direction.htm for directions to the Capitol campus.
Please contact Lori Province at WSLC if you can be a part of our efforts to make this rally a good event for all.
Lori Province, Field Dir. Washington State Labor Council
Phone: 206-351-2956 cell
There's Still Time to Save Up to $500!
It's not too late. Take your confidential Personal Health Assessment (PHA) and you may save up to $500 in out-of-pocket medical expenses this year. It's easy, it's confidential and could mean more money in your pocket.
If you are enrolled in Medical Plan A, B, or C, and complete the PHA by March 31, 2011 , you can save up to $500 for family or $250 for individual coverage in the calendar year out-of-pocket maximum for coinsurance in 2011. If married or have a covered spouse or domestic partner, they must also complete the PHA.
STAND STRONG is brought to you by the Washington Teamsters Welfare Trust, for your health.
To complete your Personal Health Assessment:
If you have questions, please call the StayWell HelpLine at 1-888-388-8259.
Go to https://wateamsters.online.staywell.com, log into your secure account and click on the "Take your Personal Health Assessment" link from Your Action Plan.
After you complete your PHA, make sure you select Finish & View Results to submit your answers.
A confirmation page will appear after your PHA has been successfully completed.
STAND STRONG is brought to you by the Washington Teamsters Welfare Trust, for your health.
A Report Prepared by the Democratic Staff Committee on Education and the Workforce
THE NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN AGAINST WORKING FAMILIES
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's assault on public employees is just one piece of the anti-worker agenda that special interests are spearheading across this country under the guise of deficit reduction. But this agenda, as Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson put it, "is about removing a check on right-wing and business power in America." The fact is, unions are a critical voice for maintaining a vibrant democracy and strong middle class in America.
Wisconsin's bill to strip public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights is just the tip of the iceberg in the attack against workers' rights.
- More than a dozen states have introduced bills to eliminate or restrict public sector employees' right to collectively bargain.
- Other states are considering legislation to roll back prevailing wage laws, prohibit project labor agreements, impose right-to-work-for-Iess laws, and otherwise make it difficult for workers to effectively organize.
- Three amendments that would have crippled workers' rights and wages were defeated after Republicans tried to attach them to their Continuing Resolution, H.R. 1:
- Closing the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces private sector workers' right to organize and collectively bargain.
- Cutting construction workers' pay on government projects.
- Banning federal project labor agreements.
- Although these amendments were rejected, the Republican majority was successful in pushing through the House the underlying bill and its deep cuts to programs that support students, workers, and middle class families.
Workers' Comp Reforms Signed By Gov. Gregoire
Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday signed Senate Bill 5801, which directs the Department of Labor and Industries to create a statewide provider network for injured workers, as well as expand access to the state's Centers for Occupational Health Education. The legislation is expected to save $218 million over the next four years. "We know we need to help more workers return to good health and back on the job after an injury, as well as reduce costs for our taxpayers and businesses," Gregoire said. "This bill does both. It improves outcomes for our employees, while saving more than $200 million over the next four years. I'm proud of our workers compensation workgroup, which pulled together leaders from our business and labor communities. This bill is the result of their work, and it has strong bipartisan support." Read the source story here.
New Website Launched for Participants of UPS/IBT Full-Time Employee Pension Plan
A new website has been launched for participants of the UPS/IBT Full-Time Pension Plan, announced Ken Hall, Package Division Director and International Vice President.
The new site, called dbConnect, is accessible through www.UPSers.com. It provides detailed information for Teamsters in the UPS/IBT Full-Time Employee Pension Plan about their retirement benefits. Read the source story here.
Rich Geraghty Passes
Birth date: September 30, 1954
Death date: March 07, 2011
Our beloved Rich died peacefully at home on March 7, 2011. His last days were filled with his favorite weekend activities including a day road trip with his wife and daughter and a walk on the beach with his best friend, "Lola the pug."
Rich was born to Dick & Barbara Geraghty in Renton, Washington on September 30, 1954. He was the youngest of five children. Raised in Normandy Park, he graduated from Highline High School in 1973.
Rich drove trucks professionally throughout his life, starting his career in the family business at the Shamrock Dairy and completing it at Stoneway Concrete for 21 years of dedicated service. He was a proud Teamster of Local 174.
Rich's favorite memories were boating and fishing in the Puget Sound in his Boston Whaler, having a beer at the Tides Tavern in Gig Harbor, watching his daughter play soccer, and enjoying movies with his wife in his favorite chair. Rich will always be remembered for his great sense of humor and charming character which was loved by all that knew him.
Rich is survived by his high school sweetheart and wife of 34 years, Mickey, their only daughter, Carrie Ann and her partner Chelsey Quinn, mother Barbara Geraghty, brother Pat & Sue Geraghty, sister Penny & Myron Williams, nephew Glen Boyer, mother-in-law Sharon Emmons, in-laws Scott and Vicki Hennesy, Pat and Cheryl Emmons,Tom and Nancy Emmons, and of course the love of his life, Lola.
A celebration of Rich's life will be held at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 19834 8th Avenue S., Des Moines, WA 98148 on March 19th, 2011 at 11:00AM.
Memorial Service: Saturday, March 19, 2011 at time pending at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 19834 8th Ave. S., Des Moines, WA 98148
100 Years Ago WA State Was 1st in the Nation
On March 14, 1911, the law, the first of its kind in the nation, which began the WA State Workers’ Compensation System was signed after a long fought battle. At the end of the day an agreement was reached between business and labor that, in exchange for Washington workers giving up their right to file suit against their employer for injuries sustained on the job they would receive a fair benefit free from coercion and attack by their employers.
Ever since this law was passed employers and their shills have tried to weaken the protections they agreed to. Today is no different. Last year they failed at an attempt to privatize the entire system and hand it over to their cronies in the insurance industry, and this year they are coming directly at the injured workers with a plan called Compromise and Release. Supporters of Compromise and Release claim “buyouts are voluntary, no one is forced to take them.” The truth is this system if passed would be a return to the days of coercion and starvation of injured workers in order to cut the liabilities of the companies.
If employers today want to go back to the way it was 100 years ago why don’t they just agree to give injured workers back the right to file suit against the employer that causes their injury. Workers in this state died to achieve the workers compensation system we have today and we must not give up that right without a fight.
Michigan Bill Would Impose "Financial Martial Law"
Posted March 14, 2011
Michigan lawmakers are on the verge of approving a bill that would enable the governor to appoint "emergency managers" -- officials with unilateral power to make sweeping changes to cities facing financial troubles.
Under the legislation, the Michigan Messenger reports, the governor could declare a "financial emergency" in towns or school districts. He could then appoint a manager to fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, eliminate services - and even eliminate whole cities or school districts without any public input.
The measure passed in the state Senate this week; the House passed its own version earlier. The two versions of the bill are expected to be reconciled next week, and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has said he will sign the bill the bill into law.
Democrats and their allies are decrying the legislation as a power grab and say it's part of a wider effort taking place in several states, such as Wisconsin, to weaken labor unions.
"It takes every decision in a city or school district and puts it in the hands of the manager, from when the streets get plowed to who plows them and how much they are paid," said Mark Gaffney, president of the Michigan State AFL-CIO. "This is a takeover by the right wing and it's an assault on democracy like I've never seen."
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat who represents Detroit, said in a statement that in a given city, the governor's new "financial czar" could "force a municipality into bankruptcy, a power that will surely be used to extract further concessions from hardworking public sector workers." Read source story here.
Gregoire, Unions May Have a Ferry Deal
Posted March 7, 2011
After months of "tough" negotiations, a tentative agreement in the next ferry workers contract has been reached, saving the state $10 million annually, Gov. Chris Gregoire and a union leader said Friday. Details were sparse on the agreement, but Gregoire and labor representative Tim Saffle of the Masters, Mates and Pilots union said they hope to have the contract ratified by ferry workers in the next month. Read the source story here.
Other sources for this story:
► The Kitsap Sun -- Gregoire, WSF unions announce deal to save money -- "These are the largest sacrifices in the history of the Washington State Ferries," Gov. Chris Gregoire said, praising the unions for participating in budget cuts to an extent unseen elsewhere in the nation. But even with the $30 million in new savings, Gregoire said she still expects some ferry runs to be cut.
► The (Everett) Herald -- Seeking scapegoats, state lawmakers target ferry unions -- Once again, workers are being painted as the culprits. No excuses are being made for whatever mismanagement within our ferry system might have occurred, but it is dishonest to suggest that those rare incidents (profiled on KING-TV) are the norm, or that workers are to blame. Such inflammatory declarations may sell newspapers and TV advertising space, but they do not pass the sniff test of truth. They are little more than attempts to scapegoat working men and women.
As Union Membership Has Declined, Income Inequality Has Skyrocketed In The United States
Across the country, right-wing legislators continue their attack on labor unions, claiming that they are saving their states money. Yet in waging these anti-labor campaigns, these politicians are ignoring one very simple fact: unions were a major force in building and sustaining the great American middle class, and as they declined, so has the middle class. As CAP’s Karla Waters and David Madland showed in a report they first published this past January, as union membership has steadily declined since 1967, so too has the middle class’s share of national income, as the super-rich have taken a larger share of national income than any time since the 1920s. Read source story here.
U.S. agrees to allow Mexican long-haul trucks
The Columbus Dispatch
Mexico and the United States agreed in principle yesterday to open U.S. highways to Mexican long-haul trucks, ending a lingering safety dispute that prompted Mexico to impose more than $2 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exporters.
The agreement calls for Mexico to lift 50 percent of its retaliatory tariffs immediately while Mexican truckers undergo safety, language and driver training.
Teamsters union President Jim Hoffa charged that the agreement "caves in to business interests."
Mexican truckers will have to abide by U.S. motor-safety standards, undergo periodic screening for illegal drug use and comply with U.S. rules on how many hours each day they can drive.
The agreement will require approval from Congress. Read source story here.
Unions wary of Dems' convention plans in N.C.
The Seattle Times
With the American labor movement newly energized by its most serious threat in years, the Democratic Party's decision to hold its 2012 convention in the least union-friendly state is causing friction with a key constituency. The Democratic National Committee selected Charlotte to show confidence in the party's ability to win crucial swing states in the South, including North Carolina, that President Barack Obama carried in 2008. But the choice isn't sitting well with some union leaders. "I think the Democratic Party is in crisis and they're trying to figure out who are they really going to represent," said Angaza Laughinghouse, president of the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union. Read the source story here.
Corporations Don't Have 'Personal Privacy' Rights, Supreme Court Rules
The LA Times
Corporations do not have a right to "personal privacy," the Supreme Court ruled unanimously, at least when it comes to the Freedom of Information Act and the release of documents held by the government.
Last year's ruling giving companies a free-speech right to spend money on campaign ads prompted liberal critics to say the court's conservatives were biased in favor of corporate rights.
While not alluding to the criticism, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. took a scalpel to a corporate-rights claim from AT&T Inc. that its "personal privacy" deserves to be protected. The ordinary meaning of "personal" does not refer to an impersonal company, he said. Read the source story here.
So-Called Right to Work Laws Don’t Boost Jobs
AFL-CIO Now Blog
Opponents of working families and their unions have been trying to ram so-called right to work laws through state legislatures. Such laws make it illegal for a group of unionized workers to negotiate a contract that requires each employee who enjoys the benefit of the contract to pay his or her share of the costs of negotiating and policing it.
A study out today shows these laws hurt economies and don’t create jobs. The study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) concludes:
- So-called right to work laws have not increased employment growth in the states that have adopted them.
- The case of Oklahoma, which in 2001 became the latest state to pass one of these laws, particularly underlines their failure to spur job growth. Since the law passed, manufacturing employment and relocations into the state reversed their climb and began to fall, precisely the opposite of what advocates promised.
- These laws may actually harm a state’s economic prospects and ability to develop employment in high-tech manufacturing, the “knowledge” sector and service industries dependent on consumer spending in the local economy.
Celebrating Tanker Win for Boeing and Washington State Workers
Last week, Senator Patty Murray joined aerospace workers in Seattle to celebrate Boeing winning the contract to build the next generation of Air Force refueling tankers. This decision was a major victory for American workers, the American aerospace industry and America’s military. And it is consistent with President Obama’s call to ‘out-innovate’ and ‘out-build’ the rest of the world. Even when competing against an illegally subsidized foreign competitor, Boeing’s skilled workforce proved that they have the know-how and the product that can best serve our military. It is finally time to get this Boeing tanker into the hands of our men and women in uniform.
- “Boeing’s tanker win celebrated in Everett and elsewhere” – The Everett Herald
- “Boeing's Air Force victory hard-won, but much appreciated” – The Seattle Times