Port of Seattle hires anti-union
attorney to fight protections for concessions workers
Some 1,500 people
are employed as concessions workers at SeaTac International Airport. Many of
them are union members. That means the folks who greet and serve our area's
travelers can afford to put food on their own tables, pay their rent and
mortgages, provide health insurance coverage to their families, and retire in
But these positions
are now at risk of being replaced with poverty-wage jobs with few benefits.
The Port of Seattle plans to redevelop and rebid its concessions contracts,
and is positioning to do so without protecting its existing workforce. Port
Commission President Gael Tarleton has sent a
letter to legislative leaders to ask them
to quash HB 1832, which ensures that transitions to successor contractors are
seamless while protecting the workers' rights. And now, commissioners have
hired a union-busting attorney to advise them on the matter.
by Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-SeaTac), requires successor contractors to retain
employees -- some of whom have worked at the airport for decades -- for 90 days
after contract transition and requires workers and their unions to agree to
labor peace (no work stoppages, no pickets, etc.) during this period. The
Washington State Labor Council supports HB 1832 as a win-win solution for
workers, businesses, travelers and the Port. Workers keep their jobs and the
Port retains highly experienced and dedicated workers and is guaranteed smooth
transitions between service contracts.
Legislative Conference is Feb. 9 at Olympia Red Lion
The Washington State
Labor Council will hold its 2012 Legislative Conference on Thursday,
Feb. 9 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Olympia Red Lion Hotel. As
reported last week in The Stand, this year's abbreviated
conference will include delegates from WSLC-affiliated unions voting
on possible early endorsements in three races: U.S. Senate, Governor
and Attorney General.
As always, the
Legislative Reception will be the preceding Wednesday evening, Feb. 8,
at 6:30 p.m. This is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with
The reception and
conference is open to all union leaders, staff and rank-and-file
members, but only credentialed delegates and alternates can be in the
hall when endorsement action is taken. WSLC-affiliated unions received
"convention calls" weeks ago with credential forms.
To pre-register, email email@example.com
and include your name, union, and phone number. The reception's cost
is $15 per person and the conference is $25. Call Karen White at
206-281-8901 for more information.
Last year, HB 1832
passed the House but stalled in Senate committee after the Port committed to
working with concessions workers and their representatives to find a solution
that protects those workers' interests. Unfortunately, no progress has been
made. The Port dismissed a proposal from UNITE HERE and UFCW, the unions
representing those workers, in favor of a one-sided plan they claimed was
developed using a "stakeholder process," but only included policies
supported by the employers. Workers' concerns and suggestions from those
stakeholder meetings were labeled as "divergent views" and not one
of them appear in the Port's latest proposal.
In a troubling
development last month, commissioners hired attorney Mark Hutcheson as outside
legal counsel on the matter. His web page boasts his "successful
deunionization... without an election or a hearing" and that he
specializes in helping clients remain "union free." Hutcheson's
hiring is seen as a disturbing step backwards in a process that was already
one-sided against the concessions workforce.
The WSLC urges
against allowing the Port to quash the job security of 1,500 airport
concessions workers. Legislators should approve HB 1832, which offers a fair
solution that works for employees, businesses and the Port.
draft project lists released
Last Wednesday, the
business, labor and community advocates for the Infrastructure Jobs Bond
legislation held a well-attended news
briefing to push for swift passage.
Its sponsors, Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) and Rep. Hans Dunshee
(D-Snohomish), released draft project lists that day identifying what capital
construction work around the state could be funded. Dunshee calls it the
"Jobs Now" bill.
As the (Tacoma)
News Tribune explained in a
great editorial backing the idea, this is about jobs now and in the
future: "This isn't spending for the sake of paying construction
workers; the idea is to create permanent infrastructure -- including
classrooms -- to help the economy flourish in the future. The immediate
construction work is a sweet byproduct, though."
The WSLC, the
Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, the Associated
General Contractors, and others continue to push for a $2 billion
investment to frontload already-planned work that can be done cheaper now,
when the jobs are most desperately needed. Our state's construction industry
is in crisis, with joblessness between 20% to 50%, depending on the trade and
region of the state.
thousands of jobs are within our grasp," said WSLC President Jeff
Johnson. "The Infrastructure Jobs Bond is an opportunity for our leaders
to be proactive in a time of crisis instead of just trying to mitigate the
harm done by so many devastating cuts to social services and schools."
Here's what two unemployed workers, Iron Worker Mamie Menzies and Laborer Wade Jackson, have to say about why they support the Infrastructure Jobs
The draft projects
lists from Kilmer and Dunshee (see the Senate's draft here,
the House's draft here,
and the state agencies' specific project lists here)
each totaled around $1 billion and serve as a good starting point for
conversations about our capital needs, where we can best invest in our
economy, and how this can increase revenue for the operating budget. Whatever
dollar figure the Legislature eventually chooses, about half of the jobs
created in the short term would be in construction and the other half in
retail, engineering, administrative and other sectors.
This is a smart
investment and a smart time to do it, but the clock is ticking on the current
construction season. Let's get the Infrastructure Jobs Bond passed as soon as
plan consolidation opposed
Last Thursday, the
Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee heard SB
6442, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Everett), which
aims to consolidate health care purchasing among the 295 school districts in
the state. The goals are to get equity between individual and family plans,
greater transparency of financial data, and administrative efficiencies
through economies of scale purchasing.
Although those are
admirable goals, a coalition of unions says SB 6442 will have the opposite
effect: driving up health costs for schools at the worst possible time. They
said that some districts have purchased better coverage at lower costs than
other plans in state government and such districts would not be allowed to opt
out. Plus, questions have been raised about the negative effect of SB 6442 on
collective bargaining rights and compelling parties to accept binding rates
when they aren't at the table to bargain such rates.
The WSLC is
strongly opposed to SB 6442. We feel that HB
2666, sponsored by Rep. Pat Sullivan (D-Covington) and Rep. Bill Hinkle
(R-Cle Elum), and SB
6553, sponsored by Sen. Margarita Prentice (D-Renton), deal with the underlying issues that need to be addressed.
Updates on some
House and Senate
cutoff deadlines for bills to pass policy committees are this week. So the
action will be fast and furious. Here's a status report of some of the WSLC's
priority bills, as of this writing. By the end of the week, the WSLC will post
its online Legislative Tracker™ with daily updates on these and many other
important working-family bills.
Affordable Care Act -- SB
6178 (Keiser) and HB
2319 (Cody) establish market participation standards for our state's
Health Benefits Exchange in 2014.
HB 2319 passed
from the House Health Care & Wellness Committee and is now before Ways
and Means. SB 6178 was scheduled for executive action this morning (Feb. 1).
As currently written, the WSLC strongly prefers the Senate version.
and Health Protection at Work -- HB
2412 (Kenney) modernizes work safety standards by increasing penalties,
whistleblower protections, and more.
passed House Labor on
Workers and Communities from Pesticide Drift -- HB
2413 (Reykdal) will protect people from exposure to drifting pesticides by
creating a buffer zone and holding violators liable for exposing people.
HB 2413 passed
House Labor on Monday and was referred to Health & Human Services
Appropriations & Oversight. This bill was the subject of an unfortunate,
one-sided Yakima Herald-Republic report last weekend. We urge legislators to
listen to the community advocates on the ground, like the Latino
Civic Alliance, to hear the personal stories of farmworkers who have
been needlessly harmed.
Package -- SB
6309 (Prentice) requires uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses. HB
2501 (Green) restricts mandatory overtime for health-care workers and HB
2519 (Green) sets minimum standards for safer nurse staffing.
SB 6309 was
scheduled for Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection action Tuesday, but
was NOT acted upon. HB 2501 passed House Labor & Workforce Development
on Jan. 27, but HB 2519 was scheduled for action that same day but was NOT
acted upon by that panel.
Labor Member on
Community College Boards -- HB
2368 (Seaquist) guarantees that at least one member of every community
college Board of Trustees represents labor.
HB 2368 passed
House Higher Education on Jan. 26.
Protections -- HB
2431 (Reykdal) makes important changes to workers’ compensation law to
increase accountability, transparency and privacy for injured workers.
HB 2431 passed
House Labor & Workforce Development on Monday.
Protections in Medical Provider Network -- HB
2359 (Reykdal) protects injured workers' access to medical care by
clarifying due process protections for physicians in the injured workers’
medical provider network.
HB 2359 passed
House Labor on Monday.
tuned at The Stand!
Legislative Update newsletter will be published every Tuesday during the 2012
session, outlining the legislative agenda of the Washington State Labor
Council and its affiliated unions.
In addition, stay
apprised of developments in Olympia at The Stand -- www.TheStand.org
-- Your Internet Newsstand in Washington State. It features daily updates on
legislative action, plus all other news affecting working families.
Questions about anything you've
read in the WSLC Legislative Update? E-mail
David Groves or call me at 206-281-8901.
EDITIONS of the 2012 WSLC Legislative Update:
24 -- LET'S MAKE IT
WORK: Washington's Health benefits Exchange needs basic standards to succeed -- Consumer
advocates continue to urge members of the Legislature to hold firm on
sufficient and smart market participation standards, and to ensure consumer
friendly health plan criteria in Washington's
health care exchange. Plus: Nurses seek breaks for patient safety; Hearings on
paid sick leave; Kudos for public workers and legislators; Change sought in
17 -- IT'S STILL
ABOUT THE JOBS: Priority bills would create jobs, retain jobs, ensure job
the jobs crisis by passing the Infrastructure Jobs Bond remains the WSLC's top priority in the 2012 session, there are
several priority policy bills supported by the WSLC that also merit passage.
This edition of the Legislative Update describes some of those priority bills.
Plus: Some bad workers' compensation and minimum wage bills.
FRONTLOAD JOBS! Start 2012 session with positive, proactive Infrastructure
Jobs bill -- As
the 2012 legislative session begins, labor and business advocates are
continuing their unprecedented partnership urging the Washington State
Legislature to put jobs first. Business and labor interests are supporting
investment in our state economy by urging passage of a $2 billion
Infrastructure Jobs Bond as quickly as possible to boost struggling