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NEXT UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 17 by 9 a.m.

Links to press stories are functional at the date of posting.  In some cases, free registration is required at newspapers' sites.  Links sometimes "expire" when the source would like to begin charging for old news. WSLC Reports Today  links to all stories of interest to organized labor; some positive, some negative.  The intention is to inform.  The creation of a link does not constitute an endorsement of that story's content.


Normally, this page is updated Monday through Thursday, but...
■  Friday from AP -- United Farm Workers union leaves AFL-CIO -- The 27,000-member UFW hopes its participation in the Change to Win Coalition will bolster the union's organizing efforts.

Also today:  ■  Sweeney: With Maryland vote, "tide has turned" on health care fairness
■  Friday at -- Maryland Senate votes to make corporations pay their fair share -- The Maryland legislature has overridden its Republican governor’s veto of a bill that would require large corporations to provide affordable health care for their Maryland employees. Get the latest.


THURSDAY, JAN. 12  ■  New UAW vehicle guide: Don't just buy American, buy Union! 

Non-discrimination Bill news:
■  In today’s Seattle P-I -- Gay rights bill on fast track; Chopp aims to advance it to Senate next week
■  In today’s Seattle Times -- Major companies backing gay-rights legislation -- Support letter signed by Microsoft, Boeing, Corbis, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, RealNetworks and Vulcan officials.
■  In today’s King County Journal -- Finkbeiner does the right thing (letter by the Rev. Michael J. Anderson)
In today’s Everett Herald --
Fair treatment under law is not a radical idea (editorial) -- Finkbeiner's change of mind improves, but doesn't assure the non-discrimination bill's chances of passage. Procedural moves could prevent a vote. We hope Republicans will oppose blocking a floor vote.
In today’s Yakima H-R --
It's a good step toward passing gay-rights bill (editorial)

Other legislative news:
■  Today from AP -- Heating assistance bill passes -- Aid for poor families struggling to pay high energy bills quickly approved. "This is money that will help vulnerable seniors and struggling families keep warm this winter," said Tami Green, D-Lakewood, the bill's primary sponsor.
■  In yesterday’s Daily News -- Sponsors of initiatives should look at consequences (editorial re: Eyman's I-915) -- Mandating revenue cuts and the like without a thought as to what projects, programs or services will be sacrificed is not what many people would term a responsible way to govern.

Local news:  
■  Today from AP -- Chief Justice Alexander will seek final term on high court -- The popular jurist supports judicial campaign contribution limits, so he will voluntarily impose them upon himself.
■  In today’s Seattle Times --
Latest Alaska Airlines mishap: landing gear door open -- Many passengers are said to have pledged to avoid the airline after its recent spate of problems.
In today’s Seattle P-I --
Jack Tanner, 1919-2005, was "major player" in civil rights -- He issued the  landmark "comparable-worth" decision in 1983 that women should get equal pay for equal work.
■  In today’s Oregonian -- Nurses at Roseburg's Mercy hospital vote to join union (Oregon Nurses Ass'n)

National news:  
At --
Alito's nomination a grave threat to working families -- Sweeney cites "disturbing tendency to take an extremely narrow and restrictive view of laws that protect workers’ rights."
■  At -- Unions seek protection for front-line workers in case of flu pandemic
■  In today’s LA Times -- Rift may grow with China trade surplus -- In 2005, China's surplus more than tripled to $101.9 billion, a record amount that is likely to stoke protectionist sentiment in the United States and Europe and renew pressure on Beijing to further revalue its currency.
■  Today at Working Life blog -- Louisiana Rep. Jefferson (of the CAFTA 15) has offices raided by FBI
In today’s LA Times --
Workers need Chavez's gift, not his gift shop (column piling on the UFW bashing)
■  And this newsflash from Bloomberg -- Fewer companies picking up full tab for workers' health care



WEDNESDAY, JAN. 11  ■  Nurses, health care workers at Swedish approve contract -- “The issues we took on during these negotiations -- staffing for quality patient care, affordable health care, and the future of retirement -- will continue to be important issues both for Swedish employees and working families in Washington," says SEIU 1199NW President Diane Sosne.
■  In today’s Seattle Times -- Nurses (SEIU 1199NW), Swedish agree to a deal -- A compromise contract is overwhelmingly approved, ending contentious negotiations that broke down last fall.

Ethics Chairman Doc "Do-Nothing" Hastings news:
■  From Reuters -- Democrats seek sweeping House ethics probe -- The problem: Despite a plague of ethical scandals, Doc Hastings' ethics committee has yet to conduct one single investigation in more than a year.  See Ethics chair Hastings is NOT doing a heckuva job (Dec. 5, 2005).
■  At HorsesAss blog -- "Do Nothing Doc" DeathWatch -- Look for the new House majority leader to immediately dump Hastings from his post... You’d think a WA congressman embarrassing our state by shutting down the Ethics Committee while the House is in the midst a raging ethics crisis… just maybe might be worthy of a scathing editorial or two in the local papers, huh?
■  In the Yakima H-R -- Nothing since October, when they suggested that Hastings probe DeLay.
In the Tri-City Herald --
Nothing.  The newspaper has NEVER criticized Hastings for his performance as Ethics chair, and in fact, defended him against criticism last summer... twice!
■  In today’s Seattle P-I -- Given the chance, Democrats have got to deliver (Connelly column) -- Sadly, nobody of front rank has emerged to take on Hastings, the GOP leadership's pick to be the chairman of -- and make a shambles out of -- the hithertoindependent House Ethics Committee. This supine hack needs a run for his money. But... nobody doesn't beat somebody.

Other Congressional Ethics news:
In today’s Seattle Times --
Trip aided Preston Gates, Abramoff says -- Disgraced lobbyist peddled freebies to a congressional aide so the Seattle law firm could get Northern Marianas clients. The goal: stop the U.S. from imposing minimum-wage increases on the islands' garment factories. At the time, retailers (including Seattle-based Nordstrom) ran "America's worst sweatshops" there.
■  In today’s Washington Post -- Lobbying scandal colors GOP contest for House majority leader
In today’s NY Times --
House GOP considers ban on lobby-paid travel 

State legislative news:
■  In today’s Seattle Times -- Gregoire: Let's stick to a budget, set aside two-thirds of surplus -- Republicans say they want the governor to spend more to bolster public employee pensions.
■  In yesterday's Columbian -- It's time to kill "gain-sharing" in state pension plans (AWB op-ed)
■  In today’s Olympian -- August primary date wins early support -- The WSLC supports this bill.
■  In today’s Seattle P-I -- Go easy on the emergency clause (Op-ed by Sen. Stephen Johnson)
■  In today’s Tri-City Herald -- Farmers may get tax break on diesel fuel, used equipment
■  In today’s Seattle Times -- One gutsy Senator makes a difference (editorial) -- Sen. Finkbeiner's bold decision to support this common-sense civil-rights legislation is about fairness and equality.
■  In today’s News Tribune -- Sen. Finkbeiner's switch was the right thing to do (editorial)

Local news:  
■  In yesterday’s Daily News -- Lumber firm, 480 jobs coming to Longview's Mint Farm park 
In yesterday’s Aberdeen Daily World --
OfficeMax plant to close by end of March; 60 will lose jobs 
In today’s Tri-City Herald --
Welch's should pay city back after plant's sale (editorial) -- Once a buyer is secured, Kennewick deserves to be paid back the money it invested to help Welch's renovate its facility and develop a new bottling line that did nothing but make the company money.
■  In today’s Seattle P-I -- Boeing aims to spread "lean" processes from factory floor to other areas

National news:
In today’s NY Times -- Lost time, lost lives in the mine (editorial) -- The pro-company bias of the Bush administration is itself a factor in the deadly mine disaster, deserving full investigation.
In today’s Seattle Times --
The rapid disappearance of America's middle-class (op-ed) -- Haunting today's families are insecure employment and the threat of medical emergencies. There's no room for error with both parents working and up to their necks in debt and obligations.

LA Times takes on UFW:  
At --
LA Times attacks farm workers with lies -- The LA Times series is inaccurate, dishonest and untrue, viciously attacking the Farm Worker Movement and Cesar Chavez.
In today’s LA Times --
Former Chavez ally took his own path -- Where Eliseo Medina has gone, unions have grown. His successes in organizing immigrants show what farm workers lost.



TUESDAY, JAN. 10  ■  WSLC "very pleased" about boost for non-discrimination bill 
■  In today’s Seattle Times -- Gay rights bill picks up key vote in State Senate -- Republican Sen. Bill Finkbeiner decides to support the measure, but Democrats say the bill's approval isn't a lock.

Other legislative news:  
■  In today’s News Tribune -- Tug of war over benefits -- Business and labor groups will be squaring off this session over unemployment insurance, health care and family leave benefits.
■  In today’s Seattle P-I -- Legislators level partisan attacks -- New House GOP leadership sets their  tone with a "political" move to force a vote on a sex-offender bill that hasn't even been heard yet.
In today’s Seattle P-I --
Opening day (editorial) -- (The sex-offender motion) was an embarrassing bit of grandstanding that displayed a less than decorous beginning for the new GOP leadership.
■  In today’s Olympian -- Schoesler wins Senate Republican whip title
■  In the Seattle P-I -- System unfair to part-time faculty (op-ed by Olympic College AAUP-organizing prof)
■  At Chris Mulick's blog at the Tri-City Herald -- Eyman, Kline come to a draw in shouting contest

Political news:
■  In today’s Everett Herald -- Transportation needs may outweigh $30 car tabs (editorial) -- Eyman's latest product, Initiative 915, could simply increase pressure to raise other taxes for congestion relief... This is a time to push ahead on transportation, not to scale back.
■  In today's Spokesman-Review -- Car dealer Chris Marr to seek state Sen. Brad Benson's seat
In today’s Seattle Times --
Putting the clamps on campaign money (editorial) -- Races for judgeships and political offices in large counties clearly would benefit from contribution limits, considering the increasing influence of special-interest money in the past 13 years.
■  In today’s King Co. Journal -- Boss Vance steps down as state GOP chair -- We at WSLC Reports Today will miss having him around. Why? He's responsible for some of our greatest hits!

Local news:  
■  In today’s Yakima H-R -- Washington Fruit fined for death of worker -- L&I says the company didn't didn't have proper "lock out tag out" procedures when a mechanic was electrocuted.
■  In today’s Yakima H-R --
Court won't revisit minimum wage case (brief) -- Supreme Court has declined to reconsider an October decision in favor of a Klickitat County sheep rancher.
In today’s Tri-City Herald --
FFTF decisions leave unanswered questions (editorial) -- DOE's move to cancel plans to award the demolition contract to a small business increases the bitterness here.
■  In today’s News Tribune -- Japan Airlines asks Boeing for 5 more 747 freighters
In today’s Spokesman-Review --
EWU gets new leader, Rodolfo Arevalo
■  In the Seattle Times -- Latest gaffe by nonunion Alaska baggage handlers: Dog tossed aboard jet

LA Times takes on UFW:  
Today at --
LA Times attacks farm workers with lies -- The newspaper is running a series of inaccurate, dishonest and untrue stories by reporter Miriam Pawel viciously attacking the Farm Worker Movement and Cesar Chavez.
In today’s LA Times --
Decisions of long ago shape UFW of today -- In the late 1970s Cesar Chavez grew intent on keeping control. He crushed dissent, turned against friends, purged staff and sought a new course.

National news: 
■  In the Walla Walla U-B -- It's time to curb spending increase by U.S. government (editorial) -- Spending at twice the rate of inflation combined with tax cuts isn't fiscally conservative policy.
In today’s Washington Post --
Record share of economy is spent on health care
■  Today from AP -- Labor objects to bonuses for American Airlines execs
In today’s NY Times --
Arrests of WTO protesters embroil Hong Kong with China, South Korea



MONDAY, JAN. ■  Meet Apollo Alliance's Jerome Ringo on Thursday in Olympia

"Last Throes" update:
■  Yesterday from Reuters -- U.S. helicopter crash kills 12 in Iraq 
■  Also from Reuters -- Five U.S. Marines killed in separate attacks -- It's been a particularly deadly four-day period for Americans, with 28 killed since Thursday, including 24 troops.
■  Today from Reuters --
Attack on Iraq Interior Ministry kills 29
■  In Sunday's News Tribune -- Rep. Adam Smith rips Bush policy

■  U.S. soldiers killed before this photo: 137
■  U.S. soldiers killed since this May 1, 2003 photo, in which President Bush declares an end to major combat operations in Iraq:
Between 28,000 and 31,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the U.S. invaded Iraq. 

Delegates from the affiliated unions of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO passed a resolution calling for "an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the immediate implementation of a plan to turn over sovereignty to the people of Iraq and the return of U.S. troops to their homes and families."

Legislative news: Session starts today!  Learn more.
■  New at -- AFL-CIO launches Fair Share Health Care campaign in 31 states (including WA) -- “(This) is the best approach to set a floor for health care. People who work for a living should have health care,” says state Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle.
■  In Friday's Olympian -- Bill presses companies for benefits -- The Fair Share Health Care bill would force Washington’s largest employers, particularly Wal-Mart, to provide more health insurance.
■  In today's Olympian -- Parties divided on state-run health insurance, plus Pension issue funding looms
■  In the Seattle P-I --
GOP lawmakers wrong about estate tax effect on farms -- Leaders vow to protect family farms from the ravages of Washington's estate tax, but farms are already exempt.
■  In the P-I -- "Grim" ferry budget may sink new runs
■  In Sunday's Seattle Times -- 2004 election controversy still hounds Gregoire -- In a recent internal survey, a prominent statewide labor union asked members how they would vote in a rematch of the 2004 election. Rossi won by a slim margin.... Gregoire has since replaced several staff and brought on Ron Judd, a prominent union leader, as her chief political adviser.
■  And finally, in today's Olympian -- AWB abandons its "Washington Sucks" talking points -- Says the  president of the state's chamber of commerce: "The business climate right now is pretty good. We've had a real improvement in our economy."

Local news: 
■  In the News Tribune -- Ferry workers win back pay -- A judge rules the state DOT must give back pay to ferry employees who had to work part of their shifts without pay in recent years.
■  In the Seattle P-I -- Flu shot requirement won't apply to nurses; judge rules against Virginia Mason
■  In the Seattle Times -- Baggage contractor scrutinized -- The employees of nonunion baggage-handling contractor hired by Alaska Airlines -- after firing its unionized workforce to save money -- has seriously damaged two jets at SeaTac in the past two weeks.

LA Times takes on the UFW:
■  In Sunday's LA Times -- Farmworkers reap little as union strays from its roots -- Cesar Chavez's movement has failed to expand on its early successes organizing poor rural laborers. Their plight is used to attract donations that benefit others, but services in the fields are left to languish.
■  In today's LA Times -- UFW-linked charities bank on the Chavez name -- The union-related philanthropies enrich one another, operating like a family business.

National news:
■  In today's NY Times -- Companies ending retirement promises -- Even strong companies with the means to operate a pension plan are deciding not to make the decades-long promises involved.
■  In today's NY Times --
Was Wal-Mart's anti-union image used as a shield? -- An ousted Wal-Mart exec spent money on a secret "union" project that supposedly involved paying unionists for information about which stores they planned to organize. But the program may not have existed.
■  In today's LA Times --
Foes in Central America stall CAFTA -- The pact was to take effect Jan. 1, but has been blocked by politics and anti-trade sentiment. U.S. officials say it's not in jeopardy.



Previous weeks' news: Jan 2-5 -- Dec. 12-16 -- Dec. 5-8

Sweeney: With Maryland vote, tide has turned on health fairness

The following statement has been released by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney:

Maryland state legislators voted for working people this evening when they voted to override Gov. Ehrlich’s ‘Fair Share Health Care’ veto.


Maryland ’s working families have sent a clear message to local governments across the country and corporate America by demanding health care fairness --and winning. 


The Fair Share Health Care bill will make corporations like Wal-Mart—with $10 billion a year in profits—pay a fair share of their employees’ health care costs so that workers can afford to take their kids to the doctor when they need it, and companies that provide decent health care will not be at a competitive disadvantage.


The Fair Share Health Care Fund Act, which is also being introduced in 32 other states, will stop large, profitable corporations from freeloading off communities and shifting their employees’ health care insurance costs onto workers, taxpayers and smaller businesses.


We thank the vast majority of the State Senators and State Delegates who voted with Maryland working people.


What the Maryland victory shows is that the tide is turning because working people are not just fed up—they are ready to get active to set our country in a different direction, one state at a time.  The time is ripe for change and we will look to the lessons of the Maryland victory as we move forward with our ‘Fair Share Health Care’ initiative in 32 states.

New UAW vehicle guide: Don't just buy American, buy Union! 

The United Auto Workers has prepared a guide for consumers who want to purchase vehicles produced by workers who enjoy the benefits and protections of a union contract. All vehicles listed in the guide are made in the United States or Canada by members of the UAW, Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), or the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communication Workers of America (IUE-CWA). Workers from these unions manufacture many different vehicles for DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors as well as certain models of Isuzu, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Saab and Toyota.

"If you want to buy union, you've got top-quality choices in every price range and every segment of the market," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, announcing the availability of the UAW's 2006 union-made vehicle guide (a one-page PDF file). "Union members make cars and trucks for eight different manufacturers in the United States and Canada."

Not all vehicles made in the United States or Canada are made by union-represented workers. The Toyota Corolla, for example, is made in the United States by UAW members, but the Canadian model is made in a nonunion plant and other models are imported from a third country. To be sure you have a union-made vehicle, buy one of the vehicles in the UAW guide.

"Purchasing a union-made vehicle is a positive step consumers can take to support good wages, good benefits and fair working conditions," said Gettelfinger. "Every vehicle on this list, wherever it is assembled, has a high percentage of content made by UAW members and supports the jobs of a significant number of our members."

If you cannot view or print the UAW Car Guide, which is available only in PDF format, e-mail us and we will fax or mail you a copy.

Nurses, health care workers at Swedish approve contract

The following news release was distributed Tuesday by Service Employees International Union District 1199NW:


SEATTLE -- Nurses and hospital workers who provide care and services for patients at Swedish Medical Center have voted by 96 percent to approve a new agreement that maintains employees’ health coverage and pensions and sets up a groundbreaking new career training program.

Swedish Medical Center returned to the bargaining table after Swedish employees -- members of SEIU 1199NW -- voted in November to reject what Swedish threatened was its "last, best, and final" offer.

Swedish management launched an extensive campaign to pressure employees to accept its "final" offer. During the effort, Swedish employees were pulled away from patient care duties and required to attend meetings where they were urged to vote for Swedish's offer. Swedish told employees and the news media that “Swedish is finished negotiating” and the hospital system had “no plans to return to the bargaining table.”

“We maintained the principle that Swedish employees and our families—like every working family—should have health care and retirement security we can count on,” said Sally O’Neill, a Registered Nurse at Swedish’s Ballard campus. “We also won expanded training that will help improve the quality of care and attract and retain experienced employees.”

“By sticking together, SEIU members at Swedish stood up against a very heavy-handed campaign to force us to accept drastic cutbacks to health benefits and retirement,” said Perry Whitner, a Nursing Assistant-Certified at Swedish’s First Hill campus.

SEIU members maintained fully-paid medical premiums for employees covered by Swedish’s Standard Plan and a commitment that Swedish will explore setting up a multi-hospital pension plan that protects retirement security for Washington health care workers. SEIU members agreed to compromise by accepting a 401(k)-style plan for future employees and paying a modest share of the medical premiums to cover family members.

  • Swedish will continue to pay the premiums for employees covered by its Standard Plan health insurance -- a major improvement over the “final” Swedish offer, which had included new premium cost sharing for individual employees. Employees will share some of the cost of the premium for covering dependants, although the costs will be much less than the premium costs shares proposed in Swedish’s “last, best, final” offer.

  • Swedish agreed not to increase other out-of-pocket medical costs during the life of the agreement. The agreement expires on June 30, 2008.

  • Current employees won a guarantee that they can retain their Defined Benefit pension plan, with Swedish agreeing not to seek changes in future negotiations. New employees starting in January 2007 will receive a 401(k)-style Defined Contribution plan that significantly boosts the contributions provided by Swedish over the amounts included in Swedish’s “final” offer.

  • Swedish agreed to work with SEIU members to study the option of setting up a multi-hospital pension plan in Washington that improves retirement security for SEIU health care workers throughout the state. Previously, Swedish had refused to consider this option.

  • SEIU Swedish members also won a new Education and Training Fund that devotes $350,000 per year to programs to give employees access to training to move into job positions that Swedish is now struggling to fill.

“The issues we took on during these negotiations -- staffing for quality patient care, affordable health care, and the future of retirement -- will continue to be important issues both for Swedish employees and working families in Washington. It was a misuse of patient care dollars for Swedish to spend so much time and money trying to circumvent the negotiating process instead of working with us to find solutions. It would be a mistake for Swedish to waste so much time on those kinds of counterproductive tactics when we revisit these issues in 2008,” said Diane Sosne, RN, president of SEIU 1199NW.

Approximately 4,140 employees at Swedish -- 1,940 RNs, 490 Technicians, and 1,720 Service workers -- are united in Service Employees International Union District 1199NW, Washington’s largest health care union.

Service Employees International Union District 1199NW includes more than 20,000 nurses and health care employees working in hospitals and clinics across Washington State. SEIU is the nation's largest and fastest-growing health care union, with more than 760,000 health care workers united for quality patient care and good careers.

For more information, visit or contact Carter Wright at 425-917-1199.

WSLC "very pleased" about boost for non-discrimination bill 

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is very pleased with Monday's developments on the non-discrimination bill protecting lesbian, gay and bisexual workers. It now appears Democrats have a sufficient number of votes to pass this important legislation that has been sought for nearly 30 years and long supported by the WSLC.

On Monday, Sen. Bill Finkbeiner (R-Kirkland) announced that he will support the measure after opposing it last year. If no other Senators change their votes, his would be the 25th vote necessary for passage of the bill, which was easily approved 61-37 last year in the House but failed on a 24-25 Senate vote.

"We've been lobbying on behalf of this important legislation for many years," said the WSLC's lead lobbyist Robby Stern, "and we are very pleased that this finally appears to be happening."

In Washington today, it is perfectly legal to fire -- or refuse to hire -- someone simply because of their sexual orientation. Thirteen states have laws that prohibit this discrimination, and nine municipalities in Washington have already approved similar civil rights ordinances or policies, including Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Tumwater, Vancouver, and King and Clark counties.

To see how you legislator voted on the bill last year, see Senate Vote #12 and House Vote #2 from the 2005 WSLC Legislative Voting Records. And feel free to make your first call of the session to the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and urge your Representatives and Senator to support this year's version of the Anderson-Murray Non-discrimination Bill.

Meet Apollo Alliance's Jerome Ringo on Thursday in Olympia 

Jerome Ringo, the new President of the National Apollo Alliance, will be in Olympia this Thursday, Jan. 12 to meet with Washington leaders and discuss the good jobs and energy independence agenda for the state. The meeting is open to all and will be at 11 a.m. in House Hearing Room A of the John L. O'Brien Building on the State Capital Campus.

Ringo will be welcomed by Executive Committee members of the Apollo Alliance of Washington, including Washington State Labor Council President Rick Bender, State Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary Dave Johnson and Rhys Roth of Climate Solutions.

Based in Lake Charles, La., Ringo comes to the helm of the Apollo Alliance having served as the chairman of the board of the National Wildlife Federation and more than 20 years working as a union member in Louisiana's petrochemical industry. His experience bridges that of many of Apollo partners who have created a broad-based coalition to provide real solutions for our nation's energy crisis.

"The American people know our dependence on foreign oil is dangerous," Ringo said. "It's time for our policymakers to make a true commitment to energy independence for the United States."

The Apollo Alliance of Washington is a coalition of unions, environmental groups, business leaders and community-based organizations convened to pursue a statewide agenda of investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency to create god jobs, achieve energy independence, revitalize underserved and rural communities, and improve our environment. 

For more information, contact the Alliance's Washington State Coordinator, Rich Feldman, at 206-441-4968.


If you have news items regarding unions or workplace issues in Washington state that you would like to see posted here, please submit them via e-mail to David Groves or via fax to 206-285-5805.

Copyright © 2006   Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO