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NEXT UPDATE -- Wednesday, Dec. 1 by 9 a.m. (Pacific)  Why so long?

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.



Reports for November 15-19
,
2004

Previous weeks' news: Nov. 8-12 -- Nov. 1-5 -- Oct. 25-29



Vance body-snatching
EXCLUSIVE!

Not since the late Paul McCartney was replaced by The Beatles has so blatant a body snatching occurred in plain public view.  WSLC Reports Today has evidence that State Republican Party boss Chris Vance has been replaced by a litigious double!  Learn more.

FRIDAY, Nov. 19
— In today's Everett Herald -- Boeing says it will meet 7E7 order goal
— In today's Seattle P-I --
Boeing still far from its goal of 200 7E7 orders
— In today's Seattle Times --
7E7 jet development will cost $5.8 billion
— In today's Seattle P-I --
State gets ready for recount -- Party leaders hint at hand recount of recount. Victor may not be known for weeks.
— In today's Spokesman-Review --
Election was Gregoire's to lose -- Defeat in governor's race would be a "death by a thousand cuts."
— In today's Olympian -- House GOP demotes DeBolt -- Rep. Bruce Chandler (R-Granger) wins Republican Leader position "unanimously" by one vote. Sen. Tim Sheldon ("D"-Potlatch) wins seat on Mason board, but says he won't give up his State Senate seat.
— In today's Seattle Times --
Some state workers updating their rιsumιs
— In today's Yakima H-R --
Yakima Co. board vents at State Legislature
— In today's Spokesman-Review --
Court rules against clerical workers -- Fire departments' volunteers who don't fight flames don't get pensions.
— In today's Bremerton Sun --
Bush may scrap state's sales tax break
At AFLCIO.org -- Figures hide record long-term unemployment
— In USAToday -- Congress aims to borrow $800B more from our kids
— In today's NY Times --
Forced to work off the clock, some fight back
...plus --
Regressive ethics in the House -- Editorial: Republicans think they have a mandate to eradicate Congressional ethics standards.
— In today's LA Times --
Workers stage rowdy rally outside LA hotel
— In today's SF Chronicle --
Grocery workers petition shoppers for support


THURSDAY, Nov. 18 -- It's official: Either Rossi or Gregoire will be our next governor
— In today's Seattle P-I -- It's Rossi, by 0.0093% ...plus -- Democratic suburbs abandon Gregoire
— In today's Olympian --
Recount Q&A -- Candidates can pay for a recount of a recount of the recount.
— In today's Bremerton Sun --
Lantz, Kilmer secure House seats -- Says loser Lois McMahan: "I'm sorry for the people of the district because if they believe the lies, then they'll end up with liars."
Also today --
Local issues cited as national debate rages on AFL-CIO's future
— In today's Bremerton Sun --
Decertification petition (UFCW 367) withdrawn at Harrison Hospital
— In today's News Tribune -- Nurses go under cost-cutting knife -- Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup and Tacoma General Hospital are laying off LPNs next month to trim operating costs.
— In today's Seattle P-I -- Economic "vision" still has to paid for -- Virgin column: As the Prosperity Partnership convenes its economic summit tomorrow, it will be no trick to get Puget Sound business and government leaders to rally round and cheer "Yea jobs! Yea education!" especially when there's nothing -- not money, not political influence -- at risk. It's a much different matter to tote up the bill for what those people are cheering for -- and asking them to generate the same enthusiasm to pay it.
— In yesterday's Columbian -- State faces $1.7 billion shortfall
— In today's Yakima H-R --
NASCAR deal: Kick the tires again -- Editorial: The proposed NASCAR track should offer new-car confidence, but it sounds more and more like a used-car rattletrap.
— In today's Tri-City Herald -- Rules miff child care providers -- Child care providers say new regulations may force them out of business. Memo to child care providers: Don't get mad, get a union!
...plus --
After nearly 28 years, Simplot potato processing plant in Hermiston down to its final day
— In today's Seattle Times --
Lockheed alleges Boeing's Stonecipher was in on Air Force bid scandal
— In today's Spokesman-Review --
Spokane appeals L&I safety violations in fatal sewage plant explosion
National news: — In today's NY Times -- Assassination of union leaders is an issue in trade talks -- Union leaders have fallen by the hundreds in Columbia and practically all the killings have gone unsolved. Now, labor groups and some members of Congress are using free trade talks to prod the Columbian government to do more to protect union activists and prosecute the killers.
...plus --
Controlling health care costs -- Economists have two magic potions to control skyrocketing prices while maintaining the quality of health care: competition and incentives.
— In today's Washington Post -- Easy fixes for Social Security -- Op-ed: Bush's determination to privatize Social Security stems from ideological reasons. But in fact the projected Social Security deficit is small enough that a major revision to the system is not necessary. The deficit can be remedied with a few discrete changes in the program, all of which are surprisingly easy to understand and accept.
— In today's LA Times --
Workers' comp rate cut just 2.2% -- Schwarzenegger's massive overhaul of the system, which drastically cut injured workers' benefits, "has not achieved its promise" to cut rates.
— In today's SF Chronicle --
"Amend for Arnold" campaign launched to promote constitutional change
...plus -- GOP tosses ethics rule so DeLay can keep his job -- The "family values" party can now keep its powerful majority leader, even if he's indicted for corruption stemming from a fund-raising scandal.
— Today from AP -- GOP looks to repeal food-labeling law -- At the behest of the meatpacking and food processing lobbies, "Made in America" and other country-of-origin food labels are likely to be nixed.
— Today from MSNBC -- Pizza drivers seek national union -- Association of Pizza Delivery Drivers (APDD) has yet to organize a shop. A vote at a Domino's in Lincoln, Neb., failed this week on a tie.
...plus -- Prince Charles complains about people trying to rise above their station 


WEDNESDAY, Nov. 17 -- In the new Seattle Weekly -- Political capital -- The conservative BIAW uses insurance revenue from municipalities to help finance its political activity. BIAW spokeswoman on the election: "It was a big 'F--- you!' to all the liberals out there." And on labor's Retro reform efforts: "We are kicking their ass. How many years have we whipped labor? ... But if they keep coming after us, the time is right to take some swings at labor unions -- defund them."
— In today's Olympian --
Rossi leads by 19 votes; judge rejects Rossi attempt to throw out votes -- Click here for the latest count in the governor's race, scheduled for certification by 5 p.m. today. The Secretary of State is expected to announce a mandatory recount shortly thereafter.
— In today's Yakima H-R --
Let's hope recount provision doesn't get in the way -- Editorial: The 2,000-vote yardstick (for a recount) to a statewide race that draws millions of votes is unrealistically low.
Also today -- Janitors, backers target Bon-Macy's with health-care campaign
— In today's Tri-City Herald -- State's budget shortfall hits $1.7 billion
— In today's Olympian --
State revenue forecast static; rising costs likely to wipe out funding increases
— In today's Everett Herald --
Boeing considers a new 747 niche -- Boeing executives are closing in on a decision about putting a vastly overhauled jumbo jet on the market. The 747 Advanced would incorporate the engines and cockpit technology being developed for the 7E7, and use the ultralight aluminum alloys that Boeing considered for the Dreamliner but ultimately rejected.
— In today's News Tribune --
Boeing pays a high price for dishonesty at the top (editorial)
...plus --
Tacoma shouldn't abandon economic tactics that pay off (Voelpel column)
— In yesterday's Columbian --
Vancouver proceeds with tax, fee increases
— In today's King Co. Journal --
Kent School District enters deal to make sandwiches for profit
National news: — In today's LA Times -- Kaiser Permanente to help locked-out S.F. hotel workers (AP)
— In today's Seattle Times --
Flight attendants' union vows national strike if contracts nullified
— In today's Washington Post --
Pulled down by our own bootstraps -- Column: Bush touts tax cuts, health spending accounts and Social Security reform as giving you control over your own money and destiny, which resonates with Americans. But the flip side of this approach is the undoing of well-established mechanisms that spread some of life's risks, narrow the gap between rich and poor and promote the sense that we are all in the same boat.
...plus --
A new pattern is cut for global textile trade -- "If I didn't have this job, we wouldn't have enough to eat," says a 20-year-old Sri Lankan woman, one of 2,000 women who work at the a plant making pants and shirts for American Eagle Outfitters, skirts for the Gap and bras for Victoria's Secret. Her $40 monthly wage supports her family in a nearby village where people walk trash-strewn lanes in bare feet. It buys the electricity for the lone bulb in her shack, the food her mother cooks over a wood fire on their concrete floor, and schoolbooks for her sister's children. "There is nothing else here."
— In today's NY Times --
Regulators plan to step up Union Pacific safety checks
— In The Onion --
Republicans call for privatization of next election -- "There's too much talk about the accuracy and fairness of our national elections, and not enough about their proficiency and profitability," said Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). "Who bears the brunt of bureaucratic waste? Taxpayers." Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) called for an end to "big government overseeing the election of big government."


TUESDAY, Nov. 16 -- Gregoire retakes lead; Rossi sues -- With momentum shifting to Gregoire, Rossi sues to have certain King County ballots thrown out.
— In today's Seattle Times -- Gregoire edges ahead as more King County ballots turn up
— In today's News Tribune --
Eyes on state voting law case; dispute tests counting of provisional ballots
...plus --
Rules for "ballot chasing" need to be consistent (editorial)
Local news: — In today's Seattle P-I -- Reshaping of labor has some huge risks -- Virgin column: A drastic re-engineering of labor (as proposed by SEIU President Andy Stern) has huge risks, including splintering of the entire movement. But a lot of people in labor see the alternative as muddling along and find that to be an even riskier and less attractive course of action.
— In today's Seattle Times --
Group Health, SEIU in contract talks again
— In today's Bellingham Herald -- Public asks city council to spare services in budget crisis
— In today's King County Journal --
Kitsap County finances brighten; some jobs may be restored
— In today's Seattle Times --
Ex-Boeing CFO pleads guilty in tanker deal scandal -- Before he was fired by Boeing a year ago, Mike Sears was about to publish a management book called "Soaring Through Turbulence," in which he wrote: "The effect of these high-profile scandals (like Enron, Worldcom and other corporate-ethics disasters)... is not something you can underestimate. There is a credibility gap -- a big one -- and it is our job as leaders of people to restore that credibility." Doh!
— In today's Everett Herald --
Boeing to offer 777 cargo jet based on Everett-built 777-200 LR
...plus --
Retailers uneasy over Wal-Mart's apparent interest in Stanwood
— In today's Yakima H-R -- Hundreds curt from mental health services
National news: — In today's News Tribune -- Boomers face pension bust
— In today's NY Times --
Already at record levels, debt doubles at agency that insures pension plans -- Much of the loss is attributed to pension fund failures in the airline industry.
— In today's Washington Post --
Mining safety rules got the shaft, workers union says


MONDAY, Nov. 15 -- Rossi still has the edge; more votes to be tallied today
— In today's Bellingham Herald -- Political parties move to "rescue" ballots in tight governor's race (AP)
— In the Bremerton Sun --
New governor will clean house (AP) -- Dems watch, wait and update resumes.
— In today's Seattle P-I --
Teachers key to Democrat Weinstein's ousting of Mercer Island's Sen. Horn
Other local news: — In today's Yakima H-R -- Snokist strike support -- Community Members for Snokist Strikers, made up of outside union members, church groups and others, boost spirits of strikers.
...plus --
It's time to move on Mexican immigration (editorial)
— In the PS Business Journal --
Health-care partnership snares Group Health -- GHC joins Starbucks, Washington Mutual and the state Health Care Authority in a new partnership spearheaded by King County Executive Ron Sims that aims to radically alter health-care delivery in the Puget Sound area.
...plus --
On transportation, the buck stops with business leaders -- Editorial: State DOT director Doug MacDonald has thrown down the gauntlet to the region's business leadership, saying without its firm leadership, there will be no movement in the Legislature on transportation.
— In today's News Tribune --
Numbers crunch Tacoma -- Government isn’t just by people and for people. It is people. When budget writers talk about government services, they’re really talking about people.
— In Sunday's Seattle Times --
Two-newspaper group retains union's backing
— In today's Everett Herald --
Airbus merger with defense firm Thales rumored (AP)
National news: — In today's NY Times -- Teamsters find pensions at risk -- Since 1982, under a consent decree with the U.S. government, the fund has been run by prominent Wall Street firms and monitored by the feds. There have been no more shadowy investments, no more loans to crime bosses. Yet in these expert hands, the aging fund has fallen into greater financial peril than when James R. Hoffa, who built the Teamsters into a national power, used it as a slush fund.
— In today's LA Times --
Tapping an arsenal of retirees -- Post-9/11, engineers with experience, and security clearances, are sought by defense firms.
—
At BusinessWeek.com -- What's ahead for Social Security? -- Bush has interpreted his reelection as a mandate to restructure the troubled Social Security system. While Bush has not yet said how he'd do it, this story offers an explanation of how today's system works and how Bush may change it.
— At MSNBC.com --
Social Security reform to get new look -- Advocates think they are closer than ever to achieving a goal of establishing personal retirement accounts that partly replace Social Security.



Previous weeks' news: Nov. 8-12 -- Nov. 1-5 -- Oct. 25-29

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19
Exclusive: GOP boss Vance replaced by litigious body double

Copyright © WSLC Reports Today, November 19, 2004

OLYMPIA — State Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance appears to have been replaced by a body double who vows to go to court to ensure that gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi maintains his wahfer-thin 261-vote edge in the statewide ballot recount.  Here's the startling evidence:

On Friday, Nov. 12, Chris Vance said, "I hope (Democrats) are not emboldened by their success and start suing everywhere about everything... John Kerry did the right thing by not suing. Slade Gorton did the right thing (in 2000) by not suing."

On Thursday, Nov. 19, "Chris Vance" said, "We're going to have observers everywhere, and we're not going to hesitate to go to court if we think there's something going wrong."

The real Chris Vance had to have been replaced some time between Friday afternoon, when he said not suing was "the right thing," and Tuesday afternoon, when he went to court in an effort to have certain provisional ballots thrown out in King County. The judge rejected his motion.

Undeterred, the new "Chris Vance" now vows more election litigation and even hints at civil unrest should the recount determine that Democrat Christine Gregoire actually won the election.

"If this election turns over, I'm going to have a hard time keeping Republicans calm," said "Vance."

For more information on what that pointing-and-screeching unrest may look like, see the plot summary for the film "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956), in which imposters appear to have taken the places of the members of a small town not unlike Olympia.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18
It's official: Either Rossi or Gregoire will be our next governor

After more than two weeks of ballot counting, lead changes and legal wrangling, we finally know who might be our next governor: Dino Rossi.  Either him or Christine Gregoire.

For now, the result stands at:

  • Dino Rossi -- 1,371,414

  • Christine Gregoire -- 1,371,153 

But before Rossi can begin spending his 261 votes worth of political capital in Olympia, he must await the outcome of a machine recount that is expected to take until Wednesday, Nov. 24 to complete. Secretary of State Sam Reed predicts that the recount is likely to change several hundred votes.

"If we're within a few hundred votes, we still don't know who's going to win that race," Reed said Wednesday before the "final" result was announced. "There has never been anything close to this in terms of a major race."

How can the recount change votes? According to the Seattle P-I, counties that use optical scan ballots will pick up votes the scanners missed the first time. In the 14 counties that still use punch-card ballots, another trip through the counting machine likely will break loose some -- you guessed it -- hanging chads. But fear not. This state has laws requiring that two of the four corners of the punch hole be separated. So no "pregnant" chads get counted.

To the relief of refresh buttons statewide, the results of the recount will not be released incrementally. Counties will release their results when they are final. Some small counties may manage that task in just one day, but King County is expected to take four working days.

In the unlikely event of a tie, Reed said the winner will be chosen by chance, most likely a coin toss. At press time, no word on which side -- heads or tails -- is the "status quo" call.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18
Local issues cited as national debate rages on AFL-CIO's future

The following story appears in today's edition of the New York Times:

Unions Resume Debate Over Merging and Power
By Steven Greenhouse, New York Times reporter

Linda Canny, a nurse with Group Health, a health maintenance organization in Seattle, applauded her union when it dug in against her employer's proposal to take away a much-coveted benefit: she does not have to pay any health insurance premiums.

But Ms. Canny, a member of S.E.I.U. District 1199 Northwest, was flabbergasted when another union representing Group Health employees ignored her union's pleas and agreed to have many of its workers pay $520 a year in premiums.

"We really felt the rug was pulled out from under us when that union agreed to health care premiums,'' Ms. Canny said, referring to a local of the United Food and Commercial Workers. "We felt that was a major step backward. Unfortunately, Group Health has really used that against us."

Angered by such cases, the president of Ms. Canny's union, Andrew L. Stern, has ignited a debate throughout the labor movement by arguing that labor needs a sweeping overhaul, including the merger of many unions and a vast increase in organizing, to reverse its long decline.

Last week, Mr. Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, called on the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to adopt a 10-point plan, and the debate he began could lead to the most far-reaching changes in the labor movement in a half-century

Mr. Stern complained that unions were doing far too little to help American workers because they were organizing too few workers and were often undercutting one another in negotiations. He also complained that many unions were too small to contend with giant companies, noting that 40 of the 60 unions in the A.F.L.-C.I.O. had fewer than 100,000 members.

Mr. Stern, who heads the largest and fastest-growing union in the A.F.L.-C.I.O., called for merging the 60 unions into fewer than 20, so that each would be large enough to square off against big corporations.

Alarmed that labor's ranks are shrinking, he also proposed that the A.F.L.-C.I.O., whose unions represent 13 million workers, be authorized to set ambitious goals on how much money each union should spend on organizing.

"I'm totally focused on winning the fight on how to build a labor movement that works for workers," said Mr. Stern, who has a reputation as a maverick and strategic thinker. "It's hard to get the job done the way things are organized right now."

He made his call for change a week after President Bush won re-election, notwithstanding labor's all-out efforts to defeat him. Many union leaders agree that labor badly needs to take steps to reverse its decline, but they favor far less sweeping and painful change than Mr. Stern advocates.

He has warned that unless the A.F.L.-C.I.O. embraces bold changes, his union, with more than 1.6 million members, may leave the federation.

The director of the U.C.L.A. Labor Center, Kent Wong, said labor's weakened state has had important repercussions.

"Unions put together a very impressive campaign to unseat George Bush,'' Professor Wong said. "But the reality is when they represent just 13 percent of the work force, even with their huge effort, they were unable to prevail."

He suggested that if unions represented more of the work force, like the 22 percent level it did three decades ago, the Democrats might have won the election.

Mr. Stern's proposals have set off a fierce debate. Some labor leaders have accused him of arrogantly seeking to dictate to others. Many accuse him of favoring a top-down approach in which the A.F.L.-C.I.O. would tell long-autonomous unions what to do.

Mr. Stern's plan would, for example, force unions to recruit members only in their core industries, barring them from raiding those where other unions dominate.

Some labor leaders say Mr. Stern wants service unions to dominate the A.F.L-C.I.O. at the expense of fast-shrinking manufacturing unions. The president of the machinists' union, R. Thomas Buffenbarger, has even threatened to quit the federation if Mr. Stern gets his way.

Some labor leaders complain that Mr. Stern's proposals to merge unions would allow the big fish to swallow the little fish. His defenders say the heads of some small unions, despite their puny bargaining power, oppose mergers because they desperately want to cling to their positions, power and salaries.

"Stern is absolutely right that the status quo isn't acceptable, that it's a recipe for oblivion," Paul F. Clark, a professor of labor relations at Penn State University, said. "But I don't see how the consolidations he's calling for will get done. You'll find resistance because a lot of union leaders don't want to give any of their power to the A.F.L.-C.I.O."

John W. Wilhelm, the longtime president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, which merged last summer with Unite, the textile workers' union, urged leaders of other small unions to follow his example.

"The fundamental problem is that too many unions don't have the resources to meet the challenges," Mr. Wilhelm said. "We're dealing with global corporations in virtually every industry. I was very proud of our union. We had 265,000 members. We were doing great stuff. But we didn't have the size, strength and resources that we needed."

How far Mr. Stern goes with his push for change will depend on his one-time mentor, John J. Sweeney, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

If Mr. Sweeney, Mr. Stern's predecessor as head of the service employees, pushes hard to sell the proposals to other unions, the federation's executive council might adopt many of the them at its meeting in February.

Last week, Mr. Sweeney said a new committee he heads would take a hard look at proposals by Mr. Stern and others and would make far-reaching recommendations.

"It will be a very serious effort," he said. "The labor movement has through the years tried to change with changing times."

He said there might be resistance.

"We have to recognize and acknowledge the fact that individual unions are autonomous," Mr. Sweeney said. "There may be some differences of opinion about the degree of change."

Larry Cohen, executive vice president of the Communications Workers of America, who is widely expected to win its presidency next year, has his own proposals, which focus on expanding the right to bargain collectively. He complained that many companies break the law in fighting unionizing and that public employees in many states do not have the right to form unions. "What we should focus on is strengthening bargaining power," he said.

In Mr. Stern's view, one factor undercutting bargaining power is that in some industries 10 or more unions are active and often trip over, and undercut, one another. He has proposed giving the A.F.L.-C.I.O. the power to designate two or three unions in each industry to take the lead in bargaining and organizing.

To show how well this strategy can work, S.E.I.U. officials point to a contract approved recently by many workers at the Valley Medical Center in Renton, Wash. Four unions represent workers at the hospital, and they agreed that the service employees, which represents the registered nurses and some other employees and is the largest union at the hospital, should lead the talks.

The service employees obtained an agreement that its members would not have to pay health insurance premiums, paving the way for similar provisions in contracts for the other unions, many of whose members had previously paid about $1,000 a year for family coverage.

"This shows that if you have a dominant union that's willing to fight and sets a standard, management usually has to bring everybody up," said Diane Sosne, president of District 1199 Northwest.

Shannon Halme, an official with a union for Valley Medical office and clerical workers, said: "I don't think we could have gotten this by ourselves. We flew on the coattails of what the nurses got."

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17
Janitors, backers target Bon-Macy's with health-care campaign

The following press release was distributed Tuesday by the Justice for Janitors campaign:

SEATTLE -- Janitors, breast cancer survivors and community leaders launch the Purple Ribbon Campaign this holiday season to compel BON-MACY's to add janitors and their families health and welfare to the list of "BON Causes."

The janitors employed at BON-MACY'S will launch their Purple Ribbon Campaign with a fashion show that highlights hardworking janitors and their families who have survived serious health crisis thanks to BON-MACY'S for providing employer-paid full family medical benefits.

However, now BON-MACY'S is proposing to cut their janitors' health care benefits at the same time that it proposes a three-year wage freeze for its Downtown and Northgate janitors. Even though BON-MACY's pays wages less than all other union janitorial firms in town, and significantly less than Costco (a nonunion retail company).

Janitors and the community support BON-MACY's "Charge for Change" campaign to support breast cancer awareness. But, they don't miss the irony that BON-MACY'S can afford full-page ads about breast cancer awareness, while failing to meet its responsibility to its own employees' health care needs.

As the holidays approach, contract negotiations continue for over 40 hardworking janitors employed at the BON-MACY'S Downtown, Southcenter and Northgate locations, who are struggling to protect their affordable health care benefits-including taking the Purple Ribbon Campaign to the broader community.

For more information, contact Rebecca Saldaρa at (206) 850-0537.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16
Gregoire retakes lead; Rossi sues

In the latest election tally, labor-endorsed Democrat Christine Gregoire has regained the lead over Republican Dino Rossi by 158 votes in a governor's race increasingly likely to be subject to mandatory recount. Gregoire's chances of winning were greatly improved Monday when it was learned that King County had about 10,000 more ballots than previously expected, citing an extraordinary number of late returns from voters overseas or serving in the armed forces.

Those new ballots mean you can toss out the "models" from political wonks that predicted a Rossi victory because Gregoire is strongly outpolling him in King County. Officials now estimate about 21,000 votes remain to be counted, about half of which are from King and other counties Gregoire has won. That means the margin of victory is likely to be within 2,000, forcing a recount that would delay the outcome from Wednesday's deadline for auditor certification to Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving. The election must be certified by the state by Dec. 2.

But the outcome may hinge on disqualified ballots "chased" by the political parties and "rescued" by the voters who cast them. This afternoon, a newly nervous Rossi and the Republican Party filed a motion in court today to stop the count of those ballots in King County.

After the Democrats' successful court challenge Friday to get the names of 929 King County voters whose ballots were being disqualified, a then-confident Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance was unfazed with Rossi still leading by about 2,000 votes and "models" projecting a Rossi victory.  But he warned, "I hope (Democrats) are not emboldened by their success and start suing everywhere about everything... John Kerry did the right thing by not suing. Slade Gorton did the right thing by not suing," alluding to Gorton's 2000 U.S. Senate loss to Democrat Maria Cantwell by 2,229 votes.

But now Vance and the Rossi campaign are no longer leading, they have done just what they urged against -- sue.

"Going to court to stop ballots from being counted is disgraceful," said Rick Bender, President of the Washington State Labor Council. "When things were going their way, Republicans said that suing was the wrong thing to do. But now that the tide appears to have turned for Christine Gregoire, they are singing a different tune and suing to stop votes from being counted. This is a horrible and hypocritical decision by Dino Rossi."

Over the weekend, hundreds of Democratic volunteers in King County contacted voters to warn them their ballots were being disqualified and to explain that they can save their votes by filing affidavits attesting to their ballots' validity. Republicans are doing the same thing, contacting pro-Rossi provisional and absentee voters with signature or other technical problems across the state.

On Monday, Democrats turned in more than 400 affidavits from King County absentee or provisional voters whose ballots had been tentatively disqualified due to signature problems. They expect to turn in another 200 affidavits today. Voters have until 4:30 p.m. today to submit documents demonstrating their eligibility to vote.

Republicans, who were confident of a Rossi victory until last night, appeared to be much more casual in their effort to chase ballots.  In contrast to the hundreds of Democratic volunteers going door to door to visit disqualified voters, GOP boss Vance said Sunday they had about "five or 10 people making calls" to disqualified voters.  Now with the race in doubt and Democrats turning in hundreds of affidavits to rescue ballots, the Republicans' apparently feel their only option to reverse the Gregoire momentum is to sue and try to stop the counting of those ballots. 

Their suit centers on the fact that Democrats offered to deliver voters' documentation to the auditor's office while the "five or 10" Republicans were urging voters to deliver the documents themselves in person. The Democrats say there is nothing in the law that requires voters to hand-deliver their own documentation and, in fact, it is unreasonable to expect these voters to "vote twice" by having to fight traffic and parking to go to downtown Seattle to make sure their vote counts.

Following are a few examples of the stories behind the affidavits submitted by Democrats on Monday:

  • Four voters suffering from Parkinson's disease whose ballots were disqualified because of mismatched signatures. Their condition makes it difficult to sign their names and also makes it unreasonable to expect them to visit the auditor’s office.

  • A disabled voter whose ballot was disqualified because of variations in spelling between his registration form and his ballot – variations due to his condition.

  • College students who attend school out of state.

  • A housebound voter unable to make the trip downtown.

  • Numerous voters who were never told their ballots were in question until informed by volunteers. 

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15
Rossi still has the edge; more votes to be tallied today

Republican Dino Rossi clings to a 1,920-vote lead over Democrat Christine Gregoire in the latest tally for the neck-and-neck governor's race. The deadline for county auditors to certify the results is this Wednesday, but the parties' legal jockeying over provisional ballots and the possibility of a recount could delay the outcome even further.

Political wonks monitoring absentee ballot trends are predicting that Rossi will win by about 3,000 votes, but their models assume no change in the trends of late absentee ballot counts. In addition, they assume no substantial boost for either side in the counting of provisional ballots. Gregoire's campaign holds out hope that those provisional ballots, many of which were cast in King County and other urban areas that lean Democratic, will give her the boost she needs to prevail.

County auditors estimate there are about 41,600 votes remaining to counted. Following is the list of counties where new tallies are scheduled to be released today and the estimated number of remaining ballots for each (click here for up-to-the-minute results):

  • 11:30 a.m. -- Adams (25 votes)

  • Noon -- Clark (2,200)

  • 2:30 p.m. -- Kittitas (750)

  • 3 p.m. -- Kitsap (2,500); Whitman (600)

  • 4 p.m. -- King (11,000)

  • 4:30 p.m. -- Walla Walla (2,000)

  • 5 p.m. -- Snohomish (2,500); Chelan (500); Franklin (250); Douglas (200); Lincoln (20); 

  • 5:30 p.m. -- Pierce (3,333)

Following are updated election results -- as of 8 a.m. Monday morning -- in the Governor's race and the races for state legislature within a 1,000-vote margin where Labor Neighbor activities were conducted for WSLC-endorsed candidates. (Endorsed candidates in bold;  * indicates incumbents.)

GOVERNOR
Dino Rossi -- 1,347,865  (48.92%)
Christine Gregoire -- 1,345,945  (48.85%)

DISTRICT 26 -- House Pos. 1
Patricia Lantz * -- 29,492  (48.84%)
Matt Rice -- 29,148  (48.27%)

DISTRICT 28 -- House Pos. 2
Tami Green -- 23,525  (50.22%)
Bob Lawrence -- 23,315  (49.77%)

DISTRICT 49 -- Senate
Craig Pridemore -- 24,318  (50.65%)
Don Carlson * -- 23,690  (49.34%)

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Copyright © 2004  Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO