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January 26, 2011


Jan. 25: House panel OKs balanced U.I. bill

Jan. 24: Lawver to join national AFL-CIO staff

Jan. 21: WSLC: Balance tax cuts with kids' aid

 
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Wednesday
, January 26, 2011

Washington remains 4th most unionized state

As our national economy continued to sputter in 2010 -- especially in heavily unionized sectors like construction, manufacturing and transportation that are the backbone of our economy -- the number of union members dropped 612,000 to 14.7 million in 2010, according to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate of union membership dropped to 11.9%, compared to 12.3% the previous year. In the state-by-state breakdown, Washington state remains ranked No. 4 in terms of union density in 2010, with the state's 552,000 union members accounting for 19.4% of the overall workforce -- nearly one in five Washington workers. Read more.

 

Office space available at WSLC Olympia building

Your union or progressive organization has a unique opportunity to lease office space at Labor's own building in Olympia, owned and operated by the Washington State Labor Council, and maintained and serviced exclusively by union members. The former tenants of the WSLC's Davis-Williams Building -- a prime location just a couple of blocks from the State Capitol -- have moved, and the building is fast becoming the hub of organized labor and progressive activity in Olympia. This is your organization's chance to be where decisions are made, both in the labor movement and in state government. Read more.

  

State Legislature news:

Contact your legislators and urge them to support a balanced U.I. approach that couples tax cuts with a children's benefit!

►  From AP -- Gregoire to lawmakers: Hurry up unemployment insurance tax cut -- State lawmakers must move quickly to cut unemployment insurance rates for 2011 and should save until later a debate over whether to add new payments for jobless families with children, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday. "There's a debate to be had here. Let's leave it for another day," the governor said. "We have to move right now on the temporary rate reduction. That's absolutely critical."

►  See yesterday's WSLC posting -- House panel passes balanced U.I. bill

►  In today's Spokesman-Review -- Clock ticks on business break -- House Democrats amended their U.I. bill so that instead of spending more on retraining, the state would provide an extra $15 a week for each dependent of an unemployed worker, up to $50 a week. That switch is supported by progressive organizations and unions, but is opposed by business groups like the National Federation of Independent Business.

►  In today's Olympian -- Lawmakers consider proposal for state bank -- Rep. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle) said the proposal was modeled after a similar institution in North Dakota and based on the idea that the state's money should not be at the disposal of Bank of America, where Washington has its accounts. "Why don't we create our own institution, keep that money in our state and we make money off our money that we can then reinvest back into our community?" he asked.

 

Local news:

Back wages for underpaid WA restaurant workers

Super China Buffet in Shoreline and Great Dragon Inc., doing business as King Buffet restaurants in Everett and Marysville, have agreed to pay $420,000 in back wages and damages to 83 employees. This agreement resolves a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor after an inspection by the department found violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Read more at DOL.gov.

Herald photo -- click for more info►  In today's Everett Herald -- Kimberly-Clark to sell Everett mills -- Kimberly-Clark says it has put its Everett pulp and tissue mills up for sale, saying it's difficult to make money in the pulp business. It plans to continue to operate the mills, which employ 842 workers, until the sale, which it hopes will happen quickly. Kimberly-Clark plans to streamline, sell or close five or six plants to deal with rising costs for wood pulp and oil, major materials for its products. Sen. Nick Harper (D-Everett) said state officials have been "assured this was purely a business decision, and not anything state and local government did or failed to do."

►  In today's Seattle Times -- Todd Shipyards finds no alternative buyer -- Discussions with other potential acquirers didn't yield any offers better than the buyout proposed last month by Vigor Industrial. The shipyard, which employs nearly 1,000 at its Harbor Island shipyard and facilities in Everett and Bremerton, was permitted to seek a superior offer under the terms of its agreement with Vigor.

►  From Reuters -- Profit slips as Boeing delivers fewer planes -- Boeing says its quarterly profit slipped after the company made fewer commercial airplane deliveries than a year ago, and the company predicted a hit to earnings partly from delays to the 787 Dreamliner program.

►  In today's News Tribune -- School cuts worry Tacoma parents -- The gloomy fiscal outlook has prompted district proposals to increase elementary school class sizes, cut 20 or 25 teaching positions and temporarily close schools with lower enrollments.

 

Trade news:

►  At AFL-CIO Now -- U.S.-South Korea trade deal bad for both countries (guest column by Kristen Beifus and Stan Sorscher) -- The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the Korea-U.S. agreement would worsen our trade deficit with Korea by $13.9 billion over the next seven years. Rising Korean imports would displace approximately 888,000 U.S. jobs over this same time. Taking into account all the products we trade with South Korea -- exports and imports -- the proposed trade agreement would result in a net loss of 159,000 jobs. We have decades of experience with our failed "free trade" model. We know it works very well for multinational companies, but works against the public interest in America and in South Korea.

►  From Int'l Metalworkers Fed'n -- Union repression in Korea is among the worst in the world -- In recent years attacks against trade unions in Korea have increased, in terms of the number of arrests of labor leaders and in severity of prison sentences. There has also been a marked increase in cases of physical violence carried out by police against workers on strike or participating in demonstrations.

 

State of the Union news:

►  In today's NY Times -- Obama calls for bipartisan effort to fight for U.S. jobs -- The president challenged Americans to unleash their creative spirit, set aside their partisan differences and come together around a common goal of outcompeting other nations in a rapidly shifting global economy.

►  At AFL-CIO Now -- Trumka: Obama's focus needs to be on health of middle class, U.S. economy -- Says the AFL-CIO president: "We strongly support the president's vision on infrastructure to create good jobs and succeed in a global economy, and working people are ready to work with him and hold him to his promises... President Obama certainly understands our need to be competitive in manufacturing, new technology and skills. But he must also understand that last-century trade deals that reward and encourage corporations that outsource American jobs will do little to generate net new jobs in the United States or raise living standards here or abroad. 

►  In today's NY Times -- President, GOP agree on austerity, but will it create jobs? -- After two years of spending to boost the economy, the ground has shifted decisively. The most pressing question now is not whether to spend more to create jobs but whether to cut spending, deeply and now.

►  In today's Washington Post -- Think bigger, Mr. Obama (Harold Meyerson column) -- Making America more open for business addresses just one part of our national economic decline. The other challenge is how to make our corporations more open to doing business in America. U.S. corporations can't sit on their nearly $2 trillion in cash reserves forever -- but that doesn't mean they're going to invest their stash in job-creating enterprises within the United States. If we're going to rewrite our corporate tax code, why don't we rewrite it to reward those companies that employ workers at good jobs here at home? Why can't our tax laws discriminate between those companies that both develop and manufacture their products here and those that go abroad for cheaper labor?

 

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2011
Washington remains 4th most unionized state

As our national economy continued to sputter in 2010 -- especially in heavily unionized sectors like construction, manufacturing and transportation that are the backbone of our economy -- the number of union members dropped 612,000 to 14.7 million in 2010, according to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate of union membership dropped to 11.9%, compared to 12.3% the previous year. 

In the state-by-state breakdown, Washington state remains ranked No. 4 in terms of union density in 2010, with the state's 552,000 union members accounting for 19.4% of the overall workforce -- nearly one in five Washington workers. Only New York (24.2%), Alaska (22.9%) and Hawaii (21.8%) and have higher unionization rates than Washington. Neighboring Oregon ranks 10th in union density (16.2%).

See the BLS news release on the new report and its state-by-state comparison.

Total jobs in Washington dropped 10,000 in 2010, but the number of union members dropped 22,000. That mirrored a national trend of lower union density in nearly every state in the country. Disproportionately high layoffs in construction, an industry about twice as densely unionized as the private sector in general, has been cited for that trend. Meanwhile, job growth has been in low-wage service sector jobs that are less likely to be unionized.

"While it's always encouraging that Washington remains one of the most unionized states in the country, these numbers demonstrate how the Great Recession and outdated labor laws have eroded away middle-class unionized jobs," said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. "Employers routinely coerce, threaten and fire workers who support unionization, particularly in the private sector. It's illegal, but they do so with relative impunity. If they are ever prosecuted -- and that's a big "if" -- the tiny fines they pay have simply become a cost of doing business."

"The labor movement in Washington state will continue to lead the charge to help people exercise their freedom of association at work and their freedom to choose a union," he added. "And we will continue to advocate for public policies that protect those rights and allow working people to join together to improve their wages and working conditions."

The new report bears out the fact that union membership means higher wages.

In 2010, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median weekly earnings of $917, while those who were not represented by unions had median
weekly earnings of $717. 

For more information about joining a union, click here.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2011
Office space available at WSLC Olympia building

Your union or progressive organization has a unique opportunity to lease office space at Labor's own building in Olympia, owned and operated by the Washington State Labor Council, and maintained and serviced exclusively by union members. 

The former tenants of the WSLC's Davis-Williams Building -- a prime location just a couple of blocks from the State Capitol at 9th Ave. SE & Columbia St. SW -- have moved, and the building is fast becoming the hub of organized labor and progressive activity in Olympia. So far, the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28 is on the fifth floor, and the third floor is devoted to the WSLC, its grant programs, and lobbying activities.

That means the first, second and fourth floors are waiting for affiliates and our community allies. Approximately 40,000 square feet of office space is available in all. Options include renting an entire floor or more, or joining with other affiliates and allies to lease smaller units of office space and/or a shared conference room. Tenant improvements are possible to suit specific office needs. Covered parking is available in the building, plus there's a separate parking lot across the street. 

This is your organization's chance to be where decisions are made, both in the labor movement and in state government. Don't miss out!

For more information, please contact WSLC Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson at 206-281-8901.

 

Copyright 2011 --  Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO