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Labor Neighbor Radio

Wednesday, Auugust 20, 2014

Hello again.

I was at my neice's baby shower this week.  It was a co-ed thing.  She's due in about a month.  Didn't have the heart to tell her about the latest Agriculture Department report on Expenditures on Children and families.   It's gonna cost the average middle-income family $245,000 to raise a child to the age of 18.   That's for food, housing, childcare and education...and doesn't include college.

A major court win for Fred Meyer workers who don't really work for Fred Meyer.  The Washington State Supreme Court decided that Fred Meyer could be liable for minimum wages and overtime payments to janitors who actually work for a subcontractor, cleaning 40 stores.


Fred Meyer used to hire unionized janitors. But ten years ago it started to outsource its janitorial work to a national company based in Tennessee, which in turn contracted with small local companies to clean the Fred Meyer stores.  They didn't always pay correctly.


Similarly, The National Labor Relations Board, this week, found that McDonald's Corporation can't blame its franchisees for low wages and working conditions....that it shares legal responsibility because it maintains such extensive control over operations at the outlying restaurants.


State Employee pensioners are upset with another ruling by the state Supreme Court.   This one says the state doesn't have to provide cost of living adjustments to retired workers....even if active personnel get them.  One retiree, Jean Kelly, says its going to play havoc with her budget.


(sot)  "We all looked at it as a way of keeping up with inflation," she says. "We felt pretty secure that we had that flexibility, but we lost all of that flexibility, entirely. So, really, it's kind of a desperate feeling now, because we had the hope before."


State pensions average about $2,000 a month.

The good news is, the state economy has broken out of the doldrum days and our unemployment rate is down to 5.6 percent....the lowest in six years.


The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions appears to be cracking down on unlicensed payday loan companies,   warning people about uses and abuses.   The latest were Spotloan...a North Dakota tribal outfit....and Mypaydayloan.com...address uknown.

The AFL-CIO warns that the Voting Rights Act of 1965....signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson....is being eaten away.   22 states have passed laws in the meantime restricting the right to vote....generally on the basis of race or language.


The Department of Transportation is going to count bicycles this fall....see how many are out there....where they go....try to figure out how best to handle them.

They're calling for 400 volunteers to help with the survey.   Get in touch with the department of Transportation...or the Cascade Bicycle Club.



Labor Neighbor Radio is supported by the Sheet Metal Workers Local #66 


I'm John Sandifer


Labor Neighbor Radio

Wednesday, Auugust 13, 2014

Hello again.

Maybe now we can put aside two years of a contentious dispute at Northwest grain terminals.   The Federal Mediation and Conciliation service says Longshore unions have worked out a tentative deal.


Just in time.....harvest season is on us and those terminals in Portland and Vancouver export a lot of grain....in fact, More than a quarter of all U.S. grain exports move through nine grain terminals on the Columbia River and Puget Sound.


Metal workers in Tukwila have formed a new union at Jorgenson Forge Corporation....against strong opposition by the company.  These are workers who make complicated components for aircraft, drilling rigs and ships....things like propeller shafts and landing struts ....made from stainless steel, titanium  and the like.  When the NLRB certifies their representation by the International Association of Machinists,  they'll demand bargaining with Jorgenson.


State Agriculture inspectors found a gypsy moth in Port Townsend,  setting off an investigation if there are more of them.   One gypsy moth caterpillar can eat 11 square feet of vegetation during its lifetime...so you don't want them in your garden or orchard.


How do they get here?   Mike Louisell, from the AG department says they migrate....like gypsies.


(sot) "Usually they come in in a birdhouse or a barbecue set, or maybe it's some furniture," he said, "The problem, of course, is these gypsy moth eggs are not exactly huge - and that's exactly why we have inspection programs."

Seattle is upping its utility rates almost five percent per year for the next six years.  Water, sewer, garbage and storm water services will cost the typical family about 300 dollars a year now and a little over 400 at the end.   It's close to a 100% increase since 2004.  City Council says it sounds like a bigger increase than it is.


Latest scam in the state.   Phony law enforcers are calling people saying they didn't show up for jury duty and now owe a fine.   They are willing to take credit card information over the phone.   This has been reported mostly in eastern Washington.

Media watchdog group...Public Knowledge is opposing any merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable.  Staff attorney John Bergmayer says....


Sot:   you need a certain number of competitors to ensure that a market actually is competitive."


Comcast wants to acquire Time Warner...already the two biggest cable TV companies.


(sot) "Comcast plus Time Warner will be so big that they can essentially make or break any independent programming," he said. "So, you're creating a single gatekeeper that really determines what's going to be the successful video content nationwide."


How do you stop such a merger.  Public pressure says Bergmayer.

The moon hit the sky like a big pizza pie this week.  Did you see the super moon?   Scientists call it a perigee moon...when the moon is near the horizon and looks bigger and brighter..  Pretty impressive.


Labor Neighbor Radio is supported by the Longshormen of Local 23 

I'm John Sandifer


Got labor news?  Contact us:  John@laborneighborradio.com