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Labor Neighbor Radio

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hello again.

Higher temperatures this week will make firefighter jobs harder.  You've probably heard the Carlton Complex wildfire in north-central Washington is the biggest in state history...nearly 400 square miles and 300 homes destroyed.

The cost of fighting our wildfires is above 50 million dollars and that doesn't include loss of property.


The Governor extended the burn ban for 20 counties east of the Cascades this week.  This means no campfires, bonfires...no residential yard cleanup...no fireworks.   T


Boeing President Jim McNerny created a little bonfire of his own when a reporter asked him if he's going to retire or stay on and he said,


Did you catch the part about cowering employees?   Seemed like a little joke, but it got Aerospace Machinists hot under the collar.  Union President John Holden send out a scorching  statement which said, in part,  Jim McNerney's disdain and arrogance in his public comments degrade and devalue the proud Boeing Commercial Airplanes workforce.

McNerny apologized.

 Meantime the other big Boeing union....the Engineers in SPEEA are charging that Boeing has hatched a plot to save money by firing older workers and giving the jobs to Russia and India.  Age discrimination on a breathtaking scale, they said.  They have filed a complaint with the EEO.


 Still on the subject of Boeing....Everett Herald reports its analysis shows the share of Boeing's total workforce...working in Washington...is 48 percent....and that's up from what it was 10 or 15 years ago....even though the total number of workers has gone down by 20,000.

One of the big agenda items on the Washington State Labor Convention plate last week was how to get state workers like Ty Pethe, a cost of living increase. 

Sot--"A lot of them have been burned out after six years and no cost-of-living, after seeing their jobs increase in the amount of work without any additional pay, and without much hope for the future that they'll be respected for the hard work they do," Pethe said. "And that's a really difficult point."

Peth is with Seattle Central College.   Most state employees have not had a pay increase in 7 years.

State grain inspectors have stopped going into the United Grain Company export facility in Vancouver.   Claim that Longshoremen  pickets harass them.   The company has now shut down the plant.

Now that a California Judge has ruled that Steve Ballmer can buy the Clippers basketball team....does that mean Seattle gets back into the basketball business?  Don't know.  Stay tuned. 

Labor Neighbor Radio is supported by the National Association of Letter Carriers #79 

I'm John Sandifer

Labor Neighbor Radio

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hello again.

The weather has improved the outlook for battling Eastern Washington wildfires....including the largest one in state history...the so called Carlton Complex of fires in Okanogan country.   It has burned almost 400 square miles.

New fires have started even as crews battled earlier ones.   I asked Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Janet Pierce if they saw this coming.

(sot)  We did and we were ready...but lightning caused most of them.

Some numbers from the fire:    150 homes destroyed.   One fatality...a heart attack.    1600 firefighters,  100 fire engines.  100 National Guard soldiers.  500,000 gallons of water and fire retardant.

Falls are the number one cause of injury and death on construction sites and it happened again this week on the campus of Bellevue College. A 31-year-old worker, working on the fourth floor of the health sciences building,  fell off a ladder.  It was 50 feet to the ground.

The Washington State Labor convention is underway in Wenatchee.  It's a three day affair setting the direction of the labor movement for the next year with most of the state's labor leadership in attendance.


Kathy Cummings,  Communications Director.

Meantime hundreds of Teamsters, working at three grocery warehouses, have voted to ratify contracts with Safeway, SuperValu and Unified Grocers....keeping the grocery distribution system in place from those outlets.    One more to go....at Fred Meyer.


The State Attorney General is sueing 5-hour Energy drink....claims the popular stimulant advertised on TV makes false claims--one that's its recommended by doctors and , two, it causes a caffeine crash.

 Puget Sound Business Journal reports Boeings final tally from the London Air Show.....is 201 planes sold, worth 40.2 billion dollars.

 Those 6 or 7 thousand job layoffs at Microsoft will actually be 18,000, says the company.  14 percent of the workforce.  1300 of them will be in this region.  Microsoft has about 43,000 employees in Washington.

Our unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in June.  That's the lowest in 6 years.  Companies really started hiring in June.


 Labor Neighbor Radio is supported by the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council 

I'm John Sandifer

Labor Neighbor Radio

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hello again.

Firefighters have the Entiat fire about 34% contained after it burned almost 30,000 acres north of Wenatchee, according to DNR communications manager, Janet Pierce.


(sot)  It's very big


Meantime there are other lightning and man-caused smaller fires burning here and there in what looks like a tough fire season.




Janet says we ought to program a fire reporting number into our phones...its faster than calling 911.   Here it is....800 562 6010.


The big air show at Farnborough, England, got underway this week.  Boeing is there selling airplanes.  Governer Inslee is there helping them.

Meantime, Boeing has been testing a new robot system in Anacortes, designed to put 60,000 rivets in an airplane fuselage that is now done by hand.   Unions don't know if they object, because the robots are supposed to be safer.


The Washington State Labor Convention convenes in Wenatchee next week, where Communications Director, Kathy Cummings says a lot of labors major agenda starts.


There's always a lot of issues on the plate, and Cummings points out its not just on behalf of union members.


Looks like the effort to reverse Seattle's $15 dollar minimum wage, will not make it on the ballot.  Not enough signatures.

Obama Care....that is the Affordable Care Act....is significantly reducing the number of people who don't have health insurance.  This from the Urban Institute in a national survey which said only 13% of Americans do not have insurance now.


Staples will not now have postal service counters in its stores.  The letter-carriers raised enough cane about the idea that it no longer sounds like a good one....a rare win for the unions.


Members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 21 are happy about two new contracts covering 1600 employees at Skagit Regional Hospital  where workers haven't had a wage increase in 7 years and at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton.


Longevity Construction Company....was not registered with the state...one of the first thing six homeowners could have checked when they hired Gary Shannon Edwards to fix their kitchens or bathrooms and paid him $45,000, says the Attorney General.  Hardly any of the work got done and the state has filed theft charges.  Edwards has pleaded not guilty.  Worse, his previous brushes with the law include theft and murder.


 Labor Neighbor Radio is supported by the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council 

I'm John Sandifer

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