Happy Friday, and congratulations on making it through another year of The Big Dark. This week we saw our first 5 pm sunset of 2022, and we also saw workers celebrating conquests around the country. Let’s dive in.
What are we calling it? Media outlets are trying to figure out how to brand the movement for better pay and workers’ rights. NPR says we should maybe rename “The Great Resignation” to “The Great Renegotiation.” Whatever you do, don’t call it a “labor shortage.”
All the workers at a Jimmy John's in central Florida quit.
Store managers posted a sign blaming the temporary closure on the labor shortage.
But workers responded with a sign of their own: "There IS no labor shortage! The owners of this establishment treated workers like dogs." pic.twitter.com/RTQzfpDPX3
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) January 27, 2022
More Starbucks solidarity: Two more local Starbucks coffee shops are unionizing; the one downtown on 5th and Pike, and the one on Lake Union at 1200 Westlake Avenue. As Hannah wrote on Tuesday, Councilmember and proud socialist Kshama Sawant expressed her support in front of Starbucks HQ, promising to contribute $10,000 from her solidarity fund for the cause. She organized a rally later that evening and said she’s discussing a national day of action with Starbucks workers across the country.
BREAKING: #Seattle City Councilmember @cmkshama promises $10,000 of their “solidarity fund” to #Starbucks workers.
“Right now we are talking with Starbucks workers about a national day of action.” @KIRO7Seattle pic.twitter.com/AoCMZoNF5m
— Lauren Donovan (@LaurenKIRO7) January 25, 2022
And that’s not all: Health care workers at Providence St. Peter in Olympia picketed for safe staffing; the ongoing construction strike got more national attention via The Guardian; Who Gets the Bird? reported that 94 Penske truckers and warehouse workers in Auburn voted to join Teamsters 174; and, according to Polygon, Raven Software (a subsidiary of Activision, recently acquired by Microsoft) claimed a supermajority and requested a vote with the National Labor Relations Board.
Now: dozens of healthcare workers are picketing in front of Providence St. Peter in Oly. It’s been 8 months since they began bargaining for safer working conditions, better pay and racial equity. “It’s not just about us, it’s about our community,” said Latoscha Carter, a CNA. pic.twitter.com/mLMcr1q2zD
— Shauna Sowersby (@Shauna_Sowersby) January 27, 2022
Unions work: Here’s what organizing does. Magnolia State Live reports that bus drivers in Mississippi went on strike for just one hour and earned $5/hour raises. Striking grocery workers in Colorado won huge wage increases and improved benefits in a new 3-year contract with Kroger. And on Twitter, people are sharing their experiences of how unions help companies find more money to pay their workers. Heartwarming, truly.
Fake pay scam: And here’s the BS we’re fighting against. In an explosive new report, A Perfect Union interviewed workers at McDonald’s, Staples, Costco, and other major companies who were victims of a bait-and-switch scam in which the wage advertised was significantly higher than the wage actually offered to applicants during interviews. Plus, if the applicant is on unemployment, they’re forced to accept the offer or get kicked off unemployment for refusing a job offer. Truly evil.
Speaking of evil… Amazon had a week for the ages. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson forced the company to end its ‘Sold by Amazon’ program and pay $2.25 million for price fixing, the National Labor Relations Board issued a new complaint against them for allegedly calling union organizers “thugs” and for confiscating union literature, VICE got its hands on the propaganda class the company taught in a California high school, another of their warehouses is voting to unionize, and the Financial Times reported the company shut down its Veritas program, where it paid employees to create fake Twitter accounts to stan for Jeff P. Bezos by attacking the haters. Last year, Ken Klippenstein of The Intercept published the actual documents, and they are simply hilarious.
Let’s celebrate by remembering one of this program’s worst Ls:
Elliott’s Oyster House is in hot water: Late last week, lawyers for former employees of the local seafood chain filed a class-action lawsuit in King County Superior Court. The workers allege minimum wage violations, and also say the company refused to offer rest periods or compensation for missed rest periods. A representative for the restaurant didn't respond to a request for comment, but we'll update if we hear back.
Big trucker news: Truckers around here are fighting for some basic decency. As Rich reported on Wednesday, a new bill in the State Legislature would require ports to provide more toilets and retailers to let drivers use their bathrooms. Ryan Johnson, who testified in front of the House Transportation Committee last week, tells us, “ZERO ports in the Seattle/Tacoma/Everett areas have more than four bathrooms for literally hundreds or thousands of trucks a day.” This one is a no-brainer. Let ‘em pee.
Are you in the music industry? The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers is hosting a Zoom event this Saturday 1/29 at noon PST to discuss their fight for fair pay.
Queen shit: Speaking of streamers, Meghan Markle and
Prince Harry spent the past year protesting in their own special way by not releasing a single episode of their $30 million Spotify podcast, per Forbes. Honestly, a worker conquest if I’ve ever seen one.
Hazard pay stays: As Hannah reported on Wednesday, the Seattle City Council voted this week to keep grocery worker hazard pay in effect, something they had the gall to vote down last year 8-0 (!), requiring Jenny Durkan of All People to veto (!). Council members, a sincere congratulations on pulling your collective heads out.
REI is bussin’ (but in a bad way, sorry for even saying it, I’m so sorry): On Thursday, VICE reported on the union-busting tactics local retailer REI is taking, including sending an email to all workers complaining about the supposed problems a union would cause. Says one worker at their Manhattan, New York, store: “REI prides itself on being a great workplace, a leader of the outdoors, but why is it that none of us are making a living wage?” Figure it out, REI.
Want to get vaxxed but can’t take off work? The Seattle Office of Labor Standards says yes you can.
Opening Day up in the air: As I reported earlier this month, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association are still far away on negotiations, now less than a month from Spring Training. This week’s meeting, well, didn’t go great. Owners said they were willing to miss games, and the two sides are reportedly over $100M apart. The players’ reaction to the owners’ proposal was, according to sources, “What the f—, are you kidding me?” Frankly, it would be the most Mariners thing in the world if we finally have a season to get excited about and it gets canceled.
More garbage posturing: Not to be outdone by Kent’s Dana Ralph, King County Councilman (and Republican congressional candidate over in the 8th CD) Reagan Dunn—who wants to “re-fund the police”—is asking Republic Services to refund customers for trash pickups missed during dangerous snow conditions and a labor strike. His namesake would be proud.
Federal workers get $15: Starting this Sunday (1/30), all Federal workers will be paid $15/hr. Hey, okay.
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Here’s to a relaxing weekend for you and yours. Play me off, Neil.