The sun is out, and I’m back from a week off to shine some bright news upon your beautiful faces! Let’s get into it.
New report on workers’ wages: Oxfam America blew the horn on income inequality, reporting that nearly a third of American workers earn less than $15 per hour. As we know, that isn’t enough to rent a two-bedroom apartment in any city in the U.S. To no one's surprise, these workers making low wages are disproportionately people of color and white women. And, no, Aviators guy in the comments, these are NOT teenagers working their first job: 89% are 20 years old or older.
Broadway and Denny Starbucks wins big: The More Perfect Union tracker shows 157 Starbucks stores announcing unionization efforts, and the wins keep rolling in. This week brings a UNANIMOUS victory at Broadway and Denny. (As we all know, that spot is across from Al Bacha. I love you, Al Bacha!) And, this just in, a second store in Mesa, AZ voted to unionize. That brings the count up to eight unionized standalone Starbucks locations in the country.
Rachel Ybarra, one of the Starbucks organizers, tells me: “I knew it was going to be a unanimous vote—everyone in the store has been so passionately on board since the day we signed our cards—but, still, seeing it happen in real time was so amazing. It was a jab at the Starbucks executives, watching these results just a few minutes away from them. Each ‘yes’ was one person on this team saying ‘I will fight for what I deserve’ and inspiring that same confidence in others. And that nine-to-nothing vote said that loud and clear.”
Cooper Point Starbucks hits the picket line: Workers at the unionizing Cooper Point Starbucks went on strike to protest the company’s union busting activities.
Say it loud! Shut it down! Olympia is a union town!
Baristas have had enough of intimidation and threats! Howard Shultz, you should be ashamed!#UnionStrong #Solidarity pic.twitter.com/qCKHy0mMY1
— SBWU - Cooper Point Village (@sbwucooperpt) March 24, 2022
Re-heating an old cup of Howie: Starbucks, in response to this union activity, has brought back scumbag Howard Schultz as CEO. (Not familiar with Howie? He’s the billionaire—excuse me, “person of means,” as he begged voters to call him—who SOLD OUR SONICS, ran for president in the campaign for nobody and then got dunked on relentlessly, blamed his failed campaign on back issues, and – perhaps worst of all – tried to take over a city park.)
Of course Uncle Bernie is supporting the Starbucks workers:
I say to Howard Schultz: This is a pivotal moment for Starbucks. As you return to the company, it is time to do the right thing: End the union busting and obey the law. pic.twitter.com/kZ2IZjOv9G
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 22, 2022
But we don’t even have all our local reps onboard with this campaign against union busting. Senator Maria Cantwell and Rep. Rick Larsen have both been silent thus far. Want to help? Contact Cantwell here and Larsen here.
We’re number three! Maybe Cantwell and Larsen haven’t heard, but Washington is a pro-union state. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, in 2021 we had the third-highest union membership rate in the country.
Can you hear me now? Workers at Verizon stores in Lynnwood and Everett told Jacobin they intended to unionize. Verizon flew in union busters THE NEXT DAY, fresh with familiar tactics such as captive meetings and “provably false” talking points. The store’s election starts today. How about another unanimous local union win? Or two?
Amazon election time: Speaking of big wins, elections start today for workers at the Amazon warehouses in Staten Island and (the re-do election) in Bessemer, Alabama. Hopefully we see a big W and a whole bunch of Bezos Bucks wasted.
Fine #4: This week, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries hit Amazon again for worker violations at a fulfillment center in Kent. This time they nailed them for $60,000. L&I called this a “willful serious violation,” considering Amazon has already been fined for violating working conditions in THREE OTHER WAREHOUSES. If you still shop there…why?
“Don’t be evil,” huh? After three years of litigation, six former Google workers finally received settlement checks from The Alphabet Company after bosses fired them for organizing their workplace in 2019. Google is apparently not living up to its cutesy little motto of “Don’t be evil”! The New York Times reported settlement figures were covered by an NDA and couldn't be reported (boo), but here’s hoping these folks got P-A-I-D.
Let’s help each other get paid, too:
Found out I was making 20% more than my coworker so we spent lunch drafting an email for her to renegotiate her contract. Talk about your pay!!
— sara (@ramblings_and) March 21, 2022
He’s here, and he’s perfect: On Tuesday, new Teamsters president (and fellow Very Irish Name Haver) Sean O’Brien was sworn in, and, folks, he is reading the room. O’Brien told CNN in November about negotiations with UPS over their soon-to-be expiring contract: "We're going to make UPS an example…Striking is a last resort, but if a company is not negotiating in good faith, we're going to get what our members deserve." God love ya, Sean.
Local Teamsters speak up: The Stand reported that on Wednesday, Department of Corrections workers confronted management in Tumwater in an attempt to improve staff safety. With the support of 1,300 workers from our state’s prisons, union reps told the DOC secretary they “have been forced to work an absurd, unrelenting amount of overtime, pushing them toward utter exhaustion and despair.” Let’s hope their message, delivered to DOC management over an hour-and-a-half, results in some positive changes for these folks.
Confirm Judge Jackson! Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is up for Supreme Court nomination this week, and her confirmation would be a huge win for workers everywhere. Here’s a helpful summary of her work supporting workers’ rights, which includes multiple times standing up to Trump when he tried to limit our right to organize. Tell your Senator to confirm her with a couple clicks of the ol’ keyboard. That said, looks like she'll be fine:
After meeting with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, considering her record, and closely monitoring her testimony and questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, I have determined I intend to vote for her nomination to serve on the Supreme Court. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/SUgwuBtHup
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) March 25, 2022
Looking to learn about labor history? Sign up for the Pacific NW Labor History Conference in Portland on Saturday, April 23rd.
✨One month from today join us in Portland for the Pacific NW Labor History Conference on Saturday April 23rd. More information including registration online at https://t.co/w9ixMh3mOV.
AM workshops and afternoon public plenary and exhibit celebrating Portland Jobs with Justice pic.twitter.com/QJ55wrNsBg
— Washington Labor Education and Research Center (@WALaborCenter) March 23, 2022
Skagit farm workers force sit-down ahead of Tulip Festival: Some history was made in front of our eyes up in Skagit Valley this week. With the Tulip Festival approaching, around 70 farm workers employed by RoozenGaarde protested for better wages and safety. Union reps believe this was the first organized action of its kind for these workers. The Seattle Times has more on the back-breaking work and dangerous conditions these folks were protesting. Late Thursday, RoozenGaarde agreed to sit down to negotiate with the workers, and the strike was called off.
DOL fines Lacey company nearly $147,000 for unpaid overtime: Last week, the Department of Labor fined a construction company in Lacey, Northern Pacific Exterior, for failing to pay its employees overtime wages. The fine came to nearly $70,000 for the unpaid wages, another $70,000 for liquidated damages, and another $7,050 for good measure. Seattle Wage and Hour Division District Director Thomas Silva said, “The U.S. Department of Labor found that Northern Pacific Exterior shortchanged dozens of workers of wages on which they depend to care for themselves and their families. We urge all employers to…understand the law and avoid costly penalties and damages.” Somebody buy Tom a beer, stat.
Looking for a job? Pro-labor news outlet More Perfect Union is hiring:
Paid internship alert!
We’re hiring 3 paid ($20/hr) remote interns: a Social Media Intern, Video Editor Intern, and TikTok Intern.
Check out the link below for more details and application instructions. https://t.co/qCWq7jd8Sq
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) March 23, 2022
Gas rebate? Some more good news to ponder over the weekend: Democrats in Congress have introduced a new bill that would tax profiteering gas companies and, by their estimates, give every U.S. citizen a $360 rebate check. New Republic has more on it here.
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The sun is out, it’s stickin’ around longer, and we’re stayin’ alive. Ah-ha-ha-ha, have a great weekend, have a great weekend.