2006 Local Labor News

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Published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Campaign Rules Need Clarification

Charles Hasse
Guest Columnist

For 117 years, the Washington Education Association has been a leader in the political arena for public education. In 1915, for example, WEA backed legislation strengthening certification requirements for teachers. Since the 1920s we've led statewide initiative campaigns for school funding.

And, as the Seattle P-I reported last month, the WEA, with its national and local affiliates, was the state's top campaign contributor in the 2006 election cycle. Most notably, we contributed some $900,000 to defeat Initiative 920, the estate tax repeal, thereby preserving $100 million a year for education priorities such as K-12 class-size reduction and access to higher education.

The P-I has also reported that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear a case involving the WEA and state campaign finance laws. An important balance of First Amendment rights is at issue. The court will decide if, in trying to ensure that no person is compelled to fund political activity against his or her wishes, our state has imposed on organizations rules so costly and complex that they threaten one's right to join with others in collective participation in the political process.

Whatever the high court decides regarding the constitutionality of Washington's campaign regulations, we are confident the record will show that WEA made scrupulous efforts to fully comply with a seriously flawed law. Full Story

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Published in The Seattle Times 10-27-06

Machinists Tried to Buy Boeing's Commercial Unit

By Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter

Boeing was at a low point in fall 2003 when leaders of the national Machinists union teamed up with one of the country's most powerful private investors to spring a surprise on Boeing Chief Executive Phil Condit.

They wanted to buy Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

If it had succeeded, the deal would have given the blue-collar work force a financial stake in the commercial-jet company, undone the merger with McDonnell Douglas and brought Boeing's headquarters back to Seattle.

This was no offhand, pie-in-the-sky idea. According to participants in the secret meeting, the lead investor was ready to write Condit a $1 billion check on the spot as a deposit.

"Labor and capital coming together to further the cause of manufacturing. Pretty wild stuff," Tom Buffenbarger, head of the International Association of Machinists (IAM), said in an interview. "But it was dead serious."

The Machinists' partner in this effort was David Bonderman, head of a leading private investment fund, board member at Continental Airlines and chairman of a key Boeing customer, Ireland's Ryanair. In recent years, his investment firm has led the multibillion-dollar acquisitions of such companies as Burger King and Nieman Marcus. Full Story

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Published in The Everett Herald October 6, 2006

A Win for Port Security

In a celebration at the Port of Everett, officials praise a bill to improve safety


By Mike Benbow
Herald Writer

It was an uphill battle, but ports should be safer soon because of legislation that will help secure cargo before it arrives on the nation's shores, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray said Thursday.

Speaking at a celebration at the Port of Everett, Murray said her Green Lane Act, approved last week by Congress, is scheduled to be signed into law by the president a week from today.

"It requires every container coming into the country to be at a higher level of security," said Murray, author of the legislation. "It will be sealed and tracked and we will know from the time that it leaves where it's been and whether it's been tampered with." Full Story

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Published in the Everett Herald September 19, 2006

Wal-Mart Ordered to Do Environmental Study of New Mill Creek Store

By Eric Fetters
Herald Writer

MILL CREEK - A hearing examiner has ordered Wal-Mart to study the potential environmental effects of building along 132nd Street SE, giving opponents of the new store a partial victory.

Neighbors in Mill Creek have generated more organized opposition to Wal-Mart in the past couple years than either Marysville or Arlington, where the retailer also plans to build. Lillian Kaufer, who hass helped to lead the fight, said the hearing examiner's decision was gratifying.

"This is what we asked for - a real study before this thing goes in," Kaufer said, adding that opponents are ready to keep the pressure on if Wal-Mart decides to appeal.

Claudia Newman, a Seattle lawyer representing store opponents, said the law isn't clear, however, on whether Wal-Mart can appeal the decision to the Snohomish County Council. She thinks the retailer will have no choice but to complete an environmental impact statement addressing the store's effects on the area, including how much traffic and noise it might generate. Full Story

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Published on September 11, 2006

Tentative Settlement Ends Seattle-Area Garbage Strike

SEATTLE - A federal mediator helped negotiate a tentative settlement to end a strike against a major garbage hauler after union leaders threatened a much larger walkout Monday, a company spokesman said Picket lines came down Monday morning, garbage trucks were rolling again and Dan Scott, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 174, said 35 to 45 mechanics employed by Waste Management Inc. of Houston would vote on ratification at a meeting Tuesday night. Full Story

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Published in The Everett Herald September 12, 2006

Garbage Strike is Likely Over

Garbage Truck Mechanics with Waste Management Will Vote on a Contract

By Eric Fetters
Herald Writer

A tentative settlement has ended - at least for now - a garbage strike that affected thousands of Snohomish County households and businesses over the weekend. In the early hours of Monday morning, a federal mediator helped negotiate the settlement, on which union members are scheduled to vote tonight. Full Story

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