2007 Local Labor News

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Published in the Seattle Times: December 16, 2007. Posted Dec. 20, 2007

Pay in Aerospace is Low for Non-Boeing Workers

By Dominic Gates and Justin Mayo
Seattle Times staff reporters

Since March a recruiting banner visible from Interstate 5 has hung on the fence outside C&D Zodiac's airplane-parts plant in Marysville: "Now hiring highly motivated and dependable people."

The hiring drive is fueled by two big contracts for the 787 Dreamliner. C&D will add a third shift and operate 24 hours a day by 2010, said manufacturing manager Ron Spliethof.

Yet the hundreds of assembly jobs at C&D are mostly unskilled, entry-level positions. At the factory earlier this year, a close-knit team of young Asian immigrant women applied the finishing touches to aircraft interior panels. Adjacent production cells were manned by other immigrants and young people not long out of high school.

The pay reflects that. More than two-thirds of C&D's 369 production workers earned between minimum wage and $15 an hour last year, according to data filed with the state. At the top end, that's base pay of about $31,000 a year. Read full story

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Published in the Everett Herald: Monday, Dec. 7, 2007. Posted Dec. 10, 2007

Wal-Mart Retreats From Snohomish County

Mill Creek store scuttled; Arlington, Marysville plans delayed


By Eric Fetters
Herald Writer

Wal-Mart has scrapped plans for a supercenter at a hard-fought location in Mill Creek and is delaying new stores in Arlington and Marysville.

The world's largest retailer doesn't often give up on proposed stores, but the prolonged process to gain final approval for the Mill Creek site took its toll, company officials said.

"When we signed the ground lease with the property owner, we didn't expect to do an environmental impact study. We didn't expect to have this long, protracted process, because we haven't gone through that elsewhere in the county," said Jennifer Spall, Wal-Mart's spokeswoman for Washington. "All of those processes added time to that project."

The Arlington and Marysville stores are being delayed as part of a corporate decision to re-evaluate its national expansion plans, Spall said, adding Snohomish County's fast-growing population still makes it an attractive place to expand.

The chain actually released its lease on the Mill Creek site in September, she said.

Opponents of that project cheered Wal-Mart's decision.

"That is awesome," said Lillian Kaufer of Citizens for a Better Mill Creek, which led the fight against the proposed store on 132nd Street SE. "This group has worked so hard, it's unreal." Read full story

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Published in the Wall Street Journal: Monday, Dec. 7, 2007. Posted Dec. 10, 2007

Boeing Scrambles to Repair Problems With New Plane

Layers of Outsourcing Slow 787 Production; 'Hostage to Suppliers'


Author: J. Lynn Lunsford
(c) 2007, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

EVERETT, Wash. -- On Tuesday, Boeing Co. will give Wall Street a progress report on its 787 Dreamliner, as it scrambles to overcome a six-month delay in producing the new jet. A look inside the project reveals that the mess stems from one of its main selling points to investors -- global outsourcing.

When the Chicago aerospace giant set out four years ago to build the fuel-sipping jet, it figured the chief risk lay in perfecting a process to build much of the plane from carbon-fiber plastic instead of aluminum. Boeing focused so hard on getting the science right that it didn't grasp the significance of another big change: The 787 is the first jet in Boeing's 91-year history designed largely by other companies.

To lower the $10 billion or so it would cost to develop the plane solo, Boeing authorized a team of parts suppliers to design and build major sections of the craft, which it planned to snap together at its Seattle-area factory. But outsourcing so much responsibility has turned out to be far more difficult than anticipated. Read full story

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Published in the Everett Herald December 5, 2007


America's Military Tankers Should Say 'Made in USA'

By Mark A. Blondin

Like many people raised in the Puget Sound region, multiple generations of my family, including myself, have worked for the Boeing Co. For years, my union, the workers who build Boeing aircraft, has appealed to Boeing, "don't export our jobs -- export our airplanes." This demand has not changed.

As many Washington state citizens are well aware, our pleas have fallen on somewhat deaf ears. While we continue to maintain a fairly significant workforce here in the Puget Sound area -- nearly 24,000 Machinists at this time -- it is nowhere near the peak of the 1980s, when our community had nearly 45,000 Machinists constructing aircraft from Auburn to Everett, and building what continues to be the safest, most reliable, and certainly the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world.

Throughout the '80s, '90s and now into the new millennium, Boeing has outsourced work that many feel belongs right here in the Puget Sound region, along with parts that should be manufactured in Washington, Kansas and Oregon. All three regions are involved in a collective bargaining agreement that the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union has held with Boeing since 1935.

The global environment that has put extreme pressures on Boeing to outsource commercial airplane work overseas in order to sell commercial aircraft abroad has certainly cost many a young person from our communities the opportunity that I had, to share in an industry that was born in our community and that leads the way in economic viability for working families. I have never agreed with this outsourcing philosophy and I have certainly never embraced it. Read full story

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Published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Dec. 2, 2007

Even Powerful, Efficient Markets Fail

Stan Sorscher, SPEEA
Guest Columnist

Thirty years ago, capitalism won a historic struggle against communism. Since then, prevailing wisdom has settled into the idea that markets are good and policy is bad. Let markets solve our problems. Shrink government, reduce taxes, deregulate and privatize.

We can all agree that markets are powerful and efficient. Nevertheless, we feel a growing anxiety that the middle class is eroding and shared prosperity is slipping through our fingers.

Markets are powerful and efficient, but markets fail. Read full story

Stan Sorscher is a labor, trade and health care activist who lives in Seattle.

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Published in the Everett Herald, Monday, October 22, 2007

Growth Key in Partisan County Council Race

By Jeff Switzer
Herald Writer

Two former state legislators are locked in a partisan battle for an open seat on the Snohomish County Council, and the race is about to heat up.

About $66,000 worth of TV and radio ads will hit the airwaves soon, opposing Democratic candidate Mike Cooper just as voters get their ballots.

The building industry is bankrolling opposition to Cooper, who has won endorsements from environmental and labor groups.

Builders instead hope that voters will choose Republican Renee Radcliff Sinclair of Lynnwood.

"I think her expertise and understanding of things is a valuable asset for a County Council seat. That's why we're supporting her as a PAC and see the industry supporting her," said David Toyer, spokesman for the Quality Communities political action committee and a vice-president at Barclays North Inc., a Lake Stevens home builder.

The TV and radio ads will "see us pointing out some areas of contrast with Mr. Cooper," Toyer said, declining to elaborate.

Last week, the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties gave $85,000 to the Quality Communities political action committee for the ads. The committee is chiefly made up of local home builders and land developers including Barclays North Inc. of Lake Stevens and Pacific Ridge Homes of Bothell.

"I've been expecting it all along," Cooper said, adding that he expects the campaign will consist of attack ads. "The Master Builders don't want me to be in office. They're nervous. They're concerned I'm the one supported by the environmental community."

Both candidates are former state representatives from the 21st Legislative district. They are chasing votes to succeed Republican Gary Nelson, who is finishing 12 years on the council. Term limits bar him from seeking re-election.

A victory by Cooper could extend the Democratic majority on the council to 4-1. Full story

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Published September 20, 2007

Spirit of Labor Award: Bob Neumann

(Awarded posthumously)


When Bob Neumann was diagnosed with severe emphysema in 1995, he left his job as a structural mechanic on the wing line at Everett's Boeing plant and, on borrowed time, he became a tireless volunteer.

For more than 10 years he volunteered four days a week, encouraging patients in the pulmonary rehab program at Providence Everett Medical Center to exercise. With his union, he headed an adopt-a-highway program and worked on cleaning up Everett's Casino Road. He worked on several other community projects, cleaning up schools, building playgrounds and participating in United Way's Day of Caring.

Neumann worked at the Boeing Company for 29 years and was a union steward with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 751A. Formerly a resident of Mill Creek, he served as sergeant at arms for the Snohomish County Labor Council and was on the council's community services committee.

Bob Neumann dedicated his last years to making life better for others, giving over 5,000 hours to volunteer service. Robert William Neumann died on February 25, 2007 at age 60. He is survived by his wife, Judy Neumann, who accepted the award on his behalf.

The Spirit of Labor Award is presented to a union member for outstanding leadership and community service through the partnership between United Way of Snohomish County and Organized Labor. The recipient demonstrates a commitment to our community through long-term notable volunteer service.

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Published Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tentative Contract Reached for 20,000-plus Grocery Workers

After five months of bargaining -- and just days after the union said "enough is enough" and called for a vote on whatever was on the table -- the United Food and Commercial Workers union has a tentative contract agreement for more than 20,000 Puget Sound-area employees of Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer, and Albertsons.

The following news release was distributed Monday by Local 21 of the United Food and Commercial Workers:


Voting on recommended contract set to begin Sunday, August 26th

SEATTLE -- United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), representing over 20,000 grocery and retail workers in Puget Sound, has reached a tentative agreement in contract negotiations with Safeway, Albertson’s, Fred Meyer and QFC. Beginning Sunday, August 26th -- through the following Tuesday -- members will vote on a recommended three-year contract, negotiated by a bargaining team that included twenty-three fellow members employed at stores throughout the region.

Negotiations between the three chains and UFCW Local 21, Local 44 and Local 81, went into the early morning hours the last three days of bargaining, ending Sunday morning, August 19th. This tentative agreement comes after over five months of bargaining sessions and over a hundred days past the initial contract expiration date.

Details of the contract will be available after members have completed voting.

For more information, call Jackie O’Ryan at (206) 300-5059; or email joryan@ufcw21.org. Visit our website: www.ShareTheSuccess.org.

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Published in the Everett Herald: Saturday, July 14, 2007


Grocery workers deserve share of success

By George Keller

If you shop at a Safeway, Fred Meyer, QFC or Albertson's, you probably noticed the yard signs saying "Share the Success" posted on the lawn outside your grocery store recently. We're the workers of these national grocery chains and we're currently in contract negotiations. Employers need to share the success with us - and with our communities.

We're among the more than 20,000 United Food and Commercial Workers in Puget Sound who make a living in these stores - or, who are trying to. I have served Everett grocery shoppers for more than 30 years at Safeway. And I can tell you, it's getting tougher to make ends meet on the money we make. Over the years, we've watched these stores transform from locally owned businesses with a solid focus on great customer service, into large hugely profitable national corporations. Full story

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Published Tuesday, Jun 5, 2007

Think Wal-Mart Offers the Best Deals on Groceries? Think Again.

By Debra Smith
Herald Writer

One of the stories I’m working on for the grocery series, which begins June 10 in The Herald, checks out the Grocery Game, an online service that promises to save shoppers hundreds off their monthly grocery bills (View their website).

I talked with company founder Teri Gault yesterday and she had some interesting things to say about the grocery prices at Wal-Mart Supercenters. No matter what people think, Wal-Mart does not have the lowest prices on groceries, she told me. "They have the public convinced they beat everybody," she said. But they don’t.

How does she know? Her company tracks the prices of 10,000 products at all the major grocery chains. Her business is based on getting shoppers the best deals on groceries. Hands down, the major chains like Safeway and Albertsons offer the best deals, she said.

"We’re always looking for the best deals," she said. "And let me tell you, if Wal-Mart had the best prices, I’d be singing a different tune."

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Letter to the Editor published in the Everett Herald: Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Nearly Half Don't Get Any Paid Time Off

Sen. Karen Keiser
33rd Legislative District

Your May 3 editorial, "Try for a better paid family leave program," ignores the most salient points of this landmark legislation I sponsored.

First, I have worked on this bill in the Legislature for the past six years. I am disappointed the Association of Washington Business is just now sitting up, taking notice and begging for more time to work the bill.

Second, family leave is an issue with overwhelming public support. A poll conducted in February by Lake Research Partners showed 73 percent of Washington voters favor paid medical leave legislation - even if workers have to pay 3 cents per hour. In Eastern Washington, 82 percent of voters supported the measure.

Third, look at the picture now. Fringe benefits are eroding. Nearly half of all workers don't get a single day of paid sick leave. A recent survey of Washington businesses showed just 44 percent of firms provide paid sick leave to full-time workers. Paid vacation is usually for two weeks a year, and is not available to all workers.

Many small businesses see family leave insurance as a winning proposition. Their employees will be able to take the time they need to bond with a new baby in the family and still be able to pay the rent. This is far preferable and certainly less expensive than losing that employee and re-training another to take his or her place.

I have every confidence the business community will have valuable insight and input on identifying a permnanent funding source. With the governor's signing Senate Bill 5659 into law, we'll be sure to see them at the table.


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