L&I proposes permanent rules to protect workers from heatThe following is from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I):
TUMWATER (March 27, 2023) — A new proposal last week to update Washington’s permanent heat rules would increase protections for agricultural, construction, and other workers exposed to dangerous outdoor temperatures on the job. L&I filed the proposed update to the permanent heat rule on Tuesday, officially kicking off the formal process for public input.
Vea abajo para esta información en español.
Washington’s existing rules already require employers to have an outdoor heat exposure safety program with training, make sure each worker has ready access to at least one quart of suitable drinking water per hour, and provide an appropriate response to workers who are experiencing heat-related illness symptoms. The proposed changes address the need for more preventative measures in the rules. Preventing workers from overheating reduces the risk of heat-related illness and also traumatic injuries like falling from ladders.
Some of the updates to the proposed rule include:
Protecting outdoor workers from high temperatures
Current permanent heat rules were put in place by L&I in 2008. Acknowledging the need for more preventative measures in high heat, temporary emergency heat rules were in place over the past two years while the permanent rule was being updated. The current permanent rule is in effect annually from May through the end of September. The proposed permanent rule would be in effect year-round.
Public input opportunities
Before the anticipated adoption in June, L&I will conduct five in-person public hearings in communities around the state and one virtual public hearing to take comments. Details on how to attend the hearings or submit comments by mail, fax, or email, can be found on L&I’s rulemaking activity page. Public comments will be accepted through May 11.
L&I will review and consider comments submitted before making any needed adjustments and adopting the permanent rule.
To help employers comply with these and other rules, L&I provides a host of free resources. Visit L&I’s Heat Smart web page to get more information on the current Outdoor Heat Exposure rules and the proposed rule updates.
Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=115428
WSLC’s Sims: Howard Schultz is ‘an embarrassment’ to WA
SEATTLE (March 29, 2023) — April Sims, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, released the following statement regarding former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s testimony today before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee:
Howard Schultz says that leading Starbucks has been his “life’s work.” But his legacy is permanently stained by his decision to break labor laws and deny his employees their basic legal rights. It’s not up to Howard Schultz, Laxman Narasimhan, or any other CEO to decide whether employees can join together in a union. It’s up to the workers. That’s the law, and Howard Schultz and Starbucks are not above it.
In the past 16 months, thousands of Starbucks workers at hundreds of stores have chosen to form unions to improve their wages and working conditions. And more are doing so every day. Schultz and Starbucks have retaliated against organizing workers with illegal scorched-earth tactics: firing them for trumped-up reasons, denying them raises, cutting their hours, closing their stores, withholding credit card tipping, and refusing to negotiate a first contract. Court decisions have confirmed that Starbucks continues to commit these “egregious and widespread” labor law violations. And yet, in the face of all this, brave Starbucks workers are still standing up for their rights and demanding a union contract.
While Starbucks is a multi-national corporation, it often celebrates its roots in Washington. Our state is one of the most unionized states in the country. We are proud of our progressive pro-worker values and our history of defying corporate control of the working class. Starbucks may call Seattle home, but Howard Schultz is an embarrassment to Washington state.
The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is the state’s largest union organization, representing some 600 unions with 450,000 rank-and-file members. Learn more at www.wslc.org.
Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=115539
For qualified applicants, the WPEA will award the remaining scholarships as they are received, up through April 15th. There are currently 2 remaining $1,000 scholarships. Applications must be emailed to Scholarships@wpea.org by Saturday, April 15, 2023. For more information and application please click here.
Be sure to mark your calendars for May Day this year! Your Thurston Lewis Mason Central Labor Council is excited to invite you and your Local to connect with your brothers, sisters and siblings this spring, summer and beyond!
Applications are now open for Union Summer 2023, paid internships promoting good jobs and social change
SEATTLE (March 15, 2023) — Each summer, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO gives a diverse group of people a taste of what it’s like to promote good jobs and social change. Calling the experience “eye-opening” and “life-changing,” many participants have ended up launching careers in Washington’s union movement or with allied community organizations.
Union Summer is the paid ($20/hour) summer internship program where participants spend an exciting seven weeks — this year, from June 20 to Aug. 5 — getting hands-on experience making a difference in our communities. The program is divided into three main sections: education, actions, and on-the-job training. Weekly schedules can include attending rallies and staffing strike lines, registering voters, making job-site visits with union members, political field work, and more.
APPLY NOW! — Are you or anyone you know interested in working for social change? Applications are now open for Union Summer 2023! The deadline to apply is April 28. Participants will be working full-time with different campaigns based in and around Seattle, although the campaigns may take place throughout the region. Please download and post this flier about this year’s Union Summer opportunities.
WSLC Secretary Treasurer Cherika Carter has supervised the Union Summer program for the past several years in her former position as the council’s Political and Strategic Campaigns Director, and says it’s been a particularly gratifying project.
The 2022 Union Summer cohort with WSLC Secretary Treasurer Cherika Carter (far right).
“It’s been amazing to facilitate the Union Summer program and watch these inspiring interns make a difference in our communities,” Carter said. “I’m particularly proud and gratified that many of them have gone on to work with the WSLC’s affiliated unions as organizers or in other staff positions. Union Summer has proven to be an investment in the future of Washington’s union movement.”
Some have even come back to help run the Union Summer program for subsequent cohorts.
“I was a Union Summer intern in 2018 and it was such a life-changing experience for me that I was beyond grateful for the opportunity to contribute as 2022’s Program Coordinator,” said Raquel Binford, who is now a Political Organizer for the Coalition for Change. “Having a program like Union Summer is truly special. For many folks like me, it sets the foundation for the important relationships we make with leaders in labor. It was exciting to see last summer’s interns experience the same.”
Among the unions that sponsored and hosted Union Summer interns in 2022 were PROTEC17, Teamsters Joint Council 28, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28, Seattle Education Association, SEIU 775, and of course, the WSLC itself.
Union Summer 2022 interns meet Sen. Patty Murray at a primary election GOTV event.
Here’s what a typical Union Summer week could look like:
If you have questions about the COVID Booster Incentive please be sure to check out our FAQ at www.wpea.org/COVIDBoosterFAQ. If you have other questions about the Covid booster incentive, problems applying for the Covid booster incentive with my employer, or problems receiving payment for the Covid booster incentive contact the WPEA Staff Representative assigned to your agency or college. Staff representative assignments can be found here.
Help for getting ‘sure and certain relief’WSLC’s Project HELP assists with navigating the workers’ compensation system
SEATTLE (Mar. 8, 2023) — Workers’ compensation is a critical safety net for Washington’s working families. The system was established “to provide sure and certain relief for workers, injured in their work, and their families and dependents,” and its benefits help thousands of Washington families avoid economic catastrophe when someone is injured or sickened at work.
But navigating this system can be challenging. That’s why the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO makes sure that help is available.
For more than 35 years, the WSLC’s Project HELP program has made a difference by educating injured workers and providing individual one-on-one workers’ compensation claims guidance. The program, which is jointly administered by the WSLC and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), takes a hands-on approach to helping and teaching people about the claims process.
Project HELP Director Jessica Gallardo and Senior Claims Specialist Kathy Petruzzelli and Bilingual Claims Specialist Emmanuel Carrillo have empowered countless injured workers to become proactive in resolving their claims.
For example, an injured worker recently called Project HELP to get information about his time-loss benefits. After reviewing his claim file, it was discovered that his wage order was missing information. It indicated he was single with zero dependents at the time of injury, but he was married with four children. He had received the wage order letter, but did not understand its purpose and ignored it.
Project HELP staff advised him of his right to protest the wage order and the supporting documents he would need. Ultimately, his wage order was updated and his time-loss compensation went from 60 to 73 percent of wages at the time of injury. He also received an adjustment for previous lower time-loss payments.
In addition to one-on-one claims guidance like this, Project HELP conducts educational workshops explaining how the system works for workers and employers, whether they participate in the State Fund or are self-insured.
“One of our goals is to increase awareness of the claims process and advise workers of their rights and responsibilities,” Gallardo said. “In the past couple of months, we have participated in 19 trainings and outreach events with various partners including multiple apprenticeship programs, physical therapy clinics, local unions, and L&I.”
These trainings provide information about the free services Project HELP has to offer, describes the steps for filing a claim for a work injury or illness, and explains wage replacement benefits, dispute rights, and much more.
“No one plans on being hurt at work, but when events bring people to workers’ compensation claims, being armed with information will help you understand and navigate the system for a safe and timely return to work,” Gallardo said.
If you or a loved one have been injured on the job or developed a medical condition from the performance of job duties, you need to be proactive about ensuring your “sure and certain relief” in the workers’ compensation system. Contact Project HELP at 1-800-255-9752 or via this email form. For more information about Project HELP’s services, download its English and Spanish brochure, or visit its website.
WSLC Wednesdays is a feature of The Stand where different departments of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO describe their recent activities and the services they are providing to WSLC-affiliated unions.
Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=114986
Queer and trans workers have long been at the frontlines of solidarity, bridging identities and social movements. We’ll share highlights of LGBTQIA+ labor history (and comics), as well as updates and current dispatches from Howard Brown Health Workers United. We’ll connect toward building queer futures and vibrant multiracial unions, in style.
Wednesday, March 22
7:30 to 9 p.m. Eastern Time / 4:30 to 6 p.m. Pacific
Online, via Zoom. FREE.
Register Here: https://labornotes.org/mightygayunion
Week 8 Legislative Update
Welcome to the Washington Public Employees Association Legislative Report for Week 8 of the 2023 legislative session. I’m Seamus Petrie, your WPEA lobbyist.
It’s been a while since we last recorded a podcast because, well, it’s been busy in the last few weeks. The legislature is through the first round of cutoff deadlines and is in the middle of floor votes.
Celebrating our diverse labor leadershipAt ‘We Out Here!’ event, Washington’s AFL-CIO constituency groups and unions offer a reminder: Joy and justice go hand in hand as we build power for all working people.
(Mar. 1, 2023) — Our labor movement brings working people together across industries and identities to seek out joy and justice united with one another. It takes all of us to build power for workers; anything that divides our solidarity is a threat to our movement, and to working people’s wellbeing.
This is the spirit that guides the work of the WSLC Racial & Gender Justice Department, under the direction of Kasi Marita Perreira. Our strength as a movement is in our solidarity, and we know that racism, sexism, and homophobia are used to pit working people against one another, an age-old divide-and-conquer strategy. As enthusiasm for organized labor skyrockets among new, increasingly diverse generations, building an anti-racist labor movement is critical for ensuring working people see their needs reflected in organized labor.
Through the WSLC Racial & Gender Justice Department and the WSLC’s Race & Labor program, we support our affiliates fighting racism as a movement-building strategy.
It’s not easy work. And often we don’t celebrate what we’ve accomplished as we push forward. But joy and justice must come hand in hand for our movement to be powerful and resilient. And the diverse leaders who move us forward deserve to be celebrated.
This was the inspiration behind We Out Here! A Celebration of Diverse Leadership, a gathering of union family this past weekend at the Teamsters Joint Council 28 hall in Tukwila. Presented by the WSLC Racial Justice & Diversity Committees, along with local chapters of AFL-CIO constituency groups – A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) – We Out Here! brought together more than 200 union members on Saturday night to honor and celebrate in the spirit of cross-racial solidarity during Black History Month.
After comments from WSLC President April Sims and Secretary Treasurer Cherika Carter, and WSLC Racial Justice Committee Chair John Scearcy of Teamsters 117 and Constituency Group leaders, attendees were treated to an energy-filled performance by the Omega Delta Phi Stroll Team (featuring Union Summer Alum Jonny Gonzalez).
April Sims, Sean Bagsby, and Cherika Carter
The short program also included a moment of pause to give roses to both long-term elected union leaders of color in our movement, and rising leaders who introduced themselves to our labor community. Finally, a surprise award, “The Lift Every Voice” award was presented to IBEW 46 Business Manager Sean Bagsby.
“Bagsby exemplifies union leadership and what it looks like to fight for all workers’ voices to be heard,” said WSLC President April Sims. “His authentic, steady leadership is invaluable for Washington’s labor movement.”
The award is the first given by the WSLC Racial Justice and Diversity committees, in recognition that the people closest to the problem are also closest to the solution and that racial and economic justice are one and the same.
“We don’t do this for accolades,” said Bagsby as he accepted his award and shared his thanks. “It’s about seeing all the young people, seeing all shades of humanity come together. It doesn’t matter what craft you’re a part of, it’s about all of us. And it will take all of us to make a difference.”
Indira Trejo, Diana Perez, and Connie Rodriguez representing LCLAA
We Out Here! also provided a platform for AFL-CIO constituency groups of color, with opportunities for attendees to connect with current members and leaders and get involved in local chapters. These constituency groups are a home for union members of color, and a space for all union members to work together towards progress.
Eunice How of APALA Seattle and Gabriel Prawl of APRI Seattle
“People of color are critical leaders in transforming the labor movement. We are often invisibilized and it is so important we celebrate us,” said Eunice How, APALA Seattle President. “We are in a class and race war and in intense fights for justice in our workplaces, in the community, and the ballot box. It was so nice to celebrate in a joyful setting. We are refreshed and ready to continue the battle for democracy! Party on!”
Embodying the collaborative spirit that thrives in Washington’s labor movement, local unions and labor organizations from across industries rallied together to support this event. Tremendous gratitude and appreciation for all sponsors, volunteers and supporters, including:
While the party may be over, the energy lives on.
“This was a celebration of Black and brown leadership, staff, and rank-and-file celebrating our existence being ‘Out Here,’ but it was also a reminder that ‘We’re In Here’ within the labor movement,” said Kevin Allen, CBTU Puget Sound Vice President and WFSE 843 member. “Recognition is so important for ourselves and the labor movement as a whole. It can be lonely doing this work at times, but this was a time of rejuvenation and motivation.”
Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=114809