In honor of Comedy Bang Bang in town (live at the Moore Saturday night!), here we are in the throes of Auggy-doggy. The rabble rousers are raising rabble, and here I am with some breaking labor babble.
Homegrown workers need your support: Homegrown, a sustainable food company that sells products to local cafes such as Caffe Vita and also maintains 10 retail stores in the Seattle area, has been refusing to recognize their workers’ union since June. The dang Seattle City Council called them out for it a month ago! And now, UNITE HERE! Local 8, a service workers union, says Homegrown has installed surveillance cameras in their delivery vans. In response, distribution workers at Homegrown’s production facility in Renton voted to authorize a strike. Want to help out? Homegrown workers are inviting you to click here and tell Caffe Vita you’re concerned about Homegrown’s labor practices.
Seattle Children’s nurses picket: On Tuesday, nurses from Seattle Children’s Hospital picketed to draw attention to their concerns about low wages, staffing, and a lack of diversity and inclusion. Nurses say conditions must improve for Seattle Children’s to recruit and retain against the siren song of travel nursing. The Stand and South Seattle Emerald have more on what’s at stake.
From east to west, these @myWSNA nurses at @seattlechildren are the best. The picket is still going strong. Come show your support! https://t.co/tPDy4P8slI #respectchildrensnurses pic.twitter.com/Nrd1UstDbN— WSNA (@myWSNA) August 9, 2022
The Seattle Office of Labor Standards returns more money to workers: In the the first investigation resolved under Seattle’s Hotel Employee Protections Ordinances, the Seattle Office of Labor Standards alleged that Residence Inn and its staffing company, Go America, violated minimum wage laws and did not provide adequate health insurance to their workers, as well as a handful of other violations. $370,439.04 will be returned to 67 workers (that’s $5,528.94 each, baby!) and an additional $2,500 penalty will go to the City. Maybe if the City raised that penalty, there wouldn’t be a new wage theft case for me to report on every week!!!
Child care workers allegedly fired for organizing: Director of Operations Kristin Brown and Owner Kyla Liboon of MightyKidz daycare in Magnolia allegedly fired 11 of their workers in retaliation for organizing for better working conditions. Their workers’ demands are reasonable: $22/hr starting wage, $25/hr for lead teachers, legally mandated breaks for workers, and child-to-teacher ratios that meet the legal minimum. See details and learn how to support them here. On Tuesday, Kshama Sawant’s office showed its support:
This morning, my office stood with MightyKidz Childcare workers in Magnolia.— Kshama Sawant (@cmkshama) August 9, 2022
They're unionizing & demanding $22+/hour.
Rather than address the bad conditions, the bosses have shamefully FIRED 11 WORKERS.
We're demanding immediate reinstatement of all fired workers & the union! pic.twitter.com/1yBEUGtDu4
Congress takes note: On Tuesday, the U.S. House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth held a hearing to figure out what the heck is going on out there in little old Seattle, Warshington, where workers appear to be gaining some power! Check it out (DISCLAIMER: it is nearly two hours long).
The remote work debate heats up: With two full-grown public health emergencies and a third on the way, no serious person thinks remote workers should go back to the office. Enter Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell, author of the only books your ex has read since high school, claimed on the podcast Diary of a CEO, “It’s not in your best interest to work at home.” He’s been dunked on this week, with The Onion getting in on the joke, mostly because everybody knows remote work is in workers’ best interests, and it has been an absolute Conquest for us. Business Insider explains:
Paying people based on where they live never made a ton of sense, but it's the way salaries have always worked.— Business Insider (@BusinessInsider) August 8, 2022
But now, a seismic shift is taking place in the way Americans get paid, @AkiIto7 says. 👇https://t.co/7C6ghGH7Cl pic.twitter.com/nz2VeQDeIy
Amazon warehouse workers speak up, parts 999 and 1,000: But of course comfort can’t be had by all. That would be…communism? Amazon, who can’t wait to build robots and fire all their sniveling human workers, is under fire for more alleged worker mistreatment. More Perfect Union reported on Tuesday that Amazon workers in Memphis are being forced to unload trailers that reach up to 145 degrees, which is 11 degrees hotter than the hottest temperature recorded on Earth. And in Albany, NY, Amazon workers have suffered strokes, heat exhaustion, and head trauma at their workplace. Now they’re organizing with Amazon Labor Union. See their story here:
NEW: Amazon workers in Albany, NY are speaking out about the death trap conditions inside their warehouse.— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) August 8, 2022
They describe relentless pressure in brutal conditions. The injuries are constant. Strokes. Heat exhaustion. Head trauma.
It’s why they’re unionizing with @amazonlabor. pic.twitter.com/NeLFZPJaak
Alaska Airlines workers win big: On Monday, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) announced that they came to terms with Alaska Airlines on a hell of a new four-year contract. For its 5,300 members at Alaska, the union won an immediate 8.9% to 17.4% base wage increase, plus annual 2.5% increases and other protections. Check out The Stand’s rundown here.
L-bucks: On Saturday, a Twitter user claiming to be a pro-union Starbucks worker at an organizing store in Pittsburg said management fired them for being two minutes late. The tweet went viral. Later on, a TikTok video of Buffalo workers walking out to protest their union leader being wrongfully terminated reached 3.1 million likes. (Before you click: try to guess what song is playing over the video. You will be wrong. But you will bop.) And in perhaps the most pathetic event in this Starbucks saga, when a South Carolina store manager was presented with demands from their workers, she walked out and then ACCUSED THE WORKERS OF TRYING TO ASSAULT AND KIDNAP HER. The problem for her little story? More Perfect Union has video—and additional audio—of the whole thing:
NEW: Starbucks is taking its union-busting to an unprecedented level.— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) August 8, 2022
A South Carolina store manager is pressing kidnapping & assault charges against unionized workers after they presented a list of demands in a store meeting.
Starbucks has suspended all of the workers.
Labor Notes virtual events: I heard you’re a big A/V head, a real Streamin’ Demon, so I found you some affordable upcoming virtual events put on by Labor Notes. There are three coming up next week: Two sections of the Secrets of a Successful Organizer August Workshop Series, and Stewards Workshop: Investigating Grievances. Short on cash? Pay what you can.
Petco update: Last week I reported that the good folks at Petco in Shoreline were organizing. This week, my source tells me upper management is in the store, directly responding to the issues I relayed in this here column! Floor workers are getting predictive schedules, groomers are getting sent home when it gets too hot, and that AC unit appears to be getting fixed. In a phrase? “Night and day.” The organizers thank you all for your support on Twitter and in the store. Workers from four other Petco stores have reached out to cheer them on and get help organizing their workplaces, too. The group is extremely confident they’ll win their election, and, when they do, I’ll be sure to relay their Conquest right here.
Lift your head, for the valleys echo with a joyous song, “WHAT ELSE?”: Jacobin has one simple trick that bosses HATE. In These Times dug into union finances and had some notes. NBC Guild got a win and did a full-on “oh my god, he admit it” post. A new Cringe King emerged. And, finally, we saw a flurry of filings from Portland, including Burgerville, Raimore Construction, and Schoolhouse Electric.
As always, thanks for all your wonderful tips. Keep ‘em coming, and continue to sound off in the comments. Let your voice be heard! Seen! Read! Skimmed!
Your banger of the week is a deep cut. Two-and-a-half years into this COVID pandemic, we’re walking with death all the time. We might as well develop a sense of humor about it all. Here’s “You’re Dead” by the experimental folk singer Norma Tanega. Lean into the cosmic joke. Eat a succulent Chinese meal. Have a great weekend.