This week, we will be considering data. Watching videos. Reading graphs. Stroking our chins. Let’s dig into those numbers and start policy wonking.
Washington raises minimum wage: First, some good numbers. Washington State Department of Labor and Industries announced this week that it has raised the state’s minimum wage to $15.74 per hour starting in 2023 to adjust for the rise in the “cost of common goods such as housing, food, and medical care as reflected in the Consumer Price Index.” In my opinion? A good state.
California sends out gas rebate checks: Perhaps for its next act, our state should follow California, which starting today is sending its residents rebate checks to offset price gouging from gas companies.
Oh, what the fuck? Now for some bad numbers. The Fed is expected to hike interest rates again in an effort to drive up unemployment. An estimated 1.2 million working people are expected to lose their jobs, per CBS News. This comes after companies used inflation as an excuse to price gouge us.
🚨 "The Fed will keep hiking until the labor market cracks," says Bank of America.— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) October 6, 2022
A bank strategist told clients "the Fed's job is still far from over." BofA expects rates to keep rising until far more people are out of work and "unemployment is on an upward trajectory." pic.twitter.com/q58Ewa71Gy
NLRB takes victory lap: But the numbers aren’t all bad. The National Labor Relations Board dropped a thread this week describing the strength of the current labor movement, which included some extremely good numbers, such as a 57% increase in union petitions and a 19% increase in unfair labor practice charges. The author of the thread also explained how the NLRB desperately needs more funding to keep up with the caseload.
🧵: In FY2022, 2,510 union representation petitions were filed with the NLRB — a 53% increase from last year. This is the highest number of union representation petitions filed since FY 2016.https://t.co/vSBwzGtuvD pic.twitter.com/PeCIefxHYS— NLRB General Counsel (@NLRBGC) October 6, 2022
Study shows unions close the wage gap: This week, the Department of Labor (DoL) dropped a study concluding that unionized workers made 17% more than non-union workers, and that union representation closes gaps in both gender and race. Non-union Black and Latina women earn 27% and 25%, respectively, less than non-union white men in the U.S., but unionized Black women earn 1% less and unionized Latina women actually earn 3% more than non-union white men. Check it out here.
The DoL also released a video on the benefits of fair scheduling:
Supreme Court to hear Seattle concrete case: The U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear a case that could have huge implications for the labor movement, according to HuffPost. A Seattle concrete company, Glacier Northwest, has sued the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for costs the company incurred during a 2017 strike. If the Court sides with Glacier, this could open up unions to be sued by their employers for the costs associated with work stoppages. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on this one.
Amazon v. Washington: Another interesting legal/labor crossover dropped this week, as Amazon sued Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industries on Monday. In an astounding bit of spin, Amazon is whining that the state violated its due process rights by forcing the company to make its Kent, WA, warehouse safe before it finished dragging out its appeal process.
In the complaint, the company claims, "What the Department seeks is nothing short of a fundamental redesign and retrofit of most aspects of a roughly 1.1 million square foot facility, with disruptions for employees and customers." So…you apparently admit you built a facility that fundamentally was not designed to protect your workers? And you don’t think you should start fixing it anytime soon. Got it.
Then, in other Amazon human rights news: Amazon suspended some of its workers for leaving a warehouse and not returning to work AFTER A FIRE HAD BROKEN OUT. “Labor leaders said the warehouse smelled of smoke and that it was hard to breathe,” the Washington Post reports.
Better workplace, better health: If you missed it, UW’s Bridges Center released a report a few weeks ago summarizing four projects that studied the connection between overall health and working conditions. Sounds dense, but it’s a quick 14-page read.
Tuesday events for union folks: The Washington Labor Education and Research Center announced dates for a series called Introduction to Workplace Representation, happening live and streaming online at 6 pm on Tuesdays in November.
Join us for Intro to Workplace Representation coming Tuesdays in Nov at 6pm online or in-person in Georgetown (Seattle). From the rights of stewards to solving workplace problems. $40 registration, scholarships available + interpretation and childcare. https://t.co/OmTlcUSr5C pic.twitter.com/RZQmgvffeg— Washington Labor Education and Research Center (@WALaborCenter) October 5, 2022
Labor Strikes Back video series: And if that wasn’t enough, UW Tacoma Labor Solidarity Project’s “Labor Strikes Back” video series is happening on Wednesdays at 6 pm throughout the fall:
Here's the full #laborstrikesback series. You can view past episodes online at https://t.co/RJR8T9cOWC pic.twitter.com/zrHe4FWZMX— Washington Labor Education and Research Center (@WALaborCenter) October 4, 2022
Railroad strike update: Speaking of strikes, another railroad company ratified a new deal, getting their workers a 24% raise. According to the union, “dispatchers will receive an average payout of $17,500 when the five-year deal becomes final because it is retroactive to 2020.” However, those close to the negotiations say a strike is still possible, since only 4 of 12 railroad companies involved in this dispute have ratified their agreements thus far. And there’s some controversy brewing, as some are saying they didn’t receive ballots.
CEO pay hits 399:1: Folks, I’m getting the feeling we can’t side-hustle our way to equality. One final study for you to wonk out on, and it’s a doozy:
JUST IN: As of 2021, a typical worker would need to work for 399 years to make the same pay as a CEO makes in a year.— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) October 4, 2022
The CEO-to-worker pay ratio last year broke all records going back to the 1960s, per new @EconomicPolicy data. https://t.co/UfcIFLpPyA pic.twitter.com/pBsPlBY7h5
What in the land of Else? Apparently, Republicans used to support labor. Twitter user DogLesbian posted their private Conquest. Secretary Pete is here, and he’s showing the world that our state looks beautiful even through a dirty windshield. In an example of wage transparency, a content creator showed what each platform pays her, and the final reveal is worth the wait. Starbucks Workers United made Jeopardy. And, finally, some New York Post readers are shocked to learn that servers change their appearance for more tips!
Leave me a tip! Rumors, happenings, leaks—if it has to do with the way people are paying their bills and organizing for better conditions, send it this way.
And now, it’s time to bop: In honor of the Mariners ending their 21-year playoff drought, here is the number one song from the last time they made the playoffs. From October 2001, here’s Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’.” Take it away, Alicia. Have a great weekend.