Got a hell of a week to catch you up on. Plenty of Conquests, but first we’ve got some tough news to get through. Let’s rip that bandage off and get into it.
Labor ally Sawant will not run for reelection: Rank-and-file labor’s best ally on the Seattle City Council is leaving. Yesterday, Kshama Sawant announced she will not seek reelection and will instead turn her attention to building a national movement through Workers Strike Back. Sawant fought for worker conquests like a higher minimum wage, the Amazon Tax, and better renters’ rights. As Rich wrote, “Without Sawant or someone like her on the dais, the range of what’s possible shrinks to anemic, technocratic nibbling around the edges.” Here’s hoping her replacement is a bold thinker who represents workers like us. If that’s you, YOU SHOULD RUN!
Microsoft lays off 10,000; 878 in WA: We need all the help we can get, especially with more huge layoffs announced this week. Microsoft is letting 10,000 workers go, including (according to WARN data) 878 in the Puget Sound area. I’m going to keep saying this: it’s shameful that we’ve accepted the fact that bosses kick hundreds or thousands of us to the curb like we’re trash whenever they miss their profit projections. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Not to be outdone, Amazon lays off 18,000; 2,300 in WA: Look at this shit. Our local embarrassment, Amazon–which is dealing with the fallout over a death in one of their dangerous warehouses, facing another fine over warehouse injuries, being investigated for allegedly lying about injury rates at those dangerous warehouses, and ending their charity program, Amazon Smile–is reportedly laying off their employees in standard Amazon fashion—as brutally as possible:
1/ We’ve heard from our members how unbelievably disrespectful the Amazon layoffs were today. THREAD— Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@AMZNforClimate) January 19, 2023
[If you are/were at AMZN & want to talk to someone, share your story, or hear about what else has been happening, please reach out! Our DMs are open, and we're here for you.]
Union figures just dropped: This one is sure to get spun a couple different ways. According to a new Bureau of Labor Statistics report, US union membership rose by 273,000. However, as a percentage of the labor force, it fell from 10.3% to 10.1% last year. Washington checked in as the 3rd most unionized state, as 18% of all WA workers in 2022 were repped by a union, but that was down from 19% in 2021.
WA on-the-job injuries still a problem: BLS’ 2021 Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses in Washington report is finally out, and as a state we ain’t doing great. In 2021, Washington was one of 19 states with injury and illness rates significantly over the national average. Hmm, I wonder why?
Are you jobbing for a job? Okay, now the good stuff. Here are some unionized jobbies, my good jobber, courtesy of MLK Labor. And here are some organizing ones in Washington, too. Want something on the government side of job-town? The Office of Labor Standards is looking for a Policy Analyst—and paying a healthy $91,000-116,000 for the role.
Hotel Nexus workers get $218,000 back for alleged labor violations: Speaking of the Seattle OLS, this week’s Name and Shame features their settlement with Hotel Nexus on Northgate Way. The hotel will pay $218,194.75 back to 154 workers after being accused of an absolute laundry list of violations. Big ups to the whistleblowers! Get your money!
Got a labor research project in mind? Get funded by LAWCHA and thank me later. The LAWCHA/Labor Research Grant is a “$2,000 research grant for a contingent faculty scholar, independent scholar, or community college faculty member engaged in work related to working people, their lives, workplaces, communities, organizations, cultures, activism, and societal context in any period and place.” Submit by February 1! (But you do have to be a member of LAWCHA, and membership starts at $20/year.)
In the mood for a movie? DSA Seattle is hosting a movie night at The Beacon Theatre tomorrow (Saturday, January 21). Join for a free screening and discussion of the movie Pride. “Based on a true story, Pride depicts a group of socialist lesbian and gay activists who raised money and did strike support for the British miners' strike in 1984, at the outset of what would become the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign.” RSVP here.
How about some Starbucks schadenfreude? NLRB officials claim the bitter coffee and gross snack company violated election laws so egregiously that the results of an Estero, FL union election the company won 21-11 should be thrown out and the company should be forced to bargain with the workers anyway. Sen. Bernie Sanders (new Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee) shared some strong words for the company as well:
I sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz today in support of the brave workers fighting for better wages and working conditions. My request to him is simple: Obey the law. Stop firing organizing workers. Sit down with your workers and bargain a fair contract in good faith. pic.twitter.com/wm7MBw5Z5J— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 18, 2023
Nickelodeon recognizes union: I am awarding one (1) “good job” token to Nickelodeon, who—instead of engaging their employees in a bitter legal fight—voluntarily recognized their animation production workers’ union. The 177 workers will organize under The Animation Guild, joining over 400 Nickelodeon workers already with TAG. Now, wasn’t that easy?
Apple forced to audit its human rights policies: No tokens awarded for this one, as some of Apple’s major investors, including five New York City pension funds for unionized public workers, are forcing it to hire an independent third party to conduct an audit of their labor practices, specifically “workers’ freedom of association and collective bargaining rights in the United States.” Apple says it will finish the audit by the end of 2023 and publish the results. A creative maneuver here by these folks.
Solidarity to the HarperCollins workers still on strike:
On the 50th day of their strike, workers with @hcpunion are picketing outside the midtown office of Newscorp, the parent company of HarperCollins.— Duncan Freeman (@deefreemank) January 18, 2023
Several Council Members UAW officials and @Shut_downAmazon spoke to the striking workers earlier. pic.twitter.com/5LUwDsFPVY
What else? I saw this book and thought of you. “Right to Work” may be finally over in Michigan. Three new local NLRB filings this week: a Starbucks store in Portland, Aegis Living Ravenna in Seattle, and BodyVox dance company in Portland. House Republicans are trying to force a vote on a tax plan that would solidify this oligarchy once and for all. SIGMA Design in Camas and Vancouver laid off 42 people with only two weeks’ notice, and Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc., in Seattle and Spokane laid off 9 with only two DAYS’ notice, according to WARN data. Hope you enjoyed your long weekend—here’s a cool photo of MLK. And in France, President Macron announced plans to raise the retirement age by two years to 64. The people are rioting, because they are not cowards like us.
Hey there, big tipper: Thanks to everybody who passed along juicy stuff this week. If you’ve got rumors, docs to leak, or generally something you think I should know about, send it here!
Song time: The singular David Crosby passed yesterday at 81. To honor him, the song of the week is “Ohio,” which he recorded with his supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young after the Kent State shooting. It took a lot of guts for Neil Young to write a song like this (“Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming / We’re finally on our own / This summer I hear the drumming / Four dead in Ohio”), and a lot of talent from the group to make it bang so hard. There it is, folks. Have a great weekend.