Local 338 is an amalgamated union representing four separate bargaining units: Kaiser Aluminum - production/maintenance and clerical/technical workers, Kaiser Alutek workers, and LB Foster pre-cast/railroad ties division workers. We number more than 1000 private sector members who work primarily in manufacturing industries in North Eastern Washington.

 

 
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Rapid Response

 

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This week, on April 28th, we will once again observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew our fight for safe workplaces. We must stand up and protect regulations and rules that ensure workers return home to their loved ones in the same condition they left them in. With so much happening so quickly this year, the need to remain educated on these issues and others that affect our working lives is more important than ever.
 

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The Truth About Regulations - In recent weeks, Congress has been using a problematic law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to kill important rules like OSHA recordkeeping and a rule promoting safe workplaces issued by the last Administration. These actions can chill future efforts to improve safety in our industries, and they aren’t stopping. Find out more from our recent Feedback Report.

Soon, the House is expected to bring up a resolution (H.J. Res. 59) that would kill a rule on chemical safety. In addition to that, elimination of the Chemical Safety Board could be wrapped up in the budget. This steady effort to repeal important consumer and worker protections is very dangerous and can have long-term implications for our members’ safety. It is imperative that we remind or legislators that these roll backs are not acceptable by making a quick call on our Congressional hotline at 877-607-0785.

The attacks on worker health and safety are coming by way of delays in existing rules as well. The USW has worked for years to advocate for strong OSHA standards to protect workers and we can’t let that work be undone.  Director of the USW’s Health, Safety and Environment Department Mike Wright says it best:

“Public servants who work on regulations try to balance our interests. The problem is that Congress puts its thumb on the scale. Big corporations can challenge the need for a regulation at every step of the process, and the burden of proof is always on those who favor the regulation. For example, OSHA first tried to protect workers from the highly toxic metal beryllium in 1975. The final regulation was issued in 2017.” 

About 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium in their workplaces, including approximately 11,500 construction and shipyard workers. OSHA had issued the Occupational Exposure to Beryllium rule to prevent chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer in American workers by limiting their exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds. The rule contains standards for general industry, construction, and shipyards. 

Because of the Administration’s memorandum issued on Inauguration day, the Department of Labor has issued a delay in the rule’s effective date. Rules like the beryllium standard are hard fought for and save lives. Take the new silica rule for example. OSHA estimates the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized. Watch this video to learn more about the dangers of silica exposure and the USW’s part in protecting workers from it.

Check out the Economic Policy Institute’s Perkins Project on Worker Rights and Wages for bills, regulations, executive orders and presidential memoranda that affect working people.
 

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Recognizing Commitment - At the recent USW International Convention, we took time to acknowledge the good work that locals and Districts are doing in Rapid Response. Congratulations to District 10 for earning the Top District award and to all the locals that were honored. See the full list HERE.
 

Battles in Our Statehouses Continue to Rage On - It’s been a busy year in states all over the country as we continue to push back on anti-worker legislation. We had a solid win in New Hampshire thanks to some fantastic grassroots activism in beating back right to work and paycheck deception, but other states are still fighting hard. Right to work fights in Ohio and a ballot initiative in Missouri have been keeping us on our toes. In Pennsylvania, the state legislature is still pushing paycheck deception and other states are seeing attacks on workers’ compensation benefits. One thing is for sure – we will not give up and we will stand strong against these corporate backed attacks on collective bargaining wherever they occur.

Comp Time is Back in the House! -
The U.S. House could vote in the coming weeks on a bill that would replace our guaranteed overtime pay system with a new “comp time” alternative. The misleadingly-named “Working Families Flexibility Act” (H.R. 1180) is a serious concern. Make sure you know what’s at stake by reading our recent InfoAlert.

We have stopped similar comp time bills over the past 20 years. Please help do it again. We need your stories to share on Capitol Hill. Many who work there and represent us have no experience with how overtime is handled in our workplaces, but it’s critical in shaping their opinions on this bill. Please take a moment to visit this link and share your workplace story here.
 

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FDR signs Social Security.


Proposal to Undermine Social Security? - The Administration has recently floated an idea to replace the Social Security payroll tax with funding the program out of general revenues. This has is quickly raised alarms, as it could be a back-door way to cut the program. There’s a reason that Social Security is set up through payroll deductions. In 1941, six years after Social Security was signed into law, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “We put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral and political right to collect their pensions. . . .With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program.” If the payroll taxes are gone, Social Security becomes one more program susceptible to budget cuts down the road. Read on to understand more about what this fundamental change could mean.
 

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District 4 activists on a lobby day for New York Buy American.

 
Support for Buy American is Support for U.S. Jobs! - We should be investing in domestic jobs - not sending our jobs overseas. Buy American legislation has been front and center in two statehouses this spring, and USW activists are doing their part to push for support. Many thanks to our folks working hard in New York and Texas! Check out this great video from the Alliance for American Manufacturing that breaks down what Buy American means and how it could boost our domestic industries.

Buy Clean for California! - On a proactive front, our members in California are pushing AB 262, an innovative bill that will allow California to use its purchasing power to recognize clean manufacturers of certain construction materials like steel, concrete, cement, flat glass and insulation. Nice work, District 12!

Work Continues on the Renewable Fuel Standard - Whether it was oil rig workers striking in California in 1917 for an eight hour day or 2015’s strike over safety, oil workers have joined together for progress. We recognize that one of the most significant challenges in the national oil bargaining program is fair competition, and we are working hard to make that happen.

Thank you to locals in the oil sector for showing tremendous solidarity with their brothers and sisters in the industry regarding our latest targeted action on refineries and RINS (renewable ID numbers). In just a little over one week, you collected nearly 4,000 signatures from members asking the EPA to create a level playing field between large and small refineries.

The Fair Trade Fight Continues -  From the recent appeal of a trade case on truck and bus tires, to an extension of existing duty orders on aluminum extrusions from China to support for an executive order on Buy American and steel’s importance to national security from the Administration, the USW is continuing to push for a level playing field.
“Congress should be a partner in advocating using existing tools, and creating new ones when necessary, to revitalize domestic manufacturing and promote job creation and retention,” said International President Leo W. Gerard.
And the work continues . . .


Welcome to the Team! - We want to take a moment to welcome two new sisters to the Rapid Response team. District 1 has assigned Randie Pearson as the District Rapid Response Coordinator, stepping in for Donnie Blatt who was recently promoted to Assistant to the Director. Randie comes to us from Local 915, bringing with her a range of knowledge and broadening our expertise in the oil sector. In District 2, Sue Brown comes to us from the Blue Green Alliance where she has spent the last few years giving labor a voice in the green economy. Prior to her work there, Sue was a successful Rapid Response coordinator for Local 5965. Sue is stepping in for Jay McMurran who recently retired. We are excited for the new editions and we thank both Donnie and Jay for their many years of tireless work helping to make Rapid Response what it is today.
 

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District 7 activists get trained on the basics.


From the Ground Up - We know that Rapid Response cannot exist without well trained and educated local unions. The program is and always has been meant for educating members in their locals on the issues that affect our working lives. We need strong networks to achieve that goal. If your local is in need of one-on-one training, our coordinators stand ready to assist. They are willing to come to you and help you find ways to engage your members and build strong program. Please contact your District Coordinator to schedule – you can find their information HERE.


Please stay tuned for more ways to take action. In the meantime, find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/USWRapidResponse!


 

Rapid Response InfoAlert

 

Currency Manipulation Kills Jobs

  

Because different countries have different currencies, the value of those currencies should fluctuate in a manner which is fair for all trading partners. Currency exchange markets are supposed to be self-correcting and balance out as markets shift, ensuring everyone is on a level playing field. However, when countries like China, Japan, Malaysia and others choose to manipulate the process, we lose out.

USW President Leo W. Gerard sums it up in his latest blog: “Foreign countries spend billions buying American treasury bonds. That strengthens the value of the dollar and weakens foreign currencies. When a country’s currency value drops, it acts like a big fat discount coupon on all of its exports to the United States. And it serves simultaneously as an obscene tax on all U.S. exports to that country.”
Last week, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a report showing that America’s ballooning $177.9 billion trade deficit in 2015 with the 11 other countries in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) translated into two million job losses nationwide. Pure and simple, countries that manipulate their currency are killing our jobs, and we are about to open the door through the TPP to allow some of the worst offenders more access to our market – with no way to stop that behavior.

What are the impacts on your state? Click on the following map from EPI to see.

 

Net U.S. jobs eliminated by
U.S. trade deficit with TPP countries, by state, 2015

(as a share of total state employment)

Map of Current TPP Country Trade Deficit Impacts by State - 2015

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Rapid Response InfoAlert

 

Why We Fight
#StopTPP

  

     

This was yesterday.

NAFTA – a defining trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada – took effect in 1994. After more than two decades of refusing to comply with its commitments, the Mexican government’s failures to adequately protect workers’ rights continues to have a direct impact on workers here and there.

“Since the passage of NAFTA, low wages and inadequate workers’ rights (combined with extraordinary investor protections) in Mexico have resulted in billions of dollars of investment by U.S. companies in Mexican operations to serve the U.S. market. . .This has a clear, direct and continuing negative impact on U.S. wages and employment, which the TPP is likely to exacerbate rather than remedy given the U.S.’s failure to insist that Mexico fully comply – in law and in practice – with internationally recognized labor rights before the TPP heads to Congress for a vote.”

-  From the “Dissenting Views of Leo W. Gerard, James P. Hoffa and Dennis D. Williams on the Trans Pacific Partnership prepared for the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations”
While the USW will continue our strong partnership with our union allies in Mexico to improve the lives of workers on both sides of the border, we’ll also keep fighting for every job, like the 1,400 being lost in Indiana.

We need you in this fight. #StopTPP

 

Download a printable copy.

 

 

Rapid Response InfoAlert

 

Leaders of TPP Countries Signed the Deal.
Now What?

  

Yesterday evening in New Zealand, the U.S. trade ambassador and his counterparts from other Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) nations officially signed the deal. While this is another step in the process, it does not “start the clock” for Congress to act. We continue to have a window to press our lawmakers to oppose this disaster.

When will Congress vote on the TPP?

It could come later this spring or it could be after the November elections – but it is coming.

Under the Fast Track law, the International Trade Commission (ITC) is tasked with issuing a report on the TPP’s economic impact. USW International President Leo W. Gerard testified at their recent hearing, laying out our union’s opposition. The ITC is also taking written comment. (Note: If you want to weigh in, one easy way is by adding your name to the Citizens Trade Campaign’s comments that will go to the ITC this month.)

The ITC has up to 105 days to issue their report now that the TPP has been signed. The http://images.usw.org/download/rapid/TPP2.png  President is expected to wait until after that report comes out to submit TPP legislation to Congress. When it is introduced, the TPP votes could happen quickly as a result of Fast Track. Those backing the TPP want to make sure they’re building support before Congress gets the legislation, but they’ve got problems and that’s good for us. The votes aren’t there now.
Our job is to expose the TPP for the job-killing deal that it is and prevent support from building. If the TPP is introduced, Congress should swiftly and soundly defeat it.

That’s why the national postcard action getting underway now is so critical (packages should be getting to local presidents now). It’s also why we need you in D.C. for the upcoming Rapid Response and Legislative Conference. Requests for action will keep coming as our union works on all fronts to beat back this bad deal.

 


Make a Call Next Week
Next Wednesday, a group of USW members from states surrounding D.C. will be taking part in a multi-union lobby day on the TPP. Let’s give them a boost by calling our U.S. Representatives on Monday and Tuesday and telling them to oppose the TPP!

On Monday & Tuesday, dial 866-202-5409
to be connected with your Representative.
Tell him or her to OPPOSE the TPP!

  

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Download a printable copy.

 

 

 

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Understanding Our Trade Crisis

 

Plant closures. Massive layoffs. Devastated communities. Our country’s trade crisis is at a boiling point.

At yesterday evening’s State of the Union Address, Dan Hill attended as a guest of Senator Amy Klobuchar. Dan is one of nearly 2,000 Steelworkers who have been laid-off from Minnesota’s Iron Range due to an unprecedented surge in subsidized Chinese steel being dumped into the U.S. market. He made a profound statement about community impacts that result when jobs are lost to bahttp://images.usw.org/download/rapid/DanHill_SOTU.pngd trade.

It doesn’t matter whether you work in healthcare or manufacturing, for the government or at a mine, we’ve all got something to lose. As Dan notes, “It’s not just the miners. It’s the entire community.”


Click HERE to hear Dan’s comments.

 

Join in the Fight

  

In the coming weeks, Rapid Response will be launching a national action on trade. Make sure you’re plugged in. Watch for:

  • A Series of InfoAlerts – These will highlight issues such as currency manipulation, overcapacity, state-owned enterprises, rules of origin and other trade-related topics. This series will share what we are facing currently and what’s at stake should the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pass.
     
  • A National Postcard Action – Your local will also be receiving a packet of postcards and detailed instructions on what to do with them. They will be used for lobby visits, coordinated deliveries and more to ensure that our legislators know another trade agreement such as the TPP is not in the best interest of American families.
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  • Requests for Specific Action – Depending on where you are in the country and whether or not your Senators or Representative are on the fence on TPP, we may need you to take additional action. Please help out if called upon!

Please be sure your members are getting the information they deserve to know and are getting the opportunity to take action. As always, thank you for all that you do and all that we are about to ask you to do. Your voices make the difference.

 

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Closing Out 20 Years of Educating, Empowering and Engaging
. . . and continuing that legacy in the new year!

   

In 2015, we celebrated twenty years of the best grassroots legislative program in thhttp://images.usw.org/download/rapid/RR_20.jpge labor  movement. We take pride in how far the program has come in that time. Steelworkers like you are ensuring our voices are heard in the places where decisions are being made. Join us in reflecting on another year of important work.                             
This year, you:

  • Carried Out Nearly 40 Different Actions – Whether it was fighting off roll-backs to workers’ rights in Pennsylvania, protecting unemployment benefits in Ohio, stalling a bill to weaken workers compensation in Wisconsin, advocating for Buy American in New York or pushing to increase the minimum wage in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Steelworkers were there – over and over again!
  • Blocked Right to Work – In Missouri, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois and New Mexico, you fended off out-of-state, billionaire-backed efforts to undermine our unions. Overwhelming odds prevented victory in Wisconsin, but Steelworkers there are standing strong. We’re building on our experience and preparing for the next round in 2016.
  • Built Support for Key Trade Cases – You engaged in our efforts to challenge unfair and illegal trade. Positive outcomes in these trade cases deliver relief for our domestic industries as they fight to remain contenders in the global economy.
  • Took on Attempts to Undermine Refinery Jobs – You mobilized to defeat a provision in California that would have harmed our refinery workers there. At the national level, oil workers and other USW members generated 50,000 letters to keep our crude oil here, hand delivering them to lawmakers in places like Louisiana, Texas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere around the nation. We’re disappointed that Congress recently delivered a windfall for Big Oil by lifting the ban on crude exports, but our activism will continue.
  • Mobilized to Repeatedly Beat Back Fast Track – We hit back against every deceptive attempt to advance this bill, keeping votes to the slimmest of margins and even getting it voted down along the way. The effort included hundreds of meetings with lawmakers and tens of thousands of letters and petition signatures. Members rallied, demonstrated and acted again and again. Even though Fast Track ultimately became law, the labor movement and allies showed unprecedented unity and there was union-wide participation, including many Steelworkers taking action for the first time.
  • Kicked Off the TPP Fight – As we enter into 2016, our eyes are on defending our industries from unfair trade and making sure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is stopped. We know that this trade agreement will only continue the legacy of lost jobs for American workers and devastation in our communities.

Buckle up, Steelworkers. The coming year is critical. By working together, we will continue to make a difference for the next twenty years. See you in 2016!

 

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