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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right to work
Ted cummings, committee chair

Right to Work Summit Report Out

I recently attended the AFL-CIO’s Right to Work Summit in Los Angeles on June 28th and 29th.  Originally they hoped for two hundred to two hundred fifty attendees.  They stopped accepting reservations for the Summit when it reached 850 reservations.
28 States are now right to work states and there is national legislation being introduced to make right to work the law of the land.  Organizations like State Policy Network and the Heritage Foundation, funded by people like the Koch brothers are actively supporting right to work.

A speaker from the state of Iowa which has been right to work since 1947 talked about how they cope in a state openly hostile to unions. Right to work is not the only tool being used to attack labor.  Legislation has been introduced that purges voters from records if they do not vote within two years, requiring the voter to re-register to vote again.  They passed voter ID laws to stop the poor and minorities from voting.  The Iowa Republican controlled house approved a bill to return minimum wage from 10 dollars to 7.25.
The speakers stressed the importance of speaking with all new hires and constantly talking to members and those who choose to opt out and they have had success with aggressive interaction with workers.  Union reps are holding continuous town hall type meetings to get the message out about the importance of union membership.
AFSME changed their by-laws to make union leadership appointed in an attempt to keep dissent among their leaders at a minimum and removed those who are not consistently on message.  They spend one third of their budget on LOA for reps to be out organizing and signing members up. They have an 80 to 88% membership in a right to work state.

Speakers urged unions to be creative and work with their companies to help contain costs and benefits.  Citing an example where the union and company joined together to bargain for a better price on insulin which has risen in cost 400%.

The summit stressed the importance of auditing and measuring to make sure unions are making their goals of contacting and serving membership.

Another speaker shared how European unions exist without closed shops and asked why American unions could not survive national right to work as well.  She talked about the importance of not focusing on the 5% of members who always seem to need representation and focus on the other 95% of the members.  She talked about how important it is to communicate with that 95% to let them know what the union does and how it is working for them.
Union Lawyers presented membership cards with specific language and two signature places.  They discussed strategies like staggering enrollment dates to prevent large drops in revenue for unions.  They also presented a long list of things that locals should ask for in negotiations, almost all of the suggestions we already have in place here at Trentwood and Alutek.
My take away from the meeting was that Janus, the upcoming Supreme Court case ruling expected in June of 2018, is predicted to go against labor and that right to work will then become the law of the land, so we should prepare now.  Those preparations include getting out and educating our members about what is coming and getting commitments to voluntarily continuing to pay dues. Locals should make financial decisions now that will take into consideration that their finances could potentially sharply change next year.

I went to the Summit in the hopes of getting some specific questions answered on why I believe that right to work should not be allowed and I am still pursuing those answers.  I believe that unions should continue to look for creative ways to beat what I believe is an unfair and discriminatory law.  Our local is dedicated to protecting our members, preserving, and advancing fair wages and benefits.  To do that we have to vigorously defend our contract with the company while at the same time remaining engaged and informed about local, state and national legislation that threatens our livelihood.

RTW Ted Cummings 062017