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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Legislation & Education
Ted Cummings


WSLC Convention Report Out


I virtually attended the Washington State Labor Council convention the week of July 19th.  After being able to physically attend and meet with Labor delegates and Officers in Idaho last month it was disappointing to meet through the virtual format again. 


There were over 300 attendees to the convention at different times.


The COPE meeting was very short with no recommendations.


Bill Messenger who worked with our Local to secure TAA approval along with Viona Latschaw, were very deservedly given this year’s Presidents Award for their long-time service to the Labor Council and all they have done for workers facing difficult times across our state.  Bill was also given this year’s Mother Jones Award.  Bill and the staff of the Labor Council secured 180 million dollars in TAA benefits with over 300 approved cases affecting many unions in Washington.


The daily virtual forums were subject to technological problems sometimes starting late but overall a good source of information.  They were mostly a progress report from all the various constituency groups and committees working under the umbrella of the Washington Labor Council.  AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Senator Patty Murray both addressed the convention and urged everyone to get out and support the PRO-Act calling it the most important legislation proposed since the great depression.  Union support across the country is reportedly at a 50 year high and if any pro-labor legislation is going to happen, this is the year to get it done.

 

The WSLC E-board meets for a full day during convention week and performs the business duties of the State Council, approving the financial report, and listening to committee and constituency reports.  Despite the pandemic the council is still doing well financially and providing a framework and resources for the central labor councils and all union workers in Washington State.

Friday after many report outs from across the state, the 2021 Resolutions were voted on by the delegates to the convention.  All Resolutions were passed, and the resolutions can be found on the WSLC website under 2021 convention.


There was a lot of discussion over a motion to vote the resolutions coming from committees to be approved as a slate.  A minority of delegates opposed and spoke against the motion.  Their point of view is that we should read each one and debate each resolution on its merits so that we are all educated and can speak to the resolutions during a report out like this.  It was pointed out that every delegate had access to almost all the resolutions the week before the convention.  Every delegate was able to log in to Zoom and join the committee review the resolution. The final point those made in motioning to vote as a slate is that there is no reason to have committee review, discuss and approve a resolution if each one is going to come before the floor and go through the same process.  Most committees suffer from a lack of participation even though they solicit for members.  It is important to elect and appoint the right representatives because we are trusting them to read and understand the resolution, the time to get involved is during the process not on the last morning of the convention, the process would be bogged down for days.  Ultimately the motions to approve resolutions as a slate passed, and the convention adjourned early Friday afternoon.


Respectfully,

Ted Cummings


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Idaho AFL-CIO Convention Report
By Ted Cummings:

The Idaho AFL-CIO convention was held Sunday June 13th through Wednesday June 16th at the Red Lion in Post Falls Idaho. 

There were 89 delegates from across Idaho and Washington in attendance along with numerous guests and speakers. 

Liz Shuler, Secretary/Treasurer, AFL-CIO was the first of many speakers.  Liz spoke about the importance of supporting the Pro-Act and the role that bill will play in ending right to work, nationwide.  She cited reasons such as it takes over four hundred days for workers to reach a first contract and the fact that the giant non-union business, Amazon, has an injury rate double of most workplaces as examples.  The Pro-Act will reverse the damage from the Taft-Hartley Act which has been in effect since 1947.

USW District 12 Director Gaylon Prescott spoke next and gave an impassioned speech about the challenges the labor movement faces today.  Declining membership has left us with diminished political and social support and strikes today can go on for years instead of being an effective tool at bringing employers to the table to bargain fairly.  Gaylon reiterated the need to pass the Pro-Act so that workforces can not be locked out and permanently be replaced by a scab workforce.  Gaylon’s speech was extremely well received by all the delegates and was referenced many times throughout the rest of the convention.

Idaho AFL-CIO President Joe Maloney spoke about and opened discussion on Resolution #2, Special Assessment to Support the Political Program of the Idaho AFL-CIO.  This resolution which is about funding a full-time lobbyist was the central topic of the convention and caused much concern and discussion over the cost, and the reaction from the general membership to spend the money.  The motion was passed on the final day of the convention by a comfortable margin, but it remains to be seen what level of support it will generate from all the affiliates. 

Tammy Johnson, Executive Secretary Wyoming AFL-CIO addressed the convention and describe her challenges and successes in a red state, she focused on wins no matter how small and in building relationships wherever she can find them.

David Kearns, OSHA Area Director gave a very frank and honest report on workplace safety.  He had slides of horrific accidents that were tough to look at.  He pointed out that virtually all accidents are preventable.  He spoke about the effect on co-workers who witness workplace traumatic injury and death and sadly reported that at times the trauma has led to a co-worker committing suicide.  Investigating these injuries often brings out that while the employer has extensive policies and procedures to show investigators, workers on the floor frequently report they would be fired if they followed those policies and that those policies only exist on paper.  David shared that the most successful safety programs are the ones that use a team approach and use a “we are our brother’s keeper” mentality. Mr. Kearns acknowledge that he would not have a job without unions and that it was union support that led to the creation of OSHA.   Idaho ranks among the top five highest occupational death rates in the western United States. There is one OSHA inspector for every ninety-one thousand three hundred forty employees.  It would take them one hundred sixty-nine years to inspect every business in Idaho.  Most common comment from injured workers is “I never thought it would happen to me”.

I chose to attend the Columbia Basin Initiative Q&A with Justin Hayes as my breakout session on Tuesday.  This is a controversial proposal to breach four dams on the Snake River.  This proposal comes from Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson and was met very unfavorably with most in attendance.  Many USW members who work at the papermill were vocal about their disapproval of the proposal.  Mr. Hayes did a great job getting the data and facts out and handled the mostly hostile crowd very professionally.  It does not sound like the bill has much of a chance but what stuck with me the most is his comment that change is coming. Whether we like it or not, we should be in on the discussions on how to best mitigate the coming changes. 

That theme of being at the table or on the menu came up repeatedly and I believe it is true.  I hear over and over from members who tell me they do not follow politics.  The problem is if we are not involved, the people who do not share our views, end up writing the rules and impacting our lives in ways that are not favorable to our families or communities. 

The Tuesday night banquet was a great evening, especially when our brother Dale Broadsword was recognized for his many years of union efforts, receiving the Robert MacFarlane Award!  Congratulations Dale, well deserved!!

Wednesday morning the convention reconvened to debate and vote on the ten resolutions that had come before the convention. 

I am happy to discuss the convention in more detail with anyone who has questions.

Ted Cummings

WA Legislative and Education