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

WSLC 2024 Legislative Conference Report Out I drove to Olympia, Wednesday, January 31st for the Washington State Labor Council executive board meeting and legislative conference. The meeting began with a working lunch and a guest speaker. Cami Feek is the commissioner of the Employment Security Department (ESD). Cami gave a brief history of her work experience and background. She was appointed during the Covid pandemic after being a long time state employee in ESD. ESD paid out 21 billion dollars during the covid pandemic, that is the equivalent of 18 years of benefits paid out in 18 months. Cami stated that ESD did not do a good job handling claims, the state was just overwhelmed. At one point in time the state was hiring 100 workers at a time and used online training to get them going. They have stabilized the workforce now and they keep 450 retired agents available in an emergency by letting them continue to train and retain skills virtually. 647 million was paid out in fraud but the state has recovered 420 million and continues to work to reduce the amount lost to fraud. There were 120,000 overpayments made to Washington workers and the state continues to claw those overpayments back. There is a process for people who through no fault of their own spent the overpayments and now struggle to pay the money back. The WSLC is working on a bill, HB1893/SB5777, to allow striking workers to collect unemployment benefits while on strike. Currently, at least two states (New York, New Jersey) have passed legislation that does just that. Commissioner Feeks said that the unemployment fund is healthy now and could handle the demand if that legislation is passed. There was approval of quarterly financials and then an update on the short 60-day legislative session and the status of various bills the labor council is supporting. We met back at 6pm, Wednesday evening to meet and speak with legislators who attended. I spent most of the night speaking with USW local 12-591 President Scott Cambell and two others from his Local. Scott continues to work on Hydrogen development and deal with contractual issues. Listening to their struggles reminded me again of how good 338 has it. The reception was packed with rank-and-file members, union leadership and Washington lawmakers and is designed to strengthen the ties between unions and our representatives. We met at 9am on Thursday to get credentialed for the special COPE meeting later in the morning. WSLC President Sims gave opening remarks on changes and accomplishments with WSLC and then two panels addressed the convention. The first panel was a bi-partisan group of representatives and senators. The Republicans that spoke were Republicans that have a record of voting occasionally for Labor sponsored bill. 6th LD Senator Jeff Holy from Spokane was one of the speakers and was well received for voicing that he tries to do the right thing even when it is not popular. The second panel was comprised of various union workers who spoke about individual bills and why it was important to support the legislation. Governor Inslee closed out the panels with a rousing speech supporting labor and how he is going to continue to fight for workers rights until the very end of his term. The Governor spoke out against the captive meetings companies use to keep workers from organizing and his support of unemployment benefits for striking workers. We had a box lunch and then the COPE meeting was called to order for the purpose of endorsing Bob Ferguson for Governor. The vote was almost unanimous in favor, there were a handful of no votes but who ever the union was voting no, they did not stand and speak to their position, and they left the room immediately after the vote. Bob Ferguson is now the WSLC endorsed candidate for Washington Governor. When the meeting was over all the conference attendees made their way to capital hill to meet with representatives and senators at our appointed times. I was paired with two others, Joseph Hancock president of WFSE/AFSME local 1221 and a retiree from the Machinists all of us live in the 4th LD. We were able to meet with all three of our legislators but that is about all we were able to accomplish. All three Republican legislators in the 4th were very firm no’s, that they would not support any of the bills we were there to lobby for. Everyone at the conference was given a legislative report with score cards for every legislator, unsurprisingly our representatives in the 4th LD have the lowest scores for supporting labor. We remained respectful but explained our reasons why we felt the bills should be passed, but none of the three were moved to change their positions, which did not come as a surprise. I feel it is still important to meet with those who do not support labor if for no other reason than to remind them that even though they enjoy the majority of opinion in the 4th, there are those who feel very different and are working to make important gains for working men and women. We asked for support on bills for unemployment for striking workers, sanitary conditions for women working in construction jobs, prohibiting captive meetings, and digital signatures for organizing. There is still much work to be done to protect workers, it was reported that employers cheat workers out of 15 billion dollars a year in various ways, such as not paying airline workers until the door closes for the flight to take off. For more information on the conference, there is an excellent report with pictures online on the “The Stand” the virtual newsletter published by the WSLC. https://www.thestand.org/ Respectfully, Ted Cummings