A Tribute to Labor’s Mighty Women Hospitality Workers!

OWLS Meeting – Tuesday, March 26, 6:30pm

For Women’s Herstory Month, OWLS delves into the underreported news
on the recent strike waves of hospitality workers.
Maxine Reigel, former HERE
member and waitress, tells how this predominantly
female workforce won significant gains in Los Angeles,
Detroit and Las Vegas, by practicing ironclad solidarity
and militant shop-floor organizing.
Also featured: Rideshare Drivers’ legislation, OWLS
elections, Palestine Solidarity organizing, and more.
Everyone is welcome!

Meeting location: Washington State Labor Council Offices
321 16th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144 (Corner of 16th & Jackson)

Seattle educators: fighting for their students and teaching the truth!

OWLS Meeting – Tuesday, February 27, 6:30pm

Rank-and-file teachers are in the frontlines of fighting for fully-funded schools and defending anti-racist policies and free speech for students and staff. Members of SCORE (Seattle Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators) who are members of the Seattle Education Association will report on their efforts to elevate student voices and promote union democracy in order to bring these issues to the forefront.
Also featured:  Reports on the 2024 National Labor Notes Conference, OWLS elections, Palestine Solidarity organizing, and more. Everyone is welcome!

Meeting location:
Washington State Labor Council offices, 321 16th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144 (16th & Jackson)

Mark Your Calendar!

The following events are great opportunities to start the new year off with a kick:
Friday, January 12 at Noon 
–  A conversation about the Million Worker March
Seattle Labor Temple
5030 1st Ave, Seattle
The panel Q&A discussion with renown labor historian Peter Cole and founding participants of the Million Worker March that includes Gabriel Prawl.
Hosted by the Revels Cayton Institute for Industrial Unionism and co-sponsored by the Asa Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) and the West Coast African American Longshore Coalition (AALC)

OWLS MEETING: Tuesday, January 23 at 6:30pm
At the Washington State Labor Council offices
321 16th Avenue S.,Seattle

Solidarity with Gaza! Stop the Bombing!

At the last OWLS meeting on November 28, the featured topic was on “Defend free speech: Stop Harassment of Pro-Palestine Voices.” There was also a report on union resolutions and solidarity actions that workers are taking up on behalf of embattled Palestinians. In response, OWLS adopted the following [statement] position:
Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity stands with our working-class sisters and brothers in Gaza and calls for:
  • Stop the genocidal bombing and blockade of Gaza now.
  • End U.S. militarily aid to Israel; fund humanitarian aid to Palestinians.
  • No harassment of pro-Palestinian voices on the job, in schools, or by the FBI.

Defend free speech: Stop Harassment of Pro-Palestine Voices

OWLS Meeting: Tuesday, November 28 at 6:30 pm

All eyes are on Gaza’s growing humanitarian crisis as Israel bombs and blockades the occupied territory – with full backing from the White House and Congress. With over 11,000 Palestinians civilians killed, protests are rising across the U.S. But employers, schools and the FBI are cracking down on dissent, especially in Palestinian and Muslim communities.

  • Guest speakers: Executive Director Imraan Siddiqi and Senior Staff Attorney Alex Baron from the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a national Muslim civil rights and advocacy group. They will report on the spike in anti-Arab and Islamophobic incidents and offer advice on how community and union members can respond.
  •  OWLS will also discuss union resolutions and solidarity actions that workers are taking up on behalf of embattled Palestinians.

The OWLS meeting will also feature a round-up of current labor battles, including Seattle city workers who are organizing against low-ball wage offers by the city.

Meeting location: 
Washington State Labor Council Offices, 321 16th Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98144
(corner of 16th Ave S & Jackson St.)

Also: Save the date
Saturday, December 9 – OWLS Winter Holiday Party

Labor and Community Demand a Fair Contract and Full Staffing for City Workers NOW!!!

OWLS October Meeting: Tuesday, Oct. 24, 6:30pm
Washington State Labor Council building
321 16th Ave S, Seattle (corner of S. Jackson and 16th Ave S.)

City of Seattle workers will report on new developments, plans for practice picketing and other measures to ratchet up heat on Mayor Bruce Harrell and city labor negotiators. OWLS members who attended a recent Labor Notes workshop will also share ideas learned there that can be of use in this contract fight and other labor battles erupting in the Puget Sound area.
_____________________________________________________________________   The statement below was handed out by OWLS members at city council hearings 

It’s time for Mayor Bruce Harrell and the City Council to cease and desist with their anti-union antics, stalling and bad-faith wage offers for city workers. Bargain in good faith! Honor our city’s excellent workforce with living wages and fair contracts! City residents deserve fully-staffed, reliable public services that these workers provide.

City workers’ contracts will expire on Dec.31, but the city stalled negotiations for months. Mayor Bruce Harrell then announced an insulting offer of a 1% Cost-of-Living-Adjustment! Meanwhile, Seattle has seen a cumulative 21% rise in inflation in the last three years. (April 2020-April 2023 Consumer Price Index as reported by the Seattle Times.)

After the Coalition of City Unions bargaining team walked out of negotiations over this insulting offer, the City raised its offer to 2.5%. which is still effectively an 18.5% pay cut!

The Coalition then informed the mayor of their intention to hold a rally at City Hall. Mayor Harrell dismissed the idea, saying it would have no impact on him or the contract. “Rally your asses off!” he told them.

But when the Coalition moved ahead with the rally, the Mayor’s office sent the unions a “Cease and Desist” letter saying they would take legal action if union workers held a rally. The letter was filled with inaccurate claims – and was a clear intimidation tactic, which failed. Fifteen hundred workers and supporters showed up to rally at City Hall.

But the insulting COLA isn’t the only issue City workers face

  • Many departments have 14% vacancy rates because the City can’t keep or attract workers. 160 job titles need market rate adjustments to offer competitive salaries.
  • Seattle residents will continue to see the quality of services deteriorate because of these long-standing vacancies. City residents and workers have a common cause.
  • City of Seattle workers need to earn enough money to live in Seattle. Many employees, especially the lowest paid – like admin assistants and cashiers, who are overwhelmingly female and people of color – commute long distances because they cannot afford Seattle rents.
  • Outdoor workers need clear guidelines and more protection during heatwaves and wildfire smoke.

Workers are demanding their just due across the country

City workers in Portland, Oregon and in Los Angeles went on strike this year and won many of their demands. Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS) offered information at the Seattle city workers rally about public workers right to strike. That resonated with many at the rally who felt that city workers need to be prepared to take that step if the city continues to stall and put forward low-ball offers.

Unions and working-class demands have never had more public support than today. Now is the time to call for bold action. For instance, to address chronic understaffing and attrition, the City of San Juan recently agreed to a 32-hour/four-day work week at 40 hours pay. Nationally, striking United Auto Workers are raising that same demand.

Seattle is home to numerous corporate giants and has one of the highest concentrations of millionaires and billionaires in the country. Meanwhile, city workers are being pushed out of the city they serve. The mayor and city council need to get a backbone and start taxing corporations and the ultra-rich and put a stop to the ever-expanding wealth gap in our city. The money is there.

OWLS calls on the community and the broader labor movement to mobilize in support of Seattle city workers!

The Coalition of City Unions is organizing practice picketing in November at several City of Seattle worksites to show the mayor and city council they are making demands, not requests. Show your support by joining the practice picket lines. Ask your friends and neighbors to turn out. City workers already have the support of the community they serve. Now Mayor Harrell and the city council need to see that support.

We also urge community members to call or send emails to Mayor Bruce Harrell and the City Council demanding a fair contract for city workers. Go to “Contact the Mayor” on Seattle.gov or call 206-684-4000. Email the entire city council at council@seattle.gov.


Public Workers and the Right to Strike

Tuesday, September 26 at 6:30 pm
The right to strike is one of labor’s most powerful tools in helping workers win better wages and conditions. How does this jive with former Attorney General Rob McKenna’s statement that public employee strikes are “illegal”? What does Washington State law say? What is the history of public employee strikes here and nationally?
Ben Berger is a senior associate at Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt LLP, a law firm well-known and respected for helping public and private-sector unions and workers in fully exercising their legal rights. During law school he interned with labor groups including Laborers (LIUNA) and the Migrant Farmworkers Project.
Steve Hoffman is a public employee at a community college and shop steward with Wash. Federation of State Employees (AFSCME) Local 304. He helped create a statewide strike committee for AFSCME Council 28 and serves on it now. He has walked many picket lines and written extensively on the power of strikes.
If you are a public employee who is in contract negotiations, or has engaged in strike or work-stoppage activity, bring your stories and questions.

Meeting location: 
Washington State Labor Council Offices
321 16th Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98144
(corner of 16th Ave S & Jackson St.)

A union activist’s guide to fighting discrimination on the job

Tuesday, August 22nd at 6:30 pm

Art Clemens, President of Communication Workers of America, Local 7800, leads a discussion on ways to challenge racism, sexism and other forms of unjust treatment in the workplace. Some unions have strong contract language to grieve discrimination. Some unions have used public pressure tactics to get employers to address the problem.
Learn what different unions are doing and what strong anti-discrimination language might look like. Bring your questions and examples on how to effectively fight injustice on the job.

Labor battles around the Northwest
–Update on rank-and-file response to Teamsters’ Tentative Agreement with UPS, with Aug. 22 being the last day for workers to vote on the TA.
–Workers at City of Seattle are still organizing for a fair and just contract as city officials stick to a stingy, union-busting wage offer of 1 percent for their hardworking public employees.
–Hear from OWLS members who work at Metro why they urged ATU members to reject concessions in a new Tentative Agreement.
Meeting location: 
Washington State Labor Council Offices
321 16th Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98144
(corner of 16th Ave S & Jackson St.)

OWLS Meeting: UW Workers Rising Up!

Tuesday, June 27th at 6:30 pm. WSLC offices 321 16th Ave. S., Seattle

Featured reports:

UW Workers Rising Up!
The “U-Dub,” a multibillion-dollar research institution in wealthy King County, has the workers who keep its hallowed halls running in full rebellion over pay, conditions, and other vital issues. Their stories are full of insights and lessons:
UW Custodian Salvador Castillo, a veteran custodian and Vice President of AFSCME 1495, draws on 30 years’ of organizing experience to tell how powerful labor actions and coalitions with students and community have broken through management’s tactics of fear and retaliation.
Meanwhile, Research Scientists/Engineers and Postdocs at the UW, members of UAW 4121, just secured gains in wages and conditions – focusing on the most vulnerable. Their strike reflects a growing wave of labor militancy on college campuses across the country. Find out what drove their resolve to stay on the picket line “one day longer!”

Labor Battles Around the Northwest
The Emerald City, which takes diamond wages to live, is offering the members of city unions a starvation 1 percent pay raise at the negotiating table. At ports from Los Angeles to Seattle, members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union are fighting automation. Nationally, Teamsters are preparing for a showdown with giant UPS, including over two-tiered contracts. Learn more about these struggles or bring news of your own!

OWLS is meeting in-person! We do not have a hybrid option yet but would welcome technical help from union members who have those talents for future meetings!
Meeting location:
Washington State Labor Council Offices, 321 16th Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98144 (corner of 16th Ave S & Jackson St.)

All Out for Juneteenth!

Juneteenth    In Seattle, Washington, the A Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) and International Longshore and Warehouse Union Locals 19, 52, and 23 will stop work on the day side of Monday, June 19, to commemorate Juneteenth. This holiday, which marks the end of slavery in the U.S., has become an important day to celebrate and recognize the historic and ongoing struggles for racial and social justice, for equality, freedom, and a better world.

In the Pacific Northwest, APRI and ILWU Locals 19, 52, and 98 have played a critical role in initiating a labor commemoration of this holiday, as has ILWU Local 10 in the Bay Area. Organizers are inviting all unions and working class people to join in a march and rally that will begin at the ILWU hall at 10am (3440 E Marginal Way S) and march to Terminal 46 Alaskan Way S. and Atlantic Street, from 11am-1pm. OWLS will have a contingent and is helping to build participation for this important event.