U.S. Postal Service: 2015 opens with new bills to save delivery


As the new year opens, Post Master Donahue is still preparing ways to cut Saturday Mail Delivery and downsize postal service facilities where mail is sorted  – in moves that are designed to sabotage and destroy a successful public service. Two new bills are being introduced into Congress, legislation designed to keep the postal network intact: H.Res. 12 to preserve six-day delivery and H.Res. 28 to protect door delivery! To stay tuned in on how you can help support this important legislation, and to learn about other actions, go to DeliveringforAmerica.com. Hands off the U.S. Post Office! Save Saturday Delivery!10917976_414207765401862_1223682231130539729_o

Governor Inslee: It’s time for a fair COLA!

Below is the text from a petition to Governor Jay Inslee, initiated by Washington Public Employees Association. Other unions representing state workers are also planning actions, and strategizing on how to stop the austerity and concessions that the Washington State Legislature has imposed on public employees, since at least 2008. State workers are being told to tighten their belts at a time that huge corporations are raking in record profits. Let’s remember that Gov. Inslee helped Boeing get $8 billion in tax breaks! Please go to the link at the bottom of this page and sign the petition.


The facts are clear: Classified state employees have not received an across-the-board salary increase in more than six years, and during part of that time they sustained a 3% salary reduction. Also during this period, health care premiums were increased by 25% and the Consumer Price Index rose by more than 12%.

The conclusion is obvious: Classified state employees need a fair cost of living adjustment (COLA) along with stable health care costs.

Governor Inslee: It’s time for a fair COLA along with stable health care costs for classified state employees.




After one year in prison, join the effort to Free Nestora Salgado

This article is reprinted from The Stand, Washington State Labor Council

salgado-nestora(Aug. 19, 2014) — Nearly one year ago, on Aug. 21, 2013, Renton resident Nestora Salgado, a naturalized U.S. citizen and leader of a legal indigenous community defense force in her hometown of Olinalá, Guerrero, was arrested. For 12 months, she has been imprisoned in Mexico on false charges and denied the right to see her lawyers.

A federal judge’s orders to free her have been ignored. Kept in isolation without medical attention, she represents hundreds of people in self-defense groups who have been jailed for defending their communities against powerful, politically connected criminal cartels. In Guerrero, indigenous people have the constitutional right to form such forces, known as comunitaria; they have been emulated in other states and communities by Mexicans who consider it a necessity for self-preservation and dignity.

TAKE A STAND — Join Nestora’s family, attorneys and supporters in demanding action from the Mexican government at a press conference at 11 a.m. this Thursday, Aug. 21 at the Mexican Consulate, 2132 3rd Ave. in Seattle. Attend Thursday’s Free Nestora Salgado rally from 4 to 6 p.m. outside the Federal Building, 915 2nd Ave. in Seattle. Contact our U.S. Senators and tell them that one year is too long! Contact Sen. Patty Murray — 206-553-5545 or via email — and Sen. Maria Cantwell — 206-220-6400 orvia email — and urge them both to speak out publicly NOW and call for Nestora Salgado’s release. Learn more, request a speaker, or donate via www.FreeNestora.org orFreeNestora.Seattle@gmail.com or on Facebook.

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO (WSLC) has called for Nestora Salgado’s release, urging U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to press for her release. Likewise, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-9th) has urged the same, saying:

I am extremely troubled by the circumstances around Nestora’s arrest and am outraged at reports of deplorable conditions and treatment that violate her basic human rights. I sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to ensure due process, access to attorneys, and a fair trial for Nestora. I also voiced my concerns, and the concerns of Nestora’s family, for her inhumane treatment, and asked that the U.S. Embassy use all means necessary to ensure her health and safety while she is detained.  Every individual should have the right to due process, and I will continue to work with Nestora’s family and her legal representation at Seattle University to push for justice and fairness.

Following is a resolution approved by the WSLC Executive Board in February 2014:

Approved by the WSLC Executive Board on Feb. 6, 2014

WHEREAS, Nestora Salgado is a resident of Renton, Washington, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and an indigenous leader imprisoned in Tepic, Mexico; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Salgado and the indigenous citizens of her hometown of Olinalá, Mexico, decided to defend themselves from drug traffickers, corrupt politicians, and exploitation by mining companies by organizing their own legally-sanctioned, democratically-elected community police force with Ms. Salgado as their coordinator; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Salgado’s duties included working to reduce domestic violence and child abuse and engaging in conflict resolution and community building; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Salgado was jailed and falsely charged with kidnapping after community police officers under her command arrested the sheriff of Olinalá on theft charges and she insisted he stand trial like every other citizen; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Salgado is being denied medicine and medical attention in jail; and

WHEREAS, over 120 organizations and individuals have endorsed the campaign to free Nestora, including the Seattle Human Rights Commission, Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 8, Washington Federation of State Employees Local 304, Puget Sound Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound Coalition of Labor Union Women, the National Lawyers Guild, Central Puget Sound Carpenters Union Local 30, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) San Francisco Chapter, United American Indians of New England, and the Seattle Martin Luther King Celebration Committee 2013-2014; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council endorses the “Libertad para Nestora/Freedom for Nestora” campaign and urges affiliated organizations to do the same; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council urge the U.S. State Department to take immediate and rigorous action to secure Ms. Salgado’s release.

Familias Unidas por la Justicia — On the March!

July 11Farm workers at Sakuma Brothers Berry Farms in Skagit Valley are marking the one-year anniversary of their formation as a worker-led, independent union. In that time, they have won several crucial victories. Sakuma Brothers CEO’s were forced to back off plans to hire “guest workers” as a means to illegally replace the 400-plus union members. A Skagit County Judge awarded $850,000 to the workers as a result of retaliation they had suffered — all of it illegal on the part of Sakuma in response to strikes held by Familias Unidas last year to win better wages and conditions. And in late June, a judge ruled that Sakuma Brothers can’t dump family housing they have long provided, in favor of sex-segregated housing that is designed to keep union members and their families out. Also, Sakuma can’t refuse to rehire those workers who were active in union organizing last year. Now Familias is fighting for a first union contract. Be part of this historic labor organizing. If you aren’t already on the OWLS email list for updates, just write to Owls@riseup.net — and see you Friday, July 11!

Gather at Burlington, WA, Cook Road Exit 232 at 10am. Head East and look for the banners!

Fighting for Justice at Sakuma Berry Farms

In 2013, Sakuma Brothers Farms was the scene of a historic labor struggle, as farmworkers waged rolling strikes during the berry harvest season to demand better treatment, living conditions and wages. Organized into Familias Unidas por la Justicia (Families United for Justice), an independent union, many of the leaders and members have worked at Sakuma Farms for more than a decade.

Now Sakuma Brothers is trying to retaliate against farmworkers as the new berry season begins. Farm worker leaders will be speaking at the June OWLS meeting (see events) about their boycott against Sakuma, and efforts to win a first contract. Visit boycottsakumaberries.com for info on the boycott! And don’t eat Sakuma Berries until justice is won!



An Open Letter to Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela

March 18, 2014

Karen Valenzuela, Commissioner District 3

Thurston County Courthouse, Building One, Room 269

2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia, WA 98502-1045

Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity is a group of union activists based in Seattle Washington. Our  goal is to reach across union lines and support our brothers and sisters in their union battles.  We stand in solidarity with all workers now under assault by the expedient, partisan forces seeking to undermine and deny workers their hard-earned rights.

We are writing to protest your move to privatize the custodian services at the Thurston County Court House. We consider this union busting, and all the worse that it is being done by a political representative who calls herself a friend of labor.  Why do the attacks always start with those on the bottom, the ones who do essential, but unrecognized, undervalued work, and are the lowest paid? Government should set an example as a good employer–and not be first in line for the race to the bottom.

Contracting out compromises the security of information and public assets. Private companies are not subject to the same public scrutiny as public employees, who are required to operate in an open arena. These conditions create opportunities for corruption, such as bid-rigging, bribery and kickbacks.

Privatizing public services where profit is the prime motivation, not service delivery, is a disservice to the public tax payers.  Profit comes from cutting corners by skimping on the quality and quantity of work performed and not paying a livable wage.  The local economy and tax base suffers as decent jobs with benefits are replaced with low-wage and no-benefits. The negative social impact of outsourcing can be wide-ranging.  Low-wage positions contribute to maintaining a disadvantaged underclass and wind up costing tax payers more through the need for social services, lower income-tax revenue and increased healthcare costs.

As one of the Commissioners on the Board of Health it seems that you would be more educated than most on the importance of janitorial services and their contribution to the overall health of the public.

Innovative and responsible government leaders know that genuine partnerships with labor are the best way to truly improve service delivery. Public resources are most efficiently and effectively deployed when front-line workers are respected and managers work together with them for the public good.

These are just a few of the reasons that Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity strongly opposes your promoting the replacement of public employees with a private for-profit company.


Katherine Wiles, for Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity

PO Box 14153, Seattle, WA 98103

Cc:  Cathy Wolfe, Commissioner District 1, Sandra Romero, Commissioner District 2

Don’t Outsource Thurston County

The latest battle front in the war against privatization and outsourcing moves to Thurston County, Olympia — in the capitol of Washington State. County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela wants to outsource low-paying custodial jobs to an even lower-paying private contractor.

The good news is that American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are collaborating with Washington Public Employees Association to picket Valenzuela’s first campaign event for her re-election. See the Events listed on this website for details. Valenzeula was originally endorsed by labor, and it is heartening to see that now unions are mobilizing to picket her, in an effort to stop this betrayal. Keep an eye on Thurston County. No outsourcing of custodial jobs!

Mobility is a human right! Fund public transportation

Across the U.S., public transit funding is being gutted as one means to privatize this essential service. In Puget Sound, federal, state, and local officials have created an artificial crisis for bus service that has already hurt thousands of riders. While state and federal officials bear blame, so do city and county politicians. Join OWLS at a public hearing on Oct. 14 to raise protest to looming 17 percent service cuts at Metro. (see the event page for details). And see below for the impact of these cuts, and some ways that Metro’s fake crisis could be resolved.

King County/Metro Transit carries 80 percent of Seattle riders. Its funding crisis threatens to leave thousands of workers and transit-dependent people stranded. More cuts are on the way. Meanwhile, County officials plan to hike fares again in 2014.
State Legislators need to implement permanent, progressive solutions to end the ongoing crisis for bus service. Local officials have a role to play too — instead of cutting Metro while they push pet projects, such as stadiums. Here are some steps they could take:
–County Exec Constantine, Mayor McGinn, and Seattle Councilman Conlin, who sit on the Sound Transit (ST) board, could delay pricey rail/streetcar studies and expansions, and redirect monies to save service. An example, end the $3 million street car “study” to Ballard!
–The County could cap management wages at $50/hr. & cut top-heavy management.
–ST should use their tax authority to implement a “head tax” on large employers like Amazon. The small “tax” for each employee would restore hours of service.
–Local governments could find revenue that doesn’t require legislative approval, such as higher fees on developers like Vulcan, who benefit from infrastructure.
–Local officials should press the Legislature for progressive tax solutions. A steeply-graduated income tax on millionaires and corporations could raise hundreds of millions of dollars. Enough to fund all the public services that residents need.
Voice your support for fully funding Metro and reversing fare hikes:
Call: Dow Constantine, County Exec – 206-296-4040
Mike McGinn, Seattle Mayor – 206-684-4000

Defend Public Transit!

Across the U.S., public transit is being slashed and privatized. In the Bay Area, BART transit workers — members of SEIU and ATU — have waged a heroic strike to defend living wages and safety on the job. This fight is a byproduct of the overall attack on public transit.

Let's not make this Metro's future.

Let’s not make this Metro’s future.

Meanwhile, the tsunami of cuts is finally hitting the shores of Puget Sound full force. Metro/King County is announcing it will have to cut service by 17 percent if new funding is not forthcoming. In Pierce and Snohomish, service has already suffered from cuts of around 30 percent — leaving riders in outlying suburbs and rural areas of both counties without bus service.

OWLS has long taken the position that Mobility is a Human Right! The way to make that real is to fight for progressive, stable funding that will not be subject to ups and downs of the economy the way funding is now. Sales taxes, fare hikes, and flat excise taxes on vehicles hit the poorest people hardest. The announcement of new cuts to Metro/King County (on top of previous cuts) is both a crisis and opportunity to fight for the progressive funding public transit desperately needs. In the next few weeks, there are several opportunities to get involved in this fight. See the OWLS events section for details.

And help raise your voice with OWLS: Stop the cuts and restore service already cut. Restore rest breaks for drivers. Rollback the fare hikes. Tax the rich and wealthy corporations that are so abundant in King County to fully fund mass public transit!

Day 84 on strike against Belshaw

Strikers at Belshaw Brothers on the strike line in Auburn.

Strikers at Belshaw Brothers on the strike line in Auburn.

July 18, 2013 was day 84 on the picket line at Belshaw-Adamatic. Members of Machinists Local 79 laid down their tools in March and have picketed outside the Auburn bakery-equipment manufacturing plant ever since. Management wants steep concessions on pensions, healthcare benefits and outsourcing. In return, workers are being offered a miserly bonus. Belshaw boss Roger Faw also wants the right to permanently replace about half the work force with scabs. As one veteran Belshaw worker (now retired) said, folks on the shop floor want to be treated with respect. Instead, they are served up with abuse and belittlement by Faw.

But the strikers are standing strong. They unanimously rejected a contract offer that would enable Belshaw to retain replacement workers and bring strikers back on an “as needed” basis. Yesterday, Machinists held a solidarity rally to let Belshaw know they intend to hold the line for as long as it takes to win a fair contract — including bringing all the workers back. They were joined by SPEEA, Steelworkers, IAM 751, ATU, Teamsters, OWLS, Retirees, MLKC Labor Council, UFCW, and more.

This is a clear union busting attempt on the part of Belshaw-Adamatic. For years the company has served up profits to its owners because the work force is so highly productive and skilled. Now, in a tough climate for labor contracts, the bosses want to wring concessions from their dedicated workforce. Help these Machinists hold the line “one day longer, one day stronger.” Pickets are running Monday through Friday, 6am-5pm in Auburn, at 814 44th St. NW (Google has easy instructions). On Saturdays, the picket runs from 12 noon to 2pm. And be sure to call Belshaw at 206-322-5474. Let Roger know that donuts and scabs don’t mix!