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Monday, December 16

Tension grows within Machinists' union as some members call for vote on latest contract offer

Tension grows within Machinists’ union as some members call for vote on latest contract offer
Some members of the Puget Sound Machinists’ union are rallying this week in an attempt to force a vote on a new contract offer from Boeing. The on-again-off-again negotiations, which could decide where the company builds the next generation 777 airliner, resumed briefly last week, but quickly collapsed once again when union leaders rejected a sweetened deal, saying it was too similar to an earlier proposal. Gov. Jay Inslee quickly called for a rank-and-file vote despite the union leadership’s action, and now some Machinists said they will ask the National Labor Relations Board to help force a vote on the deal. Meanwhile, the company is evaluating proposals from 22 states to build the 777X and its high-tech composite wing. Boeing also announced Thursday that up to 1,200 technology research jobs would be leaving Washington for new sites in Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina – all states contending to build the 777X.

SeaTac measure survives hand recounts, but does $15 minimum wage really help workers?

A hand recount confirmed the narrow passage of SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage measure last week, but the battle continues in the courts over whether a city initiative can trump state and federal laws regulating airlines and ports. Still, the vote has galvanized a growing nationwide push for a $15 minimum wage. Economics warn, however, than sudden dramatic jumps in pay rates for low-skill and entry-level workers can backfire and harm the very workers they are intended to help. Indeed, America’s current fixation on economic inequality should shift to a focus on increasing economic mobility, Richard Davis of the Washington Research Council writes in The Herald (tiered paywall): “The first step out of poverty entails landing a good job, a starter job with starter pay. A $15 minimum wage will put that job out of reach for the least educated and experienced workers.”

Sen. Murray, Rep. Paul Ryan announce budget deal

Two months after a government shutdown and near-default, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced a bipartisan budget deal to reverse some automatic cuts and make a modest dent in the federal deficit. The deal quickly passed the U.S. House 332-94, and is expected to receive Senate approval and a presidential signature. Murray expressed hope (Seattle Times/tiered paywall) that the deal could lead to further bipartisan compromises on important issues. The deal “is grounded in political and financial reality” and represents an important move away from dysfunction in Congress, The Seattle Times editorialized. It’s also “arguably the biggest triumph of Murray’s 20-year Senate career,” McClatchy newspapers wrote.

No consensus as Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup prepares for final vote

The Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup will wrap up its work Wednesday, but bipartisan consensus is unlikely, The News Tribune reports (tiered paywall). Democrats continue to call for carbon limits, while Republicans want to be sure the costs and economic impacts are fully understood first. Those sharp divisions emerged Friday during the committee’s third and last public hearing, The Seattle Times reports (tiered paywall). AWB Government Affairs Director Brandon Houskeeper led a panel of business representatives (TVW video), noting that Washington is already one of the greenest, lowest carbon-emitting states in the nation.

Costs of fish consumption issue highlighted after joint report

The costs to businesses, municipalities and consumers of new regulations linked to dramatically higher fish consumption rates, laid out in a report co-sponsored by AWB, emphasize the fact that state regulators haven’t produced their own cost-benefit study – and they aren’t likely to. That’s one assessment from the Washington State Wire, which examined a new report from HDR Engineering commissioned by AWB, the Association of Washington Cities and the Washington State Association of Counties. The report finds that there are no technologies available to meet the standards Washington is examining. Ironically, the standards could even hurt the environment.

AWB files “friend of the court” brief in important employment law matter

AWB filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) Friday in an important case before the Washington Supreme Court, “Becerra v. Expert Janitorial, LLC and Fred Meyer.” In this case, Fred Meyer contracted with Expert Janitorial to provide cleaning services in its stores. Expert subcontracted some of the work to other firms. A group of janitors sued their specific employers as well as Expert, and Fred Meyer, for wage and hour violations. The janitors alleged Expert and Fred Meyer were “joint employers” along with the subcontracting firms, of the janitors, and thus liable for their wage and hour compliance. After Fred Meyer and Expert were dismissed from the case at the Superior Court level, the Washington Court of Appeals reversed the ruling. The companies are now asking the Supreme Court to take their appeal and clarify that “joint employment” liability does not extend to these routine subcontracting relationships. For more information or a copy of the brief, contact Kris Tefft.

AWB holiday closures, final Fast Facts of 2013

Please note that AWB is closed Friday through Christmas Day and Jan. 1 so our employees can enjoy this season of celebration with their families. As a result, this is the last edition of Fast Facts for 2013. Fast Facts will return Monday, Jan. 6. Stay up to speed during the break by visiting the AWB website at, our blog, Olympia Business Watch, and by following us on Twitter (@awbolympia) and Facebook.

AWB Environmental Affairs Council meeting set for Jan. 7

Mark your calendars for the 2014 Environmental Affairs Council meeting, which will be held Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 10 a.m. at AWB. Staff members from the Department of Ecology will provide updates to members on legislative priorities and rulemaking. Please contact Brandon Houskeeper or Mike Ennis with any issues you’d like Ecology to address.

Plan now for meetings of AWB Health Care and Education/Workforce Training committees

The AWB Health Care Committee meeting is set for Jan. 7, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. and the Education/Workforce Training Committee meeting will be held Jan. 9, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Agendas will be sent out closer to the meeting dates. To learn more, contact AWB’s Sheri Nelson. For call-in options, contact Connie Grande.

More legislative appointments and candidates announced in Tacoma, Everett and Spokane

Tacoma restaurant owner Monique Trudnowski announced (The News Tribune/tiered paywall) Thursday her candidacy as a Republican for the open House seat in the 28th District. Trudnowski co-owns the Adriatic Grill restaurant and is chairwoman of the Tacoma Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau. She plans to run as an advocate for small business owners facing increasing regulations. In Everett, June Robinson was the Democratic party’s preference (The Herald/tiered paywall) to fill the 38th District seat recently vacated by John McCoy. Spokane Republicans have chosen a list of three candidates to replace the retiring Rep. Larry Crouse.

Judge rules charter schools can move forward; first charters to open in fall of 2014

A judge ruled Thursday that Washington’s charter school initiative can move forward, upholding most of the 2012 voter initiative. Although the judge did toss out one provision of the law that designated charter schools as a “common school,” charter school supporters called that a technicality. The ruling will allow the state’s first charter schools to open in fall 2014. “The court has upheld the vast majority of the charter schools initiative constitutional, and the state will continue to implement the law,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Senate Majority Coalition Caucus reviews its first year and plans for 2014

The bipartisan Senate Majority Coalition Caucus celebrated its one-year birthday last week with a press conference saying they plan to spend the 2014 legislative session reforming basic education and workers’ compensation. The Republicans-plus-two-Democrats caucus was never expected to survive, but in fact has increased its majority with the election of Sen. Jan. Angel and now has a 26-23 majority in the Senate.

State attorney general announces 2014 legislative agenda

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson wants lawmakers to pass four bills next year dealing with military veterans, open government, sexually violent predators and the Consumer Protection Act. The bills would: Grant certain legal protection to military members who are called to active duty by the governor, matching the protections provided under federal rules; require public officials to undergo training on open government laws; require sexually violent predators at McNeil Island to participate in an annual review to assess their psychiatric state; and drop the requirement that the state pay attorney’s fees when it loses a consumer protection case.

Inslee named finance chair for Democratic Governors Association

Gov. Jay Inslee, named the new finance chair for the Democratic Governors Association last Monday, will help raise money for Democratic gubernatorial candidates across the country, The Seattle Times reports (tiered paywall). This means he’ll be able to repay his fellow Democrats for pouring nearly $5 million into negative TV ads against his Republican rival, Rob McKenna, during the 2012 race, the Times notes.

Companies honored for industrial energy efficiency

Four AWB members were among the five industrial companies earning honors last Monday at the second annual Washington Industrial Energy Leaders awards ceremony in Olympia. Gov. Jay Inslee presented awards to Georgia-Pacific LLC in Camas for Leadership in Energy Performance and to Cardinal Glass in Tumwater for Leadership in Innovation. He gave honorable mentions to ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston in Paterson for Leadership in Energy Performance and to Nippon Paper Industries in Port Angeles for Leadership in Innovation. Along with the governor’s awards, sponsor’s awards were also given to Microsoft, Sonoco Products Co., Cardinal Glass and Foster Farms.

Report: State needs practical education reform fueled by work-based learning, Common Core

A growing skills gap could be reduced by an increased focus on work-based learning and Common Core Standards, according to a new report issued last Thursday by America’s Edge. The report (PDF) reaffirms the struggle felt by many Washington private employers to find qualified applicants for position openings. “Students will need to develop both technical skills and work skills – such as effective collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving – in addition to mastering the core academic content of reading and math,” said incoming AWB President Kris Johnson. One highlight: Washington state has several “career academies” that focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills and other high-demand fields. The report was released Thursday in a press conference at AWB in Olympia. Read more at Olympia Business Watch and the Tacoma Daily Index.

Push for paid family leave, stalled at state level, moves to U.S. Congress

Lawmakers in Congress introduced legislation (PDF) last week that seeks to do something state lawmakers have been trying — and mostly failing — to accomplish for years: Implement mandatory paid family medical leave. Washington state lawmakers succeeded in passing a law in 2007 calling for paid medical leave, but the law has yet to be implemented because no one can figure out how to pay for it. The federal proposal, dubbed the Family And Medical Insurance Leave Act, would provide workers 66 percent of their monthly wages for up to 12 weeks when they take leave for health conditions, the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for an ill family member. It’s sponsored by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D, Conn.

Passages: Retired state Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers dies

Tom Chambers, a successful trial attorney first elected to the Washington Supreme Court in 2000, died Wednesday following a battle with throat and mouth cancer. He was 70. Chambers, who grew up in humble circumstances in Wapato, built a successful law practice in Seattle handling personal injury cases, according to the Associated Press and The Seattle Times (tiered subscription). He served as president of both the Washington Trial Lawyer Association and Washington State Bar Association before winning election to the state Supreme Court. He retired from the court last year amid his battle with cancer.

End your tax year with a charitable donation to the Don Brunell Scholarship

If you’re looking to end 2013 with a tax-deductible investment in the future of private enterprise, consider donating to the Don Brunell Scholarship Fund, which supports higher education and students in business-related fields. Contact Mike Hudson of the AWB Institute for donation information. Celebrate Brunell’s 28-year AWB career with a donation to this worthwhile cause.

Employer FAQ on Sec. 503 Rules Now Available

The U.S. Department of Labor's new section 503 rules affecting the hiring process for federal contractors and subcontracts has generated many questions. A list of those most frequently asked by employers can be found at AWB Institute's website: WA HireAbility Employer Hiring/Retention Guide.

Legislative Summit Feb. 5-6 will offer chance to mix with lawmakers

Register now for the 2014 AWB Legislative Summit, which has been redesigned to give more time for the Legislative Reception, issue panels and AWB board meeting. The event kicks off with a reception the evening of Feb. 5 that has been designed to help attendees get to know their legislators in an informal setting. The next morning the day begins with a board meeting followed by legislative issue panels and policy analysis by AWB’s government affairs directors. The summit concludes the afternoon of Feb. 6 with the Better Workplace Awards. Gov. Jay Inslee will give the keynote luncheon address. Register online now and reserve a room at the Red Lion Hotel. For event sponsorship information, contact Anne Haller at or 800.521.9325.

Beware of high-cost scams as you update mandatory workplace posters for 2014

Be aware that, although Washington employers are required to post updated labor and wage information posters by Jan. 1, you do not need to spend $295 to do so. The Department of Labor & Industries is warning about a misleading letter being sent to Washington businesses that appears to require payment for a $295 “fee.” In fact, L&I offers free downloadable updates for your workplace posters. For the convenience of our members, AWB also has full-size, laminated state and federal posting sets for $39.99 per set, or $19.99 for a single poster, plus local tax and shipping. Contact Karlee Keith at 800.521.9325 to order or for more information.

Learn to train for safe forklift operations at Jan. 8 workshop

Don’t let your company endanger its workers and fall afoul of increasingly stringent safety laws for forklifts and other power industrial trucks. AWB is offering forklift safety training from 8 a.m. to noon on Jan. 18 at the AWB office in Olympia. We will teach current operators how to conduct safety training for their employees. Attendees will receive a certificate of completion, a CD with a PowerPoint presentation and a PDF manual they can reproduce to train their own employees on proper forklift safety. Register now or contact Karlee Keith by email or at 800.521.9325 with questions.

At the Speed of Now: Crisis Communications in a 24/7 World webinar Jan. 15, 10:30 a.m. - noon

When and how should you respond to a reporter’s questions? What should you do when a television crew shows up at your facility? Find out answers to these questions and more during a Jan. 15th webinar featuring strategic communication veterans Randy Pepple and Jennifer West. Members: $49, Non-members: $79. Register online or contact AWB’s Karlee Keith for more information.


“We pride ourselves on doing things well, we pride ourselves on doing things right, we pride ourselves on doing things the American way. Not instant gratification, 24 hour shopping on Thanksgiving type of American way but family and country type of American way. The way our grandparents did things type of American way.” ~ Ryan Clark, co-founder of Liberty Bottleworks, defending his employees in a passionate Facebook post that has gone viral.

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