A huge picket line stretched nearly a half mile around the Washington State Evergreen Public Schools headquarters on Sept. 1. It was the first day of school, and 1,500 educators from Evergreen County, on the third day of their strike, were joined by 450 Camas County educators who had been out since Aug 28. Evergreen School District No. 114 is a public school district in the state’s Clark County, and serves the city of Vancouver, Washington. Passing cars honked, and chants rose from a sea of red Tee-shirt-wearing teachers, all carrying strike signs reading “Evergreen Education Association: ON STRIKE!” Numerous local area businesses put up signs in their windows supporting the educators’ strike.
Camas, Washington - Hundreds of teachers in the Camas School District officially went on strike around 9 a.m. Monday morning, cancelling what would have otherwise been the first day of the school year. The union representing Camas School District teachers announced Sunday evening that it would follow through on plans to strike and confirmed there would be no classes on Monday. The announcement came after a last-ditch round of bargaining on Sunday, which the Camas Education Association said ended when "the district refused to make commitments to reasonable class sizes or equitable funding for music, PE, and libraries."
The grief hits Scott Campbell like a ton of bricks every time he walks into the union hall and sees the memorial to the fallen workers. Seven members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union reported for their shifts at the former Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington, on April 2, 2010, and never drove back out. They perished when a decades-old, structurally deficient piece of equipment called a heat exchanger exploded and caught fire in one of the worst industrial incidents in state history. Campbell and other members of USW Local 12-591 pay tribute to the seven with a laser focus on safety at the refinery, currently owned by Marathon.
Unions representing more than 85,000 healthcare workers have held pickets at 50 facilities across California, Washington, Oregon and Colorado amid new contract negotiations as their current union contracts are set to expire on 30 September. The negotiations at Kaiser Permanente are the third largest set of contract negotiations in the US in 2023, behind the 340,000 workers at UPS who will be voting on a tentative agreement this month that was reached days before planned strike action, and 150,000 autoworkers at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis whose contracts are set to expire on 14 September.
The day we refinanced our first student loan, four debt cooperative members met for coffee and eggs at a greasy spoon at 8 a.m. to prepare the paperwork. Together, we all went to the bank, got the cashier’s check, printed the letter, and put it in the mail, and it was elating. So elating, in fact, that residents of downtown Seattle looked concerned as four grown adults let out shouts of joy outside a perfectly average post office after doing a seemingly simple task. But the task was anything but simple—and we had done it together. Like an untold number of ideas throughout human history, the nuts and bolts of what would become Salish Sea Cooperative Finance (SSCoFi)—a cooperative built to address the student debt crisis—were hammered out over nachos and beer.
On April 23, 2023, the Washington state legislature passed the Covenants Homeownership Act (CHA), pioneering legislation that will provide compensation to victims of the racist restrictive covenants that destroyed opportunities for generations of Black, Asian, Latinx, and Indigenous families. Historians have been working in dozens of locations to document the extent and impact of racial restrictive covenants, finding them in thousands of neighborhoods and showing that they have a close connection to today’s disparate rates of homeownership and wealth. Now the state of Washington is taking action to compensate the victims, and doing so with a law designed to survive court challenges that might scuttle reparations or programs that are overtly race based.
Despite increasing recognition that prison education is a key tool for reducing crime, Washington State prisoners were recently forced to gather in a janitor’s closet to organize and facilitate college education for people incarcerated in several prisons across the state. They took this dramatic step because new official restrictions are jeopardizing a liberating, prisoner-led program known as Taking Education And Creating History, or TEACH. Organized by a handful of incarcerated people — including me — over a decade ago, TEACH’s goal is to democratize education for people with long sentences.
The strategy of “maximum pressure” imposed by Donald Trump on Venezuela has failed to achieve its goal of changing the Venezuelan government and pulling the country back into Washington’s sphere of influence. The resilience of the Venezuelan people led by President Nicolas Maduro has not only survived the attacks by the Trump Administration, it has resulted in adjustments to Washington’s strategy and has proved that resistance, creativity, and commitment to dialogue can pay off. On January 23, 2019, the government of the United States quickly recognize a little-known deputy of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela, undermining the constitutional mandate obtained since May of 2018 by President Nicolas Maduro.
The actions of the Puget Sound Inspector from the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) with support from members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 23 helped to protect a group of vulnerable seafarers who were being grossly underpaid and who feared for their safety after receiving threats for standing up for their rights. On Feb. 7, seafarers aboard the ASL Uranus (IMO: 9317511), an ocean-going grain ship docked at an export grain facility in the Port of Tacoma, contacted ITF Inspector Jeff Engels to report that they were not being paid the proper wages.
Washington - UW students are protesting on campus to demand that the UW Career and Internship Center amend their employer user policy to prohibit companies in the Fossil Fuel industry from recruiting on campus or using the center’s services in any capacity to engage with students. The requested change would deny members of the Fossil Fuel industry a space to recruit students through university networking platforms and career fair events, and also leverage the UW’s agenda-setting power by encouraging similar institutions to follow suit. After several meetings and an attempt to work with the executive director of the UW Career and Internship Center, Briana Randall, student members of the group Institution Climate Action (ICA) were met with strong refusal and told there was “absolutely no way” the career center would adopt such a policy.
Benton County, Washington - The most polluted place in the United States — perhaps the world — is one most people don’t even know. Hanford Nuclear Site sits in the flat lands of eastern Washington. The facility — one of three sites that made up the government’s covert Manhattan Project — produced plutonium for Fat Man, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II. And it continued producing plutonium for weapons for decades after the war, helping to fuel the Cold War nuclear arms race. Today Hanford — home to 56 million gallons of nuclear waste, leaking storage tanks, and contaminated soil — is an environmental disaster and a catastrophe-in-waiting. It’s “the costliest environmental remediation project the world has ever seen and, arguably, the most contaminated place on the entire planet,” writes journalist Joshua Frank in the new book, Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America.
Seattle, Washington - A recently obtained letter reveals further fallout from the Snoqualmie Tribe’s exposing the Seattle-based land conservancy Forterra of misleading the tribe and the federal government in obtaining a grant worth up to $20 million. Last week, 78 Forterra staff members issued a letter expressing their support for Snoqualmie Tribe risking their careers. Now, LRI has obtained by the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation that calls for the, “Replace[ment] (of) Forterra’s executive team with an experienced team that can restore trust with partners.” The letter further states, “Communications to the Hilltop community and recent letters from the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, Forterra’s CEO, and former Forterra employees reveal misrepresentation and plans that were never intended to be delivered on to begin with.Seattle, Washington - A recently obtained letter reveals further fallout from the Snoqualmie Tribe’s exposing the Seattle-based land conservancy Forterra of misleading the tribe and the federal government in obtaining a grant worth up to $20 million. Last week, 78 Forterra staff members issued a letter expressing their support for Snoqualmie Tribe risking their careers. Now, LRI has obtained by the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation that calls for the, “Replace[ment] (of) Forterra’s executive team with an experienced team that can restore trust with partners.” The letter further states, “Communications to the Hilltop community and recent letters from the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, Forterra’s CEO, and former Forterra employees reveal misrepresentation and plans that were never intended to be delivered on to begin with.
Seattle, Washington - Educators voted to ratify a tentative agreement with Seattle Public Schools (SPS) on September 19, after a powerful five-day strike. The strike mobilized 90% of union members, supported by parents and students, to picket lines and rallies at their schools. The schools were shut down for five days. The Seattle Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, known as SCORE, was one of the driving forces behind the strike and has grown in membership by 60% since the strike began. Educators went on strike September 7 after the district tried to make cuts to special education and multilingual programs. These programs “desperately need more funding and resources, not less,” said Fidy Kuo, a multilingual educator at Franklin High School.
Seattle, Washington - Six thousand Seattle educators walked out on strike September 7, which would have been the first day of school. The top issue was the district’s proposal—disguised in social justice language—to end student-teacher ratios for many categories of special education. Also key were struggles over class size, cuts to services, and wages, especially for substitutes and paraprofessionals, who often work most closely with students with disabilities. Late in the day September 12 the bargaining teams announced a tentative agreement, but provided only a summary to members. On September 13, after eight hours of meeting on Zoom, members voted 57 to 43 percent to suspend the strike, even though they still hadn't seen the entire deal. They had voted before the strike to stay out until members approved a contract.
Seattle, Washington - Hundreds of workers took to the streets in front of Starbucks’s Seattle headquarters on Tuesday as the company hosted investors for its biennial investor day, in which executives and investors discuss the company’s outlook — an event that has never once included representation from a Starbucks retail worker, the workers’ union says. Joined by other union members, workers with Starbucks Workers United are demanding that the company give them a say in its strategy and financial decisions and a place at the bargaining table for contract negotiations, which the company has been delaying. They are also asking the company to stop union-busting practices like firing pro-union employees, which it has done almost 100 times over the course of the union drive, Starbucks Workers United says.