September 21, 2001 Newsletter #1850
SPEEA formally attends its first State Labor Convention
The 2001 Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) Convention was held August 23rd - 25th in the beautiful apple-growing region of Wenatchee. SPEEA sent four delegates to the Convention (Lori Bechtold, Judith Campbell, Chris Glenn and Robert Christensen) as well as four alternates (Alton Folks, Brenda Carlson, Kristin Farr and Charles Bofferding). SPEEA member Karen Hikel also attended the convention as an alternate delegate for CLUW (the Coalition of Labor Union Women). While those SPEEA people that attended the convention compiled this article, a much more extensive synopsis of the convention can be found on the WSLC's website at: http://www.wslc.org/00conven.htm.
WSLC President Rick Bender introduced the KEYNOTE SPEAKER, the "highest ranking woman in labor"- Linda Chavez-Thompson, the Vice President of the AFL-CIO. Delegates' children escorted Linda into the convention. Linda relayed that Washington State's union movement is tremendous, and our leaders are admired and held in high esteem by the top labor leaders in the U.S. She stated that the key to the future of the labor movement is the very people who escorted her into the convention - our youth. We need to continue our fight, so workers can have a voice in their work-life and be allowed time to take care of families, kids and elders. The labor movement also should reach out to communities and educate workers of their legal rights on the job. Our goal as leaders should be to become a trustworthy source of information for workers and push for immigrant workers' rights as well as network around the world for global worker rights. She said the most important word in the Union Movement is ORGANIZING. We've got to do it or die. Organizing is not a luxury - it is our lifeblood. The union movement is not in DC; it is out with the people. She asked everyone to help push for the election of candidates who will respond and respect people - good leaders who show their understanding and compassion and commitment to people issues. Yet, she added, we also need to hold elected people accountable - if they don't do what we need, then we have to "punt" them.
Linda's final message to the union leaders was a personal one about the relationship between her and her daughter. Growing up, her daughter didn't understand the time her mother spent on furthering the labor movement's cause; however, when her daughter became a union member and eventually a shop steward for her local, she understood. Her lesson was, someday the people who don't understand the time you've committed to the labor movement will appreciate you. Wear the current distance as a badge of honor and someday they will say, "I understand" and will tell the stories of what you did for the movement.
U.S. Congressman Jay Inslee (D, WA-1st) - a surprise guest - gave an overview of what is going on in DC. He spoke about unsafe trucks crossing the U.S./Mexico border, minimum wage legislation, the country's finances, ergonomics, energy, trade, and local labor issues that he supported and will continue to support. He said he sees an additional role for legislators to play, to help labor - the need to go beyond voting in favor of labor and to support organizing.
The PANEL ON ORGANIZING (Bob Gorman - AFL-CIO; Lou Gamboa - United Farm Workers; Robby Stern - WSLC; and Michael Ramos - Living Wage Coalition) was also an afternoon workshop topic. The panelists echoed Linda Chavez-Thompson - we must organize or we die. Washington is the 5th most highly-organized state in the nation; but to maintain this, we need more on-the-ground activity. BOB GORMAN gave an overview of the next day's events. There is good work going on - but is it enough? Five years ago, Washington State had 535,000 union members with 24.7% density. Today there are 471,000 members and 18.2% union density - a loss of 64,000 union members in this state alone! Much of this is due to layoffs and plant closures, but we've got to stop the slide. We need four things to make organizing a reality: 1) Leadership commitment; 2) Resources; 3) Staff; and 4) Member involvement - we can't do this without the members. While this may take years to become a reality, we need to get started NOW.
LOU GAMBOA stated there are currently 60,000 farm workers in central Washington alone. If only half of these workers were organized, this group could be motivated to get involved in labor and politics, and make a great difference. Farm workers average $5-6000 per year, with no benefits, no rest breaks, and high turnover! In addition, it is dangerous work, plagued with back injuries and falls. Unions can help bring stability and protection for workers. In addition, through the coalition of a union with employers, a partnership can be forged to help the growers pressure the retailer to pay a minimum price that will support living wages (this was done at Starbucks and will be attempted in eastern Washington).
ROBBY STERN and MICHAEL RAMOS spoke on the Living Wage Movement, which has engaged a coalition of local unions, churches and community organizations to get involved across the state to fight for a "living wage", not a poverty wage or a minimum wage. Each and every person is a member of a community and can go into their community and raise these issues. While the first issue the coalition is addressing is the Seattle Alliance for Good Housing for Everyone (SAGE), other issues they are tracking include wages, organizing, human rights, health care, housing, child and elder care, fair tax system, and freedom from discrimination. It is hoped to build this movement as part of a larger strategy for organizing throughout the state. The living wage movement is labor, faith and community-based and is sprouting and mobilizing across the state.
DAVID GREGORY, AFL-CIO Regional Political Director, presented the PANEL ON POLITICAL ACTION. In 1994, the "radical right" and "contract on America" cut many services to working people; however, in 1996, labor pushed back with the "7 Point Program" (leaflets, getting information into union newsletters, calling everyone 2 times, developing lists of union homes, registering union households to vote, sending mail to union households, and establishing a "get out the vote" campaign leading up to election day). Ever since, voter turnout has increased. Over the last 5 years, the AFL-CIO has been making a steady effort to educate union members on the issues facing workers and the importance of voting. In response to union households helping them get elected, politicians are beginning to figure out that helping unions organize is a good thing (if they support unions and people). However, what will it take to achieve more voter participation? There needs to be a labor movement-wide effort, with ownership by every affiliate. DIANE McDANIEL, WSLC Political Director, gave an overview of what the WSLC is doing to support the plan. She related that building and maintaining the COPE file of registered voters in union households (80% are registered to vote) is critical, and that get-out-the-vote and turnout requires higher enrollment in absentee ballots.
Thursday evening there was a BBQ and a showing of the movie "Bread and Roses". Si! Se Puede! or Yes! We can! (the theme of the convention) was also the essence of the film, which is based on the struggle of janitors ("invisible" office cleaners) to gain dignity and respect at work. Although the story is fictional, it is based on the real-life story of the Los Angeles janitors who beat the odds to win better lives through SEIU's "Justice for Janitors" campaign. While this was a low-budget (i.e., not a "Hollywood") film, it was urgent, hard hitting, funny with slapstick humor, sad and full of hope. (It is highly recommended.)
On Friday morning (before the full convention convened), SPEEA delegates attended the WSLC Women's Committee Breakfast, which featured WA State Senator GEORGIA GARDNER (D-42) as the guest speaker. For such an early event, Senator Gardner delivered a fantastic message. She comes from a strong labor background (even though she has never had the privilege of being represented by a union, since she owned her own accounting business), and is committed to generating living wage jobs in the state. Her father was an organizer for CWA when it was formed 50 years ago. She believes that the state should have passed a transportation budget - it means jobs for Washington citizens with a great multiplier effect. Every billion dollars spent on transportation creates 7,900 direct good paying jobs (with a multiplier of 9 on the money paid in salary). She stated she has had differences with Clyde Ballard and would welcome the chance to debate him publicly on the issues that held up the legislative process during 2001.
On Friday, the convention kicked off with KEYNOTE SPEAKER, U.S. Congressman BRIAN BAIRD (D-WA, 3rd). Congressman Baird's background is as a licensed clinical psychologist. He taught at PLU, worked in medical centers of many sorts, and was elected into the House of Representatives in 1998. He serves on a number of committees including the House Science Committee and Transportation. He gave thanks and recognition to the labor movement for safe workplaces, 8-hour days, weekends, medical insurance, vacations.
We are all in this together, he said; and when we act like it, the world is a better place. When we believe that it is every person for themselves, the world is a lonely depressing place. When we believe that we are here to support each other and make the world better for all, then we have a much different world. He spoke in support of project labor agreements, citing that studies show project labor gets the work done faster, cheaper and better than unorganized labor. In addition, he stated we must vigorously defend our right to organize - and it must be in our trade agreements as well. On the other hand, "right to work" legislation must be opposed - because if everyone benefits from a union contract, then everyone should help support the benefit. He also touched on the need for ergonomic legislation, health care for all (today 11 million people do not have it - and many are working people), and a better-balanced energy policy. He also touched on oil drilling in Alaska stating while he is currently against it, he respects the opinions of those at the convention who support it, and welcomed the chance to look at any data they could offer to change his opinion.
The Friday plenary session began with a PANEL ON TRANSPORTATION. The speakers were: Doug MacDonald, WA State Secretary of Transportation; WA State Rep. Mike Cooper (D-21st); Don Briscoe, IFPTE Local 17's Legislative Director; and Rick Bender, WSLC President. The panelists stated the Transportation issue is bigger than just labor, taxes, and government. The issue encompasses "gridlock" on the roads, in the legislature, and in the press. While the Washington State transportation system has been stagnant for the last 10 years, the State's population has risen 40%, and will double in 2012. Also, various initiatives have cut funding for transportation and public employees face a huge credibility problem that started 14 years ago. In addition to gridlock, our challenge is to return credibility to public employees. Public employees are doing the best they can and are worthy of respect; they do work hard and return value for what they are paid.
The next discussion was a PANEL ON ENERGY. The presenters were: Stephen Wright, BPA Acting Administrator; Dave Warren (sitting in for Martha Choe, OTED Director); Dave Timothy, IBEW Business Manager; and Al Link, WSLC Sec/Treas. How in the heck did we get into the energy problem? There's a direct cause and effect relationship - for the last 50 years, energy sold at about $20 to $50/megawatt; whereas, last year we experienced tremendous fluctuations all the way up to $100/megawatt. Currently, our loads/demands are up and supply is stagnant at best, with losses attributable to salmon, drought, and the California crisis. The thing we can attack is demand of both the commercial and household consumer, and continue researching options for sources of low-cost power.
Friday night, the delegates attended a dinner banquet, where the KEYNOTE SPEAKER was U.S. Senator MARIA CANTWELL (D-WA). She thanked organized labor for "making the difference" in her 2000 election, which she won by about 2,000 votes. An aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign by organized labor resulted in 83% turnout of registered union members who voted for Cantwell by about a 2-to-1 margin, according to exit polls. She also discussed the challenges presented by anti-worker policies of President Bush, and the efforts of Senate Democrats to turn them back as well as push through a positive agenda on issues like the Patients' Bill of Rights.
Saturday was the last day of the convention, and it was devoted to VOTING ON 42 RESOLUTIONS. While the Delegates passed about 40 resolutions, a few experienced significant debate, while others were tabled with no position taken. [Action taken on these 42 resolutions can be found on WSLC's website: http://www.wslc.org/00resolu.htm.]
Overall, the Convention was a very memorable time for those who attended. Lori Bechtold noted, "The theme of the convention was 'Si, se puede' or 'Yes we can!' and we all learned about what this means to a lot of people who are fighting to organize workers all over the world." Alton Folks said, "Together we assembled to bring focus and guidance to our leaders for the next year." Charles Bofferding added, "The convention opened my eyes to the many faces, yet one purpose of labor in America. Labor is a diverse group of people committed to giving people the voice, honor and respect we all deserve."
the Executive Director
I was going to write a treatise on compensation for this week's newsletter. Hank Queen's email on the subject raised a lot of questions. Certainly, on this topic, SPEEA has answers. We are data rich and believe that we have figured out the principles associated with compensation. I was going to produce the definitive article on compensation philosophy, principles and concepts - however the events of September 11th have distracted my focus.
There has been a lot (maybe even too much) already written about that tragic day. Certainly we are all affected by it. And, on this topic, I have few answers. Our hearts and our prayers go out to all those personally touched and to those who share in the grief and horror of the event. Across America and the world, people of all races, nationalities and religions are coming together to speak strongly against terrorism, to do what they can to help ease the pain and suffering of those in need.
We have all been touched by the day and its impact will roll through all of our lives in different ways.
I have received email wondering what effect the tragic events will have on Boeing's future. I can't say at this point. Now is not a time for panic, but it is a time for concern and we are monitoring the situation to make sure that the best possible happens for our people. We are using IFPTE's DC lobbyist to support the Airline relief package ... we are working with Boeing to monitor employment forecasts ... and we will ensure that, should they need to be invoked, our contract provisions will be followed.
This hasn't been an easy time, but it has reminded us all that we are all part of a much larger world and as such we each share a responsibility to make our part of it the best it can be.
So here is my abbreviated compensation article.
Our goal on compensation is to work with Boeing to arrive at a common understanding of where we are and where we want to be on compensation. This will include the philosophy, functions and goals of a compensation system as well as some data-intensive investigation. We will use a series of articles on compensation to provide information to our members to encourage discussion and education on this topic
My goal today is to provide a framework for that discussion. Topics we will address are the following:
Philosophy, principles and goal of the compensation system - What is the purpose: Are employees simply being paid for service, is a lasting relationship being fostered, are both individuals and groups rewarded for good performance, what does the system say about a company's values?
Channels for distributing money - what are they, and how are they best used? Salaries can be increased with GWI, COLA, selective increases and upgrades. Lump sum payments can take many forms.
How much is enough - and how do you know? Do we index to the market? If so, what is the market? Who is in it and how do we know we're comparing apples to apples? What is the impact of level-based versus career curve analysis? What relationship do we want to have with the market? Are there absolute measures? Should attrition be considered? What about internal equity (comparisons between groups of Boeing employees)? Is morale a factor?
Our pay levels - what are they, what do our data look like and how has it changed over the years? What are the trends and do we think they are positive or negative?
Tools Boeing currently uses - How are salaries currently displayed? What do Salary Reference Tables really represent? Level Based vs. career based analysis: How are different payrolls' data presented and what impact does it have?
This topic is a big one and frankly it won't be addressed quickly - nor should it be. Instead of rushing to conclusions, we should spend a fair amount of time with the data and let our beliefs evolve. Please read the coming articles on compensation and do provide feedback on what you think and what you'd like to see addressed.
I didn't want
to end this article talking about compensation. So again let me say that
the world changed on September 11th. We all now know without a doubt,
what most have already considered: We are all part of the same world and
anything that happens anyplace does indeed affect us all. My best hopes
and prayers go out to all those who would benefit from them.
Boeing matching relief donations through fund set up by ECF
In response to employee concern, the Employees Community Fund has established an account for voluntary personal contributions to help with disaster relief following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Boeing will MATCH employee contributions (dollar for dollar) to the following three organizations: the United Way, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army if made through ECF.
To make your contribution, and receive the company-match donation, check out the following website:
New Council Reps receive training
On Monday, September 10, 2001, 15 SPEEA members received extensive Council Rep Basic Training. This training prepares Council Reps for their roles as SPEEA policymakers and workplace representatives. "Designated Alternate" (DA) Council Reps were invited to participate in this training as well.
This workshop is highly rated by the Council Reps, who say that it equips them to do a better job for their members. It includes:
The eight-hour training was conducted by Staff members Maria Nelson, Mark Moshay, Bob Rommel and Kristin Farr.
A new manual was prepared for this training earlier this year, and copies were provided to all current Council Reps who had previously been trained.
Newly-trained Council Reps
MIDWEST REGION NEWS
Irving Negotiations Update
Negotiation preparations for SPEEA employees in Irving, Texas has started. (Their contract expires February 2, 2002.) Subcommittees have been formed with each Negotiation Team member assigned as a focal. Joyce Thomas is heading the Benefits subcommittee, Clint Kinser will focal Compensation/Pay Practices, and Redge Thompson will be responsible for Workforce, Labor/Management and Employee Relations.
An Employee Survey for Irving is planned for release on September 17, 2001. Questions have been formulated for each benefit area. SPEEA staff is in the process of putting the survey together. The expected return date for the survey will be September 26, 2001.
An All Member Meeting is tentatively scheduled for October 3, 2001. The survey results will be shared with the membership at that time. The information from the survey will determine the direction that the Irving Negotiation Team will take during upcoming bargaining.
MIDWEST REGION NEWS
Wichita Area Rep Training - Mark your Calendar!
SPEEA will be providing training for Area Reps on the following dates. Please pick one of these dates, mark your calendar, and plan to attend!
TOPICS TO BE COVERED:
Any SPEEA member is welcome to attend this training, whether you currently serve as a Union Representative or whether you are thinking about taking on that role in the future. Each AREA REP who attends the training will receive a new SPEEA polo shirt. Dinner will be provided.
Please RSVP by calling Lacey at (316) 682-0262.
Northwest Regional Tellers Vacancy
Due to a resignation, there is a vacancy on the Northwest Regional Tellers Committee. Tellers are responsible for conducting all balloting, and determining the redistricting for the Council election.
If you reside in the Northwest Region, are a member of SPEEA, and would like to apply to fill this vacancy (term expires in April 2002) - please contact Robbi Alberts at (206) 433-0995, ext. 126 (or email@example.com) by Monday, October 8th. Names of candidates will be given to the SPEEA Council members who will make the selection at their October 11th meeting.
"Violence in the Workplace"
by Carol Jensen, Women's Advocacy Committee member
As one of those attending the Workshop on Violence in the Workplace, I was asked to write a short report about it. First I want to thank SPEEA for sending me; I always enjoy workshops where you learn what other unions are doing and how they are handling similar problems. This report will be a "heads up" to the women employed at Boeing in the SPEEA bargaining unit.
The speakers were wonderful and really told it like it is. They had seen some real abusive situations and many potential occurrences that they were able to head off. They were inspiring in relating how their unions supported their efforts in making the workplace a safe productive environment for all.
At this workshop, we learned to be aware of potential violent situations and read about some actual occurrences. It brought to my attention the situation building at Boeing now. A couple of the women there, from Boeing, told us that their supervisors are telling the men in their group that they can't give them a raise this time because they have to give the money to the women in the group. Those supervisors should be reported and held accountable for building a real potential for violence against the women in those groups. According to the workshop, this is where the Union should step in and bring it to the Company's attention.
I'm appealing to all of you women in SPEEA to stop apologizing for being women and get behind your Women's Advocacy Committee to make it a strong SPEEA committee. That is the only way that you are going to see things change in the work place.
Thank you again for allowing me to attend and I hope we have more women coming forward to represent SPEEA at more of these workshops.
DAWN Speaker to meet with WAC
A representative from DAWN (Domestic Abuse Women's Network of Kent) will be the featured speaker at the regular meeting of our SPEEA Women's Advocacy Committee (WAC) in October:
Monday, October 15, 2001
SPEEA Headquarters (Tukwila)
Violence against women can touch many parts of our lives (as noted in the accompanying article by Carol Jensen). We encourage women (and men) to attend this committee meeting to hear "DV101", a primer on Domestic Violence, plus an explanation of the services offered by organizations such as DAWN. Please RSVP to SPEEA Receptionist Carol Landis at (206) 433-0991, no later than noon on October 15th. Dinner will be provided.
The SPEEA Women's Advocacy Committee meets the third Wednesday of every month (alternating between SPEEA's Tukwila and Everett offices). If you have questions about the committee, you can contact staff focal Kristin Farr at (206) 433-0995, ext. 129.
Dental-only COBRA to be made available
In the past, it has been Boeing's practice to offer both medical and dental COBRA as a package. However, the Company is currently putting together the systems necessary for allowing employees who leave the Company (including retirees) to purchase dental COBRA separately, if they choose. A date has not yet been set, but they are targeting 1/1/02 for implementation. We understand this change will not be retroactive.
Active Military Reservists
SPEEA Contract contains pay protection features
As a result of the horrific events that took place on Tuesday, September 11th, the President of the United States has announced plans to begin calling up as many as 50,000 reservists from all branches of the Armed Forces. This call-up will impact reservists from all parts of the nation, and most certainly will include a significant number of Boeing employees.
All SPEEA-represented employees who are called to active duty are covered by contract language to help offset potential income loss. Article 11.6 of the Puget Sound Tech & WTPU contracts, and Article 11.4 of the Puget Sound Prof and Wichita Engineers' contracts, covers Temporary Military Leave.
This provision allows employees to recover the difference between their normal pay and their military pay. In cases where the military pay is more than their normal pay, they would receive no differential.
In most cases, reservists will be receiving less from the military than their normal pay. [Funds received for subsistence, uniform, and travel, are not considered as military pay in determining the pay differential.]
Per the contract, the maximum amount of coverage is up to 80 hours per year. However, it also provides, in the event of being called to temporary special duty (as happened during Desert Storm in 1991) or state emergency, these provision will be extended for up to 90 days for each occurrence.
Employees notified to report to their reserve units for possible mobilization for this national crisis must notify their employer immediately and should follow up with a copy of their orders as soon as they have been published.
It is also the employee's responsibility to contact the LEAVE OF ABSENCE office to arrange for this leave. Your People representative can supply the phone number for the appropriate Leave of Absence office in your area. [For Puget Sound, the number is 1-877-284-6582. In Wichita, it is 316-526-2905.]
[Reference Company procedures PRO 481, Military Leave; and PRO 1874, Leave of Absence.]
SPEEA members Speak Out for Reservists
During a recent meeting with the Company, SPEEA brought forth the idea of improving procedures for reimbursement for our men and women called to active duty. We shared our concerns relative to anticipated call-up of Boeing employees in the military reserves (represented and nonrepresented). Both SPEEA and the Company agreed that we should minimize the impact to the families of these brave men and women wherever feasible. As a result, the Company is currently considering our proposal to revert to the previous practice of continuing regular salaried payment to Reservists called to active duty; whereby these employees' salaries would be adjusted for military payment after having submitted the appropriate paperwork. We eagerly await the Company's decision.