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Behind the Scenes at the Ring Cycle

Here’s a nice story about “The Ring” that mentions the Seattle Opera’s stage technicians.  It aired on KUOW-FM 94.9 August 1, 2013.

http://www.kuow.org/post/seattle-opera-creates-backstage-magic-ring-cycle

George Thomas Memorial Service

From The Family of George Thomas:

Dear Family, Friends, Care Team and Coworkers of George Thomas,

As many of you have probably heard by now, our dad and husband George Thomas passed away on Thursday, July 18, 2013 after a long battle with cancer. A memorial service will be held for him on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. at Washington Care Center in Seattle, Washington; everyone is invited.

Washington Care Center is located at 2821 South Walden Street, Seattle, WA 98144. The following is a Web link to a map of its location: http://mapq.st/15cpUmt

We tried to be as complete as possible in this email list, but please forward this message on to as many people as you can think of who would be interested in getting this message as George had many connections that he made throughout his lifetime.

Thank you to all of those individuals who contributed to George’s life.

God Bless,
Mark, Ben, Catherine and Cathleen Hansel

…Jesus Christ is able to completely save those who come to God (the Father) through Jesus, because Jesus always lives to intercede for them.
– Hebrews 7:25

Important actions to demand Jobs, Not Cuts

The 1% are striking back.   In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen an armed assault by policy on Occupy Oakland, eviction of Occupy Portland, an attempt to eliminate Occupy Wall Street and pepper-spraying of Occupy Seattle.  I think this is a tribute to the persistence of the Occupy movement, but also to the degree to which the Occupy message is resonating with the American people:  we ARE the 99%.  And the efforts to end the “occupations” isn’t demoralizing the movement.  Just yesterday, the campaign to recall anti-labor Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker began – with 10,000 recall petitions downloaded the first day.

This week is a national week of action to demand JOBS, NOT CUTS.  In Martin Luther King County alone, we have 45 bridges deemed “structurally deficient,” and 349 more classified as “functionally obsolete.”  Our State’s public schools need $6.1 billion in repairs.  Over 800,000 people in Washington lack access to affordable healthcare.  With unemployment in the building trades running close to 40%, we could create up to 30,000 construction jobs with a general obligation bond in the spring.  But politicians in DC and Olympia, doing the work for the 1%, give us wars, corporate welfare and spending cuts.

Join with labor, Occupy Seattle and community allies:

Thursday, November 17th

3:30 pm

Plaza at Montlake Blvd NE & NE Pacific Street, across from Husky Stadium

March to University Bridge at 4:30

sponsored by Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council AFL-CIO, Working America and many others, including active support from the AFL-CIO and the Washington State Labor Council

Friday, November 18th

3:00 pm

Western Washington Performing Arts Center, Bellingham (with Occupy Bellingham)

March to Rep. Rick Larsen’s office


Saturday, November 19th

12:00 n

Westlake Plaza (with Occupy Seattle)

March to Sen. Patty Murray’s office

Sen. Murray is Co-Chair of the “Super Committee” – let’s tell both Sen. Murray and Rep. Larsen:

* Hands off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – no cuts to education and social services

* We need jobs, not cuts – fund a federal public works program to create millions of jobs for the unemployed

* Make big business pay – we need major tax hikes for the 1% super-rich and coroporations

* End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – slash Pentagon spending

The Friday and Saturday actions are part of a national Jobs Not Cuts week of actions; for more information, for more information, please see www.jobsnotcutsprotest.org.  Local cosponsors include Occupy Seattle, Occupy Bellingham, Occupy Olympia, Seattle Education Association, American Federation of Government Employees 3937, Amalgamated Transit Union 587, Wash/Tech Communications Workers of America 37087, Whatcom Peace & Justice Center, Olympia Movement for Peace & Justice and Olympia for a Fair Budget.

Verizon strike settled!

Sisters and Brothers,

In the early morning hours today, Saturday, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) anad the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) reached agreement with Verizon on a pathway to commence serious bargaining over major issues. As a result of this agreement all picketing and leafleting at stores, work sites and other events will cease beginning today. The union contracts have been extended. Below is an official statement from the unions.

This happened in part due to the massive outpouring of public solidarity demonstrated throughout the nation in standing with the 45,000 workers on strike at Verizon. Here in Seattle many union members and community supporters – including Local 15 members – joined CWA and IBEW workers in picketing Verizon stores.

The fight isn’t over – there’s no new contract, and Verizon hasn’t backed down from its efforts to inflate their already huge profits at the expense of their employees. But it’s a good start.

Thanks to those of you who joined in on the picket lines. I’ll keep you posted on any further developments.

In solidarity,

Paul Bigman
Business Representative

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Following is a statement by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers:

For release 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011

Washington, D.C. – Members of CWA and IBEW at Verizon Communications will return to work on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at which time the contract will be back in force for an indefinite period.

We have reached agreement with Verizon on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured. The major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues now are focused and narrowed.

We appreciate the unity of our members and the support of so many in the greater community. Now we will focus on bargaining fairly and moving forward.

CWA and IBEW represent 45,000 workers at Verizon covered by this contract from Virginia to New England.

Local 15 Employers Support Workers’ Rights

Below is a press release sent out by Local 15 regarding our actions during the first week of April, as part of the national campaign to honor the legacy of Dr. King and to protect workers’ rights.

Area Stage Employers Affirm Support for Workers’ Rights

Local 15 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the Western Washington stagehands union, announced that 25 of the employers with which it has collective bargaining agreements have signed a statement supporting workers’ rights.

The employers’ statement “affirms our support for workers everywhere to organize and bargain collectively. We are proud to be a Union employer. We are committed to bargaining fairly and in good faith with our employees, and to maintaining our history of respect for, and cooperation with, the labor community.

Employers signing the statement include all major Seattle-area theatres, as well as area sound and stagecraft providers.

“In the face of attacks on public workers throughout the nation, we want to show that in our industry, in our region, we have good labor relations,” explained Local 15 President Andrew Willhelm. “This says loud and clear that Seattle is still a Union town. Just as in Wisconsin, the public supports labor. We’re doing all we can to make sure that corporate interests don’t hijack our government, the way they have in Wisconsin.”

In addition to signing the statement, Seattle theaters on April 4th put up signs honoring their relationship with Unions, as part of a national day of actions commemorating the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and defending the labor movement. Participating theaters included 5th Avenue (“The 5th Avenue Proudly Supports its Union Workers”); A Contemporary Theatre/ACT (“A Contemporary Theatre – proud to be a Union employer”); Intiman Theatre (“Proud Union Employer”); Seattle Chlidren’s Theatre (“Seattle Children’s Theatre is a Proud Union Employer”); Seattle Repertory Theatre (“We are proud to be a Union employer”); and the Paramount Theatre (“We Proudly Support our Unions”). [photographs attached]

“Our theatrical employers share our vision for social justice,” stressed Bess Sullivan,

Chair of the Local 15 Defense Committee. “I spent a week at the State Capitol in Wisconsin with the thousands of public sector workers fighting back against Union-busting, and we want to make a clear statement that we won’t tolerate that kind of attack in Washington.”

On April 4th, Local 15 led 70 theatrical workers in a loud, spirited rally and march around Seattle Center, where much of its work is centered, and to the Seattle Labor Temple, where Sullivan delivered a first-hand report on the ongoing conflict in Wisconsin.

“Our goal was to involve our members, and not just have a statement from our Union,” said Amanda Quinn, a Seattle stagehand who coordinated the Local’s actions on April 4th. “We had our members raising issues with their coworkers and employers at their worksites, and planned an action at a location where many of our members work.”

Quinn pointed out that in addition to the 24 employers signing the Local 15 statement, the Local’s largest employer – the City of Seattle – took similar action through Resolution 31271, sponsored by Councilmember Richard Conlin and passed unanimously by the City Council. That resolution reaffirmed City “support for public employees to organize and to bargaining collectively,” and opposed “any attempt to restrict or eliminate collective bargaining in the State of Washington.”

“We won’t give an inch in this fight,“ vowed Willhelm. “Our members will stand up for our rights – and we’ll always be there to defend other workers when they’re under attack.”

Employers signing the Local 15 statement include:


5th Avenue Theatre

A ContemporaryTheatre (ACT)

Avalon Information Services

Balducci Properties LLC

Broadway Center for the Performing Arts

•Pantages Theatre, Rialto Theatre, Theatre on the Square

Dick Delay Rigging

Eclectic Theater

Function inc.

Intiman Theatre

Lakeside Group LLC

• Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, Marymoor Park

Mad Dog Productions

National Convention Services

Northwest Folklife Festival

Northwest Staging & Sound

One Reel

Pacific Stage

PNTA

Production Support Services

Rietveldt Productions

Rise Up! Productions

Seattle Children’s Theatre

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Seattle Theatre Group

•Moore Theatre, Neptune Theatre, Paramount Theatre

Staged Right Scenery

Village Theatre


Support workers rights

FRIDAY, APRIL 8th

12:00 NOON

Washington State Capitol, Olympia

WE ARE ONE – PUT PEOPLE FIRST!

PROTECT WORKING FAMILIES!

Join with thousands of other labor and community activists to demand good jobs, fair taxes, social services and workers’ rights

For more information or Local 15 ride-sharing, please contact Local 15 Business Rep. Paul Bigman, 206-441-1515 ext. 225, stagerep@ia15.org – or go to www.wabuildingtrades.org to sign up for free bus transportation from Bellingham, Mt. Vernon, Everett, Seattle, Auburn, Tacoma, Grays Harbor, Longview/Kelso, Vancouver, Wenatchee, Tri Cities or Spokane.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The week of action for workers’ rights is off to a great start in Washington.

On Saturday, April 2nd, some 2000 US and Canadian labor activists gathered at the Peace Arch in Blaine to promote international worker solidarity.  Local 15 members, including those providing the sound through Northwest Staging & Sound, joined with IATSE members from British Columbia and Oregon.

Sunday evening, April 3rd, Local 15 brought together 63 labor folks to see Billy Elliot – The Musical at the Paramount. Sister Katy Fogg read a letter of support from IATSE President Matt Loeb to a pre-performance gathering, and we stood as a group to salute the labor message of the play at a key moment.

Monday, April 4th was the center of the actions.  It is the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., murdered in Memphis in 1968 while helping to mobilize in support of striking sanitation workers.  At noon, 170 of us rallied at the University of Washington campus in support of low-wage construction workers being denied their union rights on a project paid for with our tax dollars; later in the day, 300 people rallied for the same purpose on the UW-Tacoma campus.  We marched on the President of UW in Seattle, and the Chancellor in Tacoma, demanding that they take action to ensure respect for workers’ rights by their contractors.

Throughout the day, Local 15 theatrical venues had signs on their marquees, reader boards and windows expressing support for our rights.  Participating theaters included 5th Avenue (“The 5th Avenue Proudly Supports its Union Workers”); ACT (“ACT is a Proud Union Employer,” with the logos of all ACT Unions); Intiman (“Proud Union Employer”); Seattle Children’s Theatre (“Seattle Children’s Theatre is a Proud Union Employer,” with the logos of all SCT Unions); Seattle Rep (“SRT is a Proud Union Employer”); and the Paramount (“We Proudly Support our Unions”).  Our newest IATSE theatre, Eclectic Theater, will have a sign up today.

In addition, 19 of our employers have already signed on to our statement of support for workers’ rights: “[Employer] affirms our support for workers everywhere to organize and bargain collectively.  We are proud to be a Union employer.  We are committed to bargaining fairly and in good faith with our employees, and to maintaining our history of respect for, and cooperation with, the labor community.” Employers who have signed this statement to date are: 5th Avenue, ACT, Avalon, Balducci Properties LLC, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, Eclectic Theater, Function inc., Intiman Theatre, Lakeside Management, National Convention Services (NCS), Northwest Folklife Festival, Northwest Staging & Sound, Pacific Stage, PNTA, Production Support Services, Rise Up! Productions, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Theatre Group and Staged Right Scenery.  We expect to have more employers sign on before we issue a press release later this week, including photographs of the theatre marquees, reader boards and window signs.

Also on April 4th, 70 Local 15 members and allies had a spirited march around Seattle Center and to the Labor Temple, where we began our membership meeting with a presentation open to the public by Sister Bess Sullivan, Local Defense Committee Chair, who spent a week at the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin with the massive mobilizations there to defend workers’ rights.

At the same time as our meeting, 400 labor and community activists gathered at Seattle’s MLK Park to honor Dr. King’s legacy and renew our commitment to the struggle for justice.

These were all part of over 1,200 actions taking place this week to show that We Are One – and we will not give up the fight for what is right.

The rally on Friday will be the major one for the week in Washington.  If you can, please join with labor and our allies in Olympia for this important mobilization.

And finally, a couple of bills still pending in Olympia that need a little public pressure on the Legislature:

SB 5566 is known at the “compromise and release” bill for workers’ compensation.  It would save millions of dollars – by taking it out of the pockets of injured workers.  The bill would encourage injured workers to settle on a lump-sum payment for their work-related injury, rather than receive the reliable monthly payments until they’re healed up.  The State Senate has passed this awful bill, but it’s still pending in the State House.  Please contact your State Representative and urge him/her to vote NO on this bill.

And Washington’s contribution to the Wisconsin phenomenon of anti-Union legislation is SHB 1516, which would break up Union bargaining units on the Washington State Ferries by forcing some semi-supervisory employees out of the same group with the deckhands.  That’s like saying that our Head Carpenters couldn’t be in the Union with the rest of the crew.  This one has passed the House, and is now in the Senate.  Please contact your State Senator to urge a NO vote on this union-busting bill.

In solidarity,

Paul

Paul Bigman, Business Representative

Solidarity actions in Seattle and Bellingham for Rite Aid workers

RALLY TO SUPPORT RITE AID WORKERS

SEATTLE AND BELLINGHAM

National Day of Action Targets Rite Aid Execs for Disrespecting Employees

Rite Aid drugstore executives who are disrespecting employees across the country will be the target of nationwide solidarity actions on Wednesday, December 15th.

During the past few years, Rite Aid executives made bad business decisions that caused serious financial problems at the country’s third-largest drugstore chain. But instead of working with employees to move forward together in challenging times, Rite Aid execs are trying to make the company’s loyal and hard-working employees pay for management’s mistakes.

While Rite Aid just increased compensation for the company’s CEO to $4.5 million

• In Cleveland OH, Rite Aid management imposed a concessionary contract on retail store workers beginning December 1st that will drastically increase the cost of health insurance for employees and their families

• In Lancaster CA, management is also trying to shift the burden of rising health costs to workers;

• In Rome NY, management is closing union facilities where workers have a real voice on the job and shifting work to non-union facilities;

• At other Rite Aid locations across the country, management is not living up to its commitments and is refusing to bargain fairly with workers.

Here on the west coast, Rite Aid warehouse workers in California have been fighting for two-and-a-half years for a fair contract through the ILWU (International Longshore & Warehouse Union).

Management’s disrespect has moved Rite Aid workers to lead actions at stores from the following unions: United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 (Pennsylvania), UFCW Local 880 (Ohio); and International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 26 (California).

With support from the AFL-CIO, Jobs with Justice and United Students Against Sweatshops, Rite Aid workers are calling on union supporters to join with community and student allies to participate in a National Day of Action on December 15th.

In Seattle

Wednesday, December 15th

1:00 pm

Rite Aid
802 3rd Avenue (at Columbia)

downtown Seattle

In Bellingham
Wednesday, December 15th
3:00 pm
Rite Aid
1400 Cornwall (at Magnolia)
downtown Bellingham

For further information
please contact Paul Bigman, pbigman@aol.com, 206-214-6169 (Seattle)
or Rich Austin, rich071886@gmail.com, 360-941-3216 (Bellingham)


The move to paperless pay with the City

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Thanks to those of you who responded to my note  about the move to paperless paychecks at the City.  Forty people responded, which shows, I think, quite a bit of interest.

Although about a quarter of those who responded would prefer to have paper stubs, most of those indicated that you could live with electronic records if necessary, provided that we had the needed preparation work done in advance.

I’ve spoken today with the City, and want to report:

* before any switch to paperless pay, the City will ensure that all intermittents have a password that enables you to access your payroll records;
* also before any switch, the City will work with us to make sure that there will be City computers and printers available at the times and places that our members are working;
* with that password, there is already access to your personal records from any computer with internet;
* the City HR representative will check to verify that you will be able to donwload your records (they’re in Excel format), although she was pretty certain that this is already in place; and,
* the records will be maintained for at least the seven years that you would need for IRS
purposes.

The City is extremely reluctant to provide paper stubs for anyone who requests them,
since that would defeat the purpose of the switch.  To be clear, since some of our folks
raised the question, the move to paperless paychecks is absolutely to save money, and
that’s not being hidden behind a claim that it’s environmentally preferable.  The savings
for the City as a whole would be quite substantial; as with the issues raised in the
recent extension of the City contract, the savings are sufficient to avoid some layoffs
and reductions in force.

The City does recognize, however, that there may be a small number of people with
compelling reasons to need a paper stub – for example, if an employee is visually or
otherwise impaired, and really can’t use computers for this purpose.  They will look at
any requests based on factors like this on a case-by-case basis, and promise to make
necessary accommodations – but I want to stress, as they did, that it would only be for
NECESSARY accommodations, and not just preference.

I know that for most of you who responded, this does meet your concerns.  If you still
have additional concerns, please let me know as soon as possible.  Because of the unique
nature of our work and our workforce, we are, I believe, the only Union making a real
issue of this, and need to let the rest of the City Unions know if we can live with it as
quickly as we can.

Thanks.  Please feel free to get in touch with any questions.

In solidarity,
Paul

Paul Bigman, Business Reprsentative

stagerep@ia15.org, 206-441-1515

Grocery workers authorize strike

The more than 25,000 grocery workers at the main chain stores in the central Puget Sound have voted by a 94% majority to authorize a strike.  Although they are required to give 72 hours notice of an actual work stoppage, there’s a reasonable likelihood of a strike just before Thanksgiving.
The strike would affect Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC and Safeway stores in King, Kitsap and Snohomish counties, as well as the meat departments at those stores in Pierce and Thurston counties.  The stores are owned by three huge corporations: Minnesota-based Supervalu (Albertsons), California-based Safeway, and Ohio-based Kroger (Fred Meyer and QFC).  All three are among the 50 larges corporations in the United States, and pay their CEOs a combined $30 million a year.  The strike authorization came because management, bargaining as one group, wants to cut wages, health benefits, and pension.  The unions have been negotiating with the corporate giants for nine months.
Take a moment to tell the workers in your neighborhood Albertsons, Fred Meyer, QFC or Safeway that you support them and their effort to maintain their wages and benefits.  Let them know that if there’s a strike, they can count on you to help in any way you can.

National Call-in Day to Extend Unemployment Benefits

NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY

to Extend Unemployment Benefits

An important message from IATSE and the AFL-CIO

→For more information, visit www.afl cio.org.←

Tuesday,  Nov. 16

America’s workers have felt the pain of our broken economy.

Many have paid for it with their jobs, their homes and their ability to support their families.

For the 15 million jobless workers across this country, unemployment benefi ts are a vital lifeline while they look for new work. But at the end of November, benefi ts once again will run out for many of them. If that happens, 2 million people will lose benefits in December and 6 million by the end of next year.

Call your senators and representative on Nov. 16.

Tell them your name, your union and where you’re calling from and urge them to vote to extend unemployment benefits.

1-877-662-2889

The stakes could not be higher for millions of jobless workers and their families. On Nov. 16, spread the word! It’s time for our elected leaders to fi ght for the struggling Americans who have the most to lose.

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