NOAA’s New Marine Forecast Product Improves Weather Forecasts and Safety at Sea

By Tom Cuff, Director, NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center

NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) rolled out a new forecast product suite this week to provide mariners with comprehensive weather forecasts every 24 hours out to day four. Our goal is to deliver the very best impact-based decision support services and products possible to our users. These 72 hour surface weather and wind/wave forecast charts, and model generated 500 mb charts, will allow mariners to better prepare for severe weather at sea.

Complementing OPC’s 24, 48, and 96 hour products, the new 72 hour forecast charts fill a gap to ensure an even more robust forecast timeline, while identifying areas of maritime weather hazards. Elements include:

  • Winds and waves
  • Surface fronts and isobars
  • High and low pressure systems
  • 500 millibar heights
  • Wave period and direction

In order to implement these new charts, OPC reviewed existing products and services to ensure quality, consistency, and user needs given the ever-changing landscape of models and other forecast tools. Following a public comment period, minor changes were made to legacy products to allow our team to deliver this critically important new forecast tool to improve safety of life and property at sea. We began socializing this new approach with the maritime community in November 2016, and since then have received support from users across the industry.

These products do not lessen the quality of other legacy products disseminated via HFFAX. We are working hard to take the best possible advantage of 21st century forecasting skill and make it available to our users.

As the maritime weather enterprise continues to evolve, it is our goal to continually deliver the very best products, so we must be nimble enough to evolve too. We take seriously our mission to provide the world’s best marine weather forecasts, while preventing loss of life and property at sea.

Visit NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center website for additional forecasts and information. 

Photo Credit: NOAA GOES-East Imagery

Pacific Seafood Warns of Potential Layoff of 69 Workers in Federal Way, WA

Pacific Seafood has provided timely notice to the State of Washington, as required, of the potential layoff of 69 employees at their Federal Way, WA Salmolux plant.  According to the Pacific Seafood website, Salmolux is their smoked seafood division and a processor of gourmet products. The notice indicated the layoffs were due to closure of the Federal Way site.  No other public information about the layoffs was provided by Pacific Seafood at the time of writing.

Photo credit: Pacific Seafood

People With Disabilities Are Finding More Work

By Ben Paynter, Fast Company, 3/6/2018, via Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment

People With Disabilities Are Finding More Work, But There’s A Long Way To Go

A new report finds that while there’s been some improvement, people with disabilities (especially minorities) face huge barriers to entering the workforce. 

While the vast majority of Americans with disabilities want to work, just over one-third are able to find jobs, according to a recent survey from RespectAbility,  a nonprofit that works to empower and increase opportunities for people with disabilities.

That creates a major societal problem: Without gainful employment, more than 12 million people are losing out on wages that might fuel more independence, never mind the obvious hit to their feelings of self-worth. But there’s some good news: more than 343,000 new workers with disabilities took jobs in 2016, four times as many as the year before.

That finding is part of a separate RespectAbility report analyzing recent data from the 2017 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, an online repository of federal data that’s compiled by the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. The current percentage of people with disabilities who have jobs stands at 36% compared to 78% of people without disabilities who are employed.

The success of workplace hiring varies drastically from state to state. The top three states doing the best at inclusion are North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota (with rounded hiring rates of 54%, 52%, and 48%, respectively). Those states lagging the worst are West Virginia, followed by Alabama, and Mississippi (all have rates in the upper 20% range). There’s evidence that people with disabilities who are minorities may be doubly discriminated against; the hiring rate for African-Americans is especially low, at 28% overall.

RespectAbility’s analysis points out that places where opportunity is improving and have committed to adopting strong transitional school-to-work programs and state policies that support equitable job-training and development and workplace hiring practices. Two groups with initiatives that appear to be succeeding are called Project SEARCH and Bridges from School to Work.

Project SEARCH, the report notes, is an example of an employer-led effort to match students with disabilities to new jobs. It’s active in 46 states and 78% of participants end up being hired. Bridges from School to Work is known for its career “assessments, workshops, and job matching.” The effort has placed candidates at 4.500 workplaces, according to its website, and it has been honored by several of the national and local employers in different cities where it works. Standout companies include Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Dallas, Sears and AMC Theatres in Los Angeles, and Walmart in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

RespectAbility’s analysis makes clear that it will take a multi-pronged approach to make change: policy shifts, new programs, and obviously ever-more companies with a strong commitment to fair hiring practices. In recent years, companies like JP Morgan Chase, Pepsi, UPS, SAP, Ernst & Young, IBM, Starbucks, and Walgreens have become particularly good role models for inclusion. As the report notes: “These companies have seen that people with disabilities are successful employees who improve businesses’ bottom lines.”

Photo by linkwize on / CC BY-NC-ND

WA State Paid Family and Medical Leave Program Draft Rules – Open Town Hall and Online Portal

The WA Employment Security Department is seeking stakeholder and public comment on the new Paid Family and Medical Leave Program. There is an online portal for posing questions and making comments. The rule making process is already well underway, but time remains for your input.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Program

Starting in 2020, Washington will be the fifth state in the nation to provide paid family and medical leave benefits to workers and employers. The program will be funded by premiums paid by both employees and employers, and ensure workers can take necessary time off when they welcome a new child into their family, are struck by extended illness or injury, or need to take care of an ill or ailing relative. 

Paid Family and Medical Leave will help millions of Washington workers and employers better balance work, health and family. Your feedback is crucial to ensuring this program will best serve those using it. 

Click here to go to the portal, read draft rules and submit your feedback. There is also a general comment and question forum now open on the site. You can view that forum by clicking here.

When you post your first comment, you may choose to create an account or post anonymously. 

Creating an account:

  • Allows the Employment Security Department to respond to your questions.
  • Allows you to like other comments.
  • Gives you the option to make your comments visible to the public.
  • Makes future commenting easier.

Comments submitted anonymously will not be visible to the public. Any personal information provided will be kept confidential, according to a strict privacy agreement.

You can see a full timeline of dates and deadlines related to Phase 1 rulemaking here, or visit our rulemaking site for more information. 

Second draft of phase 1 rules now available

Thanks to input from the Advisory Committee and stakeholders across Washington, the second draft of rules related to our state’s upcoming Paid Family and Medical Leave program is now available. Read these draft rules here.

Phase 1 of the rulemaking process relates to:

  • Voluntary plans
  • Collective bargaining agreements
  • Premium liability

Read the list of laws these fall under here.

As a reminder, Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program will start collecting premiums on Jan. 1, 2019 and begin paying benefits on Jan. 1, 2020.

For more information, visit our Paid Family and Medical Leave website.

Please share with others

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Thank you for your participation and input!


Photo by ibarra_svd on / CC BY-NC-SA

Center for Progressive Reform Launches National Database of Crimes Against Workers

Today’s post comes from guest author Paul J. McAndrew, Jr., from Paul McAndrew Law Firm.

Every year are a few work-fatalities that garner criminal prosecution and conviction. This is out the thousands of work-fatalities that occur every year. Until now, there’s been no one keeping a record of these fatality-causing events.

Now, the Center for Progressive Reform’s (CPR) Katie Tracy has reviewed court records, investigation files, and news stories to identify them many of them. After assembling information on more than 75 criminal cases from 17 states, she knew it was time to share all of it.

The result is CPR’s user friendly and publicly-available at Crimes Against Workers Database. I encourage you to explore this valuable tool. We believe that the awareness caused by sharing this information nationally can be a catalyst for legislators and others to understand the scope and scale of these crimes.

Improving Safety on the Job Saves Lives and Money — March 6 Workplace Safety Seminar

Focusing on safety and health in the workplace is one of the surest investments you can make in today’s economy. Creating a culture of safety on the job can produce immediate dividends including improved productivity and reduced workers’ compensation costs. 

Workplace safety leaders from around Washington will be among the speakers at a one-day seminar on March 6, hosted by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). 

Employers will learn from industry experts who have been recognized for safety excellence, including Carlisle Construction Materials, Nucor Steel Seattle, Inc., Associated General Contractors of Washington, NuStar Energy and the University of Washington. They’ll present on a variety of topics including “Social media and Safety Culture” and “Getting People Involved in Safety.” 

The keynote speaker is Leigh Anne Jasheway, MPH, a stress management consultant who uses humor to manage change and conflict and to boost teamwork and morale. Her presentation, “Laughter is a Basic Tool for Health, Safety and Sanity,” is educational and fun. 

The free seminar is sponsored by L&I’s Voluntary Protection Program. It’s designed for managers, safety professionals, safety committee members and anyone interested in improving workplace safety.

The daylong event is in Tumwater at the L&I auditorium, 7273 Linderson Way SWPre-registration is required.

The Voluntary Protection Program promotes workplace safety and health through cooperative relationships between management, labor and government. 

Go to for more information and the meeting agenda.

Photo by Samsung Newsroom on / CC BY-NC-SA

BuzzFeed News: At Tesla’s Factory, Building The Car Of The Future Has Painful And Permanent Consequences For Some Workers

Tesla wants to change the world by selling eco-friendly electric vehicles to the masses. But some of the workers laboring to build that dream have been hurt along the way.
FREMONT, CALIFORNIA — Terrill Johnson was installing car trunks at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, when he heard the sound that would define his next few years, if not the rest of his life. “It was a big, loud pop,” he said. In one movement, Johnson had blown out his elbow and his shoulder. “Once the pop came, the pain came.”

That was September 2015. Johnson went on leave for his injury, but on workers’ compensation he earned considerably less than the roughly $1,700 he had earned every two weeks while on the job. Now, two surgeries and more than two years later, he’s still waiting for his workers’ compensation case to be resolved, and trying to make ends meet in one of the country’s most expensive metropolitan areas with just the earnings from his workers’ comp check plus Social Security disability payments from the state. He can’t work out or play sports, and when he walks around, he keeps his injured hand in his pocket because otherwise it swings around and causes him pain.

“I can’t even lift no more than 10 pounds with my left arm, and I’m left-handed,” he told BuzzFeed News. “It took a lot from me. The arm is not going to ever get back to where it was, never.” He said he doesn’t know how he’ll make a living in the five years before Social Security kicks in.

Tesla is the largest and highest-profile electric car company in the world. It’s a $57 billion business built on a message of innovation, ambition, and social good. Its cars, the Model 3, Model S, and Model X, retail for between $35,000 and $79,500, and confer on their buyers not just financial status, but also a certain eco-futurist sheen. Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, is as famous for wanting to colonize Mars as he is for his ambitious production schedule and boundless idealism. Stenciled over the entrance to the company’s Fremont factory are these words: “Our mission: to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

But while Tesla may eventually reinvent the automobile, it hasn’t yet reinvented automobile manufacturing. Here in Fremont, at the only nonunion US-owned automotive plant in the country, the people who labored to build the future of transportation have done so by working long hours with lower-than-industry-average pay, according to workers, and higher-than-industry average risk of injury according to a prolabor nonprofit.

In the last year, amid a union drive and a string of negative allegations about its working conditions, Tesla has raised starting hourly rates by $2; today, it says, its production line workers are paid better than any other US autoworkers, and its injury rate is roughly equal to the national average.

But 15 people who worked in Tesla’s factory within the last five years describe it as a backbreaking job that placed workers under tremendous pressure to produce — a result of the company’s ambitious production targets — that they say led, in some cases, to lifelong injuries. Between 2012 and early 2017, 180 Tesla employees applied for compensation for partially or permanently disabling injuries, according to a database obtained via a public records request by BuzzFeed News from the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). In interviews, several of these injured employees described doing repetitive tasks with little opportunity to rotate positions — in violation of Tesla’s own stated policy, as well as industry norms. Most of these workers were making around $17 an hour before they were injured; several said they ended up losing their homes afterward, unable to pay their rent.

Read the full story and see all of the photos here.
Posted on February 4, 2018


Photo by BitBoy on / CC BY




Ship Carrying Four Huge New Container Cranes to Arrive in Tacoma, WA Friday, Feb 23rd

The Northwest Seaport Alliance announced that a huge ship carrying four of the West Coast’s largest container cranes is scheduled to travel through Puget Sound Feb. 23 to Tacoma:

Puget Sound Pilots are scheduled to board the Zhen Hua 28, a 761-foot-long heavy-lift ship, early Friday morning in Port Angeles and begin the journey to Tacoma. Track the ship’s progress.

Here are possible viewpoints along Puget Sound. Note: We will not be able to provide access to secure marine terminals. 

If you get to see the ship en route, snap a picture and add it to the viewpoint map!

The ship will sit at anchor in Commencement Bay for a day or two before delivering the cranes to Husky Terminal at the northwest end of the Blair Waterway.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance ordered eight new super-post-Panamax cranes from Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd (ZPMC) in China through a competitive bid process. No container cranes currently are manufactured in the U.S. Learn more about the cranes in this short video.

ZPMC is the largest heavy-duty equipment manufacturer in the world and delivers more than 200 cranes every year around the world, including many seaports in the U.S.

The other four cranes will arrive in 2019.

When they arrive, the cranes will be installed at Husky Terminal, which is undergoing about $250 million in terminal improvements that began in September 2016 on Tacoma’s General Central Peninsula.

Upgrades include strengthening and realigning a berth and adding eight new super-post-Panamax cranes capable of serving two 18,000-TEU container ships at the same time. Learn more about the project.

The new cranes will have an outreach of 24 containers and a lift height of 165 feet above the pier deck.

Follow NWSA on social media for updates at #NWSACranes and #port253.

About the New, Larger Container Cranes Coming to the Port of Tacoma, WA

The Northwest Seaport Alliance released a video report about the four new super-post-Panamax container cranes, built in Shanghai by Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company Limited (ZPMC), that are currently on their way to the Port of Tacoma. While awaiting their arrival later this month, they caught up with Port of Tacoma’s Maintenance Project Manager Joe Caldwell about these giant structures and their inspection process.


Image credit:

The Boeing Company Makes a Big Investment in its Employees With Auburn, WA Training Facility

Boeing showcased its commitment to the Auburn community and the entire Puget Sound region with the grand opening of its Workforce Readiness Center.

The Workforce Readiness Center is the first new building at the Auburn site in 25 years.

The center, which features state-of-the-art training and equipment, is dedicated to giving workers the skills they need to contribute to a 21st century workforce.

The 71,000 square foot Workforce Readiness Center houses:

  • Equipment services training for mechanics and technicians to receive new training and obtain necessary re-certifications.
  • A robotics lab, where employees can learn next-generation manufacturing.
  • Safety courses, which ensure Auburn remains the leader in workplace safety.
  • The first onsite IAM/Boeing Joint Program collaborative safety development curriculum with the International Association of Machinists.

Boeing is the largest private employer in Washington state, with nearly half of Boeing’s employees located in the state. This new center highlights Boeing’s commitment to employees in Washington and the region’s long-term economic success.

Read more about the opening of Boeing’s Workforce Readiness Center.

Photo credit: The Boeing Company

Published by Causey Wright