Port of Tacoma, WA Pier 4 Reconfiguration Update

The Northwest Seaport Alliance provided the following update of the South Harbor Pier 4 project to expand and fortify the pier to receive the new megaships. The project employs workers in the construction trades and, once completed, will lead to greater cargo coming through the port, potentially increasing longshore and harbor worker employment.

The Pier 4 reconfiguration is taking shape on the General Central Peninsula in the South Harbor. Crews are working heavily on pier construction and installing underground utilities, including electrical, communication, sewer and stormwater treatment.

Since awarding the contract to Manson Construction Company and launching the first phase of the project in May 2016, the 1,724-foot pier at the Port of Tacoma nears its halfway mark.

In February, Manson wrapped up the first phase of the pile driving, which set up the foundation for the structure that will be capable of serving two 18,000-TEU container ships once completed.

“Bigger ships require bigger cranes, and bigger cranes require a stronger foundation to evenly distribute the load,” said Trevor Thornsley, senior project manager for the Port of Tacoma. “Building the pier is all about providing enough support to handle the heavy cranes and the heavy load of the trucks, straddle carriers and the equipment that run on the pier.”

Each pile, varying from 70 to 170 feet in length, is precisely driven underwater in a neat row formation. The segments are then bound together with rebar and concrete to create a thick platform called a pile cap. Once pile caps are built, the crew will place 25-foot-wide deck panels between the caps and fill any gaps with more concrete. At the end of the project, the pier will be covered with 3 to 6 inches of pavement.

The second phase of pile driving is slated to resume in July. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2018. 

Watch a video of the latest progress and learn more about the Pier 4 project.

In a related post, the Northwest Seaport Alliance reported on the potential for additional crane purchases for Pier 4:

The Managing Members will consider purchasing four additional cranes from Zhenhua Port Machinery Company (ZPMC) in China at their June 6 special joint meeting. The Managing Members approved the purchase of the first four super post-Panamax container cranes in 2016 to handle larger ships. If the additional cranes are approved, all eight cranes are expected to arrive in spring 2018 at South Harbor’s Pier 4, where it is currently undergoing reconfiguration improvements.

Download and watch a video of the June 6 meeting here.

Photo credit: Northwest Seaport Alliance


Port Commissioners Approve Funding for Railroad

$600,000 will go to grade separation project in Kent, WA, easing rail-related congestion.

The Port of Seattle Commission has approved transportation funding for a grade separation project in Kent, WA. The South 228th Street project will help traffic flow delayed by railroad crossings. The project improves regional connections between thousands of businesses, employers and 40 million square feet of warehouse and industrial space.The $595,000 in funding contributes to an overall project cost of $25 million.

The Port of Seattle recognizes the need to keep freight, and all other traffic, moving throughout our region,” said Commissioner Stephanie Bowman. “Grade separations like these are critical to remove traffic bottle necks, especially areas in the Kent Valley that handle the second largest freight and cargo volumes on the West Coast.

“The success of both the Port of Seattle and the Kent Valley’s robust manufacturing, warehouse and distribution activity depends upon safe, reliable, timely connections to the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, and increasingly to Sea-Tac Airport,” said Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke. “Kent’s South 228th Street has been designated as a key freight route, attracting Port customers who value timely access. The elimination of the chokepoint at the Union Pacific Railroad crossing will help ensure our region’s future as a premier manufacturing and distribution center of world-wide importance.”

Source: Port of Seattle, Photo: City of Kent, WA

Social Security Fears? An Open Letter to Our Clients

We’ve been hearing from clients, both current and former, about the proposed changes to Social Security – and what we are hearing is fear. Our clients have been found too disabled to work under very stringent definitions of disability, but are now hearing that their already strained incomes may be cut – or taken away entirely. 

They are scared.

And they are looking to us for assurances – assurances that, unfortunately, we cannot give. 

We cannot promise our clients that their benefits won’t be cut.

We cannot promise our clients that their Medicare won’t be further compromised – that even fewer doctors will accept it, that fewer procedures will be covered, that the medications they need to survive and function won’t drop off the allowed formulary, that block grants will limit how much treatment they can receive in a given time frame, regardless of need or urgency.

All we can do is tell them what we do know – and, more importantly, we can remind them that they have a voice.

Please feel free to share our note with your clients or friends. Modify it to suit your needs and jurisdiction. And, please, think about our clients: when you vote, and when you voice your concerns to your legislators.

Dear Client:

First of all, no changes to Social Security have been made yet. Many things are being proposed, but budgets are subject to numerous changes before they are approved, and even once approved, they are subject to additional changes as they are implemented.  And implementation doesn’t usually happen overnight – it takes place over years.

It’s true that cuts to Social Security Disability, Medicaid, and Medicare are all being discussed. However – cuts to these programs have been discussed every budget cycle for the past several decades!  But nothing has actually happened yet.

At this time, we recommend that people:

  • Pay attention. You’re right that some changes are being talked about – be aware of what, and how that might affect you.
  • CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS. This is the most important thing! Whether your Senators and Congressional Representative share your party or not, they are still responsible for YOU as their constituent. Tell them that you rely on these programs, and how you would be affected by any changes. Tell them by whatever means you can: call, email, write, show up in person if at all possible. As we have seen on several recent legislative proposals, even deeply party-line legislators can be convinced to vote down proposals that their constituents have made clear are not in their best interests.
  • Don’t panic. Yes, these changes can sound scary – but remember, nothing has actually happened yet. It’s not a bad idea to make some contingency plans – could you reduce your living expenses? Can you start saving a little bit each month, to have a cushion against potential future needs? Are there any opportunities for you, within your limitations, to bring in some bit of income, just in case? – but beyond that, anything is just speculation. Panic makes it harder to advocate for what we need, so try to keep unproductive dwelling on “what if” to a minimum!
  • PLAN TO VOTE, in every single upcoming election. Watch what the politicians and candidates DO, not what they say! If they have voted to cut your benefits, they are not really looking out for you, and we all need representatives that truly work FOR us – not against us!

If you are receiving combined benefits through both Social Security and Workers’ Compensation, any changes to the Disability program will be at least somewhat mitigated, as your Workers’ Compensation benefits should increase to offset at least some of the loss in Social Security income, up to your maximum time-loss benefit. The possible impact on your Medicare is much harder to predict – we can’t say what will happen, when nothing has yet passed!  

Our firm does not handle Social Security cases, and does not plan to do so. However, we are in close contact with our colleagues who still do, and we still participate in advocacy work for these programs, as we are aware of the need our clients have for them.  Should changes take place that will affect our Workers’ Compensation clients, we will review the impacts and keep in touch.

Photo credit: Thomas Leuthard via Foter.com / CC BY

Jay Causey Receives WSAJ President’s Award

The Washsington State Association for Justice (WSAJ) awarded Jay Causey the President’s Award at its annual awards ceremony last month.  Jay was recognized for his career-spanning service and dedication to protecting the rights of injured workers.  Dominic L. Bacetich, WSAJ President, presented the award.

Although his receipt of the award was to be a surprise, there is word that a leaker notified Jay of award just prior to the event. This remains under investigation. What is not in question is how proud and grateful I am for having the privilege of working with Jay for a large part of his career.

Congratulations, Jay, on your recognition by WSAJ for a lifetime of achievement.


Photo credit: Erik Bell

Brian Wright Chairs Workers’ Compensation Seminar

Causey Wright featured prominently in the annual statewide workers’ compensation seminar conducted by the Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ). This event, held last month in Seattle, provides education to legal professionals working on behalf of workers injured on-the-job.

Brian Wright had the honor of co-chairing the event. Also on the program was Jane Dale participating in a panel discussion of ethics topics. Jay Causey was awarded WSAJ’s President’s Award for a lifetime of achievement in the field of workers’ compensation.

Yay, Team! 


Photo credit: Erik Bell

Asbestos Deaths Remain A Public Health Concern, CDC Finds

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.npr.org

People are still dying of cancer linked to asbestos, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says, despite decades of regulations meant to limit dangerous exposure.

Starting in 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has regulated how much asbestos workers can be exposed to, because it contains tiny fibers that can cause lung disease or cancer if they are swallowed or inhaled.

The Environmental Protection Agency regulates asbestos too, setting requirements for inspecting, demolishing and renovating buildings that contain materials made with asbestos, like insulation, vinyl tiles, roofing, shingles and paint.

But, a recent CDC analysis found that thousands of people are still dying each year from a type of cancer called malignant mesothelioma that is associated with inhaling asbestos fibers, even briefly or in small amounts. Even after decades of regulation, between 1999 and 2015 there were 45,221 mesothelioma deaths in the U.S. The majority of those who died were men.

The greatest increase is among people over 85 years old, who were likely exposed to asbestos many years ago. It can take anywhere from two to seven decades for mesothelioma to develop after a person inhales asbestos fibers. And early deaths among people 35 to 65 are down overall.

But, investigators say, the fact that people younger than 55 are still dying of a disease linked to asbestos means that workers are still being exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos despite federal regulations.


[Click here to see the rest of this post]

NPR: An ICE Arrest After A Workers’ Comp Meeting Has Lawyers Questioning If It Was Retaliation


As if there aren’t enough reasons to not report an on the job injury. Now an undocumented employee can risk their employer turning them in to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for possible deportation. How deportation will effect the claim is still unknown. The following story was published by National Public Radio on May 17, 2017.

Thirty-seven-year-old Jose Flores and his longtime partner, Rosa Benitez, have been living in Massachusetts for almost seven years. The Honduran nationals both entered the United States by illegally crossing the Southern border.

Benitez, 40 and with tired eyes, says she and Flores had to leave Honduras because of the violence.

‘I Came Here To Fight For My Family’

“Like all of the immigrants arriving from other countries,” she said in Spanish, “I came here to fight for my family. That’s why I’m here. Honduras is terrorized by gangs. I can’t live there. My dad was killed by the gangs. They threatened him and told him to pay a fee, but he didn’t pay it.”

The couple has five children together, three of whom are U.S.-born citizens. The oldest is 17 and the youngest is 2 years old. Benitez says since Flores was arrested by federal immigration agents last week, all of the children are scared and asking when their dad is coming home.

The family has had no income for two months. Flores, the sole provider, hasn’t been able to work since the end of March when he fell off a ladder at a job site, breaking his femur bone in his leg and undergoing several subsequent surgeries. After consulting with attorneys, and even though he’s living here illegally, Flores sought compensation from the Boston-based construction company he was working for.

Stacie Sobosik is a workers’ compensation attorney who’s advising Flores, and she says he’s within his rights.

“Under case law in Massachusetts, undocumented workers are eligible for the same benefits as any other worker injured in the state,” she said.

Sobosik says she works with plenty of clients who are in the country without documentation and often they’re hesitant to report workplace accidents. The fear is that doing so will result in retaliation from employers in the form of a call to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“And we’ve always been able to tell clients,” Sobosik said, “ICE has better things to do, bigger fish to fry, than to come after an injured worker because their boss has reported them.”

But that’s exactly what Sobosik believes happened to Flores.

Fears Bosses Could Retaliate Against Some Immigrant Workers

Sobosik says she could not have expected what would take place when Flores’ boss offered some cash to help the family and arranged a meeting.

“The employer told this worker where to be, at exactly what time, and immigration was waiting,” Sobosik explained.

Lawyers for Flores say it’s still unclear whether the employer — who, it turns out, had no workers’ comp coverage on the day of Flores’ accident — arranged the arrest that day.

>>For photos and to read the rest of the NPR story, click here.

Photo credit: Max Nathan via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

The Boeing Company: Celebrating 50 years in Everett, Washington

Last week, The Boeing Company announced their celebration of 50 years in Everett, Washington:

“The 747, 767, KC-46, 777, 787 Dreamliner, and soon-to-be 777X: all built in one very special place. We’re celebrating 50 years of our Everett site in Washington. From its development in 1967 to build the 747, to today’s 777X Composite Wing Center, our largest manufacturing site continues to rollout the most advanced jetliners in the world.”

In May 1967, Boeing employees moved into a new factory built beside Paine Field near Everett, Wash.  Thirteen months later, the group that became known in aerospace legend as “The Incredibles” rolled out the 747.

A half-century later, more than 40,000 employees, customers and suppliers visit Boeing’s largest manufacturing site daily. The hub of widebody factories is home to the 747-8, 767, 777, 787 Dreamliner, the KC-46 Tanker and several derivative programs. Building renovations and new construction tell a tale of continuous improvement and transformation — including the 1.3 million square foot (120, 800 square meter) Composite Wing Center — as today’s production system prepares for the 777X. 

As the company this month commemorates 50 years of Team Everett’s contributions, those changes reflect Boeing’s continued investment in the region, company leaders say.  And several employees who joined the Everett site in the 1960s added their unique perspectives about the past and future.

>>To read the rest of the story click here.

See The Boeing Company’s video scrapbook of the past 50 years in Everett, from forest to major manufacturing site.

Photo credit: The Everett Herald, “Visual History: 50 Years of Boeing at Paine Field in Everett.”


Louisiana Court Holds Employer Responsible for Failing to Protect Employee From Off-Duty Threat of Violence by Coworker

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp News and comes from www.jdsupra.com.

A Louisiana appellate court has ruled an employee may sue her employer for negligence for injuries sustained on the job when the injuries resulted from a dispute that began outside of work. The case is particularly instructive for disputes that originate outside of work where one or both of the participants is a Louisiana employee.

“If an employer knows or should know of a dangerous condition or person on his premises, the employer is obligated to take reasonable steps to protect its employees.”


In Carr v. Sanderson Farms, Inc., No. 2015 CA 0953 (February 17, 2016), Carr asserted a claim of negligence against her employer Sanderson Farms for injuries she sustained from an assault at work. Specifically, Carr alleged that her Sanderson Farms coworker, Webb, deliberately struck her with a pallet jack multiple times. Carr further alleged that, prior to this incident, while she and Webb were away from the workplace, Webb threatened her with bodily harm. Carr alleged that she told Sanderson Farms about the threats, to which Sanderson Farms responded that it would take no action because the threats were not made on Sanderson Farms property.

At the trial court level, Sanderson Farms filed a motion arguing that Carr’s negligence claim was barred by the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act. In general, an employee who is injured by a negligent act at work is restricted to asserting a claim for workers’ compensation and may not sue for his or her employer’s negligence under the act. The trial court agreed with Sanderson Farms and granted the employer’s motion dismissing the case. Carr appealed.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

On appeal, the court considered whether, under these circumstances, Carr could sue Sanderson Farms for its negligence, if any, in failing to prevent Webb’s attack on Carr. The court, relying on La. R.S. 23:1031(E), explained that “although negligence claims by an employee against her employer for injuries sustained on the job are typically barred by the exclusivity provision of the workers’ compensation act, the act does not cover injuries arising out of a ‘dispute with another person or employee over matters unrelated to the injured employee’s employment.’” When an injury is explicitly excluded from the Workers’ Compensation Act, the court reasoned, the employer is not immune from a negligence suit based on that injury. The court emphasized that in Carr’s case, her claim for workers’ compensation benefits was dismissed because of the finding that her injury arose out of a “non-work related dispute.” As a result, the negligence claim could proceed against Sanderson Farms.

Next, the court considered whether “a cause of action can be stated in negligence against an employer by an employee who was the subject of an intentional act committed by a co-employee, after the employee notified the employer of threats by the co-employee made away from the workplace.” 

Click here to read the full version of this post, including additional details of the appellate court finding that Carr’s negligence claim, as now plead, was not barred by the exclusive remedy provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Key Takeaways

The message of Carr is that a Louisiana employer is potentially liable for negligence under Louisiana law if an employee puts the employer on notice of a non-work related dispute that might spill into the workplace. Such notice might create a duty on the part of the employer to prevent harm to that employee by the intentional act of a fellow employee. Carr’s analysis extends to harm threatened by a non-employee who might come to work to harm an employee as well. The case carries a cautionary message for employers regarding domestic or romantic disputes involving Louisiana employees.

 Photo credit: mrbill78636 via Foter.com / CC BY

Maximizing Productivity: Accommodations for Employees with Psychiatric Disabilities

Today’s post was shared by US Dept. of Labor and comes from www.dol.gov

A psychiatric disability can impact various aspects of an individual’s life, including the ability to achieve maximum productivity in the workplace. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in five people will experience a psychiatric disability in their lifetime, and one in four Americans currently knows someone who has a psychiatric disability. It is likely that most employers have at least one employee with a psychiatric disability.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other nondiscrimination laws, most employers must provide “reasonable accommodations” to qualified employees with disabilities. Many employers are aware of different types of accommodations for people with physical and communication disabilities, but they may be less familiar with accommodations for employees with disabilities that are not visible, such as psychiatric disabilities. Over the last few years, increasing numbers of employers have expressed a desire and need for information and ideas on accommodations for employees with psychiatric disabilities.

Reasonable accommodations are adjustments to a work setting that make it possible for qualified employees with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their jobs. The majority of accommodations can be made for minimal (if any) cost and a small investment of time and planning. Moreover, effective accommodations can be good for business. They help employees return to work more quickly after disability or medical leave, eliminate costs due to lost productivity and can be key to recruiting and retaining qualified employees.

Not all employees with psychiatric disabilities need accommodations to perform their jobs. For those who do, it is important to remember that the process of developing and implementing accommodations is individualized and should begin with input from the employee. Accommodations vary, just as people’s strengths, work environments and job duties vary.

Click here to see the rest of this post, including examples of accommodations that have helped employees with psychiatric disabilities to more effectively perform their jobs. 

Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images via Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions

Published by Causey Wright