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Election of Judges Important – Our Recommendations

Friends –

We’re all suffering from election fatigue this year, perhaps more than ever before.  But election ballots will be mailed out this week, and in the past many of you have sought our recommendations on the judicial races.  Washington is one of only eleven states that elect our judges at all levels, and in ostensibly a non-partisan, non-political fashion, which makes your participation critical in the construction of this state’s judiciary.  We say “ostensibly” because this year – as we have warned clients in past judicial races – there are distinctly “political” efforts, some from outside Washington State, to affect the outcome of our Supreme Court’s lineup.

Our recommendations for Washington State Supreme Court are as follows:

Position #1 – Justice Mary Yu – a distinguished jurist, a former prosecutor, and formal social justice organizer, who is the only candidate receiving the highest possible rating from every peer and legal group.  Every major bar association which gives “judge of the year” awards has recognized her.  Her opponent’s only talking point revolves around the Supreme Court’s decision on school funding and charter schools, which occurred because of the failure of the state legislature to do its job.

Position #5 – Justice Barbara Madsen – chosen by her colleagues on the Court to be the Chief Justice, she leads a state supreme court that is rated by conservative and legal scholars alike as one of the top three in the nation.  Her opponent is similarly a one-issue campaigner, sponsored by a local billionaire because of the charter school ruling.

Position #6 – Justice Charles Wiggins – a recognized national leader on the issue of judicial ethics, with extremely high ratings from all Bar groups, and has been the most prolific writer and workhorse on the Court in the last term.  He is perhaps the most experienced appellate lawyer on the bench, versus an opponent with little or no appellate experience, running solely on school funding/charter school issue.

Of course, feel free to get further information on these candidates from the voters’ pamphlet and from  Polls predict that many voters will delay or not cast ballots this year because of dissatisfaction with and disinterest in the candidates at the top of the ticket.  How our state functions depends upon Washington citizens voting all the way down the ballot this year.  We urge you to do your part!


Jay, Brian, Jane and Reed


 Photo credit: Scott* via / CC BY-NC-SA




At -57’, Seattle to Become One of the Deepest Harbors in North America

Army Corps of Engineers Releases Seattle Harbor Draft Feasibility Report & Environmental Assessment

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public comment on the Seattle Harbor Navigation Improvement Project Draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment released on August 2nd. Comments will be accepted through Aug.31, 2016.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Seattle have agreed on a tentatively selected plan of -57 feet Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) for both the East and West Waterways. This depth will allow the Port of Seattle, part of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, to handle the current and future generations of ultra-large containerships.

“The Port of Seattle, part of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, is a strategic gateway for goods entering the U.S. and vital for Northwest exports,” said Port of Seattle Commission President and The Northwest Seaport Alliance Co-Chair John Creighton.

“Large ships with deep drafts are being deployed globally and on the West Coast. Authorization of a depth of 57 feet will preserve our gateway’s ability to provide sufficient depth for the future fleet of ships,” stressed Port of Tacoma Commission President and The Northwest Seaport Alliance Co-chair Connie Bacon.

The study developed an array of alternatives for deepening the East and West waterways. It performed extensive economic, technical and environmental analysis and modeling to evaluate the alternatives. The selected plan maximizes the national economic development benefits, is technically feasible and environmentally sustainable. 

The environmental assessment identifies and analyzes the environmental effects of the alternatives for deepening, incorporates environmental concerns into the decision making process and determines whether further environmental analysis is necessary.

The Port of Seattle, a partner in The Northwest Seaport Alliance, is the non-federal project sponsor working with the Corps to complete this feasibility study. Public comments on the proposed plan and alternatives will be considered as the Corps works toward completing the navigation improvement plan. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Corps’ website to view the tentatively selected plan and supporting documents.

Comments on the Draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment may be submitted by email, at the upcoming public meeting or in written form.

Comments will be accepted via email to or can be mailed to:

Nancy Gleason
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 3755
Seattle, Washington 98124-3755       

All mailed comments must be postmarked by Aug. 31, 2016.


Photo credit: hitachiota via / CC BY


As Shipowners Slash Costs, Some Crews Are Left Behind

By Keith Wallis – Reuters, Aug 27, 2016

Unpaid, underfed, and thousands of miles from home on a rusting tanker, captain Munir Hasan says he is a victim of a shipowner who has slashed costs in the face of an eight-year shipping downturn. 

Marooned on the medium-sized tanker Amba Bhakti that is moored close to Shanghai and is in urgent need of repair, Hasan claims he and his crew of four from India and Bangladesh have not received their wages from the owner, Varun Shipping, since February and are now owed tens of thousands of dollars.

Hasan said the crew has had to rely on handouts of basic food, such as rice and noodles, from V.Ships, a company that had operated the ship under contract for the owner before resigning in July.

“In the last 29 years of my sea career, I have never faced such a situation,” said Hasan, a 50-year-old sea captain from Bangladesh. Reuters couldn’t independently confirm certain aspects of Hasan’s account.

Varun has not responded to repeated queries from Reuters via email, and it declined to comment when reached by phone. When a Reuters reporter went to its offices in Mumbai, India on Aug. 18, company officials declined to comment on the matter, saying that management was busy.

Scott Moffitt, a V.Ships representative based in Singapore, told Reuters via email on Aug. 4 that it terminated three ship management contracts with Varun, including the one for the Amba Bhakti, “due to unpaid fees, including crew wages.”

Moffitt said that V.Ships “became increasingly worried about their (the crew’s) plight” and that “legal arrangements are under way to secure the back wages.”


The crew’s predicament underscores the desperate time faced by an increasing number of seafarers working on so-called “sweatships” around the world, as the shipping industry faces its worst downturn in 30 years.

Slack demand at a time when the size of the fleet of ships was increasing, drove dry cargo charter rates for products like coal and iron ore to historic lows earlier this year. It has led to the collapse of several shipping firms and has left many others fighting for survival.

The result is that crews and their support groups, such as the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), are finding it difficult to force ship owners, many of whom cannot be easily located, to meet basic obligations. While “minimum working and living standards for all seafarers” were set in 2013 by the International Labour Organization, enforcing them isn’t easy.

Overall, shipping costs in the industry have come down by 20-30 percent from their peaks almost two years ago, shipping sources say. This has been achieved through savings in many areas, including fuel costs, reducing length of port stays, and cuts in provisions, crew travel costs and spending on equipment.

But the overcapacity in the industry is so great that it isn’t enough. Charter rates for tankers or container ships often don’t cover operating expenses, and both shippers and the analysts who follow them largely agree there won’t be any real improvement until 2018-2020.

For example, the average payment for a capesize bulk carrier capable of carrying 170,000 tonnes of iron ore or coal has been $5,393 per day so far this year, according to data from shipping services firm Clarkson. And yet, accountancy firm Moore Stephens pegs daily operating costs for a similar capesize ship at around $7,300 per day.

Not all shippers have cut crew provisions drastically, though a number say they have been reducing costs.

Duncan Telfer, commercial director at Swire Pacific Ltd’s Swire Pacific Offshore, which owns around 85 offshore support vessels, said his company was trying to trim costs where reasonable, without compromising crew safety.

“There are many ways of cutting costs. Bottled water is an example. Is it really necessary to have bottled water if you have potable water available on-board?” he asked.


The number of ships being seized and held by the authorities because they are unsafe is rising. For example, there were 202 ships detained last year by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) for environmental or safety deficiencies, up from 143 in 2014, the USCG said in its 2015 annual report.

Rear Admiral Paul Thomas, assistant commandant for Prevention Policy at USCG, told Reuters that because of the low shipping rates and overcapacity, “vessel maintenance can take a back seat in order to minimize operating costs.”

Shipping executives contacted in Singapore and Hong Kong also said some shippers were cutting back on food and drink costs. They said crews had faced a shift from steak to cans of spam meat, and from fresh to canned fruit, among other cost reductions.


Jason Lam, inspector for the ITF in Hong Kong, says in the first seven months of the year he dealt with 115 ship safety cases, a faster pace than the 161 cases recorded in all of 2015 and 126 in the whole of 2014, usually involving unpaid crew wages or poor working conditions. He said it was clear that some shipping companies are “refusing to supply their ships” because of the weak shipping markets.

In one case, the New Imperial Star – a large passenger ship that was used for gambling cruises in the South China Sea – failed Hong Kong safety inspections and has been detained in port since November, according to Hong Kong Marine Department records.

The ship was sold to a buyer in an auction by the Hong Kong authorities on Tuesday and the proceeds will be partly used to pay outstanding wages. The identity of the new owner couldn’t immediately be ascertained.

The telephone number of the ship’s previous owner, Hong Kong registered Skywill Management Limited, was not operable this week, and the company has differing addresses listed in Hong Kong company directories.


In another case, the Five Stars Fujian, a coal carrier, has been sitting near the Great Barrier Reef, off Australia’s east coast, for a month with supplies diminishing and salaries going unpaid.

The ITF in Australia said that there were 21 Chinese men onboard as of August 14, and that the crew hadn’t received wages since June and were now “very low on provisions.”

The Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) said last week that it was “extremely concerned about the seafarers on the vessel, and that its crew had “effectively been abandoned by the owner.”

There were no signs of the firm at Five Stars Fujian Shipping’s registered address in Hong Kong.

Back at the Amba Bhakti, the crew have turned to outside groups for help.

Reuters has viewed an email that Hasan sent on Aug. 2 to the Mission To Seafarers, an international crew support group, and the ITF, in which he said that they had been “held up on board … without wages for six months,” adding: “We are requesting your immediate help to save our families.”

In response, the ITF has been pressing the owners and organizing support for the crew.

The sailors have been employed on various contracts lasting from two to nine months to meet international rules governing minimum crew levels even though the ship has been languishing near Shanghai for three years. The main and auxiliary engines that would power generators and deck equipment need to be repaired.

Two crew members had already given up and gone home, including the ship’s chief engineer, Mohammed Abdul Mazid, according to Hasan. Reuters was unable to reach Mazid for comment.

Hasan said Mazid left the ship in tears to return to Bangladesh in July despite being owed $73,000 in back pay.

(Reporting by Keith Wallis in HONG KONG, Aradhana Aravindan in SINGAPORE, and Rajendra Jadhav in MUMBAI; Writing by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Martin Howell)

Photo: The New Imperial Star casino cruiser is seen at Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, China April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/iveile Photo

© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.


DOL: Get a STEM Job With Less Than a 4-Year Degree

With rising cost of a 4-year degree, more people are asking: is a bachelor’s degree really worth it? The short answer is yes. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that most high-paying jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree for entry.

But there is a growing recognition that what workers really need are the right skills and credentials to fill specific jobs. To that end, more employers are creating apprenticeship programs to train employees on the job, and more workers are turning to community colleges for certificate programs or associate degrees required for certain in-demand fields.

So what are these jobs?

A number of them are in growing STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math. We’ve identified a number of STEM jobs that need less than a bachelor’s degree to get started, and also pay close to or above the median for all occupations in May 2015: $36,200.

Chart showing STEM jobs that don't need a bachelor's degree that are also growing the fastest, 2014-2024

Two different ways to look at which STEM jobs have brightest future over the next decade are to ask what jobs aregrowing the fastest (above) and will have the most openings (below). These numbers are projections calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics every few years. In both charts, we’ve included median pay as of May 2015.

Jobs that fall into both categories are web developerscomputer user support specialists and computer network support specialistscivil engineering technicians; and environmental science and protection technicians, including health.

Chart showing STEM jobs that don't need a bachelor's degree and that have the most projected openings, 2014 to 2024.


Among all STEM jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, most are likely to need an associate degree for entry, butsurveying and mapping technicians may need only a high school diploma and on-the-job training, while computer user support specialists often enter the occupation with only some college.

Photo credit: opensourceway via /CC BY-SA


Port of Seattle Announces the 2016 Education Series Tours

The Port U Adult Education Series is a unique opportunity to tour the Ship Canal, Airport, Duwamish River and the port’s industrial Cargo terminals, and get a first-hand view of your local maritime and aviation industries at work. 

Each event focuses on the port’s role in the local and regional economy and the diversity of businesses supported by the port’s infrastructure, investment and activity. 

These events, including light refreshments at each, are free and open to adults 18 years and older. Priority goes to first-time Port U registrants. Those who register will receive a confirmation and driving and parking information by email.

Download the 2016 flyer


Duwamish River 101

When: Wed., Sept 14
Check in: 3:45 p.m.
Program: 4 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Bell Harbor Marina, Pier 66

The 5-mile-long Duwamish Waterway is important for commerce and jobs, fish and wildlife habitat, and public shoreline use areas. Learn about marine industrial commerce, the legacy of past industrial activities, fish and wildlife habitat restoration, and Superfund cleanup plans.

Partners: Lower Duwamish Waterway Group (Boeing, City of Seattle, King County, Port of Seattle), Alaska Marine Lines, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, Delta Marine Industries, Inc., and Vigor


Airport 101

When: Wed., Sept 21
Check in: 3:45 p.m.
Program: 4 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Sea-Tac Airport is the nation’s fastest growing airport. This will be an opportunity to meet Lance Lyttle, the airport’s new managing director. Learn about upcoming projects including the new International Arrivals Facility and Sea-Tac’s master planning effort that will define redevelopment over the next 20 years. A tour of the airport will include a visit to the south satellite’s U.S. Customs Area.

Partners: Delta Air Lines,  and U.S. Customs and Border Protection


Cargo 101

When: Wed., Sept. 28
Check in: 3:45 p.m.
Program: 4 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Port Headquarters, Pier 69

Tour Terminal 18 and learn about the movement of cargo from ship to truck to train. Hear longshore workers, and vessel pilots describe their roles in the supply chain and visit the BNSF intermodal rail yard to learn how shipping containers move between the port and the interior of the country.

Partners: SSA Terminals, BNSF Railway, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Puget Sound Pilots and The Northwest Seaport Alliance 


Ship Canal 101

When: Wed., Oct. 5
Check in: 3:45 p.m.
Program: 4 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Fishermen’s Terminal

Learn about the wide range of maritime industry businesses and support services that play a key role in making Seattle a focal point for commercial fishing, boat yards, and transportation between Alaska and the Lower 48 states. The Lake Washington Ship Canal is a bustling center of maritime activity.

Partners: Ballard Oil, Foss Maritime, Pacific Fishermen Shipyard, Western Towboat, Trident Seafoods, Coastal Transportation, and Vigor


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DOL: Protecting the Safety and Health of Poultry-Processing Workers

For some workers, a simple trip to the bathroom could result in the loss of a job.

Poultry-processing workers are sometimes disciplined for taking bathroom breaks while at work because there is no one available to fill in for them if they step away from the production line. Some workers have reported that they wear diapers and restrict liquid intake in an effort to avoid using the bathroom.

No one should have to work under these conditions. All workers have a right to a safe workplace, and that includes access to readily available sanitary restroom facilities on the job.

And we have very clear standards on this issue: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to provide all workers with sanitary restrooms and prompt access to the facilities when needed. Further, employers may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of toilet facilities. These standards are intended to ensure that workers do not suffer adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not sanitary or are not available when needed.

Poultry processing is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, and readily accessible restrooms is only one of many problems that workers in this industry face. OSHA has found workers exposed to serious hazards in poultry processing plants, including exposure to dangerous chemicals and biological hazards, high noise levelsunsafe equipment, and slippery floors.

Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries on the job as other private industry workers and almost seven times more likely to contract a work-related illness. They are also at particularly high risk of developingmusculoskeletal disorders from the repetitive motions they perform on the job, with workers twice as likely to have a severe wrist injury and seven times as likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than the average U.S. worker.

These injuries and illnesses must stop. To protect workers in poultry plants, OSHA launched regional emphasis programs targeting these facilities throughout the MidwestSouthern, and Southeast states. Our goal is to reduce injuries and illnesses through outreach and enforcement activities, such as training sessions, public service announcements and targeted, comprehensive safety and health inspections.

Learn more about our work to protect poultry processing workers.

Dr. David Michaels is the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.


First Lawsuit Filed After OSHA Shuts Down Work at Fraser Shipyards Due to Toxic Lead Exposure

Today’s post was shared by WC CompNewsNetwork and comes from

Madison, WI ( – This morning a federal lawsuit (Case Number: 16 cv 343) was filed in Madison, Wisconsin by James Holder, a 48-year-old welder and ship fabricator who was exposed to critically high and toxic levels of lead while working at Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin. This is the first reported lawsuit to have been filed for the toxic lead exposure that occurred earlier this year at Fraser Shipyards, which was widely reported in the media in March of 2016 when OSHA shut down the worksite because of the toxic levels of lead that were present. The lawsuit names as defendants Fraser Shipyards, Inc., Northern Engineering Company LLC, and Ohio based Interlake Steamship Company, who were in charge of the retrofitting work being performed on the Herbert C. Jackson, a 690′ bulk carrier ship undergoing dry-dock work at Fraser Shipyards.

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Holder was amongst dozens of workers who had started retrofitting work in January of 2016 aboard the 57 year-old vessel when they were exposed to toxic levels of lead. The lawsuit alleges that as the project progressed, workers began to make complaints of unusual illnesses afflicting them, but were falsely reassured by the defendants that there was "nothing to be concerned about." Workers continued to fall ill until OSHA ordered a halt to all work aboard the vessel in March. In Mr. Holder’s case, the levels of lead in his blood were more than 7 times the level recognized by…

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Cutting Corners in Construction Costs Lives

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from

an image of the collapsed parking garage
an image of the collapsed parking garage

In the construction industry, precision matters – corners need to be square, lines have to be level and plans must be followed. Following the rules keeps buildings and people safe. But when construction companies cut corners, workers often pay the price.

That is exactly what happened in Jacksonville, Florida, in December 2007. A construction company called Southern Pan thought eliminating basic safety procedures would save time and money. The result? A six-story parking garage came crashing down, killing one worker and injuring 20 others. The worker who was killed, Willie Edwards, was only there that day because he decided to pick up an extra shift to buy Christmas presents for his children.

This horrific tragedy could have been easily avoided.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces construction standards designed to keep workers safe from building collapses like this. To keep a building from collapsing during construction, a process called “shoring” is used, which involves wood or steel beams to help support the weight of concrete and other construction loads.

In violation of OSHA’s construction standards, Southern Pan chose to remove most of the shores from the first two floors of the parking garage, ignoring blueprints that required all shoring to remain from top to bottom until the building was completed. The company then knowingly permitted workers, including Edwards, to work in the…

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WCRI Studies Compare Outcomes of Injured Workers Across 15 States

Today’s post was shared by WC CompNewsNetwork and comes from

Cambridge, MA ( – New studies published today by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) compare outcomes of injured workers across 15 states. The outcomes examined in these studies include recovery of physical health and functioning, return to work, earnings recovery, access to medical care, and satisfaction with medical care.

“The goal of the studies is to provide information about injured workers’ experiences with the workers’ compensation system. By examining outcomes of injured workers, policymakers and stakeholders can better understand how different state systems compare in order to identify and prioritize opportunities to improve system performance,” said Bogdan Savych, an economist at WCRI and one of the authors of the studies.

The research, Comparing Outcomes for Injured Workers, is a product of an ongoing, multiyear effort by WCRI to collect and examine data on the outcomes of medical care achieved by injured workers in a growing number of states. There are 15 individual studies for the following states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Below is a sample of the findings from the 15 individual state studies.

  • Florida: Workers in the state reported outcomes that were similar to the median study state on some of the key measures, but reported somewhat higher rates of…

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FDA approves first implant to treat opioid addiction

Today’s post was shared by Workers Compensation and comes from

(Reuters) — The first-ever implant to fight addiction to opioids, a class of drugs that includes prescription painkillers and heroin, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday.

The matchstick-sized implant, developed by Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. and privately owned Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, is by design less susceptible to abuse or the illicit resale that plagues existing oral therapies.

Currently, two drugs are predominantly used to treat opioid addiction — methadone, which is dispensed only in government-endorsed clinics, and the less-addictive buprenorphine, which exists as a pill or strip of film.

The implant administers buprenorphine for up to six months after users have been stabilized on the oral form of the drug.

“I intend to make this the most successful implant that’s ever been marketed … and I think it’s absolutely possible given the unmet need,” Braeburn CEO Behshad Sheldon said in an interview ahead of the FDA decision.

Fewer than half of the estimated 2.2 million Americans who need treatment for opioid abuse are receiving help, according to the U.S. Centers for Human and Health Services.

Authorities investigating the death of singer Prince found prescription opioid medication on him, sections of the media had reported. The music legend died one day before he was scheduled to meet a doctor who specializes in addiction treatment, the doctor’s lawyer revealed earlier this month.

Braeburn declined to forecast the…

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