Union Passenger Station in Tacoma, Washington

Railroad vindicated as judge rejects claim of legal corruption in arbitration case

A federal judge Thursday rejected an allegation of legal corruption against BNSF Railway Co., ruling that a former company executive didn’t threaten to blackball an arbitrator to win a favorable ruling in a dispute with a fired worker. Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma, Wash., said comments made to the arbitrator by the retired BNSF executive, Roger Boldra, may have been “intemperate.” But Leighton concluded that they did not amount to corruption under the Railway Labor Act. The court ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by Richard Kite, a conductor and 27-year BNSF employee from southwestern Washington. As FairWarning has reported, Kite brought a case into arbitration to challenge his 2005 dismissal by BNSF, which said he failed two alcohol tests within 10 years. The arbitrator at the middle of the dispute, Jacalyn Zimmerman, was the neutral party on a three-member arbitration panel that also included Boldra, then BNSF’s labor relations director, and Jay Schollmeyer, a railroad union leader. Zimmerman, an arbitrator from Illinois assigned to hear Kite’s appeal by the National Mediation Board, in November 2008 circulated a draft ruling that Kite should be reinstated.


Photography show coming to Capitol Hill

Seattle — Photography by three award-winning photojournalists will be on display this September in an exhibit organized by InvestigateWest at Joe Bar Cafe on Capitol Hill. RSVP for Opening Night on Facebook
The show, "InvestigateWest: Stories of Here," features the work of Seattle photographers Paul Joseph Brown and Mike Kane and Portland photographer Leah Nash. The public is invited to a special opening night reception on September 10, 2015, at 7 p.m. Wine, beer, and tasty crepes will be available for purchase. Our wonderful sponsors deserve a special thanks for making this show possible. A HUGE thank you to Panda Lab for printing Stories of Here.


Independent contractor schemes face federal crackdown

The U.S. Labor Department has scored three recent legal victories – including a ruling against DirecTV in Washington State – in its fight against the widespread use of contrived contracting schemes to illegally underpay workers. The court disputes all stem from alleged violations of minimum wage and overtime protections. In the case of DirecTV, the Labor Department won a ruling that allows its litigation to move forward against the company. A federal judge found that DirecTV qualified as a joint employer of 82 satellite dish installers in Washington State who worked for a now-defunct subcontractor called Advanced Information Systems or AIS. The Labor Department says the installers were paid piece rates for every job they did; they were not compensated for travel time between jobs or the amount of time a job took.