Organized Labor

What would Dave Beck think? No shouting mobs, no blood spilled, no heads split. The Teamsters reached a tentative settlement this week with


New-Age Teamsters

Also: China's friends in cyberspace, and a long elevator ride for homelessness.

Organized Labor

What would Dave Beck think? No shouting mobs, no blood spilled, no heads split. The Teamsters reached a tentative settlement this week with Seattle-area garbage haulers, apparently averting a strike, by advertising on TV and posting their rationale on the Web. This, in a city with a lusty labor history—the nation's first citywide general strike, the country's first newspaper strike, and the hometown of Beck, the raucous, corrupt onetime president of the national Teamsters Union who ended his career at McNeil Island prison. But that was then. Teamsters Local 174 sat down with haulers Allied Waste and Waste Management on Easter weekend and talked their way to apparent agreement. Their bargaining edge wasn't a stick but a well-honed campaign of ads profiling garbage workers—"they do a tough, dirty job keeping our city clean . . . but now, the big corporations Seattle hired to collect our garbage are squeezing these workers . . . "—and a Web site, Beck might have hailed the victory with, "We kneed 'em in the nuts!" Local 174 leader Dave Scott said, "We tried to . . . come up with some creative solutions." Colorful, no. Effective, yes. RICK ANDERSON


Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party head Hu Jintao was in town this week, visiting Boeing and Microsoft. Boeing, of course, did a lot to make China's emergence as a world economic leader possible, pushing the U.S. government hard, first to back Permanent Most Favored Nation status in the 1990s, then to admit China to the World Trade Organization in 2001. And Boeing was among the first to make sales deals that transferred sensitive military technology (and U.S. jobs) to China, a trend that has resulted a decade later in Motorola and other U.S. companies doing original R&D work on Chinese soil for a military that is carefully modernizing to counter U.S. technological superiority. But it is the Microsoft connection that is particularly interesting, and not just because civil libertarians and human-rights groups object to companies like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo capitulating to Beijing demands that their software incorporate Chinese state censorship programs. China business expert Ethan Gutmann, author of Losing the New China: A Story of American Commerce, Desire and Betrayal, who was in Seattle earlier this month for a University of Washington forum, identifies Microsoft as one of the most influential U.S. companies in China. "In terms of the Internet, foreign corporations are making the human rights situation worse," Gutmann says. The problem, he says, is not censorship but surveillance, leading to self-censorship, powerlessness, and fear among Chinese hoping to challenge the totalitarian practices of their government. GEOV PARRISH

City Hall

It's one of those things chock-full of screwy symbolism that you just cannot let pass: In June, the city's Human Services Department, which administers homeless programs among a slew of other social services, will move from its present down-at-the-heels Alaska Building offices on Second Avenue to the heights of the Seattle Municipal Tower, where city staff will literally oversee homeless programs from the 60th floor—in the glassed-over cap just two stories from the top. That will make Al Poole, HSD's director of survival services, the highest-situated government official in the city — hell, the entire state. Above Poole's perch are two investment firms. His boss, Patricia McInturff, will be two floors below him. Judging from the staggering views of Mount Rainier and the Olympics up there, the survival services staff ought to survive quite well — and perhaps think of themselves on a Mount Olympus from which they can toss thunderbolts at those who fail to get on board the 10-year plan to end homelessness. PHILIP DAWDY

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