The Stand

Promoting voting | TPP: It’s baaack | Monopsony: Do not pass Go

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Washington Voting Rights Act passes Legislature — After a heated debate, the House gave final approval Tuesday to the state Voting Rights Act, which supporters said will make it easier for communities to improve minority representation in their local government. Critics contended, however, it would mainly generate lawsuits.

ALSO at The Stand — Washington Voting Rights Act passes House

► In today’s Centralia Chronicle — Automatic voter registration passes out of Senate — Depending on how things shape up in the state House, Washington could soon allow automatic voter registration. SB 6353, introduced by Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) passed out of the Senate earlier this month on a 34-13 vote and is now awaiting action in the House.

► In today’s News Tribune — Same-day registration: A good idea, but where are the funds? (editorial) — Big thumbs up for same-day registration, the voter-friendly process that allows eligible Washingtonians quick access to the polls, but where, oh where, are the funds to facilitate it?

► From KUOW — Will Inslee veto bill that limits transparency in the Legislature? — A dozen newspapers across Washington state are running editorials Tuesday demanding that Gov. Jay Inslee veto what they are calling a “secrecy” bill. It’s legislation that would exempt legislators from the state Public Records Act.

ALSO at The Stand:

By ignoring process, ’emergency’ disclosure bill promotes cynicism (by Nick Licata)

Public Records Act expands disclosure, but protects privacy (By Sen. Jamie Pedersen)

► In today’s Seattle Times — Not ‘veto-proof’: Inslee can and must kill legislative-secrecy bill (editorial) — Vetoing the bill would show legislators they are not, in fact, above the law, and that the state’s executive will stand up to them when their actions diverge from the public interest.

► In today’s News Tribune — In defiance of FCC, Washington’s lawmakers vote to uphold net neutrality rules — On a 35-14 vote Tuesday, the state Senate sent a bill to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk that would implement a local version of Obama-era regulations requiring internet service providers treat all web traffic equally. The measure also flies in the face of FCC officials, who repealed the national rules last year and said states can’t implement their own.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Records show state Sen. Doug Ericksen was appointed to $133,000 EPA job, but backed out — Ericksen negotiated on expectations for the job — including how much comp time he could earn for job travel, and how often he’d have to work in the Seattle office versus telecommuting. After he was told comp time was limited to 80 hours a year and that he couldn’t telecommute more than two days a week, Ericksen backed out. In his email turning down the EPA job, Ericksen said he remained “hopeful” he could get another federal job. “I still believe that I have much to offer to the Trump Administration.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — At press time, there is no word on whether federal restrictions on free meals from clients was a factor in Ericksen’s decision.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Longtime Tri-City legislator Rep. Larry Haler won’t seek re-election — The Richland Republican, who’s represented the 8th Legislative District for 14 years, made the announcement Tuesday: “There are many ways to give back and serve the communities we value. I consider myself extremely blessed to have served for so long in this capacity. However, it is time for someone else to step forward and bring fresh ideas, new energy and a unique perspective to the state House of Representatives.”




► From the WFSE — King County Council joins workers in pressing UW to suspend plans to close laundry — The King County Council and County Executive Dow Constantine have used the county’s leverage as owners of the UW-run Harborview Medical Center to join affected workers to urge the university to suspend plans to close the laundry that serves the UW Medicine network. That strategy went public Monday during a packed public hearing in the council chambers in Seattle.

► From the MLKCLC — MLKCLC celebrates 130th anniversary with ‘Labor Oscars’ — The Martin Luther King County Labor Council celebrated its 130th year by hosting the first-ever “Labor Oscars.” The awards gala was held at the Museum of History and Industry on Saturday, Feb. 24 and was attended by workers as well as labor, business, and political leaders. See the full list of winners in 25 categories.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The Entire Staff of The Stand was honored to receive the award for Best Union Communications. You like us! You really like us!




► From The Atlantic — When the Supreme Court doesn’t care about facts (by Garrett Epps) — Lawyers for Janus cited very few facts, even though they were asking the court to reverse a 40-year-old precedent that allows public-employee unions to collect “agency fees” for the cost of representing non-member employees in collective bargaining… A responsible course would be to remand the case for the creation of a factual record to supplant some of the airy theorizing the advocates (and the justices) engaged in. But that would allow public-employee unions to carry on for another year or two. And that’s what’s really wrong with the whole Janus proceeding. The conservative justices don’t even try to hide it: The case is really about politics — about their feeling that public-employee unions are too powerful and that the policies they favor are hurting the country and they are all Democrats and they need to be stopped right away.

ALSO at The Stand — The Janus case: What it is, who’s behind it

► In the NY Times — Striking a blow for the big guys (by Yvonne Walker) — The Janus decision is critical to every community because every community is dependent upon the tireless good work of our educators, medical specialists and civil servants. Please do not be deceived if the Supreme Court, as seems likely, decides against unions. We ask the public to stand with us: to support working families, union members and public employees, and to fight for workers’ rights as we combat the epidemic of income inequality. Help us protect our ability to take care of our families and retire with dignity.

► In the Boston Globe — America needs union jobs (by Elizabeth Warren and Steven Tolman) — When he was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis. His last political act was to support sanitation workers as they fought for economic security and dignity on the job. Dr. King understood that the struggle for equality and justice is not limited to civil rights. It also includes economic justice. So, as he led the great struggle for civil rights, he also fought for labor rights.




► From The Hill — Mnuchin: Trump rejoining the TPP is ‘on the table’ — The Trump administration is considering rejoining the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the multilateral trade agreement negotiated under the Obama administration that President Trump vowed to end during the campaign. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday at a meeting sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that rejoining the Asian trade agreement is “on the table.”

► From CNN — A year later, NAFTA is still alive — Yet more than a year into his presidency, NAFTA is alive. And it’s poised to survive. Representatives from the United States, Mexico and Canada are meeting in Mexico City this week for Round 7 of negotiations to rewrite the three-nation trade deal. The talks, which began in August, have not gone well. But a growing number of trade watchers think the deal will live.

► In today’s NY Times — Detained immigrants cannot have bail hearings, court says — In a rare move signaling intense disagreement at the Supreme Court, Justice Stephen G. Breyer dissented from the bench, saying the majority was violating fundamental constitutional principles.




► In today’s Washington Post — Kushner’s overseas contacts raise concerns as foreign officials seek leverage — Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience. Kushner’s interim security clearance was downgraded last week from the top-secret to the secret level, which should restrict the regular access he has had to highly classified information.

► In today’s NY Times — Ben Carson’s HUD, planning cuts, spends $31,000 on dining set for his office — Carson’s wife is accused of pressuring officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development for an expensive redecoration of his office.




► From NBC News — West Virginia governor announces deal to end teachers’ strike — West Virginia’s governor said Tuesday that teachers and educators will get a 5 percent pay raise, and that striking teachers will return to work on Thursday. The deal came on the fourth day of a strike by West Virginia teachers, as thousands of people again descended on the state Capitol to protest poor wages.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Even in so-called “right-to-work” states, when we fight, we win!




► In today’s NY Times — Corporate America is suppressing wages for many workers (by Alan Krueger and Eric Posner) — A growing body of evidence pins much of the blame for stagnant wages on a specific culprit, one for which proven legal weapons already exist. But they are not being used.

The culprit is “monopsony power.” This term is used by economists to refer to the ability of an employer to suppress wages below the efficient or perfectly competitive level of compensation. In the more familiar case of monopoly, a large seller — like a cable company — is able to demand high prices for poor service because consumers have no other choice. It turns out that many corporations possess bargaining power over their workers, not just over their consumers. Their workers accept low wages and substandard working conditions because few alternative job opportunities exist for them or because switching jobs is costly. In other words, in the labor market, effectively a small number of employers are competing for their labor. …

Monopsony power is frequently created through noncompete clauses and no-poaching agreements and is aimed at the most vulnerable workers. In a new study for the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, we report survey results in which we find that one in five workers with a high school education or less are subject to a noncompete. A quarter of all workers are covered by a noncompete agreement with their current employer or a past one. …

Antitrust reform to address labor market abuses is one of those rare issues that could secure bipartisan agreement. Democrats should support reform because it would help workers and lower-income families. Antitrust violations are also counter to the free-market ideals that Republicans claim to hold.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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