Tuesday, September 4, 2012
► In today’s News Tribune — Activists evoke early leader’s legacy on Labor Day — Organized labor had its day Monday, but Pierce County unions will wait until Sunday for their big celebration. That’s when the Pierce County Central Labor Council hosts its annual Solidarity Day at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, where visitors can check out union exhibits and see the animals – free of charge, if they live in the county. But the most die-hard of local union supporters didn’t let Labor Day pass without marking the occasion. While other workers grilled in their backyards or relaxed on their day off, about 40 people gathered in Tacoma’s Calvary Cemetery. There, at a grave that doesn’t look much different from hundreds of others around it, labor activist Ralph Chaplin was buried more than 50 years ago.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Union members, politicians meet, greet and eat at picnic — Members of the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Central Labor Council and their families barbecued, played croquet with plus-sized wooden sledgehammers and soccer balls, and listened to live music at Toutle River RV Resort in Castle Rock during their second annual Labor Day picnic. The event was revived in 2011 after a hiatus of more than 30 years.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Labor’s native home (editorial) — On Lombard Street in Everett, the red-brick Snohomish County Labor Temple is a workers’ citadel, a reminder of a labor movement that scratched, punched, and picketed for living-wage jobs (and its ironic fallout, those with living-wage jobs who now castigate unionism.) In Snohomish County we can memorialize Labor Day by teaching this history to the next generation, and by creating a monument that acknowledges the legacy of the Everett Massacre, that working people shed blood to ensure that one day others live free and equal in dignity and rights.
► In the News Tribune — High stakes for Tacoma, West Coast ports— While Prince Rupert, B.C. is the port of most immediate concern for U.S. West Coast ports, other ports in Mexico and planned port developments in Eastern Canada could prove to be formidable competitors to the established import business order.
► In the Seattle Times — Wave of new hotels planned in Seattle — Business is up at downtown hotels, which had been hit hard by the recession. They’re renting more rooms, and getting higher rates for them. Developers, buoyed by those numbers, are responding by proposing more new rooms than the city has added in years.
► In the Skagit Valley Herald — Demand for truckers on the rise — Truck driving schools in Skagit County are beginning to see long backlogs for students looking to get into an industry with enormous demand around the nation.
► In today’s News Tribune — McKenna draws ‘unprecedented’ support from Indian tribes — Rob McKenna is siding with Indian tribes and against some fellow Republicans in the Legislature who look to the nontribal gambling industry as a potential jackpot for the state budget. Tribes have rewarded him with a share of their campaign contributions. The money he has received is far less than Democrat Inslee but still vastly more than other Republicans who have run for governor in the recent past.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — McLaughlin apologizes for false claims — Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin publicly apologized this week to her opponent in the race for state Senate for using false information on a campaign mailer. McLaughlin, a Republican, now acknowledges that state Rep. Andy Billig, McLaughlin’s Democratic opponent for the seat being vacated by Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, never sponsored bills for an income tax that didn’t also include the repeal of business and occupation taxes or reductions in sales taxes, as was claimed on her flier.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Finding courage to help (by Brendan Williams) — Setting aside the politically-charged question of its expansion under the Affordable Care Act to the uninsured, the existing Medicaid program is the lifeline for the impoverished with long-term care needs at home or in facilities. And it serves those needs more efficiently than private long-term care insurance. Why, then, does no one fight for it?
► From Bloomberg — ‘Hugs from Thugs’ replace union cash as Democrats meet — The North Carolina AFL-CIO won’t be a sponsor of the Democratic National Convention — though the labor organization will set up a booth to let visitors “hug a union thug.” It is among many labor groups that have scaled back their once-reliable financial support for the party’s quadrennial gathering, even as they pledge to help elect Democrats.
► In The Hill — Unions dig in for Obama despite disappointment in his record— Organized labor is working hard for President Obama, looking upon him as the lesser of two evils compared to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Labor has been repeatedly let down by Obama, who didn’t put his strength behind legislation that would have made it easier to organize unions and signed trade deals opposed by workers. Still, union members insist they’ll be going all-out to elect Obama in the fall.
► At BuzzFeed — Labor brings its frustrations to Charlotte — The newly-elected president of the giant public workers’ union AFSCME, Lee Saunders, took a page out of Clint Eastwood’s book at an Ohio delegation Labor Day breakfast on Monday, speaking to an empty chair that he pretended was occupied by Eastwood. At first it was just a lark.
► In today’s NY Times — Ohio unions battle conservative Super PACs for votes — As unions around the nation plunge in earnest into another election season of phone banks, door-to-door canvasses and leafleting, they find themselves confronting a political landscape that is more daunting than any they have faced in decades.
► And this postscript from the RNC in Tampa — RNC convention workers paid below minimum wage — During last week’s RNC convention, janitors worked around the clock picking up after delegates, conservative stars like Ann Coulter and Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), and the thousands of reporters in cavernous filing rooms. And many did so making less than minimum wage.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Will the DNC in right-to-work North Carolina be any different?
► In Sunday’s NY Times — School choice is no cure-all, Harlem finds — The idea, one that became a model for school reform nationwide, was to let parents shop for schools the same way they would for housing or a cellphone plan, and that eventually, the competition would lift all boats. But Harlem parents described two drastically different public school experiences, expressing frustration that, among other things, there were still a limited number of high-quality choices and that many schools continued to underperform.
► From AP — U.S. Steel, union agree on pact for 16,000 workers — U.S. Steel and the United Steelworkers announced a tentative agreement Sunday on a three-year contract covering more than 16,000 workers at domestic facilities. Details of the contract were not announced. The union said members will vote after reviewing details over the next few weeks.
► From Reuters — Lufthansa cancels hundreds more flights as strikes hit — Deutsche Lufthansa cancelled hundreds more flights on Tuesday as cabin crew launched a second round of strikes in a row over pay and conditions that threatens to drag on for weeks and cost Germany’s biggest airline tens of millions of euros.
► At Huffington Post — How we can bring millions of Americans to the middle class (by Bob Herbert) — The decline of the middle class was also the result of public policy choices, only this time they were geared to overwhelmingly benefit the very wealthy. Today’s downward mobility can only be reversed by a range of new choices consciously aimed at helping working Americans regain their financial footing. Demos’s report can be an important guide to that process. The goal is a fairer, more economically just and equitable America.
► In the NY Times — When capitalists cared (by Hedrick Smith) — As Henry Ford recognized, if average Americans do not have secure jobs with steady and rising pay, the economy will be sluggish. Since the early 1990s, we have been mired three times in “jobless recoveries.” It’s time for America’s business elites to step beyond political rhetoric about protecting wealthy “job creators” and grasp Ford’s insight: Give the middle class a better share of the nation’s economic gains, and the economy will grow faster. Our history shows that.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m.