Bend-over ‘bipartisanship’ in GOP+2 Senate

Following is an excerpt from today’s edition of the Washington State Labor Council’s weekly Legislative Update newsletter. It is posted here in its entirety and also in PDF format.


GOP+2 fast-tracks workers’ comp benefit cuts, other anti-labor bills


OLYMPIA (Jan. 9, 2013) — Last week, we reported that the Senate Republican-Plus-Two era of “bipartisanship” and “governing from the middle” — that voters didn’t ask for — had begun with a broadside attack on the middle class by targeting injured workers and their families.

The good news is that hundreds of workers — many of them in the construction trades — packed an overflow public hearing last Wednesday on short notice to oppose the bills in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. Lacking sufficient time for all who wanted to testify, chairwoman Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry (R-Moses Lake) asked all those who opposed the bills to stand. They dramatically outnumbered the corporate lobbyists who sat in support.

The bad news is that none of that appears to matter to the Senate GOP+2 Caucus. Over the objections of Democrats on the committee, the Republicans voted to advance all five benefit-cutting bills on Monday and we’re told a floor vote is expected as soon as Wednesday.

CLICK HERE to take action and send a message to your state legislators to oppose these bills. Also, please call the toll-free Legislative Hotline TODAY at 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message for your State Senators urging them to OPPOSE Senate Bills 5112, 5124, 5126, 5127 and 5128. Tell them: Stop cutting injured workers’ benefits and allow the cost-saving changes already approved in 2011 to be fully implemented before making more changes!

And, as if that wasn’t enough “bipartisanship”…

MINIMUM WAGE — Sen. Holmquist Newbry’s SB 5275 will be heard Wednesday. It allows employers to pay a sub-minimum “training” wage — 75 percent of the voter-approved minimum wage — for the first 680 hours of work.

FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE — SB 5159, sponsored by Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia), was heard Monday. It would repeal the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act scheduled to go into effect in 2015. The act would provide benefits of up to $250 per week for up to five weeks for those who must miss work to care for newborns or adopted children and for ill family members.

All of the above-listed anti-working family bills are sponsored and co-sponsored exclusively by members of the GOP+2 Coalition, and all of them are such immediate priorities that they have taken precedence over education funding, job creation, health care, and all of the issues that candidates campaigned on just a few short months ago.

By prioritizing these attacks on the middle class, the Republicans and erstwhile Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon have officially abandoned the pretense of  “bipartisanship.” Apparently, they believe the Democratic sweep in the 2012 elections was their mandate to lower wages and harm our families.

Click here to read the rest of the Jan. 29, 2013 edition of the Washington State Labor Council’s weekly Legislative Update newsletter. It is also posted here in PDF format.

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