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NLRB obstruction is un-American, Hargrove’s proxy, awesome Oddity…

Friday, May 17, 2013




► From AP — Nominee impasse poses problems for labor board — Senate Republicans said Thursday they would not support five nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, raising the possibility the troubled agency could be rendered mostly inoperable later this year.

► From AP — Second court invalidates Obama’s labor-board recess appointment — Both rulings have threatened to throw the labor board, the Consumer Financial Protection Board and other federal agencies with recess appointees into chaos. If they stand, hundreds of decisions by these agencies could be thrown out, reaching back several years.

nlrb► In The Hill — Crisis at the NLRB (by Richard Trumka) — In order to rebuild our economy and level the playing field for all working people — union and non-union — the law protecting workers’ rights must be enforced. That’s the role of the National Labor Relations Board — and it needs to work.  But currently the NLRB is under unprecedented attack by extremist congressional Republicans and corporate lobbyists who want to weaken its power to protect workers who choose to organize and form unions on the job. While this issue may not grace the front page of every newspaper, the effects are and will continue to be felt across the nation. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a key leader of the charge, said, “I will continue to block all nominations to the NLRB. … The NLRB as inoperable could be considered progress.”

► At In These Times — Meet one of the victims of the right-wing war on workers — In 2010, Marcus Hedger was illegally fired from his job as a veteran printing pressman at Fort Dearborn Co. because of his union activities, the NLRB has ruled. But then the D.C. District Court sided with corporate lawyers — and the powerful “friends of the court” who included the Republican leaders of the House and Senate — and ruled the president’s 2012 recess appointments to the NLRB were unconstitutional. The effect was to render Hedger’s ruling as effectively nonbinding. So Hedger now works at a job that pays one-third of what he earned at Fort Dearborn. Unable to make his mortgage payments, he recently lost his home to foreclosure. Listen to his story:

► In today’s NY Times — Republican drive to block cabinet picks may spur change in Senate rules — The threat of further Republican attempts to thwart the president’s ability to assemble his second-term cabinet has increased the likelihood of a fight over the Senate’s rules, which allow the minority party to insist on a 60-vote threshold for almost every Senate action.

► In Esquire — Unleash the power ring (by Charles Pierce) — The Republicans don’t want the NLRB to function at all. The Republicans don’t want the Obama Administration to function at all, either. This goes for the Republicans in the Congress, and it goes for the Republicans on the federal bench, too. This is a radicalized, extremist political party, root and branch, in all of its public manifestations. It is dedicated to the destruction of the political commonwealth for private profit, and it will use whatever device is handy to further that one goal. Why this is even arguable at this point is beyond me.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Time for a comprehensive transportation plan (editorial) — When the state Legislature adjourned last month, the prospects for a comprehensive transportation package appeared tenuous, in danger of another year’s delay. A new session offers hope. This is the year.

ALSO at The Stand — Coalition: Pass transportation package now!

hargrove-jim► In today’s (Aberdeen) Daily World — Lt. Governor questions Sen. Hargrove on his proxy vote — With state budget conversations heating up in the special session, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen has questioned whether Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam) should continue to serve as a proxy for ailing Sen. Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood). Carrell has been absent on-and-off for much of the 2013 legislative session because of a blood condition, for which he is awaiting a stem cell transplant. In his absence, Hargrove has been casting votes for Carrell as his proxy. But in a May 9 interview with TVW, Owen said this courtesy may need to stop. “Sen. Hargrove is a very honorable person, and what he’s doing is commendable,” Owen said. “But I do think that at some point Sen. Hargrove needs to say, ‘Hey, OK, look, your folks aren’t willing to compromise, I’m not willing to do this anymore.’ That’s my opinion.”

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Former Grandview legislator Margaret Rayburn dies — Margaret Rayburn, a longtime Grandview resident, schoolteacher and former state legislator, died Tuesday in Sunnyside. She was 86. Rayburn served five terms in the Legislature, representing the 15th LD before retiring in 1995. She was the last Democrat to represent the Lower Yakima Valley legislative district.

Tom-wait-what► From AP — Washington lawmakers look to make recall process easier — Washington lawmakers are considering ways to make it easier for citizens to recall elected officials, holding a work session Wednesday that explored the hurdles people face when they try to pursue such a campaign.




► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Pasco mail center will close June 28 — It doesn’t look like the U.S. Postal Service’s mail-handling center in Pasco will postmark letters after June 28. The date when operations are moved to Spokane still can be delayed, though it won’t likely be any sooner than June 28, a USPS spokesman says.

► In the PS Business Journal — Boeing begins selling its new P-8 sub-killers overseas — About 1,200 Boeing workers — split between Boeing’s Renton plant and a site near the Museum of Flight in Seattle — are turning 737s into deadly aircraft able to find and destroy submarines and some surface ships.

TNT-firefighter-tribute► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma firefighters pay tribute to fallen comrade — Dozens of Tacoma firefighters stood at attention outside Station 8 on Thursday, waiting for the body of a fallen comrade to be escorted past. Albert Nejmeh, 59, died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack while working at the scene of a medical emergency. He was a 12-year veteran of the Fire Department.

► In today’s Columbian — Police take pause at law enforcement memorial — Many wearing black mourning bands attached diagonally over their badges, area law enforcement officers gathered Thursday to honor fellow officers who have died in the line of duty.

► In the PS Business Journal — Seattle No. 2, Tacoma No. 11 for dogs biting postal workers — The USPS says Los Angeles led the country in the number of postal workers getting bitten by dogs in fiscal 2012 with 69, followed by Seattle and San Antonio, which each had 42 attacks.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Contractor at Wade’s gun range cited for lead exposure — L&I have fined a construction firm for exposing workers to toxic lead during remodeling of a shooting range at Wade’s Eastside Gun Shop in Bellevue.




► In the NW Labor Press — 2,300 workers at Precision Castparts to vote June 7 on unionization — The vote on whether to join the International Association of Machinists will be Oregon’s largest private-sector unionization vote in decades.

NWLP-park-rangers► In the NW Labor Press — City Attorney seeks to keep Portland’s $11-an-hour park rangers from joining union — In April — after all 15 park rangers at the City of Portland signed cards seeking to join Laborers Local 483 — a spokesperson for Mayor Charlie Hales told the Labor Press that the City favors its employees’ right to join a union, adding, “We look forward to the park rangers being part of the Laborers union.” But that generous sentiment was contradicted just weeks later by the City Attorney’s office, which on May 13 filed seven pages of legal arguments as to why the rangers shouldn’t be added to the city’s multi-union bargaining unit.

► In the NW Labor Press — SEIU 49 secures first contract for 450 private security officers — There were tears of joy down at the union hall May 4 as a group of private security officers approved a first-ever industry-wide agreement with Portland-area security contractors.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The Northwest Labor Press includes many more great stories about organized labor in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Check it out!




► From Reuters — House lawmakers reach tentative deal on immigration — Prospects for passage of a major immigration bill improved on Thursday when a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives declared they had reached a tentative deal, resolving disputes that had threatened to torpedo negotiations.

Bangladesh-factory-collapse► In today’s NY Times — Groups press big retailers on safety overseas — A large coalition of religious groups and investors is pressing major American retailers to join a sweeping plan to improve safety in Bangladesh apparel factories, calling on them to act together to force changes in overseas workplaces.

► In today’s Washington Post — U.S. may strip Bangladesh of tariff breaks — The Obama administration may strip Bangladesh of import breaks following deadly accidents in the country’s textile industry, another sign of the pressure building on the southeast Asian nation to improve labor conditions.

► In the NY Times — Cyberbullied businesses (letter by USW’s Fred Redmond) — When China tries to steal corporations’ technology secrets, companies turn to the United States government for protection. Yet Microsoft, Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard and many others avoid paying American taxes by keeping hundreds of billions sheltered in “offshore” no-tax havens. Ironically, the billions they avoid paying could support our country’s cybersecurity, among so many other services and subsidies on which big business depends.

► In the LA Times — White collar workers are turning to labor unions — “There is a great deal of unrest among professional workers, who don’t have a history of union joining behavior,” one expert says. “They represent the frontiers of unionization in America.”

► In today’s NY Times — Energized GOP weighs how far to push inquiries — With memories of the Clinton impeachment still fresh, warnings are being sounded in the Republican Party, but the rank and file is pushing to go after the Obama administration.

► In today’s NY Times — The scandal machine (editorial) — Whatever cranky point Republicans had been making against President Obama for the last five years — dishonesty, socialism, jackbooted tyranny — they somehow found that these latest incidents were exactly the proof they had been seeking, no matter how inflated or distorted.




► Apologies, if you are one of nearly 13 million people who’ve already watched this video since it was uploaded last Sunday, but today the entire staff of The Stand presents Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, 53, singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on board the International Space Station. (Fear not. His circuit’s not dead and there’s nothing wrong. Hadfield is now safely back on Mother Earth and dealing with his newfound celebrity.)


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