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Kenney, Parry services; Senate’s long wish list; democratic dysfunction…

Monday, May 20, 2013




► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — Labor leader Kenney pushed for farmworker rights — “He was very committed to working the problems of farmworkers and did much to bring farm laborers into better coverage and really helped promote them,” former Gov. Mike Lowry recalled.


► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle labor activist Will Parry dies at 93 — “He was just a dignified, caring, but very principled activist for both the members of his union and for working people in general,” said Robby Stern, who worked with Will Parry at the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (the name is misidentified by the Times), which Parry founded to take on issues such as Social Security and health care for seniors.

ALSO at The Stand — Labor mourns the passage of Kenney, Parry — A public memorial service for Larry Kenney will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 1 at the Mountaineers, 7700 Sand Point Way N.E., in Seattle.

A memorial for Will Parry is planned for Saturday, June 29, 2-5 p.m. in Hall 1 of the Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 First Avenue. Donations in his name may be made to PSARA at 2800 1st Ave. #262, Seattle, WA, 98121, to continue his work.




santas-long-list► From AP — Senate majority names 33 bills for budget talks — As lawmakers wrap up their first week of a special legislative session, leaders in the Republican-controlled Senate have asked that 33 bills be considered as part of the budget discussions, including bills dealing with changes to the workers’ compensation system, education bills and others. Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray (D-Seattle) said that focusing on so many bills during a special session “is not a good faith effort in compromise.”

► In today’s Seattle Times — State legislators shouldn’t delay budget work (editorial) — The two chambers were supposed to settle budget differences in the 105-day regular session using the forecast of March 20. They failed. They didn’t even try hard. Now they are in a special session that is supposed to end June 11, and they are already setting themselves up for another failure, because some want to wait until June 18 revenue forecast before making decisions. Waiting is not a good idea. Many state agencies are building next year’s budgets now.

► In Sunday’s (Everett) Herald — Modest change to workers’ comp would help reserves (by Bill Weaver) — Championed by the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, and one of the issues that chamber has marked as a critical component of state budget negotiations, continued workers’ compensation reform is a key element of our state’s economic competitiveness.

blazing-saddles-hostageEDITOR’S NOTE — This “modest change” has been “marked as a critical component of state budget negotiations.” Translation: Conservative senators are holding the state budget hostage over this and a laundry list of other controversial issues as the clock continues to tick on the first special session with little sign of progress. What the author calls a “minor tweak” to the system won’t save the state a penny and is opposed by the House majority and Gov. Inslee. So why do Republican conservatives, placed in precarious power by the defection of two conservative Democrats, insist on holding our government hostage over their controversial pet issues? Probably because they see it has worked well for their counterparts in the other Washington — if not for our country.

► In Sunday’s (Everett) Herald — Higher ed remains the key (editorial) — The mainspring for landing the Boeing 777X in Washington is higher ed and addressing the skills gap in engineering and technology. The best social program for self-sufficiency, the best business strategy for curtailing unemployment and goosing the economy, is higher ed.




hanford-vit-plant► In today’s Tri-City Herald — No furloughs for vit plant workers in July — Workers at the Hanford vitrification plant will not be furloughed for a week in July, they were told Friday. They were warned last month that Bechtel National might need to shut down the project for two weeks this summer because of a lack of money for work that is ready to be done. This week, congressional committees approved a Department of Energy request for reprogramming, or moving money already budgeted for this year among DOE sites and projects.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — More doctors, staff hired to prepare for health care law — Come October, an estimated 55,000 people in Yakima County will be eligible to start enrolling in expanded Medicaid and the state Health Benefits Exchange under federal health care reform. Yakima Valley clinics and hospitals are hiring new primary care physicians, extending office hours and expanding service locations in anticipation of the influx of new patients starting this fall.




► From AP — Senate moves toward vote on immigration — The Senate Judiciary Committee is aiming this week to pass a landmark immigration bill to secure the border and offer citizenship to millions, setting up a high-stakes debate on the Senate floor. First, the committee must resolve a few remaining disputes.

► At Politico — National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council fights Senate bill — A union of more than 12,000 immigration agents is opposing the Senate’s version of comprehensive immigration reform.




► At Politifact Oregon — Is paid maternity leave really the standard around the world? — The United States is rare in that the vast majority of countries surveyed have a government policy mandating paid maternity leave. The United States is really rare when compared to countries that are wealthy, developed. Of 188 nations, only the U.S., Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and 4 small Pacific islands don’t guarantee mothers paid leave from work to care for their infant. Even North Korea, which is ruled by a dictator, offers 11 weeks of paid maternity leave.

paid-sick-leave-capitol► At In These Times — The right to call in sick — Portland and New York City have joined a growing list of places — San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Seattle; the state of Connecticut — where most workers are guaranteed a set number of paid days off for illness and hardships such as domestic or sexual violence. Similar campaigns are underway in a dozen other cities and states, including Oregon, Massachusetts and Vermont, and support is building for the Healthy Families Act, which would create a national standard.

► In today’s NY Times — Public outrage over factory conditions spurs labor deal — it was clear that after the April 24 Rana Plaza disaster, pressure was mounting on H&M — known as a purveyor of “cheap chic” — to make good on past promises to help improve labor conditions in Bangladesh.

► In today’s LA Times — Survey says 90% don’t want knives on planes — The pressure continues to mount on the Transportation Security Administration to prohibit passengers from bringing small pocket knives into the cabins of commercial planes. Opponents of allowing knives on planes unveiled a survey last week that found 90% of likely voters don’t want the TSA to lift the ban that has been in place since 9/11.




liberty-shame► In today’s Washington Post — Political dysfunction spells trouble for democracies (by E.J. Dionne) — After a week of scandal obsession during which the nation’s capital and the media virtually ignored the problems most voters care about — jobs, incomes, growth, opportunity, education — it’s worth asking if there is something especially flawed about our democracy. Since World War II, bouts of economic growth have allowed democracies to buy their way out of trouble. One can hope this will happen again — and soon. In the meantime, politicians might contemplate their obligations to stewardship of the democratic ideal. They could begin by pondering what an unemployed 28-year-old makes of a ruling elite that expends so much energy feuding over how bureaucrats rewrote a set of talking points.


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