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Immigration reform DOA, gone fishin’, going nuclear…

Thursday, July 11, 2013




anti-immigrant► In today’s NY Times — Republicans in House resist overhaul for immigration — Meeting for the first time as a group to hash out their approach to immigration, House Republicans on Wednesday came down overwhelmingly against a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, putting in jeopardy the future of sweeping legislation that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned his colleagues about the steep price of inaction, but the bottom line was clear: The Republican-controlled House does not plan to take up anything resembling the Senate bill, which many believe is bad policy and smacks of an amnesty strongly opposed by the conservatives who hold sway over much of the rank and file.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Undocumented immigrants paid $292M in state, local taxes in 2010 — The nonprofit Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy ranks Washington State 10th in the nation for most taxes paid by undocumented immigrants that year. Nationwide in 2010, the study says undocumented immigrants paid $10.6 billion in state and local taxes.




fishing-expedition► At Slog — Freedom Foundation launches fishing expedition looking for anti-right-wing bias — In the wake of the faux scandal alleging partisan bias at the IRS, Washington state’s homegrown faux think tank, the Freedom Foundation, has filed a series of extensive public records requests with various state agencies fishing for evidence of partisan bias against right-wing organizations and individuals. According to a Department of Ecology email obtained by The Stranger, the search words include: “Tea Party,” “Conservative,” “Freedom Foundation,” “Libertarian,” “Liberty,” “Redneck,” “Small Government,” “Hicks,” “Teabagger,” “Racist,” “Far Right,” “Right Wing,” “Christian,” “Fundamentalist,” “Catholic,” “NRA,” “Gun nut,” and “Mormon.” This fishing expedition is going to cost taxpayers a small fortune in wasted labor on the part of state government employees. (Also see coverage in The Olympian.)

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Innovate Washington loses funding — State legislators have eliminated funding for Innovate Washington, an agency created just two years ago by the merger of Sirti and the Washington Technology Center and charged by the Legislature with “growing the state’s innovation economy.”

Tom-wait-what► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Leadership, not gimmicks (editorial) — This week Senate majority leader Rodney Tom floated a red-meat, throwaway brainstorm of a $250-a-day fine for special-session overtime. It’s a spread-the-misery gimmick that docks legislators from Wenatchee to Monroe, and takes the onus off Tom. He also recommends nixing lawmakers’ optional, $90 per diem. As lip service would have it, Tom, a Medina millionaire, collected $1,440 in per diem for the second special session and $1,890 for the first, for a total of $3,330. Message: Stop me before I per diem again.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Making health care affordable (by Brendan Williams) — Key is curbing the medical infrastructure arms race, especially as customers increase through both Medicaid expansion and, for those with higher incomes, the individual mandate for health insurance. With apologies to Dwight Eisenhower, we can call it the health care industrial complex. By a factor of over 3-to-1, health care interests easily outspend defense contractors lobbying Congress. Fortunately, much can be addressed at the state level. Washington has a Certificate of Need process to curb some unnecessary expansion. Yet it must be updated.




col-insitu-inslee► In today’s Columbian — Insitu celebrates new Bingen production facility — Insitu, a Boeing Co. subsidiary that is on the cutting edge of the booming unmanned aircraft industry, is digging deeper roots in the rural Columbia River Gorge town of Bingen. Company executives were joined Wednesday by Gov. Jay Inslee and other dignitaries at a groundbreaking ceremony for Insitu’s 120,000-square-foot production facility for the aircraft, commonly called drones.

► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma Central’s Top Food to close, citing competition — Walmart’s decision to build a store in Tacoma is already having an effect on the city’s retail landscape, though the retail giant’s store has yet to open. Tacoma’s Top Food & Drug store, a neighbor of the new Walmart, will close in four to six weeks. The store is working with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 367 and Bakers Local 9 to place the store’s 64 employees in jobs in other Haggen stores in the region, the company said.

► At PubliCola — Minimum wage workers unite (scroll down) — In response to the May 30 fast-food workers’ strike in Seattle , the city council is hosting a brown bag to learn more about poverty-level jobs, wage theft, health and safety concerns, and workers’ fear of retaliation for union organizing. It will be TODAY from noon to 1:30 p.m., Council Chambers, City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave. Fast-food workers and policy experts will brief the council on what it’s like to live on fast food wages.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane leaders propose early review of initiatives — A legal review of citizen initiatives filed in Spokane has been proposed by city leaders as a way to bring “certainty, clarity and transparency” to a form of participatory democracy that Washingtonians helped usher into American politics more than 100 years ago.

► In today’s Columbian — Clark County commissioners mull advisory vote despite CRC’s demise — The Columbia River Crossing project is dead, but that doesn’t mean an advisory vote won’t end up on your November ballot.




► From MSNBC — WORKED OVER — Check out this great clip from “All In With Chris Hayes” featuring Panera Bread worker Kathleen Von Eitzen. She and her co-workers voted to join the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 70 in Battle Creek, Mich., but Panera Bread refused to bargain with them. Even though the National Labor Relations Board ruled the company had to negotiate with Von Eitzen and her co-workers, their case is in limbo because of a federal circuit court of appeals ruling that President Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB are “invalid.”

► In The Hill — Labor chief: It’s time to go nuclear — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and others in the labor movement are putting intense pressure on Senate Democrats to make a controversial change to the chamber’s rules, arguing Republican obstruction of White House nominees justifies an unprecedented move to limit the filibuster. “Senate majority Leader) Harry Reid should pull the trigger,” Trumka said. “They have been totally obstructed. It has nothing to do about with the qualifications of people. They are being obstructed.”

mcconnell-mitch-stop► A MUST-READ at Huffington Post — Mitch McConnell’s 30-year legacy leaves Kentucky in the lurch — Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell’s hold on Kentucky is a grim reminder of the practice of power in America — where political excellence can be wholly divorced from successful governance and even public admiration. The most dominant and influential Kentucky politician since his hero Henry Clay, McConnell has rarely used his indefatigable talents toward broad, substantive reforms. He may be ruling, but he’s ruling over a commonwealth with the lowest median income in the country, where too many counties have infant mortality rates comparable to those of the Third World. His solutions have been piecemeal and temporary, more cynical than merciful.

And with McConnell’s rise into the GOP leadership, his continuous search for tactical advantage with limited regard for policy consequences has overrun Washington. McConnell has more than doubled the previous high-water mark for the number of filibusters deployed to block legislation, infamously declaring that his “top political priority” was to make President Barack Obama a one-term president. This obstruction has had serious consequences, as the Great Recession grinds on and large-scale problems like climate change march inexorably forward. Congress has failed to address the nation’s most pressing challenges, and America has come to look more and more like McConnell’s Kentucky.




bangladesh-death► In today’s Seattle Times — Nordstrom joins Walmart, Target, others on Bangladesh plan — A group of 17 American retailers signed on to a five-year agreement to help improve safety at garment factories in Bangladesh, a plan distinct from the one European companies unveiled earlier this week.

EDITOR’S NOTE — What’s “distinct” about it is that it is not legally binding. Unlike the European companies that are willing to back up their safety commitments, the U.S. retailers didn’t want to be on the hook to pay damages to victims if there’s another disaster like the eight-story Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers. Go America!

► At Working In These Times — UFCW expected to rejoin AFL-CIO in August — High-level sources within the AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions say the 1.3-million-member United Food and Commercial Workers is in talks to rejoin the labor federation. These sources say that UFCW leaders have pledged their support for returning to the AFL-CIO and will ask members to vote on the question at the annual UFCW convention in Chicago this August. With the leadership backing reunification, the UFCW membership is expected to approve the motion.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The vast majority of UFCW locals in Washington State, including UFCW 21 which is the largest private-sector local union in the state, have remained affiliated with the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, via Solidarity Charters since their international union disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO in 2005.

► At AFL-CIO Now — D.C. Council doesn’t bow to Walmart ‘blackmail,’ passes living wage ordinance — The District of Columbia City Council today didn’t pay Walmart’s “blackmail” demand and instead told the giant retailer that if it wants to operate within the District, it must pay its workers a living wage. In an 8–5 vote the council approved a measure that sets a $12.50 an hour wage for workers in “big box” stores like Walmart. The vote came the day after Walmart sent squad of high-level executives from its Arkansas headquarters to try and strong-arm council members to defeat the living wage bill.

► In today’s Washington Post — Low-wage workers will strike at Smithsonian museums in D.C. — Low-wage workers connected with the nation’s marquee museum network will strike on Thursday, continuing a string of recent demonstrations to promote better pay for employees at federal buildings.

► In today’s NY Times — Democrats shrug off delays, affirm support for health law — Congressional Democrats said Wednesday that they expected to see more delays and snags in President Obama’s efforts to carry out the new health care law, but they affirmed their strong support for the overarching goal of expanded coverage.




singh-vijay► At — It may be time for PGA players to unionize — Here is a sentence we never thought we’d pen – it may be time for a union in pro golf. Vijay Singh is currently locked in a legal bout with the circuit over his run in with the Tour’s anti-doping program. In short, he admitted to using the Ultimate Spray which contains IGF-1, a growth-like factor that is banned by the Tour. But it’s not Singh’s systematic disregard of repeated warnings from the Tour about IGF-1 or WADA’s shaky science on the substance that has brought golf to the crossroads of a collective bargaining agreement; it’s the trapdoors in the Tour’s policy that have set the stage for, if not a union, a union-like organization to protect the players.


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