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Kemper’s light fail, our Gilded Age, cool unions, no big butts, Changes…

Friday, September 13, 2013




► In today’s Seattle Times — High court rejects Kemper Freeman’s attempt to stop I-90 light rail — The state Supreme Court on Thursday rejected his lawsuit to keep light-rail trains off I-90. The 7-2 decision is a green light to build the $2.8 billion East Link route, which, when finished in 2023, will connect Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue and the Overlake area of Redmond.

inl-face-mcintyre► In the Pacific NW Inlander — The new face of labor — Amid dwindling ranks, labor has shifted momentum from its traditional strongholds in construction and manufacturing over to public sector employees, health care workers and the service industry. But young workers still face new corporate challenges and a narrower path to the middle class. Robin McIntyre stands among the up-and-coming ranks of new labor. A nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Valley Hospital and Medical Center, she serves on the bargaining team with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.



► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Inslee: Projects rely on gas tax hike — Gov. Jay Inslee came to Snohomish County Wednesday to make a pitch: Dig in your wallets now, he said, to help unclog area roads later. What the governor is selling is an increase in the gas tax of perhaps six to 10 cents. What it could buy in Snohomish County is just a tad shy of a billion dollars in roadway improvements.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — GOP wants to get rid of Sen. Rodney Tom — (OK, technically, that’s not the headline.) — Washington State Republican Party Chairwoman Susan Hutchison today said she hopes to rack up enough GOP victories in 2014 so the party can control the state Senate without relying on help from moderate Democrats.




middle-class-gravestone► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Trickle-up economics drowns middle class (by Shawn Vestal) — Ten years ago, Kaiser gave up on its Mead plant. Was that also a sunset for Spokane’s middle class? The decline of Kaiser marked a waning of solid, middle-class, family-wage jobs in the county. If it’s not sunset, it’s looking dusky out there for the middle class — both nationally and here — and the trends are woeful. Most incomes are flat or declining, and that holds true both before and after the recession. … Administrative bonuses have gone hand-in-hand with layoffs and pay cuts. Executive salaries soar, and the self-rewarding cycle for the administrative class — executives collaborating on a system that pushes executive salaries ever higher — plows forward in any and all circumstances.

► In today’s NY Times — Rich man’s recovery (by Paul Krugman) — Since the recession, the rich have come roaring back, to such an extent that 95% of the gains from economic recovery since 2009 have gone to the famous 1%. In fact, more than 60% of the gains went to the top 0.1%, people with annual incomes of more than $1.9 million.

► In the Washington Post — How Walmart keeps wages low (by Josh Eidelson) — Banding together to improve your workplace, whether you win or lose, shouldn’t cost you your job. That 1935 law — the National Labor Relations Act – is still on the books. But its ban on retaliation today reads more like a cruel joke than an ironclad commitment. A 2009 study released by the Economic Policy Institute found that pro-union workers are fired — allegedly illegally — in at least a third of unionization election campaigns supervised by the government.

► And in case you missed this yesterday at Gawker — The Waltons are the greediest family in the world — Four members of the Walton family, heirs to Sam Walton’s Wal-Mart fortune, are collectively worth more than $100 billion — more wealth than the entire bottom 40% of Americans. They are doing everything in their power not to give up a penny more than they have to. They are the new Rockefellers, the modern synonym for “vast wealth.” And indeed, income inequality in America has reached levels not seen since John D. Rockefeller roamed the earth. The Waltons are the kings and queens of our new Gilded Age.




salon-unions-cool► At Salon — Is Fight for $15 making unions cool again? — The popular use of the term “cool” came out of the world of jazz in the 1940’s. Jazz has its roots in the African American struggle and has long been associated with rebellion. Jazz involves improvisation, experimentation, opening up to myriad influences, taking chances and breaking rules. In that sense, Fight for $15 is very cool with its bold campaigns of minority strikes, noisy public demonstrations and civil disobedience; its willingness to throw out the old union rulebook and experiment. It is simultaneously pushing for a rise in the federal minimum wage while also fighting for a living wage on the state and local levels. It is also directly confronting mega-corporations like McDonalds, Burger King, Darden, Macy’s, Target, Sears, Subway, Victorias’s Secret, Forever 21, Walgreens, etc.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Be cool. Endorse SeaTac’s Good Jobs Initiative to raise that city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

► In today’s Oregonian — Oregon AFL-CIO’s President: Unions have to help workers they can’t organize — Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain says he’s ready to focus on an interesting new direction for the union movement: “For those folks who can’t get a union card for whatever reason, we just can’t ignore them.” He adds that the idea is “to move from a sort of isolated labor movement to a broader workers’ movement.”

► In today’s Washington Post — Women’s groups rally for immigration reform — More than 100 women were arrested on Capitol Hill on Thursday after they blocked a busy intersection to press the House of Representatives to move on immigration legislation in a protest that rallied national women’s groups to the cause.

EDITOR’S NOTE — One of those arrested was Seattle’s own Pramila Jayapal. UPDATE: Also arrested from Seattle: Carino Barragan, a Casa Latina organizer and an active member of WA YELL and the WA State Stop Wage Theft Coalition. And Lilia, a domestic worker an organized member of Casa Latina who risked deportation in this action.

► In today’s Columbian — Small business owners push immigration reform — The five business owners who are members of the Main Street Alliance of Washington asked Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Camas) for an end to the House delay on passing an immigration reform measure.

► In today’s LA Times — California Legislature approves raising minimum wage to $10 — The bill would boost the state’s minimum wage of $8 an hour to $10 by 2016. Gov. Jerry Brown said he would sign it.

► In today’s NY Times — In Californian, stronger workers’ rights (editorial) — Gov. Jerry Brown should sign a bill that requires paid overtime for many domestic workers.

sorscher► MUST-READ at Huffington Post — The 4 (or 5) worst market failures in human history (by SPEEA’s Stan Sorscher) — The narrow orthodoxy of free markets and free trade says that markets will solve all our problems, and government intervention is bad. Unfortunately, the real world is a very large system with many interacting forces and interests. Markets fail. A legitimate purpose of public policy is to intervene in markets to prevent market failure. Public policy has a necessary role in protecting the environment, human rights, labor rights, education and public health, managing growth, regulating markets, and managing global trade. That’s capitalism for realists.




► This just in… Rep. Jim McDermott doesn’t like big butts.




► Since the 1998 release of Tupac Shakur’s “Changes” (prominently featuring a Bruce Hornsby sample), some things have changed. Like “we ain’t ready to see a black President.” But much more hasn’t. “There’s war on the streets and the war in the Middle East. Instead of war on poverty, they got a war on drugs so the police can bother me.” Near the end: “I always got to worry ’bout the payback. Some buck that I roughed up way back… comin’ back after all these years. Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat. That’s the way it is.”

On this day in 1996, 2Pac died at the age of 25 after being shot as he was driving through Las Vegas. (Warning: Explicit lyrics.)


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