MLK events, GOP preempts, Fast Track, Supremes v. Unions…

Tuesday, January 21, 2014




► In today’s Seattle Times — Backers of $15 minimum wage turn out for MLK celebration — Seattle’s burgeoning $15 minimum-wage movement turned out in droves Monday at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, peppering the crowd at Garfield High School with its red signs, T-shirts and banners.

► At PubliCola — Minimum-wage committee member Harrell joins Sawant in “$15/hour contingent” at MLK march — City council member Bruce Harrell, who is, along with colleagues Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata, a member of the 25-member committee appointed to come up with a proposal to increase Seattle’s minimum wage, marched in the MLK Day with the “$15 Now” contingent alongside Sawant, suggesting that Harrell supports the $15 standard.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Still reaching, more than 1,000 join in Spokane’s MLK Jr. Day march — Like a spirited Southern preacher, the Rev. Carolyn Gordon needed 15 minutes of powerful, persuasive language to convert her audience of more than 1,000 into an army of believers in social change.

► At AFL-CIO Now — MLK Day: Action can turn dreams of justice into reality — Across the nation Monday, working families, civil rights, community, faith and immigrant activists are commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in marches, prayer services, teach-ins and other actions and they are  recommitting themselves to the fight for equality and justice for all workers’ civil rights.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Stalled immigrant-rights bill could sway some elections — The state House’s swift move to advance the state DREAM Act on the first day of this year’s legislative session could create a wedge issue that could affect the results of the November elections, some political experts said.

ALSO at The Stand — House passes state DREAM Act on Day 1

► At PubliCola — State GOP tries to undo SeaTac, preempt Seattle wage laws — Six Republican state senators introduced a bill that thumbs its nose at local control: Trade and Economic Development Committee Chair Sen. John Braun’s (R-Centralia) bill would prevent towns, cities, counties, and port districts — call it the undo SeaTac bill or the preempt Seattle bill — from passing ordinances or popular measures regulating wages, hours, leave, and retention of employees at private companies. In other words: No local minimum wage laws. You could also call it the undo Seattle law because it would also rescind Seattle’s paid sick leave law. The Senate actually passed a law last year that would have overturned Seattle’s paid sick leave law — known as the Burger King exemption, the bill would have allowed businesses headquartered outside of Seattle to ignore Seattle wage ordinances. The Democratic House tabled the bill.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The bill’s co-sponsors: Sens. Janéa Holmquist Newbry, Barbara Bailey, Randi Becker, Jim Honeyford, and state ALEC chairwoman Jan Angel. The election ads/mail are writing themselves!

► From McClatchy — State’s printing department announces 15 more layoffs — Layoff notices have gone out to 15 employees at the former Washington state Department of Printing, the latest round of cutbacks that will shrink the 68-person operation to less than half its 2008 size.

► In today’s News Tribune — Gov. Inslee waiting for feds on mental health privatization — Gov. Jay Inslee’s mental health proposal would align mental health care with drug treatment when it comes to public health care for the poor. What the proposal does not do is give private insurance companies a chance to compete with counties for the care.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Democrats back Liias, Ortiz-Self for legislative seats — Rep. Marko Liias emerged as Democrats’ first and pretty much only choice to replace Sen. Paull Shin in the 21st LD in balloting by PCOs, who nominated three people to succeed Liias. Political newcomer Lillian Ortiz-Self finished ahead of Darrell Chapman and Susan Phillips in that round of voting.

► In the Seattle Times — We need to dig out truth about Bertha problems (by Danny Westneat) — It’s also no surprise Bertha ran into some trouble. That’s expected when you’re remodeling your kitchen, let alone boring the widest diameter tunnel ever attempted. But the unsettling feeling around town isn’t just that there might be some major engineering problem with the tunnel or with Bertha. It’s that the story keeps changing so much that the state has drilled a hole in its credibility.




► In Money magazine — Your 401(k) won’t save you — Most of us have saved less than $100,000 for our post-work lives. This is the end result of the slow, 30-year dismantling of the corporate pension system in favor of 401ks. The 401k was not, as it turned out, “a pretty easy way to make a million bucks by the time you retire,” as Kiplinger’s magazine promised in the fall of 2007. Instead, it turned out to be a long, strange trip to a penurious retirement for all too many members of the Baby Boom generations and the ones that will follow. Never mind the psychedelic sideshows of the internet and housing bubbles. In black and white, we’re all but broke.

► From Bloomberg — Emirites yet to ink Boeing deal amid performance guarantee talks — Emirates, the biggest international airline, has yet to sign off on its $76 billion purchase of 150 Boeing 777X wide-body planes as it extends a dialog over issues such as performance guarantees. The 777X order announced at the Dubai Air Show in November amounted to a commitment rather than a firm contract, and there remains work to be done in areas also including technical support and warranties before the deal is secured.




► In the Tri-City Herald — Group looks into illnesses among Hanford workers’ families — Hanford Challenge is exploring whether family members of Hanford workers may have been made ill by exposure to contamination from the nuclear reservation.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Bus service may end for 1,000 Seattle students to save money — About 1,000 children who have been riding on borrowed time to schools outside their neighborhoods would lose bus service if the Seattle School Board adopts a proposal to trim about $3.4 million from the transportation budget.




► In The Hill — Obama: Give me Fast Track trade — The White House is making a major push to convince Congress to give the president trade promotion authority, which would make it easier for President Obama to negotiate pacts with other countries. A flurry of meetings has taken place in recent days since legislation was introduced to give the president the authority, with U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman meeting with approximately 70 lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate

ALSO in The Stand — Bipartisan opposition to ‘Fast Track’ on trade — A letter to Obama signed by 151 House Democrats opposes renewing the traditional model of “Fast Track” trade promotion authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) or any other future trade deals. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle) was the only member of Washington’s Congressional delegation to sign the letter.

► In today’s Washington Post — Union says spending bill pushes privatization of airport screening — The appropriations measure prevents the Transportation Security Administration from using federal funds to hire more screeners if the total number would exceed 46,000 employees. That, combined with a push by some lawmakers for greater use of private-sector screeners, has drawn criticism from the union that represents TSA officers. Writes AFGE: “This is an effort by some extremist lawmakers who want to return airport security to the pre-9/11 era.”

► In The Hill — Democrats must decide how far to bend on immigration reform — Congressional Democrats and advocates for immigration reform will have to decide how much to bend as they await proposals from House Republicans that are likely to fall far short of what they have demanded.




► From AP — Unions angered by Postal Service’s Staples outlets — The opening of Postal Service retail centers in dozens of Staples stores around the country is being met with threats of protests and boycotts by the agency’s unions. The new outlets are staffed by Staples employees, not postal workers, and labor officials say that move replaces well-paying union jobs with low-wage, nonunion workers.

► In today’s NY Times — Law’s expanded Medicaid coverage brings surge in sign-ups — The men and women getting coverage in West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the country, say the mere fact of having it has drastically improved their mental health.




► In The Hill — Case could destroy pillar of union power — On Tuesday, the high court will hear oral arguments in Harris V. Quinn, a case that could upend agreements with state governments that allow taxpayer-funded home-care workers to unionize.

► In the Washington Post — Unions circling wagons on court caseHarris v. Quinn has grown from an innocuous-sounding lawsuit over how to classify employees into a frontal attack on an issue crucial to labor — whether public employees who opt not to be in a union still must pay “fair share” fees to support the organization’s collective-bargaining work. Supreme Court precedent fully supports such a notion. But the current court’s conservative members practically invited a challenge in a related labor decision two terms ago. Now, unions have circled the wagons. And the Obama administration, which advised the court not to take the Illinois case, has warned that the challengers offer no reasoning that “justifies so radically reshaping First Amendment law.”


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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