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Human cost of refinery tragedy, DREAM Act, Corker’s taint…

Wednesday, February 19, 2014




► In today’s Seattle Times — School bus drivers warn of strike preparation in Seattle — The union representing about 450 bus drivers for the Seattle school district says it’s preparing to strike, after negotiators failed to resolve disputes over sick leave and health care. Teamsters Local 174 in Tukwila announced on Tuesday that it’s preparing for a strike against First Student, a private contractor that provides busing for nearly 28,000 kids who attend Seattle Public Schools.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Seattle school bus drivers prepare for strike

tesoro-explosion-anacortes► In today’s Seattle Times — The human cost paid at Anacortes Tesoro refinery (by Rafael Moure-Eraso, chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board) — The U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation report on the Tesoro refinery tragedy tells a story of why seven workers perished needlessly four years ago, the unseen human cost of filling our gas tanks. We released the report to the public at a listening session in Anacortes a couple of weeks ago. The sense of loss, frustration and anger was palpable. Estus Ken Powell, who lost his daughter Kathryn in the accident, stood up. He wanted to partly express frustration over the fact that our report was delayed longer than any of us wanted, but also to demand action to stop these horrible accidents. Powell said, “My life was forever changed. All I want to know is, does anybody care? It seems we can get nobody to have any teeth in anything, to get anything done.” I wish every American had been listening. We have a refinery crisis in America. Workers continue to die and suffer injuries in horrendous explosions and fires. The Chemical Safety Board has investigated all too many, and a common key finding is disturbing: Too many corporations are letting essential equipment run to failure.

► In today’s Seattle Times — New union at colleges? Adjunct instructors make push — Adjunct instructors are taking steps to unionize at two private Seattle-area colleges, and some community-college adjuncts want to form a separate union, apart from the one that currently represents them and other faculty.




heal-thyself► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing, politicians vow to heal rift with Machinists over 777X — As Boeing confirmed it will build the 777X wing at the Everett assembly plant, company officials and local politicians emphasized the jobs gained and said they’ll seek to soothe future relations with the Machinists union.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing to build carbon-fiber 777X wings in Everett — The Boeing Co.’s decision to build the carbon-fiber-composite wings for the new 777X airplane at a new building at its Paine Field facility means thousands of jobs and a foothold in industry-leading technology for Snohomish County.




► From AP — Legislature approves immigrant financial aid bill — The state Legislature on Tuesday gave final approval to a measure expanding college financial aid to include Washington students brought to the country illegally as children. SB 6523 passed the House on a 75-22 bipartisan vote and now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee, who strongly supports the measure. The bill is the first to pass both chambers of the Legislature this session, which ends March 13.

ALSO at The Stand — House passes DREAM Act on Day 1 (Jan. 14)

► In today’s News Tribune — Big piece of state printing opened to private competition — Private companies often can do large print jobs faster and cheaper than state government can do in-house, according to a state determination that will expand the private sector’s role in the printing of state documents.

► In today’s Seattle Times — State Senate rejects teacher-evaluation bill — A proposal that would require statewide student tests be used as part of teacher and principal evaluations was defeated in the Senate — the first time the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has lost a bill.




politicians-minimum-wage► In today’s NY Times — Minimum wage increase would have mixed effects, CBO report says — A popular Democratic proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, championed by President Obama, could reduce total employment by 500,000 workers by the second half of 2016. But it would also lift 900,000 families out of poverty and increase the incomes of 16.5 million low-wage workers in an average week. That is the mixed conclusion of an assessment by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

► In The Hill — CBO’s minimum wage report flawed? — A White House official says, “CBO’s estimates of the impact of raising the minimum wage on employment does not reflect the current consensus view of economists. The bulk of academic studies, have concluded that the effects on employment of minimum wage increases in the range now under consideration are likely to be small to nonexistent.”

► From AP — Murray, DelBene bring $10.10 wage fight to Seattle — U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Suzan DelBene on Tuesday brought their fight to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour to Seattle, where advocates want to raise it $5 higher. Molly Neitzel, owner of Molly Moon’s Ice Cream, said she already pays most of her employees more than Washington state’s minimum of $9.32 an hour and the people who make the ice cream earn at least $15 an hour. She would prefer to see increases phased in for small businesses but believes paying people more would bring her more businesses.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Stop insulting minimum wage workers (by Froma Harrop) — All eyes are now on SeaTac. Will the $15 minimum floor, now in its second month, lead to a wave of layoffs and business failures as its foes predict? So far, there’s scant evidence of that. Let’s be mindful that a minimum wage is about more than keeping the poor from starving. It’s also about attaching dignity to a person’s labor.

► From Bloomberg News —




► At Politico — Jobless benefits: The GOP’s search for an exit — A group of Senate Republicans is meeting quietly to plot how to revisit the cause when the Senate returns next week, hoping they can get Democrats to agree to their policy changes and finally move the red-hot issue off the Senate’s plate.

ALSO at The Stand — Senate GOP blocks another effort to extend jobless benefits

ChainedCpi_afl► At TPM — Obama faces liberal revolt on Social Security — His budget plan is expected to be released in the next few weeks, but President Barack Obama hasn’t yet revealed if it’ll include the Social Security cuts that were in his budget last year. The president is facing a rebellion on his left flank, which is mobilizing against the so-called Chained CPI policy ahead of the November congressional elections.

► From AP — Obama, fellow Democrats at odds over big trade bills — President Barack Obama wants to put major emerging trade deals with Europe and Asia on a “fast track” to congressional passage. But with midterm elections looming, many fellow Democrats are working to sidetrack them instead.

► In today’s NY Times — Politics to shadow Obama’s trade talks in Mexico — President Obama travels to Mexico on Wednesday for a brief but politically fraught visit aimed at forging closer trade ties with America’s two closest neighbors even as his party’s leaders back home have vowed to undercut his efforts.




corker-bob► At Huffington Post — Did Bob Corker taint the UAW’s Volkswagen union election? And if so, will he get away with it? (by Dave Jamieson) — As Tennessee Volkswagen workers were voting last week on whether or not to have the United Auto Workers represent them, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) dropped what Reuters aptly called a “bombshell” on the proceedings. (He suggested that) if you vote for the UAW, the plant will lose business and you and your co-workers will suffer for it. Had a Volkswagen official said as much — the company flatly disputed Corker’s claim — the statement may have amounted to what’s known as an “unfair labor practice,” a form of interference or coercion that violates U.S. labor law.


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