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Maintaining Metro, our oligarchy, not one more, trade morality…

Monday, April 7, 2014




yes-on-kc-prop-1► In today’s Seattle Times — Suburbs may play key role in Metro tax vote — The measure would add a tenth of a cent to the sales tax in King County (currently 9.5 percent in most areas) and set an annual car-tab fee of $60 to maintain Metro Transit service at current levels and to help fund road and transportation projects throughout the county. Both would run 10 years.

► From KUOW — Popular King County bus routes on chopping block if Prop. 1 fails — King County Metro says if voters don’t approve Proposition 1, the agency will have to cut 70 bus routes. The three most popular lines on the chopping block are routes 4, 21 and 72.

► In the Seattle Times — Machinists vote in unique fight over union leadership — The Machinists union on Wednesday began a monthlong election process featuring an unprecedented fight for national control. Local Boeing Machinists are pinning their hopes for an upset of the incumbent national leadership on a large turnout locally.





► At AFL-CIO Now — McCutcheon ruling ‘dangerously broadened skewed view of money in politics,’ Trumka says — In a statement reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the court made “one of the most undemocratic and corrosive decisions in history with the Citizens United ruling.”

By striking down individual aggregate limits on First Amendment grounds, the Court has further tilted our political system in favor of corporations and the wealthy and against working people. Our founding fathers did not intend for our electoral process to be the façade for political auctions.

► In the P.S Business Journal — Will Supreme Court ruling unleash Washington state’s big political donors? — Washington state’s big-money political donors could have more options — and more influence — after the U.S. Supreme Court this week loosened limits on individual campaign contributions.




► In the Olympian — Supreme Court upholds $57.1M in back pay for homecare workers — A divided Washington state Supreme Court ruled last week that Washington owes about $57 million in back pay to homecare workers who saw their hours cut due to budget concerns during 2003-07.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — Inslee OKs bills to reshape state’s health care purchasing — In an effort to cut costs, the state is spending $4.6 million to integrate mental health and substance abuse treatment in the Medicaid program and move toward state purchasing of care based on outcomes, rather than office visits and procedures.




► From KUOW — Behind the hunger strike at Tacoma’s immigration lockup — A steady protest has hung over an immigration lockup in Tacoma for more than a month. In March, hundreds of detainees went on hunger strike. Outside the gates, families and supporters have gathered daily, waving signs that read “No More Deportations.” A large crowd was expected outside the facility again this Saturday, as part of a national campaign. The protest has grown out of frustration about an impasse on immigration reform as detainees fight to avoid deportation and separation from their families.

► From AP — ‘Day of Action’ protesters demand changes to immigration policy — Immigration advocates and supporters rallied Saturday in cities across the country in a renewed effort to push President Barack Obama to put a freeze on deportations.

nyt-deport► In today’s NY Times — More deportations follow minor crimes, records show — With the Obama administration deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace, the president has said the government is going after “criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families.” But a New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.

► In the NY Times — Yes, he can, on immigration (editorial) — If President Obama means what he says about wanting an immigration system that reflects American values, helps the economy and taps the yearnings of millions of Americans-in-waiting, he is going to have to do something about it — soon and on his own.




Colombia-trade► At Politico — Labor groups slam Colombia action plan — A U.S.-Colombian plan aimed at reducing violence against workers and strengthening labor rights in the Latin American country is failing on both counts, labor groups in the two countries said in reports being released Monday that call on the governments to continue efforts for another four years.

► In today’s NY Times — Senate set to pass bill extending jobless aid — The Senate is expected to easily approve legislation Monday restoring unemployment benefits to nearly three million people, throwing the bill to a divided House where Republicans favor starkly different approaches to the issue.

► From AP — Obama tests work policies on contractors — Sidestepping Congress, President Barack Obama is using the federal government’s vast array of contractors to impose rules on wages, pay disparities and hiring on a segment of the private sector that gets taxpayer money and falls under his control.

► In the Washington Post — Congressional Progressive Caucus calls for stronger action against wage theft — The leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are urging the DOL to step up its enforcement actions against wage theft and to make data on wage theft more accessible to federal agencies so they can make better-informed decisions about which companies deserve contracts.




uninsured-wristbands► In The Hill — Uninsured rate hits lowest level since ’08 — The United States’ uninsured rate is at its level since 2008, according to a survey Gallup released Monday. During the first quarter of this year, the number of people without health insurance dropped to 15.6 percent, a 1.5 percentage-point drop since the fourth quarter of last year.

► From MSNBC — How Tennessee politicians killed UAW unionization — Right-wing groups may have successfully defeated a unionization bid at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga manufacturing plant, but it wasn’t a clean victory. Now the UAW is taking the fight to the NLRB, alleging that outside groups contaminated the vote — a claim which may be bolstered by recently-leaked documents from the governors’ office.

► In the U.S. News — Young people understand unions can solve problems (by Liz Shuler) — The extraordinary actions of the Northwestern football players should inspire other American workers who have experienced stagnant wages over the past 40 years. Young people in America see unions as a way to solve problems and improve their lives. Maybe the value of collective action is the lesson being taught on campus today.




morality► At Huffington Post — Moral authority in globalization (by SPEEA’s Stan Sorscher) — NAFTA-style agreements derive their shaky moral authority from free market orthodoxy. We hear about efficiency, utility, deregulation, privatization and globalization. These are corporate values with notoriously weak appeal to human interests. “Free trade” demonstrates one consistent value: Make global businesses succeed. That priority drives social norms, political decisions and economic outcomes regarding the environment, labor rights, human rights, public health, internet free speech and financial regulations. Two huge new NAFTA-style trade agreements, known as TTP and TTIP, will effectively consolidate those norms at a global level. They would determine how life is organized in 2050.


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