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VOTE, tip penalties, lawyers in line, ‘Grounded’…

Tuesday, April 22, 2014




i-voted► At Slog — VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! Yes on Prop 1 — King County residents, it’s a special election for you, and this one’s about saving Metro bus service. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click that link. Do you ever ride the bus? Do you ever drive on roads or ride in things that drive on roads? Do you know or care about anyone who does? Then by golly, this is the election for you! Grab that ballot! VOTE YES ON PROP 1! Do it now! Do it loud! Do it proud! Mail it in, drop it off, or — forget/lose/dog ate your ballot? Print one! I’m not even joking. (Follow their instructions carefully, y’all.) Any other questions? Call 206-296-VOTE. Then make yourself an “I Voted” sticker out of office supplies and pat yourself on the back. Civic duty? Completed.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Voting deadline is Tuesday — Tuesday is the deadline for this season’s special election. Ballots must be postmarked by then. Here’s contact information if you still need a ballot or other information on the measures or voting.




tip-penalty► Ay Slog — What’s going on with tip credit/tip penalty? — The mayor’s committee is reportedly deadlocked over what kind of compensation would be included in a minimum wage hike. The question of tips, in particular, seems to be a key component of the deadlock. Isn’t money just money, regardless of whether you get it from your boss or a customer? Not exactly. Tip credits/penalties can incentivize bad behavior among employers, complicate both the understanding and the enforcement of the law, and make tip and wage theft more pervasive.

ALSO at The Stand — $15 for Seattle: Help surround City Hall this Wednesday

► In today’s Seattle Times — Council OKs West Seattle plan that lit minimum-wage debate — The Seattle City Council on Monday approved an alley vacation that allows a big new mixed-use development at the West Seattle Junction to go forward with the anchor tenant Whole Foods. Opposition to the alley vacation roiled the 2013 mayoral race and ignited a citywide debate over the minimum wage when then-Mayor Mike McGinn rejected the developer’s request, saying Whole Foods didn’t offer good enough wages and benefits.

proud-to-be-union► In the Seattle Times — The decline of labor unions and the rise of the minimum wage (by Jake Rosenfeld) — A consequence of organized labor’s decline is that many Americans now consider it a marginal or special-interest issue, disconnected from their own lives. The recent fights in the Greater Seattle region should make it clear labor unions are critical organizations in the struggle against rising inequality. Whether fighting for economic justice for low-income, nonunion workers or seeking generous contracts for their own members, unions at their best work to raise the living standards for the vast majority of working Americans. It is hard to imagine the minimum-wage campaign succeeding in Seattle without the backing of organized labor. It would be hard to imagine a reversal of rising economic disparities across the nation absent a revitalized labor movement.




► In today’s News Tribune — Lakewood workers make noise for new contract before City Council — About 30 Lakewood city employees attended the City Council meeting Monday night wearing bright green T-shirts to show solidarity in their dissatisfaction with prolonged labor negotiations between the city and their labor union (AFSCME Local 1938).

► In today’s Seattle Times — Bertha won’t dig until at least March — Contractors say they’ll lift the 2,000-ton front end of the world’s biggest tunnel-boring machine to the surface for repairs. Meanwhile, digging of the waterfront highway tunnel will be on hold six months longer than previously planned.

► In today’s Columbian — Officials: United Grain fire unintentional




► In today’s Olympian — 19 lawyers have lined up to seek appointment to pending Supreme Court vacancy — Justice Jim Johnson’s pending departure has flung open door to a big field of candidates, but it’s unlikely liberal Gov. Jay Inslee will replace the conservative with another right of center judge on the court.




► In today’s Yakima H-R — Farm labor shortage hits earlier this year — State economists last month reported a 5.2 percent agricultural labor shortage — the first time since 2008 that March showed a shortage at all — fueling concerns that the lack of orchard workers is worsening. To make up for it, growers are increasingly turning to foreign guest workers through the federal H-2A visa program, which allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers on short-term contracts as long as they can demonstrate that no domestic laborers wanted the jobs. In 2006, growers hired 814 foreign employees statewide through the H-2A visa. In 2013, they hired 6,194 workers.

afl-logo► In the Washington Post — Pressure on Obama to ‘go big’ on deportations — The AFL-CIO has produced a detailed memo urging him to move forward with ambitious reform — and arguing that he would be on solid legal ground in doing so.

► In The Hill — AFL-CIO demands deportation exemption to promote worker safety — In a series of immigration policy recommendations released Monday, the AFL-CIO said many illegal immigrants do not report dangerous working conditions and unpaid wages because they are afraid they will be deported. To remedy this, the AFL-CIO called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant low-priority illegal immigrants affirmative relief from deportation and work authorization, so they will not be afraid to report misconduct.




CEO-pay► At Huffington Post — Raising taxes on corporations that pay their CEOs royally and treat their workers like serfs (by Robert Reich) — Until the 1980s, corporate CEOs were paid, on average, 30 times what their typical worker was paid. Since then, CEO pay has skyrocketed to 280 times the pay of a typical worker; in big companies, to 354 times. Meanwhile, over the same thirty-year time span the median American worker has seen no pay increase at all, adjusted for inflation. This growing divergence between CEO pay and that of the typical American worker isn’t just wildly unfair. It’s also bad for the economy.

There’s no easy answer for reversing this trend, but this week I’ll be testifying in favor of a bill introduced in the California legislature that at least creates the right incentives. It would set corporate taxes according to the ratio of CEO pay to the pay of the company’s typical worker. Corporations with low pay ratios get a tax break. Those with high ratios get a tax increase.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Fearing raises for low earners, ignoring obscene pay of 1% (by Leo W. Gerard)

► In today’s NY Times — Wage theft across the board (editorial) — When labor advocates and law enforcement officials talk about wage theft, they are usually referring to situations in which low-wage service-sector employees are forced to work off the clock, paid subminimum wages, cheated out of overtime pay or denied their tips. It is a huge and underpoliced problem. It is also, it turns out, not confined to low-wage workers. In the days ahead, a settlement is expected in the antitrust lawsuit pitting 64,613 software engineers against Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe. The engineers say they lost up to $3 billion in wages from 2005-9, when the companies colluded in a scheme not to solicit one another’s employees.

► At Think Progress — Union will keep fighting to organize Volkswagen workers — Despite dropping the objections about outside interference it filed with the National Labor Relations Board over a failed vote to unionize a Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen plant, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union says it will keep fighting to organize those workers.

► From CBS Sports — Document reveals Northwestern’s anti-union dialogue with players — One section covers the school’s protocol if players strike: “Northwestern could potentially bring in replacement players, perhaps even asking the walk-on football players to cross the picket line,” and the tension from such a situation would be “unprecedented and not in everyone’s best interest,” the school states.




► “Grounded” is a short film produced by airport workers and community allies, and submitted by Working Washington, to the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival’s “Explore. Dream. Discover.” film competition, which is sponsored by Alaska Airlines. Show your support for Alaska Airlines employees and other SeaTac Airport workers here.


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

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