Seattle tinkers, Supremes v. unions, #TBT…

Thursday, May 29, 2014




► In today’s Seattle Times — Council members to weigh changes to minimum-wage plan — A special City Council committee on the minimum wage may vote Thursday on the mayor’s proposal to raise the minimum wage in Seattle to $15 an hour. The council could adopt an ordinance as soon as Monday.

EDITOR’S NOTE — That meeting is happening this morning. Look for full coverage tomorrow in The Stand.

► At PubliCola — No business-backed minimum wage initiative from OneSeattle — OneSeattle, the business-backed group that formed to push for changes to Mayor Ed Murray’s compromise $15 minimum wage proposal (including concessions such as including health care, bonuses, and any other benefits as part of workers’ “total compensation” and a sub-minimum “training wage” for new employees) has decided not to pursue an initiative challenging the Murray compromise, which was passed by a mayor-appointed group called the Income Inequality Advisory Committee.

► In The Stranger — What’s the deal with ‘training wages’? — So what’s a training wage? Like a lot of things in the $15 minimum wage push, the answer depends on who you ask. In general, the phrase “training wage” is used to describe any kind of lower-than-minimum wage, but there’s a lot more to it than just that.

► At HA Seattle — Seattle Times advises Sawant to stop being ‘grumpy,’ accept giant teen/training wage loophole — Let’s be clear about what this teen and training wage proposal is really about. It’s not about accommodating immigrant-owned micro-businesses. It’s about destroying the delicate compromise worked out by the mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee — a compromise that already takes 11 years to phase all workers in to what would be the equivalent of only $14.50 an hour in today’s dollars. Tack on a subminimum teen and training wage, and that whole deal falls apart.




► At Slog — Judge orders Sakuma Brothers Farms to stop retaliating against striking farmworkers — A temporary restraining order handed down Wednesday, Skagit Valley County Judge Susan Cook ordered the farm not to “interfere or retaliate” against the farmworkers attempts to organize and “to inform Familias Unidas por la Justicia members immediately that workers are not barred from employment due to absences during the 2013 strikes.”

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Judge to Sakuma Brothers: Stop retaliation

► From AP — Area to get special attention by feds for manufacturing — The Obama administration on Wednesday named the Washington Puget Sound region, led by the Puget Sound Regional Council, and 11 regions of the country that will receive special attention under a new federal program designed to help make them more attractive to manufacturing companies looking for a place to set up operations, provide a boost to the U.S. manufacturing industry and create jobs.

► In today’s News Tribune — Rideshares face regulation questions in Tacoma — People have hailed cabs for decades, be it off the street or by calling dispatch. Phones are still involved today, but a new breed of car service — so-called rideshares named Uber, Lyft and Sidecar — aren’t your typical taxis.

► In Governing — ALEC goes local — The American City County Exchange will run very much on the ALEC model, pairing up lawmakers with business groups to craft model legislation and other proposals. The effort is in its infancy — its director, Jon Russell of Washington state, only started working full time on the project in March — but ALEC is claiming hundreds of members have already signed up. The group will kick things off in a big way in July, at ALEC’s annual meeting.




► In today’s News Tribune — Early data show increase in alcohol emergencies — Shoppers are buying a bit more hard liquor now that they can find it at four times as many stores and during twice as many hours as it was available before voters privatized liquor sales in 2011. So how is Washington handling its extra liquor? Partly — according to researchers who are trying to answer that question — by making more trips to the emergency room.

► At Politico — Rick Perry’s wild plan to take jobs from blue states — Poaching companies is nothing new. States have been bad-mouthing and out-bidding each other for decades in the hopes of luring more business, often with little to show for it. But according to Greg Leroy, the executive director of Good Jobs First, a D.C.-based non-profit devoted to exposing what it considers the folly of government subsidies often given in the name of attracting companies, Perry’s campaign stands on its own. “I’ve been covering this for 30 years and there’s no precedent for what he’s doing,” says Leroy. “Nobody’s been as aggressive. Nobody’s done it as personally. He’s really taking it to a new low.”




► In the USA Today — Many employees hit with higher health care premiums — More employees are getting hit with higher health insurance premiums and co-payments, and many don’t have the money to cover unexpected medical expenses, a new report finds… Employees are worried about covering their medical costs: 49% have less than $1,000 to pay for unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses; 53% would borrow from their 401(k)s or credit cards to cover unexpected medical costs; 66% say they wouldn’t be able to adjust to the large financial costs associated with a serious injury or illness.

► In The Hill — O-Care still unpopular despite enrollment numbers, poll finds — Attitudes toward ObamaCare have only changed slightly despite the administration’s success in enrolling more than eight million people, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. The poll found 43 percent approve of ObamaCare, but a majority disapproves of it.




► From Buzzfeed — DREAMers slam White House over delay to deportation reforms — Grassroots immigration reform activists Wednesday lashed out at the Obama administration’s decision to delay a review of deportation policies, accusing the White House of turning its back on a promise made to the families of undocumented immigrants to not break them apart.

► In today’s NY Times — Adding delay to immigration failure (editorial) — Even July is too long a wait for thousands of would-be Americans who would qualify for legal status under the stalled reform. Instead, they live in fear of being torn from their families, as the Obama administration keeps on deporting people, figuring that after two million deportations, give or take, what’s a few thousand more?




► In The Hill — Will the Supreme Court undermine public-sector labor rights? — Before late June, the Supreme Court will rule on Harris v. Quinn, perhaps the most important labor case to come before it in several decades. If the court sides with the extremist National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW), which appealed the case after losing before the Seventh Circuit and lower courts, it could inflict a major blow on unions that represent public employees. National Right to Work is representing three Illinois home care aides — out of about 20,000 union-represented workers — who provide Medicaid-reimbursed services to disabled patients. It argues that “forcing” the aides to accept the union as their collective bargaining agent (a clear majority chose unionization in 2003) is unconstitutional and that they are not state employees but employees of the Medicaid recipients they work for.

► From Reuters — Economy shrinks for first time in 3 years — The U.S. economy contracted in the first quarter as it buckled under the weight of a severe winter, but there are signs activity has since rebounded. The Commerce Department on Thursday revised down its growth estimate to show gross domestic product shrinking at a 1.0 annual rate.

► In today’s Washington Post — In New Orleans, major school district closes traditional public schools for good — With the start of the next school year, the city’s Recovery School District will be the first in the country made up completely of public charter schools, a milestone for New Orleans and a grand experiment in urban education for the nation… White students disproportionately attend the best charter schools, while the worst are almost exclusively populated by African American students.

► At TPM — Judge who halted Scott Walker probe attended Koch-backed judicial junkets — U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa has been a regular attendee at “judicial junkets” financed by groups including the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Randa — who attended the all-expenses-paid judicial seminars in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 — issued a sharply-worded ruling ordering Wisconsin prosecutors to halt a secret “John Doe” investigation targeting alleged illegal campaign coordination between Walker’s campaign and outside conservative groups.

► MUST-READ in today’s Seattle Times — McDonald’s and ‘real careers’ (by Jon Talton) — More older workers are employed in today’s fast-food industry, and often as a last resort because other jobs aren’t available. In the broader economy, the once great American jobs machine is broken and inequality at Gilded Age levels. This is the reality of today’s economy and one reason protesters are showing up at McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson’s manicured suburban headquarters and outside fast-food outlets around the country. His predecessor also made 787 times the average American worker’s pay.




(Above) As she campaigned in 1992 for election to the U.S. Senate, then-state Sen. Patty Murray pays a visit to Business Manager Maureen Bo of Office and Professional Employees Local 8 in Seattle.

(Below) That same fall, Murray poses at the King County Labor Council’s Labor Day picnic with then-state Rep. Maria Cantwell, who was running for U.S. House in the 1st Congressional District. Both women won those 1992 elections and today serve together in the U.S. Senate.


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

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