Monday, June 9, 2014
► From AP — Longtime farmworker advocate Tomás Villanueva dies — Tomás Villanueva, who for decades advocated for farmworkers in Washington state, has died. He was 72. From the state capitol to orchards in Central Washington, Villanueva played a key role in improving working conditions for farmworkers, advocating for minimum wage and health-care standards. He also worked on improving farmworker housing in the days they camped unsheltered on the banks of the Columbia River.
► In the Yakima H-R — Villanueva transcended class, ethnicity with quiet passion — “I consider him the premier Latino leader in Washington. He motivated people and gave workers a feeling of self-worth,” said Lupe Gamboa, a longtime friend and farm worker advocate. “It wasn’t just Tomás, but he was a catalyst for change for everything that happened.”
► From KPLU — What is the farmworker guest program and why is it controversial in Washington state? — It’s called the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program, and it’s administered by the Department of Labor. Under that system, farms apply to bring foreign workers here temporarily — and legally — if they can prove they’re facing a labor shortage. The Washington Farm Labor Association, a nonprofit group that manages H-2A applications for many farms in the state, says the program is growing in this state because farmers can’t find sufficient workers. But not everyone is convinced there’s a labor shortage. Nina Martinez of the worker advocacy group Latino Civic Alliance says, “I’m hearing that the growers say they can’t recruit, and then we hear from the farmworkers directly from themselves that it’s not true, that they’re showing up to these farms and wanting to apply and work.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — Metro service may not need to be slashed as much as initially expected — Some members of the King County Council are getting cold feet about following through on a proposed 16% bus-service cut. Two competing proposals are in play. Each would proceed with the relatively small reductions planned this September and leave open the possibility of averting or softening three more rounds of cuts in 2015. A vote is scheduled Monday.
► In today’s Oregonian — Jack in the Box workers in Oregon claim fast-food chain underpaid them, seek $45 million — Six current or former employees of Jack in the Box restaurants have filed a $45 million lawsuit against the fast-food corporation — claiming it failed to pay them for breaks mandated as paid “rest periods” by law.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Longtime leader Mike Kreidler plunges into political storms — With his moves watched by policymakers, insurance regulators and companies across the country, this affable 70-year-old politician has had anything but a predictable life in the past few years. Consumer advocates say he may be the most respected insurance regulator in the country, but some state legislators tried to have his office abolished in the last session. Now, midway through his third term in his position, Kreidler is taking full advantage of his independence — only 11 states elect insurance commissioners — to wade into some of the most challenging issues of his long career.
► In today’s Olympian — Ethics board looks at lawmakers’ free food — Washington state lawmakers would have to publicly report when lobbyists treat them to meals or beverages worth as little as $5 under proposals going to the Legislative Ethics Board this month.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Bumpy switch to 777X at Boeing — The Boeing Co.’s 777 has been one of commercial aviation’s most successful airplanes. But the company has been struggling to sell it since unveiling a successor — the 777X — late last year. Right now, the company’s Everett plant churns out 100 of the popular airplanes a year. At that pace, existing orders will keep the line busy until about January 2017, three years shy of the 777X’s scheduled entry into service in 2020.
► In today’s San Francisco Chronicle — Grocery workers in California see wages shrink — A new look at California’s $98 billion grocery industry shows it is a microcosm of the state’s wealth inequality gap. While a private-equity firm is buying Safeway for $9 billion, 1 in 3 grocery workers is on some form of public assistance. While grocery chains are cash machines for investors, nearly 1 in 5 workers has cut back on meals because he or she couldn’t afford to buy food.
► In the NY Times — Private jobs have recovered, government jobs still lag — The United States economy has finally exceeded its pre-recession employment peak. But that milestone obscures two very different stories — in the private and public sectors. The public sector — federal, state and local government — still isn’t close to returning to its pre-recession employment levels.
► At MSNBC — Walmart stages upbeat shareholders’ meeting despite protests — Despite the company’s sagging U.S. sales numbers and simmering labor unrest, Wal-Mart’s 2014 shareholders meeting was rarely anything less than relentlessly upbeat. Celebrities like Harry Connick Jr., Robin Thicke, Sarah McLachlan, Aloe Blacc and Pharrell Williams entertained the crowd in between presentations on the company’s plans for the future.
► In today’s NY Times — Non-compete clauses pop up in an array of jobs — Noncompete clauses are now appearing in far-ranging fields beyond the worlds of technology, sales and corporations with tightly held secrets, where the curbs have traditionally been used. From event planners to chefs to investment fund managers to yoga instructors, employees are increasingly required to sign agreements that prohibit them from working for a company’s rivals.
► At TPM — Las Vegas shooters bragged about taking part in Bundy ranch standoff — Neighbors of the couple who ambushed and killed two police officers Sunday in Las Vegas told local newspapers the pair had bragged about spending time at Cliven Bundy’s ranch during the standoff with the federal government earlier this year.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Who could have foreseen that some of the patriots who attended this gathering to celebrate a racist, anti-government tax deadbeat — some of whom aimed loaded assault weapons at federal employees simply doing their jobs — would do something like this? But let’s not judge them by the company they keep.
► At Truth Out — Who is behind the National Right-to-Work Committee and its anti-union crusade? — Founded nearly 60 years ago, the National Right-to-Work Committee has been a national leader in the effort to destroy public and private sector unions. The groups have increased their funding and staffing in recent years. In 2012, the three groups combined reported over $25 million in revenue, making them a powerful instrument of the corporate and ideological interests that want to keep wages low and silence the voice of organized labor in the political arena… The NRTWC has deep connections within the national right-wing network led by the Koch brothers. In addition, the NRTWLDF has received significant funding from many big name conservative donors, including the Walton Family Foundation (of Walmart), the Coors family’s Castle Rock Foundation, Wisconsin’s Bradley Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, and the Searle Freedom Trust.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.