Thursday, June 12, 2014
► At Slog — Farmworkers reach $850K settlement with Sakuma Bros. over unpaid wages, breaks — One of the plaintiffs, farmworker Ana Lopez, who worked 293 days during the claims period, will receive at least $1,707 under the agreement. The settlement also applies to workers like 15-year-old Luis, who told me last year, “I thought I was getting ripped off. I deserve to get paid minimum wage, and that’s it… They weren’t paying the kids minimum wage for the whole season.” It was complaints about missing wages, and alleged racist taunts from supervisors, that triggered a series of walkouts by workers at the farm last year.
► From AP — Skagit Valley farm to pay $500,000 to workers
ALSO at The Stand — Sakuma workers win record wage settlement
► At the IAM 751 blog — NAS Whidbey Machinists ratify first contract — Machinists Union members who work for Doss Aviation at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station will get wage and pension benefit increases after ratifying their first union contract. The Machinists at Doss approved the three-year agreement on June 9 with an 88 percent yes vote. The contract covers roughly two dozen Doss employees who work as military aircraft refueling specialists at NAS Whidbey.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Franchisees sue city over transition period under new wage law — The International Franchise Association argues that the $15 minimum-wage law unfairly treats its franchisees as large businesses. Under the new rules, they must increase their minimum wage to $15 in three or four years, rather than up to seven years as a small business.
► At HA Seattle — Franchise Association files hilarious lawsuit — Perhaps most hilariously, (one aspect of the suit) alleges that the ordinance violates the First Amendment, because its higher labor costs would reduce the money available to spend on the franchisees’ constitutionally protected commercial speech. “That’s crazy talk,” says attorney Dmitri Iglitzin, a labor and employment lawyer who represents groups defending SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage ordinance. He says the First Amendment is so blatantly frivolous, it could even end up pissing off the court.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Seattle voters could still see that $15 wage issue on their November ballots — Unlike charter amendments, citizen initiatives can be filed any year, said Seattle’s City Clerk. Initiatives also require fewer signatures, and groups have until Aug. 5 to collect enough signatures to qualify. A minimum-wage initiative, therefore, could still go before Seattle voters this year.
► From AP — San Francisco voters to decide on $15 minimum wage — San Francisco voters will decide in November whether to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2018 (sooner than most Seattle businesses would pay it).
YOU MAD, BRO?
► From the Freedom Foundation — Labor’s latest attack just shows we’re getting under their skin — Not surprisingly, given its intended audience, David Groves’ hapless swing and miss this week at the Freedom Foundation in the online labor journal “The Stand” is long on smug innuendo but woefully lacking in the sort of substance anyone capable of thinking for himself would demand. But then, one doesn’t rise to the lofty position of house organ editor and head shill for Washington State Labor Council without learning how to dumb things down.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Now, wait just a second. I’m a big boy/shill, so personal insults from a Freedom Foundation blogger don’t bother me. But I’m pretty sure this guy is insulting the intelligence of The Stand’s readers. That’s you! Burn!
If you missed it, here’s my hapless column about the Freedom Foundation’s impending legal assault on unions in Washington state. Feel free to share it.
► From AP — New laws, including Dream Act, start Thursday — Kimberly Aleman was brought to the United States from Mexico by her parents when she was 3 years old. Now in her second quarter at Yakima Valley Community College, she is allowed to apply for a state need grant for the first time, under a law that takes effect Thursday.
► In today’s News Tribune — California teacher tenure ruling has less impact here (by Peter Callaghan) — It might not be as big a deal as the reactions seem to indicate. California Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu laid out fairly simple fixes to the three unconstitutional laws that are already in place in a majority of states. Current law in Washington has already been changed to make it easier to fire ineffective teachers and to lessen the role of seniority in layoffs, reassignments and rehires.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Without highway bill, 700,000 jobs at risk — If Congress doesn’t act soon, more than 700,000 middle class jobs building the nation’s highways, bridges and transit systems will be at risk. While the legislation authorizing the spending for those vital projects doesn’t expire until Sept. 30, the Highway Trust Fund that helps states pay for transportation construction and upkeep is running out of money and layoffs could begin later next month.
► In today’s News Tribune — Congress could provide relief for slammed VA system (editorial) — Since the Great Recession, most supervisors have become familiar with the call to “do more with less.” But that doesn’t work when your job is providing health care to a suddenly increasing number of veterans at the same time you’re experiencing shortages of key personnel. Slightly different bills that passed both houses of Congress almost unanimously this week promise to provide at least some temporary relief for veterans.
► At TPM — Obama: Cantor’s defeat doesn’t doom immigration reform — Says the president: “Some of the conventional wisdom talks about, oh, the politics of immigration reform seem impossible now. I fundamentally reject that. And I will tell the Speaker of the House that he needs to reject that.”
► At Politico — Poll: Immigration didn’t doom Cantor (editorial) — About 72 percent of registered voters in Cantor’s district polled on Tuesday said they either “strongly” or “somewhat” support immigration reform that would secure the borders, block employers from hiring those here illegally, and allow undocumented residents without criminal backgrounds to gain legal status – three key tenets of an overhaul.
► In The Nation — Cantor defeated by conservative who rips crony capitalism — Dave Brat tore into big business almost as frequently as he did the incumbent. “I am running against Cantor because he does not represent the citizens of the 7th District, but rather large corporations seeking insider deals, crony bailouts and a constant supply of low-wage workers,” he said.
ALSO at The Stand — Cantor’s loss good news, but press will make sure it’s not
► In today’s Washington Post — Cantor’s loss ignites Republican leadership fight — House Republicans on Wednesday plunged into a regional and ideological struggle over the prospect of new leadership, with a flash campaign for top jobs that will echo the internal battles that have roiled the national GOP for the past five years.
► In today’s Spokesman-review — McMorris Rodgers won’t seek Cantor’s spot
► In today’s NY Times — In GOP, far right is too moderate (editorial) — Will Cantor and other members of the Republican leadership be replaced by even more divisive politicians determined to stage confrontations with the president at every juncture? Will they continue to ignore a stagnating economy, inadequate education and decaying cities? If they do, they will create an opening for Democrats. The majority of Americans remain appalled by this extremism and want better choices than the one in Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District.
► On April 9, 1976, nearly 700 teachers marched from the Seattle Center’s Snoqualmie Room to the school district’s Administrative and Service Center to protest the statewide layoff of more than 1,600 teachers the previous year. The teachers carried posters of School Board President Cheryl Bleakney with grease-pencil sayings such as “Get your fat out of my budget” and “I am not a frill.” Washington Education Association representatives urged the crowd to stand united and support one another until a fair and equitable agreement between the Board and the Association could be reached.
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