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Long-term decline, bus austerity, NCAA entitlement…

Monday, August 11, 2014




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Funding shortfall straining transportation system — Washington state’s transportation system will fall into a long-term decline under the current funding scheme that relies on motor vehicle fuel tax. That finding is part of a comprehensive look into the future by the State Transportation Commission. The commission last week released a draft of its new 20-year transportation plan.

devereux-greg-WFSE► In the Seattle Times — UW has strayed from Harborview’s public mission (by Greg Devereux) — My organization, the Washington Federation of State Employees, and other stakeholders are concerned that Harborview is straying from its core public mission as it becomes more and more integrated into the UW’s system of primary-care clinics and medical training. My union’s members continue to be troubled by the treatment of employees at Harborview, from custodians to those who assist patient registration.

► In today’s Olympian — Add state hospital beds, or cut them? — The state has floated a proposal to reduce beds at the psychiatric hospital, but the agenda might change as pressure grows to increase space for patients.

► In the Bellingham Herald — One month in, statewide marijuana sales at $3.6 million — Washington’s month-old legal marijuana market is moving ahead in fits and starts, with inventory still scarce. State-licensed growers, processors and stores took in $3.6 million over the first 30 days of sales between July 8 and August 6. On top of that was a 25 percent tax that goes to state government: $899,000.




► In the Olympian — Primary results foreshadow more political stalemates at state Capitol — The Aug. 5 vote favored Republicans who narrowly control the Senate. Their coalition majority has blocked Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s hopes for taxes for education, a transportation package and environmental measures the GOP sees as costly or harmful to jobs.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Remember that the Primary Election suffered from a VERY low turnout, with only about one-quarter of voters bothering to send in their ballots. If more people participate in the General Election, the results could look very different. Right-wing extremists, on the other hand, benefit from having fewer people vote. Which brings us to…

voter-id-wisc► At Think Progress — 97-year-old woman denied right to vote because of Voter ID — Although voter ID’s defenders frequently defend the laws as necessary to combat voter fraud at the polls, the reality is that such fraud is virtually non-existent. Indeed, just last week, a new study which surveyed the more than a billion votes cast in the United States between 2000 and 2014 found only 31 credible examples of impersonation at the polls. Meanwhile, even conservative estimates suggest voter ID laws prevent that between 2 and 3 percent of registered voters from casting a ballot.




► From KUOW — SeaTac minimum wage fight in hands of Washington’s Supreme Court — Voters in SeaTac, Washington, narrowly approved a $15 per hour minimum wage. Now, the state Supreme Court will decide whether that law should stand, and if so, whether it should apply to workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Currently it does not. The justices heard oral arguments Thursday.

austerity_not-working► In the Seattle Times — September bus cuts causing pain early — The new austerity at Metro is already causing some riders to miss the bus. Metro is shorthanded because the agency hasn’t hired part-time bus operators since spring, in anticipation of the fall elimination of 28 routes and changes to 19 routes, equaling 161,000 service hours annually. The agency has shed 50 jobs through attrition and is about halfway to dropping 100 of its 2,700 operator positions, said spokesman Jeff Switzer. So for the near future, operators who retire, quit or are fired will not be replaced.

► At Slog — Unions claim ‘swift-boating’ of their preschool measure — Yes for Early Success, the campaign for the labor-backed I-107, has filed an ethics complaint with the city — in part over the leak to The Seattle Times of an I-107 fiscal analysis that the city now refuses to disclose, citing attorney-client privilege — which I-107 backed say was deliberate and political. In their ethics complaint, they call the city’s behavior “the swift-boating of I-107.”

► In the Oregonian — Washington apple growers expect this year’s harvest to be largest ever — Growers and packers are forecasting a harvest of 140 million boxes of apples. If that happens, it would easily top the 2012 record of 129 million boxes.




obama-exec-order-contractors► At Slate — Obama is on a pro-labor roll — Last month, Obama banned federal contractors from discriminating against gay workers. For that one, he won liberal kudos and conservative scolding for refusing to exempt employers that object on religious grounds. Obama got similar attention for his order in January raising the minimum wage for new federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. So it’s a little odd that the latest executive order in this bunch has gone virtually ignored even though it packs the biggest punch. “This is one of the most important positive steps for civil rights in the last 20 years,” Paul Bland, executive director of Public Justice, says of the July 31 order. The employer-side law firm Littler Mendelson calls it “the most sweeping order to date” that the Obama administration has aimed at federal contractors. The trade group Associated Builders and Contractors is “strongly opposed” and says the order could create a federal contractor “blacklist.”




► From ESPN — Judge rules against NCAA — Major college football and men’s basketball student-athletes could be in line for paydays worth thousands of dollars once they leave school after a landmark ruling Friday that might change the way the NCAA does business. A federal judge ruled that the NCAA can’t stop players from selling the rights to their names, images and likenesses, striking down NCAA regulations that prohibit players from getting anything other than scholarships and the cost of attendance at schools.

emmert-mark► At Politico — NCAA President: We will appeal — NCAA President Mark Emmert said on Sunday the association will appeal last week’s decision by a federal judge that student athletes can share in profits from broadcast and other media contracts.

EDITOR’S NOTE — And so, the man once dubbed “the Ichiro of higher education” (?!) at the University of Washington continues to defend the life of privileged entitlement he has always led. This One-Percenter had no problem cashing in on his lofty public position and supplementing his million-dollar salary — collected at a time the state was broke and he was raising students’ tuition by 14% a year — with paid positions on multiple corporate boards. But an unpaid NCAA player who is generating millions of revenue for his school has his name and likeness used in a video game without his permission, and without compensation, and that’s just fine by Emmert.

► At Huffington Post — Ralph Lauren under fire for refusing to sign worker safety pact — Activists are rallying against the clothing company Ralph Lauren for its staunch refusal to sign an international agreement that seeks to improve conditions for factory workers in Bangladesh, one of the world’s biggest clothing suppliers. More than 180 companies have signed the accord, including one of Ralph Lauren’s chief rivals, PVH, which owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. The agreement is a binding contract that aims to improve governance and inspections at Bangladesh apparel factories.

► From AP — Judge says tech workers’ $324.5 million settlement with Intel, Apple and Google is too small — A federal judge rejected as too low a $324.5 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit alleging Intel, Google and Apple conspired with several other technology companies to block their top workers from getting better job offers.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Golden Gate Bridge workers trying to bridge the gap, but management balking — The 450 workers in the 13 unions that comprise the Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition have authorized a strike if a new agreement cannot be reached. They have been working without a contract since July 1.

► In today’s NY Times — Phosphorous and freedom: The Libertarians’ fantasy (by Paul Krugman) — Before you rage against unwarranted government interference in your life, you might want to ask why the government is interfering. Often — not always, of course, but far more often than the free-market faithful would have you believe — there is, in fact, a good reason for the government to get involved. Just ask the people of Toledo who can no longer drink their water.




► At AFL-CIO Now — AFGE stands in solidarity with Postal Workers’ boycott of Staples — Check out this new Staples boycott solidarity video above from AFGE about how Staples and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) are threatening good jobs and replacing experienced, uniformed postal workers who are accountable to the American people with low-wage, high-turnover employees who have little training and who are not qualified to handle the U.S. mail.


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