Monday, September 8, 2014
► MUST-READ at Huffington Post — A really good reason to oppose the next ‘trade’ deals (by SPEEA’s Stan Sorscher) — NAFTA’s legal process helps global companies enforce certain provisions in the agreement in a process called “investor-state dispute settlement,” or ISDS… Trade tribunals are not courts. They don’t have judges. Trade lawyers render decisions. They are not accountable to any political body. The proceedings are secret. Complaints are brought by corporations; all defendants are countries. Decisions reflect global investor rights, as written into NAFTA-style trade deals. Since public interest and public good are subordinated in the trade deals, people and the planet take a distant second place in decisions rendered by the trade tribunals… This is a system designed to work for the 1% and to subordinate the interests of most of the people we know. These deals are purposefully designed to determine how life will be organized in 2050… If TPP, TTIP and other bad trade deals go into effect, they will lock in global standards for generations, with no practical process to modify, amend or repeal them.
► In the Washington Post — Raising the minimum wage without raising havoc (by Dana Milbank) — As fast-food workers demonstrate nationwide for a $15 hourly wage, and congressional Republicans fight off a $10 federal minimum, little SeaTac has something to offer the debate. Its neighbor, Seattle, was the first big city to approve a $15 wage, this spring, but that doesn’t start phasing in until next year. SeaTac did it all at once. And, though there’s nothing definitive, this much is clear: The sky did not fall.
► At Vice.com — America’s union-busting conservatives are going local — A report released last week by the conservative Heritage Foundation lays out the basic vision: Localities across the country should “experiment” with local right-to-work territories. The authors forecast that such laws could provoke a legal challenge ending up in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, which they expect to uphold the right of cities and counties to determine the fate of their unions.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The cities in Washington targeted by the Tom McCabe’s right-wing Freedom Foundation for this costly legal battle are Chelan, Sequim and Shelton. The legal fight has already begun and the costs will begin accumulating for those cities. Precious city tax dollars, which should be going to provide local services, will instead be spent in court defending against the Freedom Foundation’s misguided and politically driven courtroom assault against city employees and their unions.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Ryanair orders 100 Boeing 737 MAX jets, options 100 more — Europe’s largest discount carrier placed a firm order for 100 aircraft and added options for the same amount of the narrow-body plane, which will feature upgraded engines, wings and 197 seats, it said.
► At KPLU — Tentative contract for home-care workers would give them $14 per hour in two years — SEIU Local 775, which represents about 33,000 independent home care workers in Washington, says it has reached a tentative contract with the state that would boost their average hourly pay to more than $14 by the beginning of 2017.
► In the News Tribune — Washington state a leader in fighting payroll fraud, but problems still occur — A drywall contractor from Seattle recently pleaded guilty to crimes that state labor officials say are far too common in Washington: failing to pay workers the government-mandated prevailing wage, and misclassifying workers as independent contractors to evade taxes and other labor costs.
► In the Columbian — Should there be a law protecting the long-term unemployed? — Some cities, states and President Obama have sought to help long-term unemployed people, who they say shouldn’t be passed over for jobs because their résumés show an employment gap. But it hasn’t been easy. The Washington Legislature has not taken up the issue of discrimination against the long-term unemployed in the job search and recruitment process.
► In the Columbian — Transportation plan draft hits the road — In 20 years, a larger economy and a larger population figure to put an even bigger strain on Washington’s highways, roads and rails. An ongoing update to a statewide transportation plan aims to help answer the question: How will the state’s already-aging infrastructure keep up? The Washington Transportation Plan 2035, now the subject of public review, is the latest version of the state’s long-term vision.
► In the Olympian — State workers say they were punished for blowing whistle on prison violence stats — Two state employees say they were demoted after exposing skewed statistics about an effort to reduce prison violence.
► From AP — Court gives state more time on ‘psychiatric boarding’ ban — The Washington Supreme Court on Friday unanimously agreed to give the state 120 more days to find beds in psychiatric hospitals for mentally ill patients who have been involuntarily committed because they were a danger to themselves or others.
► In today’s News Tribune — School funding needs a super-session in Olympia (editorial) — There is an underlying bipartisan consensus to move billions of dollars more into schools. It’s all a matter of how to do the moving.
► In the Seattle Times — Past time for new colleges in this state (by Danny Westneat) — Remember a few years ago when there was so much demand on the state’s college system that we needed to build the equivalent of a new University of Washington just to keep up? Well, that has changed. Now we need two… As if on cue, two of the best sites you could possibly imagine for new colleges in our area have miraculously become available: Weyerhaeuser’s 800,000-square-foot office and research complex on 420 acres just off I-5 in Federal Way and the Amgen Helix campus in the Interbay neighborhood in Seattle.
► In the NY Times — Obama delays immigration action, yielding to Democratic concerns — President Obama will delay taking executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections, bowing to pressure from fellow Democrats who feared that acting now could doom his party’s chances this fall, White House officials said on Saturday.
► In the Washington Post — Obama’s immigration delay infuriates Latinos, activists — Some called it “an affront.” One activist said that “for Obama, politics comes before Latino lives.”
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Obama should act on immigration reform (by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka)
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Snohomish County jail changes deportation policy — The Snohomish County Jail has joined a growing number of lockups across the state and country that no longer are holding inmates for possible deportation at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
► In today’s News Tribune — Detainee’s wife mounts hunger strike to support her husband — Veronica Noriega is coming to the end of a week-long hunger strike outside Tacoma’s federal immigration detention center, in advance of her husband’s deportation hearing Tuesday.
► In today’s NY Times — Some retail workers find better deal with unions — Meet Macy’s associate Debra Ryan. She knows her schedule three weeks in advance. She works full time and her hours are guaranteed. She has never been sent home without pay because the weather was bad or too few customers showed up for a Labor Day sale on 300-thread-count sheets. This is no fantasy. This is real life, in the heart of New York. “I’m able to pay my rent, thank God, and go on vacation, at least once a year,” Ryan said. “There’s a sense of security.” So what makes this Macy’s store so different? Its employees are represented by a union, which has insisted on stability in scheduling for its members.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Work retail in Washington state? Find out what a union can do for you! Contact UFCW Local 21 in King County and most of Western Washington (except Pierce, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Mason, Thurston, and Pacific counties, where you can contact UFCW Local 367), or UFCW Local 1439 in Eastern Washington.
► In the S.F. Chronicle — ‘Retail Workers Bill of Rights’ gains traction in San Francisco — Some business owners are joining workers’ advocates to support a proposed city law is designed to make life easier for hourly, low-wage workers at the city’s 1,250 chain-store locations, including retail and fast-food businesses, hotel chains and banks, by discouraging on-call scheduling and encouraging access to full-time hours.
► In the Indianapolis Star — Right-to-work law: Now in the hands of Indiana Supreme Court — The battle over Indiana’s controversial right-to-work law is now in the hands of five Indiana Supreme Court justices who heard arguments Thursday to try to convince them to uphold it or to declare it unconstitutional.
► In the Tennessean — AFL-CIO seeks to unionize Tennessee farmworkers — Prompted by concerns about the conditions faced by Tennessee tobacco workers, the farm labor organizing arm of the AFL-CIO is coming to Tennessee later this month and plans a full union membership campaign by next summer.
► In the NY Times — Just 13, and working risky 12-hour shifts in the tobacco fields — Public health experts say hundreds of children under 16 continue to work in America’s tobacco fields, where they are exposed to harmful chemicals like nicotine.
► At TPM — GOP’s Obamacare nightmare is coming true: It’s working — The politics of the health care law have undergone a sea change since its disastrous rollout last fall, when many conservative operatives were salivating at the prospect of a GOP wave in the midterm elections due to an Obamacare “train wreck.” But the train never wrecked. The law rebounded, surpassing its signups goal and withstanding a flurry of attacks. The issue seems to have mostly lost its power as a weapon against Democrats, and a growing number of Republican governors — even in conservative states — are warming to a core component of Obamacare, the Medicaid expansion.
► From Reuters — America’s wealth gap unsustainable, according to Harvard study — The widening gap between America’s wealthiest and its middle and lower classes is “unsustainable”, but is unlikely to improve any time soon, according to a Harvard Business School study released on Monday.
► From AP — About that raise… U.S. execs feeling tight-fisted — The corporate executives who decide whether U.S. workers get meaningful raises have a message: Don’t expect one anytime soon. And if you’re counting on a full-time job offer in the future, your prospects may be dimming. That’s the future that many U.S. executives envision.
► At Think Progress — Workers get lowest share of income since 1950 — In 2013, the share of corporate income that trickles down to workers hit its lowest point since 1950, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute. Corporate income, which makes up about three-quarters of all private sector income in the country, can either go to employees or the owners of companies, and last year just under 73 percent went to employees, the lowest point in more than six decades. Workers aren’t earning less because they’re slacking off — just the opposite. Their productivity increased 8 percent between 2007 and 2012 while their wages actually fell, a trend that has been going on since at least 1979. And they’ve been speeding up since the recession, increasing their productivity last summer at the fastest pace since 2009. The productivity has helped out corporations. They saw record high profits last year, rising to $1.68 trillion, and they have been rising steadily for some time, more than fully recovering what they lost to the financial crisis. Yet workers are getting little of that money.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.