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Quiet raises, Time vs. teachers, poor FedEx…

Monday, October 27, 2014




dr-evil-bag-of-shh► In today’s Olympian — Nearly half of the middle-manager class in state government got raises last year — Pay for thousands of nonunion state government employees went up in the last year, well before September’s ratification of two dozen labor contracts promising the first general wage adjustments for union members in six years. General government agencies quietly gave raises of more than 4 percent last year to 2,151 middle managers. The raises began after the Legislature’s formal freeze on pay was lifted effective July 1, 2013.




nelp-delivering-15► At — It takes a village to enforce fair wage laws (by Rebecca Smith) — Seattle made history in June when it became the first major city in America to pass a livable minimum wage of $15 an hour. Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and other cities around the country are taking steps in that direction, too. But winning a robust minimum wage is only half of the battle. Last month, Seattle again made history when Mayor Ed Murray announced the creation of a citywide Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to enforce its minimum wage law and other labor standards. A key feature of the new division is that it utilizes community groups as partners in outreach and to educate workers about their rights.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Community groups needed for $15 enforcement, report finds

► In the P.S. Business Journal — The world’s largest building — the Boeing plant in Everett — is about to get even bigger — It’s already the world’s largest building by volume, and a 200,000-square-foot addition will add 22.68 million cubic feet of space.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Sacred Heart to lay off 90 as Inland assumes X-ray, scanning services — About 90 employees of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center will lose their jobs after radiology provider Inland Imaging announced it will take over X-ray and scanning services at the area’s largest hospital.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Eastside race one that could determine state Senate control — The race between Republican freshman Sen. Andy Hill and democratic challenger Matt Isenhower is one of a handful that could determine which party controls the state Senate, and has become this year’s most expensive legislative contest, with over $1 million raised between the two candidates.

► In today’s News Tribune — Republicans lead in Senate spending as money gravitates to battlegrounds — Republicans and their allies are outspending their rivals in the contest to control the Washington state Senate. Democrats may have the most generous ally, California billionaire Tom Steyer, but the other side has kept up with help from hundreds of thousands of dollars each from real estate agents, homebuilders and a national GOP group.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Washington earns praise for political engagement — SmartAsset, a financial services group, lauding Washington for being one of the 10 most “politically engaged” states in the nation, according to its metrics. This comes at a time when the hard data suggests that Washington voters may be thinking about breaking off that engagement.

peach-state-disposal2► At ThinkProgress — 50,000 voter registrations have mysteriously vanished, could determine control of U.S. Senate — Earlier this year, organizers fanned out across nearly every one of Georgia’s 159 counties and registered nearly 90 thousand people who have never voted in their lives, most of them people of color, many of them under 25 years old. But when the groups checked back in late August, comparing their registration database to the state’s public one, they noticed about 50,000 of the registrations had vanished, nearly all of them belonging to people of color in the Democratic-leaning regions around Atlanta, Savannah and Columbus.

► At ThinkProgress — Poll workers are already seeing fallout from Texas’ strict Voter ID law — A 93-year-old veteran who was turned away was a registered voter, but his driver’s license had been expired for a few years. Although he had “all sorts” of other identification cards with his picture on it, they weren’t valid under the law — so he was told he had to leave and renew his license. “He just felt real bad, you know, because he’s voted all his life,” said the judge.

► In the Daily Beast — The only way for Democrats to win (by Jonathan Alter) — The voters Democrats are in trouble with are white non-college educated blue-collar workers who are often unemployed, and whose friends have crappy jobs in the service sector or mid-level positions in office parks. These mostly male voters — the ones poised to turn the Senate Republican by rejecting anyone with a “D” after their name — don’t care much about the minimum wage, but many of them sure would like a new job.




time-rotten-apples► At AFL-CIO Now — Time magazine attacks teachers — The cover of Time magazine’s forthcoming Nov. 3 issue shows a pretty significant misunderstanding of an important issue when it attacks teachers, blaming them for the problems in America’s schools. AFT is calling the magazine to task for the cover and has launched a petition demanding that Time apologize for the cover. AFT notes that the cover doesn’t reflect the content of the issue, which presents a more balanced view of the issue, and instead represents the agenda of wealthy interests who want to take due process away from teachers. Millions of Americans will not read the more even-handed coverage inside the magazine and will be misled by the cover.

► In the Washington Post — A Time magazine cover enrages teachers — again — Time magazine has done it again: It published a cover that has enraged teachers around the country, triggering protesting e-mails and tweets, a petition demanding an apology, and a call for a boycott.

► In today’s NY Times — Is the Affordable Care Act working? — After a year fully in place, the Affordable Care Act has largely succeeded in delivering on President Obama’s main promises, an analysis by a team of reporters and data researchers shows. But it has also fallen short in some ways and given rise to a powerful conservative backlash.

nyt-aca-is-it-working► In today’s NY Times — ACA a perfect fit for some, but not for others — For the past year, The New York Times has asked readers to share their experiences purchasing and using health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Here is a selection of their stories, written by Times journalists, from some of those submissions.

► At ThinkProgress — South Dakota’s minimum wage workers are eating at soup kitchens — but they could get a raise soon — Two weeks before South Dakotans vote on a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50, low-wage workers eating at The Banquet, a downtown Sioux Falls soup kitchen, told ThinkProgress that the additional $1.25 per hour will go a long way, especially given the state’s fairly low cost of living.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Amazon workers in Germany on strike again — For more than a year, the union has pushed for higher pay, arguing Amazon workers receive lower wages. Amazon says its distribution warehouses in Germany are “logistics centers” and employees earn relatively high wages for that industry.




wiki-fedex-front► In the Washington Post — How FedEx is trying to save the business model that saved it billions — The arrangement, known as the “independent service provider” model, represents FedEx’s creative effort to maintain control over its workers while avoiding the cost of employing them directly. It’s essentially a version of subcontracting, which has proliferated through industries from logistics to construction to manufacturing in today’s changing economy. It’s another sign of the declining quality of the full-time, salaried job in America — fit for an age when temporary staffing agencies supply labor to run warehouses and package goods, Internet start-ups call themselves “platforms” for house cleaners and limo drivers to connect with customers, and airports outsource cleaning and maintenance to the firm with the lowest bid. The strategy has been a boon for business — and has even benefited many customers, by leading to lower costs — but it has also undermined unions and depressed wages.

Now, however, judges and regulators are starting to look more critically at these relationships. In the fast-food world, the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel has determined that some big companies share responsibility with their franchisees for labor violations. The Labor Department has been aggressively pursuing companies that it says misclassify employees as independent contractors. In FedEx’s case, courts in several states, including California and Massachusetts, have told the company that its strategy of treating drivers as independent contractors doesn’t fly, prompting the shift to the independent service provider model. Now, at least one court has questioned whether even this new model passes muster.


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