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Port fingers, Obama orders, SCOTUS power grabs, heckuva song…

Friday, November 14, 2014




► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — Ports to unions and its employer: stop finger pointing and get back to work — Contract negotiations between the ILWU and the PMA turned ugly at the beginning of November when the PMA sent out a press release blaming the union workers for slowdowns at the ports. The ILWU responded by calling the allegations “bold-faced lies” and saying any slow downs have been caused by problems in the maritime shipping industry, not the union.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle takes aim at wage theft; first 3 years of law came up empty — The abrupt closure of Paseo this week amid news that the popular Seattle restaurant is being sued by former workers set sandwich-loving tongues wagging about wage theft, a problem local officials have been struggling to address for years. Seattle made wage theft a crime under city law in 2011, vowing to go after employers that intentionally cheat workers out of pay. But more than three years later, the Seattle Police Department and City Attorney’s Office have yet to prosecute anyone. “It’s been frustrating,” said Cariño Talancón, organizer at Casa Latina, a nonprofit that advocates for low-wage and immigrant workers and that helped craft the law. The City Council on Friday will consider a number of budget actions meant to strengthen Seattle’s hand against wage thieves.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Day after closing, Paseo files for bankruptcy

► At PubliCola — Seattle City Council set to trump mayor on city $15 — City council members Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien are co-sponsoring a budget amendment that would fund the salary boosts for the lowest-paid city employees to $15 in the 2015 budget (as opposed to 2017 in the mayor’s plan). It would cost about $1 million for about 700 low-wage workers.

► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — Two Boeing contract workers injured on Everett line — One worker was airlifted to a nearby hospital and another was treated at the scene and then transported to the hospital.

oly-career-day-puyallup► In today’s Olympian — Hundreds of South Sound teens get first-hand look at hard-hat careers — More than 2,000 students put their hands on everything from hammers to jackhammers at a career day held Thursday at the fairgrounds in Puyallup. “We saw a need to start recruiting young people into skilled trades,” said Mark Martinez of the Pierce County Building and Construction Trades Council. “These kinds of careers aren’t overly exposed in high schools.”

► MUST-READ in today’s Oregonian — Amanda Schroeder: Union official couldn’t get leave OK’d before cancer surgery — “I’m really emotional,” said Schroeder, an Army veteran and VA employee who was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I am still covered (by) insurance, no thanks to the agency, but great, great thanks to my union.”




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Roadwork lies ahead to keep jobs in county, state (editorial) — We are, however, fully behind Keep Washington Competitive coalition’s push for a transportation package that addresses current weaknesses in moving supplies, goods and services, not to mention commuters. Larry Brown of IAM 751, a member of the coalition, painted the need for transportation improvements starkly. “We landed the 777X project and gave up our pensions to do it,” he said. Without an investment in transportation, there’s less incentive for Boeing to build its next plane here. “We don’t have any more pensions to give away.”

► In today’s Columbian — State school board chief: New revenue essential to McCleary — The Washington State Board of Education doesn’t see a way to fully fund K-12 schools without finding new sources of state revenue. Said its executive director, Ben Rarick: “We reject the idea that we can rely on revenue growth for funding. New revenue is going to have to be part of the picture. If the Legislature is not considering some new form of revenue, they’re going to have real challenges.”

► In today’s Olympian — Community colleges buoy our education goals (editorial) — It won’t be easy to balance the needs of early education, K-12 and higher education, while also funding roads, social services, mental health and the environment. But budget writers must keep in mind the growing importance of community colleges to the state’s educational goals.




► In today’s News Tribune — Republican Dan Griffey claims victory over Rep. Kathy Haigh — Haigh, an eight-term Democrat and veterinarian from Shelton, called Griffey to congratulate him Thursday morning after another count of ballots in Thurston County left her 512 votes behind and unlikely to catch up.




immigration-rally► In today’s NY Times — Obama plan may allow millions of immigrants to stay, work in U.S. — The president will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million unauthorized immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials.

► From Reuters — Boehner won’t rule out government shutdown fight on immigration — Republican House Speaker John Boehner said “all options are on the table” to thwart an Obama immigration order.

► In today’s NY Times — Big and bold on immigration (editorial) — President Obama could use his law-enforcement discretion to spare millions from deportation. The sooner he acts, the better.

► From Reuters — U.S. Capitol workers, others strike for higher pay, union — Hundreds of striking federal contract workers, including for the first time some from the U.S. Capitol, rallied on Thursday to urge President Barack Obama to boost pay and spur unionization.

► At Huffington Post — More than the minimum: Obama’s next executive action (by Robert Borosage) — On Thursday, several hundred low-wage federal contract employees walked off their jobs in the nation’s capitol, telling President Obama that “$10.10 is not enough.” These workers are calling for a Good Jobs Executive Order that would give preference in government procurement to good employers that (1) pay their employees a living wage of $15.00 an hour, (2) offer good American benefits, including paid sick days, and (3) respect their employees’ right to organize and bargain collectively to gain a fair share of the profits and productivity they help to create.

► MUST-READ in the NY Times —Law in the Raw (by Linda Greenhouse) — Nearly a week has gone by since the Supreme Court’s unexpected decision to enlist in the latest effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act, and the shock remains unabated… This is a naked power grab by conservative justices who two years ago just missed killing the Affordable Care Act in its cradle, before it fully took effect… It bears repeating that what’s at stake is whether the Affordable Care Act can continue on its successful trajectory or whether it will collapse into the “death spiral” it was structured to avoid… (This case’s) arrival on the Supreme Court’s docket is also profoundly depressing. In decades of court-watching, I have struggled — sometimes it has seemed against all odds — to maintain the belief that the Supreme Court really is a court and not just a collection of politicians in robes. This past week, I’ve found myself struggling against the impulse to say two words: I surrender.




massey-ceo-blankenship► In today’s NY Times — Ex-executive Donald Blankenship is indicted in coal mine disaster — The former chief executive of the company involved in the nation’s worst coal mine disaster in 40 years, in which 29 men died in West Virginia in 2010, was charged on Thursday with widespread violations of safety rules and deceiving federal inspectors. Donald Blankenship, who retired from Massey Energy shortly after the disaster, is well known in the state, where he has donated to conservative political candidates, even as victims’ families have called for his prosecution. Said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV): “As he goes to trial, he will be treated far fairer and with more dignity than he ever treated the miners he employed. And, frankly, it’s more than he deserves.”

► At AFL-CIO Now — Walmart workers stage a sit-down at L.A. store (video)

► At — Police in riot gear arrest California Walmart workers during sit-in over wages, firings — One woman told a reporter she was willing to get arrested over of what she called “retaliation” against her fellow workers. Said Denise: “We have a lot of associates who spoke up and were fired, and we need to stop it.” Asked why she was risking arrest she said, “I have two sons and it’s their future that I’m concerned about, mainly. Walmart is setting the trend for all companies. If we don’t change it now, the future of our youth is in dire straits.”

► At AFL-CIO Now — Hey, Walmart, want to fix those sales problems? Why not invest in workers? — A recently leaked memo by a Walmart manager urged store managers to improve lagging sales, primarily through addressing problems with understocked shelves and with keeping fresh meat, dairy and produce stocked and aging or expired items off the shelves. While the memo catalogs problems the company faces, it ignores the two most obvious solutions — giving workers adequate hours and paying those workers the $15 living wage they’ve been calling for.

lampert-ceo-sears-kmart► At Think Progress — Daughter petitions Kmart not to make her mother work on Thanksgiving — Jillian Fisher’s mother has worked at Kmart for 21 years. But her mother still doesn’t know if she’s going to be told to work on Thanksgiving this year, even with the holiday two weeks away. If she does, it would ruin her one annual chance to spend time with her siblings and family. Jillian has launched an online petition asking Kmart not to stay open for 42 hours beginning at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, or to at least give those employees who want to stay home with friends and family the flexibility to do so.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Well, what are you waiting for? Sign it!

 ► From Reuters — Americans are quitting their jobs more, and that’s a good thing — Americans quit their jobs in September at the fastest rate in over six years. “It’s definitely good for wages,” says one economist.




► The Entire Staff of The Stand™ considers Randy Newman to be one of our nation’s greatest living songwriters. Before he became primarily a film composer, Newman wrote many brilliant, brave songs filled with social and political commentary about everything from American greed to racism. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this 1974 song about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 became something of an anthem. When Newman describes President Coolidge arriving on the scene with a “fat man with a notepad in his hand” (then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover), one can’t help but recall President George W. Bush and “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.” Performed here with a full orchestra, this song is poignant and beautiful. Enjoy.

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