Tuesday, November 18, 2014
► In today’s News Tribune — About 1,100 employees of Tacoma’s CHI Franciscan Health system go on 24-hour strike — Dozens of CHI Franciscan Health employees marched a picket line this morning at St. Joseph Medical Center and St. Clare Hospital, part of a 24-hour strike called during contentious contract negotiations. For the approximately 800 workers at St. Joe’s, the contract negotiations have gone on for more than a year. Workers at St. Clare have been negotiating since June.
EDITOR’S NOTE — RALLY TODAY at 4 p.m. to support these workers! Get details.
► In the Capital Press — Sakuma settles pay claims, shifts attention to Supreme Court — A federal judge Friday approved a settlement that will net 408 current and former Sakuma Brothers farmworkers an average of $1,221.30 in back pay. Attorneys for the workers say it’s the largest class-action settlement for farmworkers ever in Washington. The lawsuit’s largest ramification may be yet to come, however. The sides left unresolved whether going forward piece-rate workers will be paid for 10-minute rest breaks, which under Washington law workers are allowed to take every four hours. The Washington Supreme Court has agreed to take on the issue during its upcoming winter term.
► From KUOW — Bathrooms, not benefits, biggest issue for Metro drivers — ATU 587 President Paul Bachtel says access to bathrooms is “probably the most significant issue [for the union right now]. It’s much greater than wages, or benefits. It’s a working issues condition and it’s the number one cry of unfairness from our transit operators at this point in time.”
► In today’s News Tribune — Lakewood council approves budget that includes staff layoffs — The Lakewood City Council approved its $34 million biennial budget Monday night, sealing the fate of 12 employees who will lose their jobs at the end of the year.
► In today’s Seattle Times — King County Council delays layoffs of public defenders — King County’s Department of Public Defense would lose 40 positions under a new two-year budget approved Monday, but a late change means the reductions won’t happen before April and opens the door for possible reversal of the cutback.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Snohomish council’s budget rolls back some pay hikes — Snohomish County Council chairman Dave Somers unveiled a 2015 budget plan Monday that rolls back some management-level pay hikes and sets aside some taxes for a future courthouse.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Everett port feels ripples of West Coast labor dispute — The tense labor relations that have slowed work in recent weeks at many West Coast ports have not affected Everett’s waterfront, according to port officials.
► In today’s Columbian — Tough options for lawmakers on class sizes — Vancouver Rep. Jim Moeller, one of the more liberal Democrats in the state House, told his colleagues a measure to reduce class sizes would create “nothing but problems.” The state is about to find out if Moeller is right. “I’m not so sure we’ll find the money. In fact, I’m pretty sure we won’t find the money,” said Moeller, the House speaker pro-tem.
► In today’s News Tribune — Democrats will nominate candidates Dec. 1 to replace Roger Freeman — Announced candidates to replace him are local party officer Richard Champion and former legislative candidates Roger Flygare and Shari Song, with Federal Way School Board President Carol Gregory among those considering seeking the job.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Insurance boss Kreidler on the future of health-care reform — Kreidler is undeniably a supporter of the health-care overhaul, but that hasn’t stopped him from publicly raising concerns about technology problems plaguing the state’s online insurance exchange… “I’m pleased with the success the exchange has had,” he said. “We’re still doing much better than anyplace else in the country. We’re doing remarkably well.”
► In today’s NY Times — ACA recasts insurers as Obama allies — As Americans shop in the health insurance marketplace for a second year, President Obama is depending more than ever on the insurance companies that five years ago he accused of padding profits and canceling coverage for the sick.
► From Reuters — Seven big U.S. corporations paid more to their CEOs than to the IRS — Amid talk in Washington about corporate tax reform, the study said the seven companies, which in 2013 reported more than $74 billion in combined U.S. pre-tax profits, came out ahead on their taxes, gaining $1.9 billion more than they owed. At the same time, the CEOs at each of the seven companies last year was paid an average of $17.3 million, says a new study. The seven companies cited were Boeing Co, Ford Motor Co, Chevron Corp, Citigroup Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and General Motors Co.
► At Huffington Post — And now the richest .01 percent (by Robert Reich) — In the 2012 election cycle (the last for which we have good data), donations from the top .01 accounted for over 40% of all campaign contributions. This is a huge increase from 1980, when the top .01 accounted for 10%. All this money has flowed to Democrats as well as Republicans. In fact, Democrats have increasingly relied on it. In the 2012 election cycle, the top .01 percent’s donations to Democrats were more than four times larger than all labor union donations to Democrats put together.
EDITOR’S NOTE — And to come full circle — while also explaining a big reason why uninspiring Democrats helped create the weakest voter turnout in more than 70 years — we give you this…
► Today in The Hill — Democrats press Obama to wait on immigration executive action — Senate Democrats want him to wait to give them time to pass an omnibus spending bill and other legislative priorities in the lame-duck session that is just now ramping up. But delaying the action, even for a few weeks, could make Obama look weak and inflame immigration advocates who are already furious with him for holding back until after the midterm elections.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — VA reforms encouraging, but more changes needed (editorial) — From a system with more than 300,000 employees, it will take a lot more than a handful of firings to convince the nation’s 22 million veterans – and taxpayers footing a $154 billion budget – that an ailing health care system is finally getting the medicine it needs.
► At Think Progress — California tells court it can’t release inmates because it would lose cheap prison labor — Out of California’s years-long litigation over reducing the population of prisons deemed unconstitutionally overcrowded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, another obstacle to addressing the U.S. epidemic of mass incarceration has emerged: The utility of cheap prison labor.
► At Politico — Trading up? — Looking ahead to the next Congress, Republicans on Capitol Hill see trade as one issue where they actually, maybe, possibly might be able to compromise with the White House. In fact, it’s many of Obama’s fellow Democrats who have expressed opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which, if signed, would bring the United States into a new economic pact with 11 Asia-Pacific countries. (“NAFTA on steroids,” some have called it, and not admiringly.) While the politics of the potential deal remain uncertain, the scale of it is clear: huge. The stakes are high, and the potential enormous. Politico Magazine asked leading thinkers around the country to tell us the biggest unintended consequence of the agreement — whether the implications for 2016 presidential politics, domestic reform in China or marine fisheries — and here’s what they told us…
EDITOR’S NOTE — What does this mean for working families in America and in Washington state? Find out, and help support the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, by attending its annual breakfast fundraiser tomorrow (Wednesday, Nov. 19) at IAM District Lodge 751 at 9125 15th Pl. S. in Seattle from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Get details.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.