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Amazon settles, GOP preps, overtime pay disappears…

Wednesday, November 19, 2014




bloom-amazon-nlrb-deal► From Bloomberg — Amazon worker forces changes as NLRB settles claim —  Amazon Inc. agreed to change some of the rules for workers at the web retailer’s warehouses in the U.S. so that employees can communicate about pay and working conditions without fear of retaliation. The deal could open the door for Amazon’s workers to unionize, because the settlement requires the online retailer to post notices at its fulfillment centers notifying employees that they have the right to form unions and work with each other for collective benefits. Amazon has faced criticism for conditions faced by workers in its more than 40 facilities around the country, and the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a separate case on whether workers at Amazon’s warehouses must be paid for time spent undergoing post-shift security searches.

► In today’s News Tribune — 8 hospitals in Washington, including Tacoma General, designated to treat Ebola patients — They are Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, Tacoma General Hospital, Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Spokane, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Swedish Medical Center in Issaquah, Virginia Mason Hospital, and UW Medicine (Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center, Valley Medical Center).

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima, Union Gap will merge fire services — Under the plan, Union Gap would pay the city roughly $1.2 million annually under a three-year deal and its nine firefighters would effectively become Yakima employees.

► In today’s Columbian — Human trafficking summit planned — A summit aimed at addressing domestic violence and human trafficking in Washington is scheduled to take place in Vancouver in January. The National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation is presenting the No More summit Jan. 17 at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.




sharing-is-caring► In today’s (Everett) Herald — State Republicans prepping for 2015 — When Republican state senators gather Wednesday for the first time since securing a majority, they likely will begin crafting a strategy on education and transportation for the 2015 legislative session. But they also are certain to discuss what to call their caucus, who will lead it and whether it will continue to share power with Democrats on committees. Those internal matters aren’t scheduled to be acted on until next month. But they could get decided when Republicans meet privately in Chehalis on Wednesday and in Olympia on Thursday following an election in which the GOP gained a 25th member and outright control of the chamber.

► From AP — State taking action to protect Hanford workers from vapors — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has called a news conference Wednesday in Seattle to announce action to protect cleanup workers from hazardous vapors at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Lawmakers voice anger with insurance exchange’s technical troubles — “It’s very hard to understand why the IT system continues to fail,” Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, told officials from Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the online insurance marketplace. “It’s just mind-boggling. With as much money as we have spent on this to not have it work is just not acceptable.”




lobbyists► In today’s NY Times — It’s crunch time in Congress for tax breaks — Tax breaks are facing intense scrutiny as the 113th Congress, with only a handful of days left in its legislative life span, decides whether or not to renew 56 tax provisions set to expire. A growing group of lawmakers say many, if not most, of them are little more than special-interest spending “earmarks” by another name: “tax expenditures” that are kept alive by well-heeled lobbyists for their well-funded clients.

► From AP — Pension insurer ran record $62 billion deficitThe deficit run up by the federal agency that insures pensions for about 41 million Americans has nearly doubled, to $62 billion. And the agency says that without changes, its program for pension plans covering 10 million of those workers will be insolvent within 10 to 15 years.

► In today’s Washington Post — Social Security advocates fear more cuts in staff and service — In advance of feared Republican budget cuts, Social Security advocates gathered on Capitol Hill to ward off more hits to a basic federal program that serves nearly all American families.

atm► In today’s NY Times — Republicans sure love to hate unions (by Thomas Edsall) — A paradox of American politics is that Republicans take organized labor more seriously than Democrats do. The right sees unions as a mainstay of the left, a crucial source of cash, campaign manpower and votes. Democrats are happy to get labor’s votes and money, but they have done little to revitalize the besieged movement. “The unions basically have become an A.T.M. for Democrats,” Steve Rosenthal, a former AFL-CIO political director told me. “There is a sense of taking unions for granted, no place else to go, don’t need to do much for them.”

► In today’s NY Times — Obama’s immigration order unlikely to include health benefits — Millions of undocumented immigrants who are set to be granted a form of legal status by President Obama as early as this week will not receive one key benefit: government subsidies for health care available under the Affordable Care Act.

► In today’s NY Times — Deportation relief for young immigrants may not include parents




president-ford-overtime-pay► At Politico — Whatever happened to overtime? (by Nick Hanauer) — Adjusted for inflation, average salaries have actually dropped since the early 1970s, while hours for full-time workers have steadily climbed. So what’s changed since the 1960s and ’70s? Overtime pay, in part. Your parents got a lot of it, and you don’t. In 1975, more than 65% of salaried American workers earned time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week. Not because capitalists back then were more generous, but because it was the law. It still is the law, except that the value of the threshold for overtime pay — the salary level at which employers are required to pay overtime — has been allowed to erode to less than the poverty line for a family of four today. Only workers earning an annual income of under $23,660 qualify for mandatory overtime. You know many people like that? Probably not. By 2013, just 11 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay… These are rules that President Barack Obama has the power to change with the stroke of a pen, and with no prior congressional approval.


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