Monday, December 8, 2014
► At Slog — We can’t address climate change without addressing income inequality (by De’Sean Quinn and Remy Trupin) — In the near future, Governor Jay Inslee will propose major legislation to combat global warming at the state level. His action recognizes that climate change is one of the two biggest threats to Washington State’s ability to deliver on the promise of a better future for our kids and grandkids, the other being growing economic inequality. The two are inextricably linked. How we address global warming will have a major impact on the economic well-being of generations to come. At the same time, whatever promises we want to make to our kids run through the intersection of climate change and income inequality. This means the fight to address climate change and income inequality simultaneously is as fundamental as our fights for a world-class public education and quality jobs.
► In the Olympian — Inslee’s budget office declares raises in state employee contracts to be ‘financially feasible’ — Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget office on Friday certified that more than $583 million in labor contract agreements for 2015-17 are financially “feasible.” That determination frees Inslee to include the contracts in his proposed two-year budget, which is due for public release during the week of Dec. 15.
► At WFSE.org — New groups of DOT, UW members win a voice at work — After months of signing union cards and talking with the Federation, about 120 non-permanent employees st DOT will be added to the union’s Highway Maintenance Bargaining Unit, and four library archive paraprofessionals in the UW’s Botanic Garden Library who all signed cards saying “Union YES!” have won contract rights.
► In today’s Olympian — One county jail offers relief for state prison overcrowding — State prisons have inmates sleeping on the floor. County jails have lots of empty cells. A match made in heaven? Not necessarily, but the state is moving toward greater use of jail beds.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Lawmakers face new rules on free meals — Washington lawmakers face new rules for meals that lobbyists pay for, starting in January. Meanwhile, the ethics board is urging the Legislature to require more transparency. The board voted 5-2 last week to ask the House and Senate to pass a law requiring that individual lawmakers report whatever free meals they accept.
► In Sports Illustrated — Report: Washington expands child labor investigation into WHL — The Western Hockey League and four of its member teams are facing an expanded investigation into the reported violation of child labor laws. The league and four Washington-based teams — Everett, Seattle, Spokane and Tri-Cities — were advised earlier this week that an already year-long investigation by the state’s Department of Labor and Industries would broaden its scope and that three staffers had been assigned to the case.
► In the Seattle Times — It’s time for progressivism in tax policy (by Jonathan Martin) — I don’t begrudge anyone’s sweet second home. But I do begrudge a tax code that favors the winners, and then gives them an extra boost up the wealth ladder. Washington’s tax code, the most regressive in the nation, does that better than any other state. The bottom 20 percent of earners pay 16.9 percent of income in state and local taxes; the top 1 percent pay 2.8 percent. With the state Supreme Court breathing down the Legislature’s neck to pay for constitutionally adequate schools and a strong safety net, who should pay more? The laid off millworker in Hoquiam? Or the guy, just up the road, with the million-dollar view of the beach on his weekends?
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — KapStone millworkers to vote on strike authorization — Mill workers will vote Monday on whether to authorize a strike against KapStone Paper and Packaging Corporation. Union sources say health care and overtime issues remain unresolved in contract negotiations.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — DOE says state Hanford requirements would cost $18 billion — New Hanford deadlines the state of Washington has asked a federal judge to approve would require an extra $18 billion over the next 14 years, jeopardizing other Department of Energy cleanup projects, according to the federal government.
► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — Workers call for $15 an hour minimum wage — Minimum wage workers from all around the state picketed outside major fast-food chains on Wednesday in Aberdeen to bring attention to efforts to raise Washington’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The demonstration was one of many that took place during the day throughout the country. Fast-food, homecare and airport workers were among those voicing unhappiness with wages they say don’t allow them to adequately provide for themselves or their families.
► From KPLU — A burger joint pays $15 an hour. And, yes, it’s making money. — Fast-food workers rallied around the country Thursday, calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour. But in suburban Detroit, a small but growing fast-casual burger and chicken chain has already figured out how to pay higher wages and still be profitable.
► In the Oregonian — UFCW rejoins Oregon AFL-CIO, ending long rift — After a nine-year separation triggered by a national rift in the labor movement, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 is rejoining the Oregon AFL-CIO, the two groups announced Friday.
► In the NW Labor Press — First woman elected to lead B.C. labour federation — Irene Lanzinger was elected the first woman to lead the British Columbia Federation of Labour. She succeeds Jim Sinclair, who did not seek re-election after serving 15 years as the president.
UNIV. OF OREGON STRIKE
► In the NW Labor Press — Graduate teaching faculty strike at University of Oregon — University of Oregon graduate teaching fellows (GTFs) put up strike picket lines Dec. 2, the week before final exams. It’s the first-ever strike for the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF), founded in 1976. The union’s 1,500 members are graduate students who teach classes and run discussion groups and lab sessions. One-third of UO courses are taught by GTFs. The union — also known as Local 3544 of American Federation of Teachers — has been in contract negotiations since November 2013. Its previous contract expired in March. The dispute centers on wages and UO’s refusal to add paid medical and parental leave to the union contract.
► In the Eugene Register-Guard — Teaching assistant strike goes into weekend — Bargaining to settle the ongoing graduate student teacher strike at the University of Oregon broke up at 5 p.m. Friday — just in time for the Ducks’ football kick-off in California. But there was no settlement to celebrate.
► In today’s Eugene Register-Guard — GTF strike a bad sign for UO (op-ed by UO professor) — The administration is failing us. It must restore its commitment to academic integrity, and it must support the UO and its mission, by settling this disastrous strike. It needs to work overtime to reestablish trust and dedicate itself to repairing the damage it has caused to morale on campus and the university’s deteriorating local and national reputation.
► At TPM — Here’s another big way the ACA is working as planned — A key provision of the Affordable Care Act that was designed to keep insurers from overspending on administrative costs or else be forced to rebate premiums to customers looks to be succeeding in not only reducing those costs but in lowering premiums. A new report from federal health officials, which concludes that health spending had grown at a historically slow rate in 2013, says the so-called MLR provision is helping drive the broader easing of spending growth in the industry.
► In The Hill — GOP pins hopes of dismantling ACA on the courts — The GOP is refocusing its attention on the courts as it searches for any way to weaken President Obama’s signature healthcare law while he continues to wield a veto pen. Twenty-five Republicans asked the Supreme Court to take on another lawsuit against ObamaCare on Thursday, this time against a controversial Medicare advisory board that the party has assailed as a “death panel.”
► In The Hill — Watchdogs brace for surprises in massive $1.014T spending bill — Outside groups are bracing for surprises in the massive government-funding bill the Congress is expected to consider next week.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Public ranks Postal Service #1 federal agency — The congressional Republicans and U.S. Postal Service executives who’ve been trying to gut the Postal Service and denigrating the work of the men and women who keep the mail moving ought to take a listen to the American public. A recent Gallup Poll found that Americans rate the Postal Service highest among 13 government agencies.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Another strike against Amazon in Germany on Monday — German workers have repeatedly walked off the jobs at Amazon, claiming the Seattle online retailer should pay prevailing wages for the German retail industry, and not the pay for industrial warehouse jobs.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Amazon claims it’s “fulfillment centers” are not warehouses.
► In today’s NY Times — Recovery at last? (by Paul Krugman) — The U.S. economy added well over 300,000 jobs last month and wages, which have been stagnant for far too long, picked up a bit. There are some important lessons from this belated good news. It doesn’t vindicate policies that permitted seven years and counting of depressed incomes and employment. But it does put the lie to some of the nonsense you hear about why the economy has lagged.
► In the Washington Post — Wages are finally rising, but America still needs a big raise (by Matt O’Brien) — Wages should normally go up 3.5 to 4 percent a year… But that hasn’t happened. Part of that’s due to inflation that’s been consistently below the Fed’s target; indeed, it’s just 1.4 percent now. But the rest is due to capital taking a bigger and bigger slice of the economic pie from workers. Increased productivity, in other words, has gone to increased profits instead of increased wages. It turns out that seven years of record profits and stagnant pay add up to about a $3.16-an-hour shortfall for workers — or a 12 percent pay cut compared to a world where labor hadn’t lost so much bargaining power.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.