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Port talks resume, GOP+1, Dems vs. Dems, retail rights…

Tuesday, December 2, 2014




► In the Seattle Times — Congress should oppose fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership (by Kathleen Ridihalgh and Nicole Grant) — Trade can be a good thing if it’s done responsibly. As environmentalists and electrical workers, we can come together to support trade deals if they improve our economy, protect our environment and uplift our overall quality of life. But from what we’ve seen, the TPP would lead us in the opposite direction by offshoring our jobs, eroding our wages, and leaving environmental and consumer protections vulnerable to attack from corporations.




port-of-tacoma► From AP — Slowdown at West Coast ports won’t halt holiday goods; talks on dockworker contract to resume — Labor strife on the West Coast waterfront isn’t going to steal Christmas. Dockworkers at 29 sea ports from San Diego to Seattle have worked without a contract since July, and negotiations over a new one turned contentious this fall. On Tuesday, full negotiating teams are meeting for the first time in nearly two weeks.

► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver approves breaks for big, high-wage employers — The Vancouver City Council unanimously approves discounts for large employers that offer high wages. In doing so, the council was careful to make a distinction between its program and, as Mayor Tim Leavitt put it, a “blanket waiver of fees” offered by Clark County that has been criticized as costly and ineffective.

► In today’s Seattle Times — This holiday season, think about the migrant farm workers who produced your food (editorial) — Congress must find a comprehensive, long-term solution that offers at least some of these immigrant farm workers a path to be legally recognized. Food is a basic necessity in all our lives. Consumers expect their berries, dairy and meat to be delicious, healthy and produced in safe environments. That means caring for those people who are doing the growing for us.




► In today’s Olympian — Sen. Mark Schoesler elected Senate majority leader — Leadership of the State Senate will no longer be divided in two, with the election Monday of Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) as majority leader, a title formerly given to Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina), who switched sides to give them control of the Senate. Fellow breakaway Democrat Tim Sheldon will continue to ally with Republicans who won an outright majority in last month’s election. The group — which will continue to call itself the Majority Coalition Caucus — holds a slim 26-to-23 majority.

benton-don-signs-up► In today’s Columbian — Benton ousted as majority deputy leader — State Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver) was ousted as majority deputy leader by his fellow Republicans in the upper chamber after a closed-door caucus vote Monday. “(This way) those of us who were doing multiple jobs don’t have to work as hard,” said Benton.

► In today’s News Tribune — Carol Gregory is Democrats’ top choice for the late Rep. Roger Freeman’s job — Democrats on Monday night made Federal Way School Board president Carol Gregory their first choice to replace the late Roger Freeman in the state House.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Legislators want 1917 law revised to allow WSU med school expansion — A pair of Spokane lawmakers (Riccelli and Baumgartner) will propose legislation to establish the state’s second medical school in Spokane and put it under the control of Washington State University.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Gonzaga may partner with UW on Spokane medical school — Gonzaga University may jump into the medical school fray. The private Jesuit university announced this afternoon that it is exploring a partnership with University of Washington to operate an expanded physician training program in Spokane.

► In the Bellingham Herald — Funding K-12 education will require multiple solutions (by state Sen. Kevin Ranker) — “Fund Education First” is a better slogan than it is a solution. What I believe we’re really going to need are reliable sources of revenue that will fund K-12 education in a responsible way that does not decimate all other areas of our state. I think there are more than a few senators on both sides of the aisle who would tell you the same thing now that we’re off the campaign trail.




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing overhauls health plan, promises better care at lower cost — Some 27,000 Boeing employees in metro Puget Sound, most of whom are nonunion, and 3,000 retirees are being offered a new health plan with a lofty promise: better health care at lower costs for consumers. Boeing has contracted directly with the two health care networks — UW Medicine and the combined Providence-Swedish health-care organization — rather than engage an insurance company. Employees have to decide whether they’ll try the new plan or stick with their current one by Wednesday, when enrollment ends.

► In today’s NY Times — Report on 787 battery flaws finds lapses at multiple points — Flaws in manufacturing, insufficient testing and a poor understanding of an innovative battery all contributed to the grounding of Boeing’s 787 fleet last year after a fire in a jet at Boston’s airport and another incident in Japan, according to a report released Monday by regulators.




► In today’s NY Times — Republicans try to balance immigration action while avoiding a shutdown — Congressional Republicans returning to Washington on Monday found themselves facing a treacherous 10 days as they try to balance their desire to fight President Obama’s executive action on immigration with the political imperative not to shut down the government.

► In The Hill — GAO: Biggest insurers flourishing under ACA — Health insurance giants are eating up a bigger slice of the marketplace in most states, despite intense efforts under the ACA to increase competition.

mcnerney-boeing-grab► At AFL-CIO Now — Global unions call for pension plans to make corporate tax responsibility a top priority — Labor leaders from around the world, whose union members participate in pension plans worth more than $20 trillion, launched a new initiative to tackle global corporate tax avoidance and called for pension plans to promote a fair and sustainable tax system. The effort seeks to limit corporate tax-dodging that deprives governments of needed revenue to fund investment in public services like infrastructure and education.

► At Politico — Democrats at odds over tax breaks — A simmering war between pro-business Democrats and liberals, which fueled the collapse of a $400 billion tax bill last week, is the latest policy fight to underscore deeper divisions within the party.

EDITOR’S NOTE — “Pro-business Democrats” are the reason that party’s base — or what used to be its base — are uninspired to vote. Many working-class people refuse to vote for GOP candidates who clearly don’t have their best interests at heart. But rather than vote for indistinguishable pro-business Democrats who hang their hats on a “you-can’t-vote-for-him” campaigns, working-class people didn’t bother voting in record numbers. And here’s what we end up with…

► At Think Progress — Newly-elected Congressman: Anti-poverty programs are ‘a bribe not to work too hard’ — Anti-poverty aid programs are nothing more than a bribe to keep low-income people from getting married or going to work, says Rep.-elect Glenn Grothman (R-Wisc.)

EDITOR’S NOTE — The 2016 question: Will Democrats return to their base or, given what are sure to be two solid years of similar GOP nonsense, double down on “you-can’t-vote-for-HIM!”




► From Al Jazeera America — Fast food workers plan nationwide strike for Dec. 4 — Fast food workers in at least 150 cities nationwide will walk off the job on Dec. 4, demanding an industry-wide base wage of $15 per hour and the right to form a union. Workers unanimously voted on the date for the new strike during a Nov. 25 conference call, held shortly before the second anniversary of the movement’s first strike.

ALSO at The Stand — Capitol rally Dec. 4 to raise minimum wage — Low-wage workers in attendance will include some striking fast-food employees, organizers say.

wp-harvard-housekeeper► In today’s Washington Post — What a housekeeper at Harvard’s hotel tells us about inequality — DoubleTree housekeeper Delmy Lemus races to clean 14 large suites. Making two beds each, plus sometimes a roll-away and a sofa bed that take all her strength to pull out, she barely has enough time to finish… She knows not all housekeepers have it so hard, including some of her colleagues who perform the same jobs. She’s heard from others who work at unionized hotels downtown, where the work is less brutal, and the rewards greater. The differing experiences are a stark indicator of how in an age of rising inequality, workers in similar professions can receive different wages and protections based on who they work for, and whether they’re unionized or not. “I have a friend, they told me it’s a big difference working with a union and without a union,” Lemus said. “And they say ‘don’t stop, keep fighting, because it’s your benefits, your rights to have a better place to work’.”

GET A UNION!Find out how.

► From Reuters — UAW presses Daimler at Alabama plant after NLRB victory — The UAW says it will press managers of the Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Alabama to respect the right of workers to discuss organizing a local union while on the factory floor. Last week, the NLRB ruled that Mercedes-Benz U.S. International must rescind a rule in its employee handbook prohibiting workers from talking about a union in work areas while not on work time.

► In The Atlantic — The NFL’s indentured servants — At the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ stadium, employees forfeited their wages to a local shelter in exchange for room and board, according to a new report.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Black Friday actions were biggest ever for Walmart workers — Walmart workers’ fight for justice and an end to retaliation against workers who speak out for better working conditions and pay reached historic heights on Black Friday, with an estimated 1,600 actions and strikes at Walmart locations around the country, including workers’ sit-down strikes at Walmart stores in Southern California and the District of Columbia.




walmart-moms► In The Nation — It’s time for a Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights (by John Nichols) — Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is done, the discussion about forcing people to work on holidays should be ramping up — not dying down. There is no question that thousands of retail workers were placed in untenable and abusive circumstances by retailers and restaurants that opened on Thanksgiving or at absurdly early hours on “Black Friday.” But the untenable and abusive circumstances will continue throughout December, a month of multiple religious and community holidays and immense pressure by corporate retailers on their employees. So, instead of simply celebrating the firms that did treat their workers well or condemning the firms that did not, it is time to turn up the volume on demands for workplace standards — and to recognize them as essential complements to demands for living-wage pay.

San Francisco — where voters in November approved a series of increases that will result in a city minimum wage of $15 an hour — is in the process of establishing needed protections for workers in chain stores and restaurants. Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously backed a “Retail Workers Bill of Rights.” Here’s what it sets out to accomplish.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!