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Fast-food strikes, cost of Boeing tax cuts, Obama vs. Warren…

Thursday, December 4, 2014




► From Al Jazeera America — Fast food workers, other low-wage employees launch nationwide strike — Fast-food workers in roughly 190 cities nationwide are set to walk off the job Thursday morning, demanding an industry-wide base wage of $15 per hour and the right to form a union. Thursday’s strike, the latest in a series of day-long labor actions coordinated through a nationwide coalition of various fast food worker groups, may well be the largest work stoppage in the history of the industry, if early organizer estimates prove to be accurate.

ALSO at The Stand — Fast-food strike, day of wage actions TODAY

nyt-terrance-wise► In today’s NY Times — In fast-food workers’ Fight for $15 hourly wage, a strong voice in Terrance Wise — “I have never seen a movement like this,” said Wise, a Burger King worker who has emerged as the leading voice of a nationwide movement of fast-food workers clamoring for a higher wage. “We’ve seen how the civil rights movement won civil rights and we’ve seen how women won the right to vote. Those things weren’t given to us. People faced hoses and beatings. Some people even died. We have to bring the same pressure for today’s times and make the companies listen to us. We have to do whatever it takes to win.” Often speaking with the cadence of a preacher, Wise has inspired friends and co-workers. Some of them say his appearances on NPR or “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC remind them of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

ronald-mcdonald-arrested► In today’s NY Times — Study finds violations of minimum wage law in California, New York — The U.S. Labor Department says that a new study shows that between 3.5 and 6.5 percent of all the wage and salary workers in California and New York are paid less than the minimum wage. The study, which examined work force data for the two states, found that more than 300,000 workers in each state suffered minimum-wage violations each month. Labor Department officials said that even if one assumed a violation rate half that nationwide, that would mean more than two million workers across the nation were paid less than the federal or state minimum wage. Violations were most common in the restaurant and hotel industries, the study found, followed by educational and health services and retail and wholesale.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Chicago to raise minimum wage to $13 — A key City Council committee advanced the measure on a 16–3 vote Monday and the broader council passed it 44–5 Tuesday. The current wage of $8.25 will move to $10 early next year and will rise in increments until it reaches the full $13 in 2019.




mcnerney-boeing-grab► At Crosscut — Should we monitor the results of Boeing tax breaks? — A citizens’ advisory committee recommends that performance targets be set for 11 existing Washington aerospace manufacturing tax breaks. Those tax breaks would equal $489 million to $502 million in potential revenue for 2015-2017 if those exemptions were not in effect, according its report. A Boeing spokesman responds: “These incentives, which cost the state nothing, are currently used by more than 450 Washington aerospace companies… Boeing strongly opposes any changes to these incentives.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Dear Boeing: By your logic, Washington state could cut the state sales tax in half, call it a “shopping incentive,” and it would cost the state nothing. After all, that foregone projected revenue wasn’t guaranteed in the first place and, what, people would buy twice as much stuff to make up the difference? Psht. In 2008, you complained that the Machinists’ strike was “costing” you $100 million in deferred revenue per day. The difference between the cost of that deferred revenue and the billions in projected revenue Washington loses with your tax break is that you eventually got your money.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — State legislators support new medical education model — The legislators backing Washington State University’s bid to establish its own Spokane-based medical school said Tuesday the rural doctor shortage is so severe the state needs more than one approach to physician training.

► In today’s News Tribune — Washington has 946 new board certified teachers — For the second year in a row, Washington has more new national board certified teachers than any other state.

EDITOR’S NOTE — And yet, the feds punish us.




jesus► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — Providence workers file lawsuit alleging health system uses religious tax exemption to skirt pension law — Employees of the largest health provider in Washington state are accusing their employer of massively underfunding their pension plans and skirting federal pension law. A class action lawsuit filed Nov. 7 in federal court in the Western District of Washington alleges that Providence Health & Services is wrongfully claiming privileges of a church for the purpose of exempting its employee pension plan from federal oversight.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — Rev. Jesse Jackson slams Amazon diversity practices, joins with security union — Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson is joining with a local union (SEIU 6) and Amazon security officers to ask the tech giant to ensure good treatment of its contract employees. The contracting company Amazon uses to employ security guards, Security Industry Specialists, has faced a growing firestorm of criticism in recent months for its treatment of employees.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle City Councilmember Sawant charged with disorderly conduct — Sawant and three other people arrested while taking part in a protest last month outside Alaska Airlines headquarters in SeaTac were charged Wednesday with disorderly conduct.

ALSO at The Stand — Sea-Tac Airport workers to Alaska Airlines: Stop robbing us (Nov. 20)

► In today’s NY Times — Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to get $84 million pay package — Shareholders approved the pay package despite concerns raised by an investor advisory group.




Obama-Then-I-Said-trade► In today’s Washington Post — Obama says he willing to defy Democrats on his support of Trans-Pacific Partnership — President Obama signaled Wednesday that, at least on international trade, he is willing to defy his fellow Democrats and his own liberal base to pursue a partnership with Republicans. Trade represents one of Obama’s best chances for a legacy-building achievement in the final two years of his presidency, but he acknowledged that it is an idea he still has to sell to many of his traditional allies. Speaking at a gathering of business leaders, Obama offered his strongest public defense of his administration’s pursuit of a major 12-nation trade deal in the Asia Pacific, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that has been opposed by Democrats, labor unions and environmental groups.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Remember 2007?

warren-trade-transparency► In The Hill — Elizabeth Warren to keynote AFL-CIO wage summit — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will be taking her populist economic message to the AFL-CIO in January, when she will be the labor union’s keynote speaker at an event devoted to wages. “Senator Warren knows how to protect Main Street from Wall Street, fight for jobs and rebuild the American Dream. She has a defined set of values and unlike many politicians, she actually sticks by those and fights to implement them,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “That’s exactly what this summit is all about.”




immigration-rally► In today’s NY Times — 17 states suing on immigration — Texas and 16 other states filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday challenging President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, arguing that he violated his constitutional duty to enforce the laws and illegally placed new burdens on state budgets.

► In today’s News Tribune — Defense budget steers billions to Puget Sound for Boeing jets and Navy bases, but much less for JBLM — The Pentagon’s $577.1 billion budget for 2015 has a lot of good news for Northwest military contractors and the Puget Sound’s Navy bases, but it puts off some hard decisions that could lead to big cuts in the years ahead.

► In The Hill — House approves slate of tax breaks — The House on Wednesday passed a one-year renewal of more than 50 tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013, putting the measure on a path toward President Obama’s desk. Passed 378-46, the measure would extend nearly all of the tax breaks until just the end of this year, at a cost of almost $42 billion.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington’s entire Congressional delegation voted “yes” because, as Rep. Rick Larsen notes, it extends the state sales tax deduction for Washington residents and provides a few other tax benefits for working families.

► In today’s News Tribune — More political games in Congress with our sales tax deduction (editorial) — It’s arbitrary and unjust that most Americans know they can write off their state taxes while Washingtonians face perpetual uncertainty.

► In today’s NY Times — The next tax fight (editorial) — The fight to extend these tax breaks for 2015 and beyond will continue next year. Republicans could create an acceptable package by abandoning the most profligate corporate tax cuts and including provisions to help low- and middle-income workers. The next move is theirs, but what they choose to do will depend heavily on how united Democrats prove to be in looking out for the interests of working people.

► In today’s Washington Post — Does this postal chairman’s lobbying history pose a conflict of interest? — The U.S. Postal Service has the potential to earn billions of dollars a year by entering the payday-loan business, but a former banking lobbyist, Mickey Barnett, could block its path. Barnett, now chairs the USPS Board of Governors. Previously, he represented the interests of payday lenders, who stand to lose out if the Postal Service grabs a share of their market.




proud-to-be-union► In The Atlantic — Converting a union skeptic — There’s a very real economic case for workers to join unions. Service-sector workers represented by unions made, on average, $746 a week last year, compared to the $467 a week nonunion workers made. Hispanic workers represented by unions made $838 a week, on average, while nonunion Hispanic workers made $547 a week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Benefits increase for union members too: Around 95 percent of union workers had health benefits available to a spouse, as opposed to 69 percent of nonunion workers; more than half of union workers had benefits available to same-sex partners, as opposed to just 28 percent of nonunion workers, according to the BLS. But for many Vermont home-care aides, the biggest benefit of being in a union can’t be quantified by numbers. It’s that they’re able to communicate directly with the state of Vermont, and improve workplace conditions.


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