Friday, January 16, 2015
► In today’s Seattle Times —Bills to raise minimum wage, require paid sick days introduced in Olympia — Washington already has the highest minimum wage of any state in the country, but a packed hearing room at the Capitol was filled with supporters of a new minimum-wage bill saying it’s just not high enough. Bills sponsored by state Sen. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) and Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-Seattle) would increase the hourly wage to $12 over the course of four years, starting in 2016. The current minimum wage in Washington is $9.47 per hour. The Seattle City Council and voters in SeaTac have already approved increases to $15 an hour. A long row of lawmakers stood behind speakers to illustrate the support for the measure. Sen. Mark Miloscia (R-Federal Way) was lauded for stepping across the aisle, as was Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn), who is sponsoring another bill introduced by the group to set a minimum of paid sick days.
► At PubliCola — Senate committee passes Republicans’ education plan — The Republican controlled Senate’s Ways and Means Committee on Thursday passed its response to the education funding crisis. SB 5063, proposed by committee chair Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond), would devote two-thirds of all state revenue growth to education. Sen. Hill and fellow Republicans may be getting a bit ahead of themselves, as the current budget will require more money to meet current non-education financial obligations. The Washington State Budget and Policy Center attacked the plan, calling it “tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship.”
► In the Olympian — A possible ‘McCleary’ for Washington higher education? — Lawmakers have been told repeatedly by the state Supreme Court that they must improve funding for schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. Now a prominent constitutional scholar in Washington says the state has a similar duty to fund public colleges and universities, and could end up in court again.
► At Slog — Republican introduces ‘Ag-Gag’ law in Olympia — So far, eight states have passed “ag-gag” laws being pushed by the Koch-brothers backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), making documentation of what happens on ranches and farms without the owner’s written consent a crime. State Rep. Joe Schmick (R-Colfax) would like Washington to become the ninth.
ALSO at The Stand — UFW releases photos of Darigold’s sick cows (May 15, 2014) — Farmworkers employed at Darigold dairies have risked their jobs to photograph sick and injured cows they are regularly instructed to milk, according to the United Farmworkers of America. The union has released disturbing photos of sick cows it says were taken at Darigold dairies and is urging consumers to petition retailers that carry Darigold products to urge the dairy cooperative to ensure that both workers and animals are treated fairly.
► At Slog — Three state legislators receive the most fossil fuel money — According to Sightline, the winners are Sen. Tim Sheldon (MCC-Potlatch), who received $19,300 from oil, gas, and coal interests in the last election, edging out Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) who got $19,100, and Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) who took in $17,600.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Wait. does that include dinners?
► In the News Tribune — People are rapping about the Legislature on Twitter — People have been writing parody rap lyrics about the Washington State Legislature using the #walegRapLyrics hashtag on Twitter.
► In the (Centralia) Chronicle — Bradken Foundry in Chehalis will close; 91 employees affected — Bradken notified employees at the foundry of its impending closure. Ninety-one employees will be impacted, although the company doesn’t necessarily say they will be laid off; a great deal of the work will shift northward to its Tacoma foundry… Workers at the Chehalis foundry moved to unionize in 2012 with the IAM. The union said Chehalis employees had been earning at least $4 per hour less than what people doing the same jobs at Tacoma’s foundry were making. In June 2014, the union and Bradken reached a tentative agreement.
► In the Capital Press — Sakuma attorney: Piece-rate pay rewards pickers — Washington’s practice of not separately paying piece-rate pickers for rest breaks rewards good workers, according to a brief filed with the state Supreme Court by Sakuma Brothers Farms.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Because “good” workers don’t take breaks, you see.
► In today’s News Tribune — Union wants a new start in organizing PLU temporary faculty — A union campaigning to organize part-time and temporary faculty at Parkland’s Pacific Lutheran University has withdrawn its petition to represent those employees. The SEIU’s decision was a strategic move, the union said, to get a fresh start to its organizing campaign and to avoid further legal expenses and delays over the results of a 15-month-old union election whose ballots were only recently counted.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Newhouse votes to end Deferred Action for undocumented immigrants — Congressman Dan Newhouse voted Wednesday in favor of a proposal to end a program that currently allows young, undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally. To date, the program has shielded more than 600,000 young, undocumented immigrants from deportation, including more than 13,000 in Washington state. When he campaigned for office last year, Newhouse repeatedly talked about the need for immigration reform and the opportunity for undocumented immigrants without a criminal history to obtain a “legal status” shy of citizenship.
► In today’s NY Times — Republicans resist Obama’s move to dismantle apparatus of deportation — Republicans want to restore a program canceled by President Obama called Secure Communities that led to deportations for immigrants arrested on minor charges.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Congress is already off to a bad start on immigration (editorial) — Apparently there is no end to the petty tactics that some anti-immigration Republicans in Congress are willing to use in their political war against President Obama.
► At AFL-CIO Now — What do American workers want to hear in Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address? — When President Obama delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, America’s workers will be listening closely. Will he outline plans and solutions that will boost working families’ wages, protect workers’ right to bargain collectively, defend America’s jobs from unfair trade and more? See what the workers in the video above want to hear, then tell us what you want President Obama to talk about in the State of the Union address by texting WORK to 235246.
► A related story at Politico — Poll: Democrats need to win over blue-collar voters, unmarried women — Democrats’ future in 2016 hinges largely on performing better with white working-class voters and unmarried women, a new Democracy Corps poll shows.
► In the Christian Science Monitor — Social Security disability funds running low: What’s Democrats’ solution? — Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a key Democratic voice on economic policy, says House Republicans have been engaged in “counterproductive” behavior — specifically, in “effectively threatening” not to fix a projected shortfall in the portion of the Social Security system that pays disability claims.
► In today’s NY Times — Obama proposes tapping private investors to fund infrastructure projects — The White House unveiled a tax proposal and administrative actions on Friday that are aimed at promoting private investment in roads, bridges, water systems and broadband networks. The plans are an attempt to find ways to finance the vast backlog of American infrastructure projects without using any new federal money.
► This morning at The Hill — Top ObamaCare official stepping down — Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), announced her departure Friday, after five years in the position.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Close Wall Street’s ‘retirement advice’ loophole — There is a loophole in the rules that govern Wall Street brokers and financial firms that provide retirement investment advice that can drain away thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars of hard-earned savings from a single retirement account. Today, a coalition of senior, union and consumer groups launched a new website — SaveOurRetirement.org — to mobilize support to close the “Retirement Advice Loophole” through a new rule the U.S. Department of Labor is trying to adopt.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Follow the action at the 2015 MLK Civil and Human Rights Conference — This weekend, hundreds of union and civil rights activists are honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the accomplishments of the civil rights movement, and renewing their commitment to carry on King’s fight for equality and justice.
► MUST-READ at Think Progress — The key to closing the income gap is an idea almost no one is talking about — A new report calls for restructuring corporate culture, saying it is essential to preserving democratic political systems, the report argues… First, policymakers should promote “inclusive capitalism.” Companies should be encouraged to experiment with various systems that “compensate a broad base of workers — not just top executives — on the basis of group performance rather than individual performance.” Second, policymakers should combat the corporate tendency to think in the short-term rather than basing decisions on long-term outcomes: “As executives have become increasingly incentivized to focus on short-term share prices, the firms they manage have turned away from investments in innovation and long-term capital formation, as well as wage growth and workforce investments.”
► At AFL-CIO Now — Delta flight attendants file flight plan for IAM representation — Nearly 12,000 Delta Air Lines flight attendants have signed authorization cards seeking union representation by the Machinists. More than two dozen Delta flight attendants hand-delivered those cards to the National Mediation Board’s headquarters on Tuesday.
► At Addicting Info — United replaces unionized baggage handlers with minimum wage contractors, things fall apart — Free-market hardliners may not like to hear it, but the old adage is true: “You get what you pay for,” and paying people next-to-nothing to do an extremely labor-intensive job won’t get you many willing applicants. Nowhere is that more obvious than in Denver right now, where travel-wary passengers getting off their flights are discovering that their checked bags won’t be coming out in a timely fashion, if at all.
► Having skipped ahead two grades in school, John Roger Stephens, the son of a seamstress and factory worker, was already attending the University of Pennsylvania and studying African-American literature at the age of 16. (He had been offered admission to Harvard and Georgetown, but turned them down.) After college, Stephens landed a job with Boston Consulting Group in NYC, one of the most prestigious management consulting firms in the world, analyzing Fortune 500 companies and trying to help them run their businesses better. But as a talented piano player and singer who had gotten a taste of the Philadelphia music scene while in college there, he soon quit that job to pursue music as a career.
When overheard singing his brand of old-school soul in a studio, a friend dubbed him “John Legend,” a name that stuck. Now Legend is an international star, an activist in the fight against poverty, and this week, his and Common’s “Glory” from the film Selma received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. But the Entire Staff of The Stand likes this one. So enjoy, and have a happy MLK Day!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.