Wednesday, February 25, 2015
► From Reuters — Union chief says U.S. refinery strike could spread — The largest U.S. refinery strike in 35 years could spread if talks over improved safety conditions do not resume soon, USW International President Leo Gerard said on Tuesday. A total of 6,550 USW members are on strike at 15 plants, including 12 refineries accounting for one-fifth of U.S. capacity.
► In the Columbia Basin Herald — $12 minimum wage bill advances in House — The bill raising the state minimum wage to $12 over the course of the next four years passed through the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday in a 18-15 vote. The House Appropriations Committee also passed a bill that would require businesses with four or more full-time employees to offer paid sick leave. “It would help every single one of us and it would help every single person in Washington state because it will improve public health,” Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) said.
► In the Skagit Valley Herald — Senate is close to some transportation votes — Parts of a long-delayed Washington Senate transportation package will likely show up on the chamber’s floor in a few days. The question is how many of the sweeping package’s 11 bills will actually go to a full Senate vote this week or next week.
► From KPLU — Bill would stop local-federal coordination on deportations — In Olympia, state representatives may take a preliminary vote Wednesday morning on a measure that would direct local police and jails to stop coordinating with federal agencies on immigrant deportations.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Pay young athletes their due (editorial) — The question of whether players for junior hockey and for Minor League Baseball are amateur athletes or employees is tipping toward “employee.” And those leagues will have to find a way to comply, which means fans will likely have to dig deeper to support their teams.
► In today’s Columbian — Wilson: Don’t let Oregonians on RTC vote — Republican lawmaker Lynda Wilson does not want Oregonians to have a vote when it comes to Southwest Washington’s transportation priorities.
► In the PSBJ — Like it never happened: In 3 weeks, backlog at Seattle, Tacoma ports will be cleared — It could take a few months for the deal to be ratified by the union and made official. But cargo operations will move at normal speeds. Before the deal, the ports were running significantly slower than usual.
► In today’s Oregonian — Port of Portland, longshore union still trading blame, barbs as rest of West Coast goes back to work — The Port of Portland’s container-terminal operator, ICTSI Oregon, is two weeks from losing nearly 80 percent of its business. Retail and agriculture businesses in the region, along with the shipping companies whose lifeblood is trade between Oregon and Asia, are trying to find cost-effective transportation to stay in business. Meanwhile, ICTSI and the longshore workers union blame each other for the loss of business and the low productivity that drove away Hanjin Shipping.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — New Hanford pricetag: $110.2 billion through 2090 — The estimated remaining cleanup cost is based on completing most cleanup work in 2060 and then some continuing oversight and monitoring until 2090.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing pays $581M in federal income tax, unlike previous year — Boeing paid more than a half-billion dollars in federal income tax last year, marking just the third time in a dozen years that it has written a check to the IRS. The company has paid net taxes in just three years out of the dozen since the 787 was launched in 2003, for a cumulative net $1.3 billion federal tax refund. That works out to an average tax rate in that period of close to negative 3 percent.
EDITOR’S NOTE —
► From AP — GOP ends Wisconsin ‘right-to-work’ hearing early, enraging unions — Republicans on the state Senate’s labor committee ended a public hearing on contentious right-to-work legislation early and sent it on to the full Senate Tuesday, enraging dozens of people who had been waiting all day to speak and sparking a demonstration in front of the Senate chamber.
► From Al Jazeera America — Labor takes final stand as Wisconsin prepares way for anti-union law — Gov. Scott Walker stands ready to deal the Wisconsin labor movement its greatest blow yet. Within the next few days, Walker, a Republican and a likely 2016 presidential candidate, is expected to sign right-to-work legislation that would ban union shops in the state. Wisconsin would be the 25th state to institute right-to-work legislation
► From Think Progress — Wisconsin workers fight back against ‘right to work’ — As lawmakers in Wisconsin held their first and only hearing on fast-tracked “right-to-work” legislation, bill author Scott Fitzgerald (R) said the controversial measure is “just one piece of the larger picture” and hinted more labor reforms are coming soon, including bills to change the state’s prevailing wage laws and curtail collective bargaining on public works projects.
EDITOR’S NOTE — F. Scott Fitzgerald.
► In The Hill — House GOP bashes McConnell; Boehner mum on next steps — Rank-and-file House Republicans on Wednesday bashed the Senate GOP’s plan to vote on a “clean” Homeland Security funding bill, arguing they wanted to stand firm in attacking President Obama’s immigration actions.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — DHS shutdown dangerous, demoralizing
► In The Hill — Will Boehner risk the Tea Party’s wrath over DHS funding? — Immigration hardliners are bashing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) plan B, which splits DHS funding from GOP provisions gutting Obama’s 2014 immigration orders. They’re pressuring Boehner and his leadership team to stick with the original House-passed bill that tied funding to GOP immigration riders, even though Senate Democrats have repeatedly blocked it.
► A related story in today’s Washington Post — A majority in every state favors a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants — Asked whether the U.S. should allow them a way to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements; allow them to become permanent legal residents, but not citizens; or identify and deport them? In every single state, at least 52 percent of respondents in every state, chose the first option — that is, a path to citizenship. What is even more interesting is how poorly responses correlated with the traditional understanding of “red” and “blue” states.
► At Politico — President Obama vetoes Keystone bill; GOP plans override vote — President Barack Obama vetoed the Republicans’ Keystone XL pipeline bill Tuesday, rejecting Congress’ attempt to take the project’s fate out of his hands — and leaving the GOP on track for an override vote that will most likely fail.
► In today’s Washington Post — VA employee reforms, good or not, could be road map for other agencies (by Joe Davidson) — Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) is using his powerful perch as chair of a congressional committee to remake the civil service at the Department of Veterans Affairs one step at a time. It is an effort that has implications, some better than others, for the federal workforce generally.
► From In These Times — Richard Trumka: AFL-CIO will make raising wages for all workers a priority — The yardstick labor unions — and potentially a strong majority of American working or middle class voters — will use to judge candidates for president and lower offices next year is simple, said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka at the winter meeting of the AFL-CIO executive council on Monday: “What are you going to do to raise our wages?” But many of those voters will not be waiting for the political candidates’ responses to the continuing trend towards greater inequality. Trumka also expects — and indeed says he already sees — a spurt in collective action that may not only win some of those wage increases but also add pressure to politicians of both parties, who are still figuring out what they want to say on inequality.
► From AFL-CIO Now — AFL-CIO Executive Council outlines plan to raise wages — It outlines a campaign that includes telling the truth about what has happened to the nation’s economy and who is running it through the AFL-CIO’s Common Sense Economics program to get these facts into the hands of working people.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.