Thursday, February 26, 2015
► From Reuters — U.S. refinery strike continues with no steps toward settlement — The largest U.S. refinery strike since 1980 continued through its 25th day on Wednesday with no movement toward renewed talks to end a walkout by 6,550 union workers at 15 plants, including 12 refineries accounting for one-fifth of domestic capacity. A spokesman for lead refinery owner representative Shell Oil Co, said no face-to-face meetings have been scheduled with the United Steelworkers union as of Wednesday.
ALSO at The Stand — Respect pickets: Building Trades, USW resolve refinery issues
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Inslee avoids talk of possible taxes in address to aerospace executives — Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday steered clear of a contentious effort to impose new rules on aerospace firms receiving tax incentives, including the Boeing Co. The governor said people are “rightfully” frustrated at seeing Boeing transfer hundreds of engineering jobs to other states since passage of the law:
That frustration is real, it’s palpable and it’s deep so I appreciate people are having discussions about how to address that. Basically I am monitoring this. That’s as much as I am going to say on this right now.
► At PubliCola — Why didn’t Transportation Committee member Ericksen vote on the transportation package? — While many of the Republicans’ high profile reforms — getting rid of prevailing wage standards on transportation projects, permitting reforms, and moving money from the toxics account — passed, Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) said he wanted them, particularly reforming the ferry bidding system, to be stronger.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Transportation bill yet to win over Monroe, Oak Harbor lawmakers — Sens. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) and Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe) find tax hikes distasteful. They’re an even harder to pill to swallow in this case because there’s little or no money targeted for their districts.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Shepard: WWU can’t keep up high marks for quality if state continues to cut funding — Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard said the school won’t be able to continue delivering high quality education if the state continues to cut funding, despite a ranking last month that said Western was one of the top regional universities at doing so.
► In today’s News Tribune — Schools shouldn’t be hostage to an anti-tax minority (editorial) — Many critical school measures win a majority and lose only because the constitution gives opponents extra voting power.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Nontenured instructors stage walkout over demands at SU — Waving signs and chanting “count the votes,” several hundred faculty members and students walked out of Seattle University on Wednesday as part of a national day of action to call attention to the working conditions of adjunct professors and instructors.
► ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Massive walkout at Seattle U. in support of adjunct faculty
A related story in today’s Washington Post — Fed up with low pay and job instability, some adjunct professors walk out — Adjuncts account for a majority of faculty members at some campuses, and the national protest was an effort to call attention to a culture that leaves many academics unsure of how much they’ll earn from year to year, without benefits or with much lower pay than full-time professors.
► From KUOW — Truckers cautious, and some optimistic, as port gets back to work — The hope is that truckers will be able to use these weeks to make up for at least some of the earnings they lost during the ports slowdown that began last October.
► From AFL-CIO Now — Republicans silence debate to advance ‘right-to-work’ bill — The Wisconsin State Senate approved the right to work bill 17-15 late Wednesday night. Thousands of workers, community supporters and others rallied outside the Capitol earlier in the day to protest the bill and later packed the Senate chambers for the floor debate and vote. The bill now goes to the State Assembly for vote likely next week.
► In today’s NY Times — Scott Walker is set to deliver labor another blow in Wisconsin — “I’m not optimistic that we can stop it,” said John Finkler, a retired university employee and union member. “But I think people won’t forget.”
► From The Hill — Senate edges away from DHS shutdown — Congress appeared to step back from the brink of a partial government shutdown Wednesday as the Senate voted overwhelmingly to move forward with a clean bill funding the Department of Homeland Security that strips out provisions that would reverse President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. But while senators seem eager to stave off a shutdown of the DHS at midnight on Friday, the fate of the bill in the House remains unclear.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Will any of Washington state’s House members step up and indicate support for the clean bill? So far, none have. GOP Rep. Dave Reichert tells The Hill he’s still “undecided.”
► In today’s NY Times — Holding Homeland Security hostage (editorial) — The refusal of House Republicans to end the immigration impasse damages national security and hurts the department’s employees.
ALSO at The Stand — DHS shutdown dangerous, demoralizing (by AFGE President J. David Cox)
► At TPM — This is what Republican control of Congress looks like — The 114th Congress was supposed to be a Golden Era for the Republicans to flex their muscle in the twilight of Obama’s presidency with their largest congressional majority in generations. But the relationship between the emotional and jocular House speaker and the chilly and introverted Senate majority leader is already strained less than two months into the new era of Republican control.
► MUST-READ from Huffington Post — The inside story of how Citizens United has changed D.C. lawmaking — The Supreme Court initially established a narrow definition of corruption in the 1970s, but Citizens United used it to blow open the gates that had been holding back corporate money. The 2010 decision came as the U.S. legislative system had evolved into a near parliamentary system of party-line voting and expansive party networks extending seamlessly from the Capitol to party headquarters to lobbying firms to outside political groups. Most top congressional legislators now have “leadership teams” — informal but internally recognized groups of aides-turned-lobbyists who help raise funds.
TRADING AWAY AMERICA
► From Huffington Post — The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose (by Sen. Elizabeth Warren) — The provision, an increasingly common feature of trade agreements, is called “Investor-State Dispute Settlement,” or ISDS. The name may sound mild, but don’t be fooled. Agreeing to ISDS in this enormous new treaty would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations. Worse, it would undermine U.S. sovereignty.
ALSO at The Stand — Gov. Inslee wary of expanding investor rights in trade deals (Dec. 16, 2014)
► At Politico — NAFTA’s specter may haunt Keystone verdict — President Barack Obama may decide to kill Keystone XL for good, but that could be no easy task — thanks in part to the North American Free Trade Agreement. The 21-year-old free-trade pact allows foreign companies or governments to haul the U.S. in front of an international tribunal to face accusations of putting their investments at risk through regulations or other decisions. The CEO of Keystone developer TransCanada has raised the prospect as a potential last resort if Obama rejects the $8 billion project, although for now the company is focused on getting him to say yes.
► In today’s NY Times — Cracks starting to appear in public pensions’ armor — First in Detroit, then in Stockton, Calif., and now in New Jersey, judges and other top officials are challenging the widespread belief that public pensions are untouchable.
► In today’s NY Times — Next goal for Walmart workers: More hours — “(The raises are) not going to help us. We need the hours,” said Anthony Rodriguez, a member of the union-supported workers’ group, Our Walmart. He says he constantly begs his managers for full-time work at the bustling Walmart superstore in Rosemead, Calif. He generally works around 28 hours a week, but can be assigned as few as 18.
► From Politico — Supreme Court ruling could upturn Obamacare politics — What Obamacare gave, the Supreme Court could take away. The Supreme Court next Wednesday hears a case that could end Obamacare subsidies in 34 states that use HealthCare.gov. If the justices rule that the subsidies are illegal through the federal exchange, they would largely unravel President Barack Obama’s health care law, which has helped millions of Americans get insured.
► From KUOW — Farmers fear legal status for workers would lead them off the farm — About half of all farm workers in the country lack legitimate documents, and live in what’s often described as a “shadow world,” without legal rights. The farmers who employ those workers, meanwhile, are deeply ambivalent about this situation.
► The Entire Staff of The Stand must attend to some personal business on Friday, but we’ll be back bright and early Monday with all the latest from Olympia, Madison, and elsewhere. In the meantime, for no reason other than it shuffled up on iTunes during our commute to work this morning, we present The Emotions, three sisters from Chicago whose association with Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire brought this gem into the world. Enjoy.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.