Tuesday, March 10, 2015
RIGHT-TO-WORK (FOR LESS)
► From AP — Gov. Scott Walker signs bill making Wisconsin ‘right-to-work’ state — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday signed into law a measure that prohibits requiring a worker to pay union dues, striking another blow against organized labor four years after the state effectively ended collective bargaining for public-sector employees.
► Yesterday at Daily Kos — Walker signing union-busting bill at union shop that had record earnings last year — Walker will sign the bill at Badger Meter, whose CEO recently threatened to move the company’s few remaining Wisconsin jobs to Mexico if the bill didn’t pass. CEO Rich Meeusen recently told the Milwaukee Business Journal, “2014 was a very good year for Badger Meter, we achieved record sales, earnings and earnings per share from continuing operations.”
► From AP — Obama slams Walker on ‘right-to-work’ law — Unions were able to build America’s middle class by demanding higher wages, benefits, worker protection and ensuring a safe work environment, Obama said. “So it’s inexcusable that, over the past several years, just when middle-class families and workers need that kind of security the most, there’s been a sustained, coordinated assault on unions, led by powerful interests and their allies in government,” he said.
► In the National Journal — The right-to-work fight you aren’t hearing about — Much of the focus on fights over right-to-work laws has been on Rust Belt states, but there’s also a high stakes showdown underway in New Mexico.
► From AP — It’s not just right-to-work: Bills targeting unions multiply — It’s not just Gov. Scott Walker. Republican lawmakers in statehouses nationwide are working to weaken organized labor, sometimes with efforts that directly shrink union membership.
► In today’s Columbian — State lawmakers could get 11 percent pay increase — State lawmakers could receive a boost to their paychecks this year. A state commission is considering increasing their pay by 11 percent.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, some legislators are objecting to state employee contracts that give public workers their first cost-of-living pay raises in seven years — 3 percent this year and 1.8 percent in 2016.
► In the Columbian — Senate transportation bill snubs Clark County (editorial) — Many Democrats swallowed hard and voted for a plan that includes some labor and sales-tax reforms, in addition to what stands for now as the bill’s “poison pill.” It is in that pill that the proposal goes too far, dictating that if a low-carbon fuel standard is adopted during the 16-year life of the bill, millions of dollars would be stripped from public transportation and multimodal projects and be transferred to highway projects… Tying the hands of future legislators and future governors until the 2030s is extreme.
► In the Seattle Gay News — Paid sick days and a higher minimum wage – their time has come (by UFCW 21’s Ariana Davis) — The issues of minimum wage and sick days are not partisan issues between Republican voters and Democratic voters. In fact, polls show that a majority of voters from both parties support these two proposals. Lawmakers need to catch up with their constituents. This week the House did their part and voted both the $12 minimum wage bill and the Paid Sick Leave bill. Now the Senate needs to act.
► From TVW’s The Impact — A look at the House-approved paid sick leave bill
EDITOR’S NOTE — In which Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) pulls a Manweller:
“In general, the system that we have has worked pretty well for two centuries, which is if you’re sick you don’t come to work, but… you know… you may not also get a paycheck that day. We’ve all done this, and I think it’s probably OK.”
► From the Motley Fool — Is Boeing cheating on its $8.7 billion tax deal with Washington? — No less an authority than The Washington Post has called Boeing’s deal with Washington state “the single largest tax break any state has ever given to a single company.” And yet, despite the state’s generosity, critics claim Boeing isn’t living up to its side of the bargain… In addition to transfers of 2,000 Defense jobs out of state, Boeing also announced plans to transfer 700 jobs to St. Louis. And these are jobs on the 777X, building the plane’s wings and tail.
► From AP — State Senate OKs watered-down language on climate change — Senate Democrats failed in an effort Monday night to push an amendment saying that climate change is real and humans contribute significantly to climate change.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle politicians oppose proposal to loosen state’s payday lending law — The Seattle City Council, Mayor Ed Murray and City Attorney Pete Holmes are opposing a proposal backed by Washington’s payday lenders that would loosen a state law restricting high-cost loans marketed to poor families.
ALSO at The Stand — Bill puts payday loan industry before people (by John Burbank)
► From the IBT — USW, Royal Dutch Shell resume contract talks today in Houston — Negotiations resumed this week between the United Steelworkers (USW) and Royal Dutch Shell to put an end to the first nationwide refinery strike since 1980. Launched on Feb. 1 after the union’s previous labor contract expired, the job action now involves about 7,000 workers at 15 plants, including major refineries in Texas, Louisiana and California.
► From Reuters — In freezing cold, striking U.S. refinery workers chop wood for fire — On the icy shores of Lake Michigan, striking workers fan fires in old oil barrels near BP Plc’s hulking Whiting refinery, trying to stay warm and united as they push for a new contract to end the biggest U.S. refinery walkout in 35 years.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle City Council wades into Trans Pacific Partnership fray — The Seattle City Council and the city’s trade community are on a collision course over what may be the biggest regional trade agreement ever (the TPP). Some Seattle City Council members are considering passage of a resolution that would express opposition to the agreement, and ask Congress not to pass it.
► In today’s Oregonian — Free-trade opponents rally in downtown Portland — Some 200 opponents of free-trade legislation in Congress rallied in downtown Portland as they pressured Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) not to sign on to the trade bill.
► From Working Washington — Franchise industry lawsuit against Seattle $15 law to be argued today — Less than a month before the first increases under Seattle’s minimum wage take effect, the franchise industry’s lobby group will be in Federal District Court Tuesday, arguing that the landmark $15 minimum wage law is unfair to McDonald’s, Subway, and other giant franchise systems.
► In today’s News Tribune — Doctor shortage keeps Western State Hospital from taking detained patients — Western State Hospital has been closed to a main type of admissions in recent weeks, worsening one choke point in a mental health system full of them.
► From Politico — Immigration reform looks dead in this Congress — Few within the GOP expect any kind of immigration debate in the Senate in the foreseeable future. The issue has been relegated to the back burner as Republicans instead focus on the budget, trade deals and, possibly, tax reform.
► From The Hill — Committee chairmen urge Republicans to reverse defense cuts — “There is nothing conservative or Republican” about cutting defense spending, they write.
► From The Hill — Legal pot? Not for federal workers — Policy is at odds with some state marijuana laws.
► In today’s NY Times — As demand for welders surges, community colleges offer classes — In recent decades, welding — like a litany of other blue-collar trades that once provided high-school graduates with a reliable route to the middle class — seemed to have about as promising a future as rotary phones. But many of these once-faltering occupations are finding new life in Texas and the Gulf Coast region, where an industrial revival built around the energy boom continues to spawn petrochemical plants and miles of new pipeline despite the plunge in crude oil prices.
► From The Hill — Big win for regulators at Supreme Court –The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that federal agencies do not have to follow procedures for notifying the public and collecting comment when changing the interpretations of rules, effectively removing steps from the process that can take months and sometimes years to complete.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
► As crowds marked the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Ala. over the weekend, comedian John Oliver pointed out that millions of Americans still go without basic voting rights. Those born in several U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico and Guam, are U.S. citizens. But residents of those territories aren’t able to vote for president or have a representative in Congress that can vote. Why? Largely because of a 1901 U.S. Supreme Court decision that found the U.S. constitution does not apply in territories “inhabited by alien races” who don’t understand “Anglo-Saxon principles.”
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.