The Stand

‘All out’ against Fast Track, junk loans, NLRB bashing…

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

 


FAST TRACK

 

WA-congress-fast-track► In today’s Washington Post — AFL-CIO leader on Obama’s trade push: ‘We are going all out to oppose it’ — The head of the nation’s largest labor organization on Tuesday slammed President Obama’s trade push and vowed to block efforts in Congress to help the administration finalize a major free trade pact in the Asia Pacific. “We are going all out to oppose it,” AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka said about a bill to grant the administration “fast-track” authority to complete the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership. “This will trump any debate out there. There is such a dramatic impact on the standard of living and a lowering of wages and a loss of jobs — this will have a major impact, and we will not forget this vote for a long time.”

► From Reuters — Unions to make trade pacts an issue in U.S. 2016 campaigns — Unions plan to make lawmakers’ support for trade deals and legislation to streamline the passage of trade agreements through Congress an issue in next year’s U.S. elections, said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

 


STATE GOVERNMENT

 

st-liias-jayapal-payday► In today’s Seattle Times — Bill to change payday lending rules wins approval, 30-18, in the state Senate — A controversial proposal to revamp Washington’s payday lending rules was approved by the state Senate Tuesday night on a 30-18 vote after more than two hours of heated debate. SB 5899, which was backed by Seattle-based payday lender Moneytree, would replace traditional two-week payday loans in Washington with “installment loans,” to be paid off over several months.

“There is only one group of people that benefit … and that is the lenders,” said Sen. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle). “These loans are bad for working families.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — The Washington State Labor Council and consumer advocates are adamantly opposed to this legislation. These high-interest loans are targeted to low-income workers and have historically trapped them in a cycle of debt. Existing consumer protections should be maintained.

ALSO at The Stand — Bill puts payday loan industry before people (by John Burbank)

► In today’s Seattle Times — Bill would mandate larger crew on oil trains — The oil transportation-safety legislation passed Monday by the state Senate could set a nationwide precedent by requiring railroad workers in the rear of oil trains.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Senate passage puts WSU step closer to medical school — For the second time in less than a day, Washington State University’s hopes for its own medical school got a major boost Tuesday as the Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that would grant the permission — but not the money — to make that happen.

► In today’s Olympian — Voting Rights Act deserves a vote (editorial) — Washington state lawmakers have a chance to pass legislation that boosts minority representation on school boards, city councils and other local government jurisdictions.

blinded-with-science► In today’s Seattle Times — State Senate’s collision with science and climate change (by Danny Westneat) — Sen. Brian Dansel (R-Republic), vice-chair of the Natural Resources and Parks Committee, argued that if we’re causing climate change, it’s because we’re not logging the forests fast enough. Meanwhile, Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) is becoming famous for dodging any question about global warming with inoffensive but meaningless koans, such as “climate change will always happen.” If one of our two major political parties won’t even acknowledge something is real, what are the odds of doing anything about it? About a snowball’s chance in hell.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Work first, then we’ll talk pay (editorial) — If the state Supreme Court’s contempt of court ruling against the Legislature is the stick, then a state commission’s plan to give lawmakers and other state officials an 11% raise must be the carrot. And a juicy one at that.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Lawmakers seek your views at town halls

ALSO at The Stand — Attend legislators’ town halls this week (see the schedule)

 


LOCAL

 

kono-mcdonalds-franchises► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle’s minimum-wage law unfairly discriminates against franchise owners (editorial) — Seattle’s new law treats franchises as big businesses, putting them on a three-year phase-in to the $15 wage level, rather than a seven-year phase-in for small businesses. It is easy to substitute McDonald’s corporate face for the word “franchise” and feel no pang of sympathy. But in reality, franchise owners are often small, family-owned businesses.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This editorial completely ignores the recent NLRB ruling that franchisers are “joint employers” alongside the franchisees. McDonald’s, for example, owns many of the franchisees’ restaurant buildings and requires franchises to follow strict rules on food, cleanliness and hiring. McDonald’s has even warned some franchisees that they were paying their workers too much. That’s why corporate giants like McDonald’s shouldn’t be able to hide behind the facade of “small, family-owned businesses” when it comes to adhering to labor laws.

► In today’s Oregonian — Federal judge orders longshore union to pay $60,000 for violating court order in 2012 slowdown case — U.S. District Judge Michael Simon ruled in December 2014 that the ILWU continued to slow down work at Portland’s container-shipping terminal for more than a year, even after being ordered by the court to stop the slowdown in 2012.

 


PUGET SOUND PORTS

 

► In the PSBJ — Port of Seattle rebukes environmental protesters, maintains lease with Foss, Shell Oil — After the lengthy testimony, the five Port of Seattle commissioners put forward a motion that would allow the public to have more input on leases that generate public interest. The motion does not amend or rescind the lease agreement with Shell.

► In the (Longview) Daily News — Officials try to remain optimistic in wake of failed bid at gas export site — The Port of Longview commissioners’ rejection of a proposed propane terminal shouldn’t shoot down the area’s efforts to bring family wage jobs here, community leaders said.

► In today’s News Tribune — Puget Sound ports seek new business from ports still backlogged with containers — Southern California ports’ continuing woes may be a blessing for Pacific Northwest ports.

► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — 2014 a record revenue year for the PortThe Port of Grays Harbor had record operating revenues of more than $33 million in 2014, officials reported.

 


FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

 

nlrb► From Roll Call — The never-ending, misguided GOP attacks against the NLRB (by Rep. Jared Polis) — Despite the NLRB’s vital role in protecting our country’s workers, many Republicans continue to rail against this federal agency without justification. Last week, we held yet another hearing in the Education and Workforce Committee to attack the NLRB. This is the 15th hearing we’ve held since the majority took control devoted to this sole purpose of condemning the NLRB — don’t you think we could be a little more productive with our committee’s time?

► At Politico — Biden: Labor opponents looking for ‘blackshirts’ to break unions — Vice President Joe Biden hit opponents of organized labor in remarks to a firefighters union on Monday, invoking a term closely associated with interwar European fascism in describing those who are “intent on breaking” unions. Biden denounced those blocking the NLRB’s attempts “to enforce the basic rules of the road,” saying, “They’re not looking for striped shirts, guys. They’re looking for blackshirts, not referees.”

 


NATIONAL

 

► From Reuters — Union says talks to end U.S. refinery strike ‘moving along’ — The union representing striking U.S. refinery workers said on Tuesday that renewed talks with oil companies for a settlement to the 38-day work stoppage were “moving along.” A meeting in Houston between negotiators for the USW and Shell Oil ran into Tuesday night.

AP-wisconsin-rtw-signing► From AP — Unions sue over Wisconsin’s new right-to-work law — The Wisconsin state AFL-CIO and two local labor unions filed the first lawsuit Tuesday against the new right-to-work law, which Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a day earlier. The lawsuit, which seeks both a temporary and permanent blocking of the law, argues that it is unconstitutional because it requires unions to act on behalf of workers who are no longer required to pay union dues, and therefore receive an unfair benefit.

► From Vox — Your company’s health insurance costs are going down. But yours are going up. — The country has had four straight years of record-low health-care cost growth since 2009. But most consumers haven’t actually seen their own medical spending slow. The Center for American Progress published a new report this month that explains what’s happening. Those savings are not going to you, or me, or other consumers. They’re accruing to the rest of the health-care system.

► At Think Progress — Pope Francis attacks the corrupting influence of money in politics — His Holiness Pope Francis called upon candidates in his home nation of Argentina to hold a “free, unfinanced campaign” during a question and answer session with low-income youth from Buenos Aires. The Pope also warned that campaign donations lead elected officials to act against the interests of the people.

 


AWARD-WINNER!

 

The video “Our Work is Life,” made by Seattle photographer/videographer Luke McKinley in solidarity with Community to Community Development and Familias Unidas Por La Justicia — has won the 2015 Real Food Media Contest for Best Underreported Issue. It is a glimpse into the complex story of migrant farmworkers in the United States. Told primarily through the voices of indigenous Mexican campesinos, the film shows one group’s advocacy for dignity and fairness on a berry farm in Washington. Congratulations, Luke, and thank you for telling this important story. Watch “Our Work Is Life” at Vimeo.

 


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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