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Equal pay OK’d, Warren takes on TPP, shareholder sucking sound…

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

 


STATE GOVERNMENT

 

► In the PSBJ — State’s equal pay law may soon get first major upgrade in 70 years — HB 1646, the Equal Pay Opportunity Act, passed 55-43 and will now make its way to the Senate. Sponsored by Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island), the bill would make it illegal to pay a woman less than a man for equal work, and protects employees who inquire about wages from being retaliated against.

15Feb20-rally-aerospace► In today’s (Everett) Herald — No one’s coming forward to defend Boeing’s tax breaks — Sixteen months ago, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law the largest tax break any state has ever given a private company. Today, that law is under legislative attack in Olympia, and the governor isn’t publicly defending it. Freshman Rep. June Robinson (D-Everett) is proposing to rewrite the law in ways that would slice the tax break in half immediately and force Boeing to pay millions — maybe tens of millions — of dollars in additional taxes this year. She’s introduced HB 2147, which would tie Boeing’s incentive to the number of workers it employs in Washington. If that workforce shrinks — and it has since the law was signed in November 2013 — the tax break will, too. Inslee is doing little to discourage the assault on this signature achievement of his first term, telling executives of Boeing and aerospace suppliers last month that he’s monitoring its progress. Neither he nor members of his administration will take part Friday when the House Finance Committee holds a public hearing on Robinson’s bill.

► In today’s News Tribune — Senate passes measure aimed at regaining No Child Left Behind waiver — The state Senate passed a measure Wednesday that would require statewide standardized test scores to play some role in teacher and principal evaluations.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Senate passes bill to slash college tuition rates — Amid fears that cutting tuition would harm the quality of Washington’s higher-education programs, the state Senate passed a bill Wednesday that could slash rates by as much as 30 percent over the next two years. Some raised concerns about finding that money. “We do want to reduce tuition, but we don’t want it to be an empty promise,” said Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle).

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Senate passes disclosure bill aimed at nonprofits — Many nonprofit organizations that give $25,000 or more to political campaigns in Washington would have to disclose their largest donors, under a bill the Senate passed unanimously on Wednesday. The change amounted to “bringing dark money into the light,” said bill sponsor Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane).

school-construction► In today’s News Tribune — Ample state funding? Not for school construction — Washington’s public schools have paid roughly two-thirds of their operating costs with state money in recent years. That’s not enough, the state Supreme Court has ruled in the McCleary case, to comply with the state constitution. But it is extravagant compared to what the state pays to build those schools. When most of 58-year-old Peter G. Schmidt Elementary in Tumwater is replaced starting in June, the state is expected to kick in just more than 15 percent of the cost. When 91-year-old Arlington Elementary in Tacoma is fully renovated or more likely replaced starting in 2016, not a dime of state money is expected. All told, according to state figures, the state pays less than a quarter of capital costs.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Poll: Voters like charter schools but want more oversight

► In today’s Seattle Times — Lawmakers kill effort to slow ‘revolving door’ of state officials turned lobbyists

 


BOEING

 

boeing-bidding-new757-front► In today’s Seattle Times — Aviation guru: Next Boeing plane will bring new tussle over location, labor costs — Aviation guru Steven Udvar-Hazy raised the specter of another hard-nosed confrontation between Boeing and its unions when the company gets serious about a replacement for its out-of-production 757. Udvar-Hazy, chief executive of Air Lease Corp. and a longtime advisor to Boeing on its airplane development programs, raised the specter of another labor battle sometime between 2018 and 2020.

► In the Post and Courier — Labor organizers take message beyond union hall to recruit Boeing’s N. Charleston workers — “Churches are our natural allies,” said IAM organizer Frank Larkin. “It’s not a hard-sell. It’s mainly educating people about how the goals of the union mesh with the goals of the church and social service organizations.”

 


LOCAL

 

eyman-thumbs-up► At SeattlePI.com — Bucks from wealthy backers put Eyman back in initiative business — Initiative promoter Tim Eyman, in hot water with former business benefactors, has attracted two wealthy contributors to fuel this year’s drive to get a measure on the ballot. The latest PDC filings show a $150,000 contribution to Eyman’s Initiative 1366 from wealthy Vancouver developer Clyde Holland plus $100,000 from Bellevue developer and anti-transit activist Kemper Freeman, Jr. I-1366 would permanently lock in place Washington’s tax structure.

EDITOR’S NOTE — And why wouldn’t the top 1% (of the top 1%) want to lock in the most regressive tax system in the country? Holland and Freeman pay less taxes here than they would anywhere else, except maybe the Cayman Islands or Bahamas.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima teachers union battles statewide association — The union representing hundreds of Yakima teachers wants to disaffiliate from a regional service group, but such a move means the local chapter risks being kicked out of the statewide teachers union.

► From HA Seattle — Seattle Times accuses mayor, council of siding with nonexistent fast-food workers union (by Goldy) — While there was certainly a successful effort to organize fast food workers, there was no real attempt to actually unionize them — a virtually impossible task given our weak labor laws and the franchised structure of the fast food industry. So no, the mayor and the council most certainly did not “side with the unions.” They sided with the fast food workers who risked their jobs by walking out in demand of a $15 minimum wage.

 


TRADING AWAY AMERICA

 

warren-trade-transparency► From Bloomberg — Elizabeth Warren says trade deal may force U.S. payouts to overseas firms — A nearly completed trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations may require U.S. taxpayers to finance settlements to multinational corporations that say U.S. regulations hurt their companies, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Wednesday. She said the Trans-Pacific Partnership includes a clause allowing overseas companies to fight U.S. laws before international arbitrators, which she has said could lead to settlements worth billions of dollars. The payouts would be funded by the U.S. government and might allow foreign companies to weaken U.S. environmental, safety and labor rules, Warren said.

ALSO at The Stand — Gov. Inslee wary of expanding investor rights in trade deals

 

► From CNN — Warren challenges Obama (and Clinton) on trade — Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s push to kill major trade negotiations — backed up by the AFL-CIO’s plans announced Wednesday to cut campaign contributions to its traditional Democrat allies to fight alongside her — could become major headache for President Barack Obama. And eventually Hillary Clinton, too.

 


FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

 

► In today’s Washington Post — No one knows the size of the government’s contracted workforce — How large is the U.S. government’s contract workforce? The answer could help gauge how much federal agencies are outsourcing work to the private sector. But no one has managed to nail down a definitive number to date… That doesn’t mean we don’t know how much money is spent on contracting. The CBO said government agencies spent more than $500 billion on outside products and services in 2012. The number represents a rapid increase over the past dozen years.

► From The Hill — House Republican leaders mull $174 billion Medicare vote — Leaders are considering a vote next week on legislation that would abolish cuts to Medicare payments, a policy change that could cost upwards of $174 billion to enact… Congress must act before March 31 to prevent doctors from seeing an automatic 22 percent cut in Medicare payments, an outcome both parties want to avoid.

perez-thomas-L► From Vox — Secretary of Labor Tom Perez on how to fight for social change — “I’m inspired by people like Sarita Gupta (executive director of the workers-rights advocacy group Jobs With Justice), and others, who have recognized that we can organize low-wage workers and we can partner with businesses. She’s working on behalf of… people who understand at a basic level that their life is a struggle, that the playing field isn’t level, but they don’t have time to go to the rally or go to the union hall, and they may not necessarily have the wherewithal. They need help. That’s the voice we have to give. That’s why our work is so important. Because there are folks out there with a lot money to spend who are saying, “I wake up every day figuring out how I can screw unions.”

 


NATIONAL

 

► From AFP — U.S. inequality debate turns to decline of unions — After decades on the decline, some economists and activists are saying that the lack of organized labor power is an important reason why wages are not rising for middle- and lower-class Americans. President Barack Obama added fuel to the debate when he denounced on Monday a new law in Wisconsin that weakens the abilities of unions to build support in the workplace. Said Obama:

It’s no coincidence that the rise of the middle class in America coincided in large part with the rise of unions — workers who organized together for higher wages, better working conditions and the benefits and protections that most workers take for granted today.

► From KPLU — The boss can force you to buy company’s health insurance — Under the health law, large employers that don’t offer their full-time workers comprehensive, affordable health insurance face a fine. But some employers are taking it a step further and requiring workers to buy the company insurance, whether they want it or not. Many workers may have no choice but to comply.

iatse-strike-sharknado► From Deadline — ‘Sharknado 3’ strike hits White House — Just over a week after the watery Syfy sequel was hit by labor action, IATSE has taken its bark and bite to the nation’s capital. Shooting on Sharknado 3 in front of the White House this morning was interrupted by picketers. All the IATSE members on the Asylum produced shoot walked off the job.

► In today’s NY Times — Utah passes white-collar felon registry — With just a point and a click, you can browse a face book of felons, a new government website that will warn of the danger these criminals pose to society. Only these are not the faces of sex offenders and serial killers. These criminals are mortgage schemers and inside traders, most likely armed with nothing more than an M.B.A. or a law degree.

 


TODAY’S MUST-READ

 

walmart-shareholders► In today’s Washington Post — Why salaries don’t rise (by Harold Meyerson) — The economy of the 21st century doesn’t work like its predecessor did. The rise of globalization and work-replacing technology has eliminated millions of middle-class jobs. Many believe that this places more of a premium than ever before on education, on increasing the level of workers’ skills. That premium is real, but it doesn’t even begin to explain our epidemic of stagnant wages… For a more plausible explanation, we must follow the money. When we do, we find that the funds corporations earmarked for their own investment, research, technology and raises during the 20th century have been redirected to shareholders in the 21st. Over the past decade, more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 corporations’ net earnings have been funneled to investors.

 


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

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