Wednesday, March 25, 2015
► In the Skagit Valley Herald — Strike over: USW workers approve contract with Tesoro — Steve Garey, head of the USW Local 12-591, said the agreement addresses wage increases, benefits, forced overtime, chronic understaffing and daily maintenance contracting, among other issues.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Envision Spokane initiative would add workers’ rights to city charter — Spokane voters could require large companies to pay a “family wage” and insert three other workers’ rights into the city charter, under an initiative proposed by community activists. Envision Spokane filed the new initiative with the city last week to bolster workers’ rights in Spokane.
► In today’s Olympian — Poll: 69 percent of Olympia voters want $15 minimum wage — About 69 percent of Olympia voters support the creation of a $15 minimum wage in the city, with the same number saying they would likely vote yes on such an initiative, according to a poll released this week.
► At Crosscut — Is Seattle ready to enforce its $15 minimum wage? — With less than a week until the minimum wage goes up to $11 an hour at the largest companies, the new Office of Labor Standards within Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights does not have a director. And a promised public campaign to spread awareness of the hike is nowhere to be seen.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Cowlitz PUD approves 3-year union contract — The more than 80 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers employed by the PUD will get 3 percent raises each year through 2017. An additional 0.25 percent increase will go to craft workers this year.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Newhouse already fundraising for next campaign — Congressman Dan Newhouse was elected barely five months ago, but he’s already gearing up for the 2016 campaign in emails to supporters.
► In today’s Olympian — State lawmakers eye pension changes for new public sector workers — State lawmakers are considering increasing the age at which new public workers can retire with full pension benefits, as well as capping the amount of income that can be used to calculate future public employees’ monthly pension checks.
ALSO at The Stand — Don’t rob pensions to balance budget (scroll down)
► From KPLU — What exactly should Washington state get from Boeing in exchange for tax breaks? — Washington state is facing an “enormous budget challenge,” according to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has proposed creating a tax on capital gains and another on carbon pollution. But wait a minute, didn’t lawmakers pass what’s been called the biggest tax break in U.S. history just a year and a half ago? What are we getting in exchange for those tax dollars we’ve chosen not to collect from the aerospace industry?
► From the UFWS blog — Glass houses — Republican State Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler warns the House to “play by the rules,” and spells out what “we expect from an honest budget proposal.” It seems that the Majority Leader is unwilling to talk about any budget proposal from the House that doesn’t include all the tax bills needed to pay for it. He threatens that such a proposal will “keep us here well past our scheduled adjournment date.” (But) on March 11, Schoesler and all of his Senate Republican colleagues (including budget chair Andy Hill) voted for SB 5954 — a bill that does exactly what Schoesler would forbid Democrats from doing. SB 5954 would reduce tuition at our state universities and colleges and promises to ante up the three or four hundred million dollars that would cost the institutions. But it doesn’t say a word about where that money would come from.
► From PubliCola — Voting Rights Act gets good reception in GOP Senate — “It sounds like it does two things. It sounds like it gives people some relief. And it sounds like it saves local taxpayers a ton of money,” says Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver).
► In today’s News Tribune — Figure in scandal has long ties to state auditor — A part-time employee of the Washington state auditor’s office is so little known to colleagues that some said they were hard-pressed to recall seeing him or even emailing with him. Nevertheless, he now finds himself a central figure in a scandal surrounding the agency.
► From AP — Male nurses scarce but make more money than women RNs, study finds — The gender gap for registered nurses’ salaries amounts to a little over $5,000 yearly on average and it hasn’t budged in more than 20 years. That pay gap may not sound big — it’s smaller than in many other professions — but over a long career, it adds up to more than $150,000.
► At Think Progress — The law that’s supposed to protect your right to talk about pay doesn’t actually work — The National Labor Relations Act, which protects employees’ right to discuss wages and working conditions with each other as part of collective bargaining efforts. Yet many Americans currently work in places that ban or discourage them from talking about their pay with their coworkers. A 2010 survey from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that about half of all employees say that discussing wages and salaries is either discouraged, outright prohibited, or could lead to punishment. This is a big reason why the gender pay gap persists, experts say.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Urge your State Senator to support the House-approved HB 1646, the Equal Pay Opportunity Act sponsored by Rep. Tara Senn (D-Mercer Island). It would update our state’s 1943 equal pay law to ensure that employees are able to openly discuss and inquire about their wages without fear of retaliation.
► In the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier — Labor board sets April 22 for union election at Boeing’s North Charleston campus — The National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday set April 22 as the date when more than 3,000 production workers at three of Boeing Co.’s plants in North Charleston will vote on whether they want to be represented by the International Association of Machinists union.
► In the U.S. News & World Reports — Yes, you should ask for a raise (by Richard Trumka) — In 2015, nearly 5 million American workers might get a pay raise. By joining together to ask for one. Through a union. Minimum wage hikes, overtime expansion, paid sick leave and other policy improvements are important to raise wages in America. But the best way for workers to get a raise is by asking for one with a collective voice. That’s what workers do — bargain together in unions to improve our lives. And this is an exceptional moment for raising wages through collective bargaining. More new contracts will be bargained by unions and employers in 2015 than at any other point in modern American labor history.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Interested in talking to an organizer about the possibility of forming a union at your workplace? Fill out this form and make it happen!
► In today’s Huffington Post — America needs labor unions (by Dale Hansen) — The Republican Party’s policy from decades ago offers a simple solution to the U.S. income inequality problem. In extolling the virtues of former President Eisenhower’s first term in office, the GOP platform stated, “The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration.” In fact, labor unions were so integral to America’s success that President Eisenhower said, “Labor is the United States. The men and women, who with their minds, their hearts and hands, create the wealth that is shared in this country — they are America.” Despite the Republicans’ change of heart, the value of unions to the success of the U.S. economy remains the same today.
► In today’s NY Times — Bipartisan deal on health care issues hits a snag among Senate Democrats — Sen. Harry Reid, the minority leader, along with other Senate Democrats, object to abortion restrictions in the bill and limits to an extension of a health insurance program for children. They have begun to undermine what was poised to be a sweeping bipartisan solution to several policy problems that have long vexed Congress.
► From Think Progress — Republicans propose weakening OT laws, call it ‘family friendly’ — The Family Friendly and Workplace Flexibility Act would let employers to give their workers an “option” to put their earned overtime hours toward paid family leave, rather than getting paid time-and-a-half for them.
► At KUOW — VA cives rural vets a break after ‘Daily Show’ covers KUOW story — Twice as many veterans in rural areas will be able to go to a doctor near their home after a policy change made Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The change follows a scathing report less than 24 hours earlier on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” which featured a KUOW story.
► From The Hill — Back to Social Security (by Markos Moulitsas) — For the first time, Democrats aren’t on the defensive on Social Security. This is no longer about preventing cuts, or staving off Republican austerity. Republicans may hate the thought of seniors having a little more financial security, but we finally have a Democratic Party with a positive agenda for bolstering the bottom line for retirement security.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.