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Fast Tracking suits, Micro-managing, the ‘freedom’ sham…

Thursday, March 26, 2015




WA-congress-fast-track► In today’s NY Times — Trans-Pacific Partnership seen as door for foreign suits against U.S. — An ambitious 12-nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and hurt their business, according to a classified document. The Trans-Pacific Partnership — a cornerstone of Obama’s remaining economic agenda — would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America and Asia. Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.

PREVIOUSLY at The Stand:

Bellingham City Council opposes Fast Track; Seattle vote Mar. 30 (Mar. 24)

► From Bloomberg — Warren says TPP may force U.S. payouts to overseas firms (Mar. 11)

Gov. Inslee wary of expanding investor rights in trade deals (Dec. 16, 2014)


► From The Hill — Left threatens to oust key Dem over trade — Liberal groups are threatening to back a primary challenge to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a key member of the Senate Finance Committee, in 2016 if he helps Obama secure a new trade pact that would stretch from the Asia-Pacific to Latin America.

► From AFL-CIO Now — Ohio: Join Sherrod Brown, Tim Ryan and Marcy Kaptur to fight Fast Track — Members of Ohio’s congressional delegation are stepping up and calling for trade policies that are open and transparent and protect things that Ohioans and Americans care about: democracy, jobs, the environment and the Internet.

reichert-naked-gun-confused► Meanwhile in Washington state, in today’s Seattle Times — TPP would boost Washington’s economy (by Rep. Dave Reichert) — For those who argue we should not expand trade, I encourage them to consider our role in the world if we are not globally engaged.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Like all TPP supporters, Rep. Reichert goes with the straw-man argument that anyone opposing the deal is a protectionist who “opposes” trade. Sigh. Dumbing down the debate into a question of supporting or opposing trade is exactly how we ended up with NAFTA and every subsequent deal eroding jobs, harming the environment, and expanding corporate/investor “rights.”

► At PubliCola — O’Brien’s TPP resolutiuon is relevant The Seattle Times cites Washington state’s impressive trade stats as a reason that Seattle city council member Mike O’Brien should pipe down. But O’Brien cites the same economic clout as a reason to weigh in. When it comes to understanding what it means to be a world-class city, or at least relevant, O’Brien is far ahead of the Times.

► In the Skagit Valley Herald — Oppose Fast Track (letter) — Here we go again. More U.S. jobs will be moved offshore if corporatists and their congressional subordinates get their way. Secret talks are being held in an attempt to sneak a NAFTA-on-steroids job-killing free trade agreement past us.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle’s $15 wage law may not affect city’s biggest boss: UW — Seattle’s minimum-wage law kicks in April 1, but the largest employer within the city – the University of Washington — isn’t bumping up pay for its lowest-paid workers then, and it’s unclear whether it will have to follow the new law.

microsoft► In today’s Seattle Times — Microsoft tells vendors to give contract workers basic benefits — In what a top Microsoft exec says is a step that is “good for the people and good for business,” companies that provide contract workers to the software giant will have to provide 15 days of paid leave each year to those employees.

ALSO in the NY Times — From Microsoft, a novel way to mandate paid sick leave

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Compensation rules for ill Hanford construction workers likely to be eased — The federal Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend a “special exposure cohort” designation for employees of Hanford construction contractors from 1984 through 1990 and any subcontractor during that period.




► From Reuters — Vote at Boeing South Carolina plants sets up labor showdown — Boeing Co faces a union authorization vote in South Carolina next month that pits the plane maker and anti-union Governor Nikki Haley against an organized labor movement that has been thwarted from expansion in the South.

holden-jon-iam751► In the PSBJ — Puget Sound Machinists prepped to send groups to support S.C. Boeing union election — “It’s their campaign down there in South Carolina. They’re doing a great job. They’ve got it to an election, we’ll support it however we can,” said Jon Holden, president of Machinists District Lodge 751. “If we’re asked to send folks down, we absolutely will.”

► In the PSBJ — Boeing concedes more tanker delays, Air Force still expects 2017 full delivery — Despite new delays, Boeing and the Department of Defense still believe the KC-46 Air Force tanker will hit its 2017 delivery date for the first 18, with the first to be delivered in 2016.

► In the PSBJ — Chinese airline orders $7.7 billion worth of Boeing 787-9s — The order is the largest so far this year for Boeing’s 787-9, and it also means Boeing’s backlog of orders for the mid-sized version of the Dreamliner is up to a healthy 855.




► From KPLU — Tax breaks for you — yes, you — are among Washington state’s costliest — The sales tax exemption for food products cost Washington an estimated $1.1 billion this year. Another on prescription drug sales cost nearly $520 million. Still another exemption on sales of motor vehicle fuel costs another $850 million.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — WSU medical school in Spokane gets Senate OK — Washington State University should soon have the authority to start a new medical school on its Spokane campus. The question now is, will it have the money to do that?

1950s-malt-shop► In today’s Seattle Times — In defense of the dead-end job (by Richard Davis, in opposition to raising the minimum wage) — Dead-end jobs get a bum rap. They provide young and inexperienced workers the skills — and sometimes the motivation — required to get ahead.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Again with the Leave It to Beaver era rap about minimum-wage jobs being teenagers working down at the malt shop. It’s just not true — no matter how many times it’s repeated by corporate-funded opiners, including retired ones from Bainbridge Island. (In a related story… bags of smelly goo.)

► In today’s Oregonian — Oregon paid sick leave bill passes first legislative hurdle — A controversial bill requiring Oregon employers to provide paid sick days for workers to care for themselves or a family member cleared its first hurdle Wednesday, passing the Senate Workforce Committee.

► In today’s News Tribune — Washington would be wise to follow Oregon’s lead on voter registration (by Matt Driscoll) — Last week Oregon became the first state in the nation to pass a law that will automatically register citizens to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license. Instead of being forced to register to vote, Oregonians with a driver’s license will now have to register not to vote.




► From AP — Republicans approve conservative budget — The 228-199 roll call Wednesday by which the House passed a conservative budget that relies on nearly $5 trillion in cuts to eliminate deficits over the next decade, calls for repealing the health care law, envisions transformations of the tax code, and turns Medicare into a voucher program.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington’s Congressional delegation voted on strict party lines: Democrats “no,” and Republicans: “yes.”

mcmorris-rodgers-L► From The Hill — House rejects conservative budget in a 132-294 vote — The House rejected a far more conservative version of the GOP budget on Wednesday in a 132-294 vote. The Republican Study Committee’s budget would balance in five years and cut $7.1 trillion in spending over the next decade. A total of 112 Republicans voted against the measure, along with all of the chamber’s Democrats.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Who was the lone member of Congress from Washington state to vote for this ultra-conservative budget? Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — A renewed push for equal pay (editorial) — Legislation reintroduced this week by Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the Paycheck Fairness Act, would bolster the Equal Pay Act and allow the pay gap to close more quickly.




MayDay004► At Think Progress — Unions are increasingly bargaining to protect undocumented immigrants — For a large part of their history, labor unions cast a wary eye on immigrant workers, worried that foreign workers would hurt the leveraging power for members. But with a receding membership in recent times, unions are aggressively targeting the 22 million immigrant workers in the country, regardless of legal status, to join their ranks. Some immigrants are especially eager to join unions because many who fear deportation believe that it would improve workplace conditions without retribution. And unions are taking immigrant needs straight to the bargaining table.

► From Reuters — Striking workers approve contract at Tesoro Martinez, Calif. refineryUSW members at the Martinez refinery were the last of three Tesoro groups to approve the contract based on a tentative national agreement reached between the union and U.S. refinery owners on March 12.


► From CNN — A right every American worker should have (by ) — Paid family leave is a crucial part of the agenda for women’s equality, and pitting paid family leave against an agenda for women’s equality, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently did, is wrong and short-sighted. In fact, paid family leave must be addressed to advance equality; as with wage and hiring discrimination, lack of paid leave is a major contributor to women’s lower pay and to gender inequality. That’s just one reason that 177 nations guarantee paid family leave for new moms. The United States is the only developed country that does not.

► From Huffington Post — Supreme Court sides with pregnant workers — In a victory for pregnant women in the workplace, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in favor of a worker who sued shipping giant UPS for pregnancy discrimination, sending her lawsuit back to a lower court where she had previously lost.

► From AP — UAW union head says no to new level of low wages for workers — The leader of the United Auto Workers union has rejected a new level of lower wages for members who make auto parts ahead of contract talks with automakers that start in the summer.




Scott Walker► At Salon — Scott Walker’s ‘freedom’ sham: Legalized bribery, ALEC and an assault on workers (by Tyrone Sutton) — When Gov. Scott Walker signed the unfair “right to work” bill into law he proclaimed, “Wisconsin now has the freedom to work.” When I heard that line, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I wanted to laugh because I knew he was wrong. I wanted to cry because I knew this law was going to make life more challenging for myself, my family, and my friends. I work at Fair Oaks Farms in Kenosha and am a proud member of UFCW Local 1473. Every few years my coworkers and I sit down with Fair Oaks Farms and negotiate workplace rules, pay raises, health care, and other terms of our employment. There are disagreements, but we have always managed to work out a fair deal. This “right to work” law upends that entire process by giving corporations all across Wisconsin the right to divide workers. The motivation to undermine worker unity is simple – greed and profits. If the worker side of the bargaining table is weaker, then corporations won’t feel like they have to pay them as much or provide them with as good benefits. These aren’t just personal fears of mine – they’re facts.


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