Friday, April 10, 2015
► In the Seattle Times — UW regents flee as student activists speak up — Demanding higher wages, a freeze on tuition and better working conditions for custodians, a raucous group of student activists packed into the University of Washington Club on Wednesday and disrupted a dinner meeting of UW’s regents. The regents and UW police tried to wrest control of the meeting from the protesters but were shouted down by nearly 100 people packed into a lounge on the building’s first floor. After about 20 minutes, the regents fled to a downstairs dining room in the UW Club, leaving plates of uneaten appetizers on the table. The protests were led by Reclaim UW, a coalition of student groups that includes academic student employees represented by UAW 4121.
“I’m not all that surprised they left — but I think they heard us,” said Elizabeth Mills, a member of UAW 4121 and a student employee.
► From IAM 751 — Talks to continue after Jorgenson Forge Machinists reject offer — Negotiators are headed back to the bargaining table after Machinists Union members at Jorgensen Forge Co. rejected a proposed three-year contract Thursday. “Our members at JFC told us we have more work to do,” said IAM 751 business representative Joe Crockett. “We will meet with the company next week, to get that job started.”
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Mercer Canyons calls farm-worker ruling unfair, flawed — Mercer disputes claims by plaintiffs that they were misled about the availability of jobs under the federal H-2A guestworker program and that the grower failed to pay the correct wages for some work in 2013.
► In the PSBJ — Report calls MultiCare’s debt collection practices ‘aggressive’ and ‘ruthless’ — Tacoma-based nonprofit MultiCare Health System, one of the largest hospital systems in Pierce County, is the target of a scathing report released Wednesday that zeroes in on alleged questionable billing practices at MultiCare. Those included “point-of-service” billing, in which a hospital worker approaches patients before their visit is over — and sometimes while they are still in a hospital bed — to collect payment.
ALSO at The Stand — Report: Non-profit MultiCare prioritizing profits, collections
► In the Skagit Valley Herald — Work shouldn’t hurt (letter by Richard Austin) — Politicians will tell you the U.S. has fantastic workplace safety regulations. The trouble with such baloney is that those regulations are just words on paper. Much of the time, they never get enforced. Our fellow workers, friends, neighbors and loved ones continue to die from work-related causes.
► From AP — Negotiations on transportation deal to begin next week — A proposal to raise the gas tax as part of a multibillion-dollar transportation package won’t get a vote in the House until both chambers negotiate a final deal, a key lawmaker said Thursday. While the full House was scheduled to vote Thursday on a $7.7 billion maintenance transportation budget that continues ongoing funding for current projects, House Transportation Chairwoman Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island) said the Senate’s $15 billion transportation revenue package won’t get a vote in the chamber until there is a negotiated agreement.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — $7.7 billion Washington transportation budget gets House OK — The House approved a transportation budget Thursday that includes money to repave nearly 2,100 miles of state highway, repair up to 50 structurally deficient bridges and continue work on the North Spokane Corridor.
► From PubliCola — Inslee says carbon cap still in play, polling says… — Nothing’s ever dead as the two chambers try to strike a final and deal and the governor’s office hasn’t given up hope on the cap and trade bill. Meanwhile, Carbpon Washington cites a poll that finds “a majority of likely voters, at 53.7 percent, said they support a carbon tax if offset by lower income and business taxes, while only 32.6 percent are opposed.”
► From PubliCola — Senate budget doesn’t only ignore Supreme Court, it cuts it — The Republican budget proposal doesn’t merely thumb its nose at the Washington State Supreme Court’s McCleary mandate to fully fund K–12 education by budgeting instead with gimmicks and harsh cuts elsewhere. The GOP proposal also takes an electric saw to the Supreme Court’s budget itself, slashing $928,000 in cuts to salaries, travel, and indigent defense, among other costs.
► MUST-READ from the United Faculty of Wash. State’s blog — Who’s your daddy? (by Bill Lyne) — If we have to listen to one more piety about how government must live within its current income, like a real family does, or one more distortion about how a capital gains tax will hurt Washington families, we’re gonna puke. The citizens of Washington are not a family. And if we were, and state legislators were our mommies and daddies, they would probably be in jail, for having failed to provide for their children to go to school, utterly neglecting their mentally ill children, and allowing their really rich children to live rent-free while their poor children paid all the bills… The capital gains tax would pay for the schools that our parent legislators have neglected so badly they’re about to be thrown in the clink. Only rich people would pay it and they wouldn’t pay that much… There’s really nothing bad about it. That’s probably why the people who oppose it have to buy misleading ads that spew clichés about families to try to convince regular people to go testify against it.
► From AFSCME — Retirees demand Real Retirement Security at White House events — Seniors called on officials to stand up and protect programs that offer real retirement security for Americans as regional White House forums continued in Phoenix and Seattle. Outside the event in Seattle on April 2, Ellen Carmody, who worked for DHSH for 27 years and is a member of the Washington Retired Public Employees Council, said: “We need to make sure future generations can retire with security. That starts with speaking the truth about programs like Social Security – they work.”
► In today’s NY Times — Where government excels (by Paul Krugman) — Suddenly, it seems, many Democrats have decided to break with Beltway orthodoxy, which always calls for cuts in “entitlements.” Instead, they’re proposing that Social Security benefits actually be expanded. This is a welcome development in two ways. First, the specific case for expanding Social Security is quite good. Second, and more fundamentally, Democrats finally seem to be standing up to antigovernment propaganda and recognizing the reality that there are some things the government does better than the private sector.
► From AFL-CIO Now — U.S. high-tech workers forced to train foreign replacements; bipartisan Senate group urges H-1B investigation — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has called on the federal government to investigate abuses in the H-1B visa program, including allegations that some U.S. firms have not only laid off American high-tech workers and replaced them with lower-paid foreign workers, but forced the American employees to train their replacements.
► From The Hill — Clinton to announce Sunday, with Iowa on horizon — Hillary Clinton’s presidential announcement is expected to come via social media on Sunday and Iowa will likely be the first stop of Clinton’s post-announcement tour.
► From Bloomberg — The left building a movement of movements to pressure Hillary — With Elizabeth Warren declining to run, progressives are taking matters into their own hands — with her platform, and her support.
► At TPM — Elizabeth Warren tells John Stewart: ‘Every rule’ protects ‘tender fannies of the rich’ — “Powerful corporations, rich people, have figured out that if you can bend the government to help you just a little bit, it’s a tremendous payoff. And if you can bend it to help you just a little bit more, and a little bit more, the playing field just gets more and more tilted, and the rich and the powerful just do better and better.”
► From Fortune — What corporate America should do for low-wage workers (by Jeff Furman) — On April 15, fast food, retail, and other low-wage workers are planning a wave of actions to demand a $15 minimum wage. Organizers say protests in 200 American cities and solidarity actions in 35 other countries will add up to the largest mobilization of underpaid workers in history. This should be a wake-up call to the business community. It’s a moral disgrace that so many hard-working Americans have to scrape to get by on a minimum wage that is 25% below what it was in 1968. It’s also bad for business.
► From AP — Huge French protests as strikes close schools, Eiffel Tower — Thousands of protesters, many blowing whistles and waving union flags, marched through Paris and other French cities on Thursday in a day of nationwide strikes that kept many children out of school, forced the closure of the Eiffel Tower and cancelled some 2,000 flights in and out of France. Stepping up pressure on President Francois Hollande’s already-unpopular Socialist government, the protesters aired an array of grievances against state funding cuts, planned increases in the retirement age, and business-friendly reforms that could make firing workers easier.
► Today, on her 56th birthday, The Entire Staff of The Stand shares the story of Katrina Leskanich. A girl from Kansas moves to England, joins a band called the Waves, makes one smash hit song, the band soon breaks up, she becomes a BBC Radio DJ, records a solo album (crickets), performs occasionally on a “Rewind” tour featuring the likes of ABC, Howard Jones and one Thompson Twin, and then TODAY announces on her website that she is celebrating the 30th anniversary of this song’s release — her one big hit — by releasing another solo album. Happy birthday, Katrina, and best wishes for a successful comeback!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.