Wednesday, April 15, 2015
REMINDER — TODAY in SeaTac, Yakima, Pasco, Olympia and Seattle, working people are rising up and taking on giant corporations like McDonald’s, Walmart, and Alaska Airlines. With additional actions planned in Tacoma, Vancoouver, Bellingham, Aberden, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Shelton and Everett, Wednesday, April 15 promises to be the biggest day of action yet!
We made history by passing a $15/hour minimum wage last year — but $15 in Seattle is just the beginning. Inequality ends with us! Click here for the list of today’s events.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Minimum wage issue bubbling up around the state — Tali Weitzman, of Olympia, is working two part-time jobs while going to college full time. Even with those two jobs, she says, it’s not enough to support herself. She is among thousands of people nationwide, including in Washington, who are expected to participate in demonstrations Wednesday pushing for higher minimum wages.
► From In These Times — The courage of low-wage workers on strike (by USW President Leo W. Gerard) — This is no plea for pity for corporate kingpins like Walmart and McDonald’s inundated by workers’ demands for living wages. Raises would, of course, cost these billion-dollar corporations something. More costly, though, is the price paid by minimum-wage workers who have not received a raise in six years. Even more dear is what these workers have paid for their campaign to get raises. Managers have harassed, threatened and fired them. Despite all that, low-wage workers will return to picket lines and demonstrations Wednesday in a National Day of Action in the fight for $15 an hour.
REMINDER 2 — THIS WEEK is Tax Week Call-In to make sure Washington’s wealthiest residents and large, profitable corporations pay their fair share for education, senior services, mental health care and many other critical state services. If you haven’t already, please call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and leave this message for your representatives in Olympia: “I pay my fair share in taxes. It’s time to make sure the wealthiest in Washington pay their fair share, too. Support HB 2224, the House fair revenue package.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — Can a narrower capital-gains tax fly in Legislature? — Senate Democrats, led by Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island), are floating a narrower version of a capital gains tax that would hit just 7,500 of the wealthiest Washingtonians.
► In the Columbian — Correct funding is negotiated (letter to the editor) — Despite becoming targets of assault, attempted murder, murder, contamination with blood and bodily fluids, and the physical, emotional, and psychological impacts these events create, we Department of Corrections state employees must assume multiple roles while maintaining a professional attitude… We ask the public to please contact your district senator and ask them show us that they value the work that we do and prove that our work is not in vain by funding the Department of Corrections contract as it was negotiated between the union and the state.
ALSO at The Stand — Join #PublicServiceMatters events this Saturday, April 18
► In today’s Seattle Times — State schools chief calls out lawmakers, ups ante on funding — Saying that lawmakers aren’t going far enough to fulfill the state Supreme Court’s order on public-school funding, state Superintendent Randy Dorn on Tuesday released his own $2.2 billion proposal.
► From the United Faculty of WA State — Public Image Limited — The fig leaf that Sen. Andy Hill and other Republicans have tried to put on their otherwise naked attempt to shrink public infrastructure is their plan to reduce tuition at our state’s colleges and universities… (They) have talked a lot about how they intend to “make the institutions whole” after the lost tuition revenue. But their budget proposal falls millions of dollars short of doing that and would require the universities to make cuts either to financial aid or other programs… Even if the Senate budget proposal did fully backfill the tuition cut, that would only bring our colleges and universities back to where they are now — 49th in the country in total per student funding. The Senate budget and its authors are content to let Washington’s public higher education limp along in the sub-basement into the foreseeable future. Students would pay a little less, but they would get a lot less — fewer classes, bigger classes, longer time to degree, less qualified professors, and generally crappier degrees. The long-term costs would far outweigh the short-term tuition relief.
► From WAfilmPAC — Luce Cousineau: A local hair and make-up artist tells her story — Some people get the impression that filmmaking consists mostly of actors and a director — but it’s truly a team effort. Everyone does their part bringing a set and production to life, and film provides valuable jobs for local vendors, cast, and crew — just ask Luce Cousineau…
► In today’s Seattle Times — Summer ferry reservation system fails on first day — The state DOT kicked off the summer vacation planning season by opening a new online reservation system for summer ferry travel. But the system failed on its first day of operation Tuesday.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Providence hospital, nurses agree on proposed contract — A tentative agreement has been reached in a labor dispute between Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and 1,400 registered nurses. An agreement was reached Monday evening, said a spokesman for UFCW 21. Details of the agreement, including its length, will not be disclosed publicly until after a vote on the contract, which is scheduled for April 29. Union representatives have said for the past several months that the biggest issue holding up an agreement was staffing levels. The union said more nurses are needed to adequately meet the treatment needs of patients.
ALSO in The Stand — Pickets, rally support nurses at Providence Everett (March 17, 2015)
► In today’s News Tribune — Subcontractor working on overpass involved in fatal accident had past safety violations — A subcontractor working on a Bonney Lake overpass Monday when part of the bridge’s concrete wall fell and killed three people has been cited in the past for not protecting its workers from potential falls.
► From L&I — Walla Walla drywall contractor ordered to pay $1 million in workers’ comp premiums, penalties — “This is a particularly egregious case of an employer cheating the legitimate businesses and employees who fund the workers’ comp system,” said am L&I spokesperson.
► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma to host three meetings on sick leave rules — The Tacoma City Council passed a paid sick leave law in January. City staff now seek feedback on draft rules and a notice to workers and employers in three upcoming public meetings.
► In the Columbian — Clark College to host forum on inequality — Clark College is hosting a panel discussion about wealth and inequality based on French economist Thomas Piketty’s book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.” The public is invited to the free event at 6 p.m. April 23 in Foster Auditorium at Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way.
► MUST-READ in today’s Spokesman-Review — Trolley-bashing Washington Policy Center has funny way of showing neutrality (by Shawn Vestal) — The Washington Policy Center — peddlers of right-to-work laws and opposers of all taxation — has inserted itself prominently in our city’s election over whether to expand funding for transit programs. Why does the WPC, which is working so diligently against Proposition 1, so diligently pretend that it’s not? Maybe it’s this: Defining itself as “not political” allows the WPC to pay no taxes and to keep donors secret.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Union may delay vote at Boeing’s South Carolina plant — The Machinists union says it could decide by Friday whether to postpone next week’s vote to organize production workers at Boeing South Carolina. A door-to-door campaign is helping it gauge whether it has enough backing to win.
► MUST-READ from Buzzfeed News — Inside the White House’s war on the left over trade — Last Thursday at noon, Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, sat waiting for a call from the White House. It would be his first such call in 35 years of organizing. Johnson had been told by White House aides just 90 minutes before to expect the call. When the phone rang, on the other line were two administration officials: Yohannes Abraham, chief of staff in Valerie Jarrett’s Office of Public Engagement, and Luis Jimenez, former policy aide in Rahm Emanuel’s congressional office and an adviser to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. After a cordial but terse conversation about the president’s trade agenda — which Johnson, like the national AFL-CIO, rejects as dangerous for American workers — the White House aides signed off with a warning that Johnson immediately wrote down on the pad he was using for notes during the call.
“We can respect the integrity of your position, but as you lobby your congressional delegation, we would ask that you don’t tear the party apart or wound the party going forward,” Johnson was told. The idea that his group’s efforts to convince Washington state’s elected leaders to vote against President Obama on trade could destroy the Democratic party itself was a surprise. “I found it pretty stunning,” Johnson said.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Trans-Pacific Partnership: The hard sell is on (by Jon Talton) — “Free trade” has played a big part in depressing the wages of American workers. The persistent trade deficit means millions of lost jobs and we can’t export our way out of it, despite the promises from Democratic and Republican presidents.
► From the Hill — Senate trade bill could come Wednesday — Leaders on the Senate Finance Committee could introduce fast-track trade legislation as early as Wednesday. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Tuesday that he is planning a Thursday hearing on a so-called fast-track measure, a signal that the long-awaited bill could be ready ahead of time.
► From the Public News Service — I paid how much… for what? Federal income taxes, dissected — It’s federal income-tax filing deadline day, and those rushing to send their returns may wonder exactly where the money goes. Individual income tax payments make up almost half of all federal revenue. The National Priorities Project reports that 27 cents of every federal income tax dollar paid in 2014 went to the military, 26 cents went to health programs and 15 cents was used to pay interest on the federal debt. Eight cents was spent on unemployment and job-training programs, and five cents on veterans’ benefits. That leaves pennies for food and agriculture, transportation, housing, scientific research and programs involving energy and the environment.
► From the Hill — Obama pro-union rule to take effect — An Obama administration rule that speeds up the process by which employees can unionize will take effect Tuesday after Republicans last month failed to block the measure. Under the new NLRB rules, employees could potentially organize a union in less than two weeks, compared to the previous average of 38 days between the time a petition is filed and the election is held.
► In the U.S News & World Report — Paid sick days pay off (by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray) — I recently heard a story from a woman named Alma, who works at a restaurant in Washington state. One day, her daughter had a serious asthma attack. So she did what any parent would do. She left work and rushed to the hospital. But without paid sick days, Alma wasn’t allowed to leave during her shift, even for her daughter’s medical emergency. So she had to quickly return to work. Even worse, her boss threatened to fire her if she ever left work during her shift again. It doesn’t have to be this way. Earlier this year, I introduced a bill called the Healthy Families Act to allow workers to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave a year, because no worker should have to sacrifice a day’s pay, or their job altogether, just to take care of themselves or their sick child.
► From TPM — Chris Christie proposing major cuts to Social Security system — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) proposed broad changes to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare in a speech in New Hampshire. He is proposing cutting Social Security benefits to seniors who make more than $80,000 a year and also eliminate benefits for those making $200,000 or more. Christie also called on raising the national retirement age from 67 to 69.
► From Think Progress — After destroying his state’s retirement system, Christie sets sights on Social Security — The likely 2016 White House candidate proposes a similar approach to national retirement systems as the one currently failing in his home state.
► From the City of Seattle — Labor Standards Investigator — The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is accepting applications for the position of Labor Standards Investigator. These three positions will handle complex caseloads that include intake, investigation and resolution of complaints based on Seattle’s Labor Standards Ordinances: minimum wage, paid sick and safe time, use of criminal history in employment decisions, wage theft and other labor-related laws that the City may enact in the future. Applications close on Tuesday, April 21 at 4 p.m.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.