Thursday, April 23, 2015
► From AP — Senate panel OKs ‘fast track’ trade legislation, but battle awaits in House — The Senate Finance Committee approved, on an 20-6 vote, the “fast track” trade promotion authority measure with the support of seven Democrats: Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Tom Carper (Del.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.).
TAKE A STAND! — Here are two things you can do to urge Washington’s Congressional delegation to vote NO on Fast Track:
Call the AFL-CIO toll-free line NOW — 855-712-8441 — to get patched through to your member of Congress and tell him/her: “Vote NO on Fast Track when it comes up for a vote.”
Phone bank TONIGHT — Please help phone bank constituents in targeted districts at a phone bank from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 23 at the Washington State Labor Council’s Seattle office, 321 16th Ave. South.
► At Politico — Progressives ready big ad buy targeting trade deal –A coalition of labor, environmental and progressive interests is launching a seven-figure ad campaign aimed at pressuring congressional Democrats to oppose Fast Track.
EDITOR’S NOTE — You’ll be seeing/hearing those ads in Western Washington.
ALSO at The Stand — Massive Washington state coalition: ‘NO on Fast Track!’
► From Huffington Post — AFL-CIO: Murder doesn’t matter under trade deals — Defenders of the White House push for sweeping trade deals argue they include tough enforcement of labor standards. But a top union leader scoffed at such claims Tuesday, revealing that administration officials have said privately that they don’t consider even the killings of labor organizers to be violations of those pacts.
► In the Washington Post — U.S. Chamber, AFL-CIO clash at Senate hearing over Obama’s free trade push — Big business and organized labor squared off Tuesday over President Obama’s trade agenda, as a key Senate committee prepared to vote on legislation to give the administration more authority to complete a major deal in the Asia Pacific.
► From Roll Call — Sen. Reid a ‘Hell No’ on Obama’s fast track push — “You couldn’t find a person to ask this question who feels more negatively about it than I do,” the Nevada Democrat told reporters about so-called Trade Promotion Authority. “Not only no, but hell no.”
► In the National Journal — Warren strikes back at Obama for calling her ‘wrong’ on trade — Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “If most of the trade deal is good for the American economy, but there’s a provision hidden in the fine print that could help multinational corporations ship American jobs overseas or allow for watering down of environmental or labor rules, fast track would mean that Congress couldn’t write an amendment to fix it.”
► From Politico — Hill Dems to Hillary Clinton: get off the fence on trade — The 12-nation Pacific trade deal is the first major policy dilemma of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and she’s under pressure to cast aside her own past as a free-trade proponent and buck the current Democratic president in whose Cabinet she served.
► From Reuters — U.S. Treasury warns Congress currency push could derail Pacific pact — U.S. lawmakers’ proposals to sanction countries that deliberately weaken their currencies could derail a Pacific trade pact that is a key part of the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia, the Treasury warned on Tuesday.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Teachers sound the alarm in walkouts — Hundreds of red-clad teachers, parents and students waved signs and cheered for each other during a rally at Legion Memorial Park to protest state education policies and funding decisions. Teachers unions in the Arlington, Lakewood and Stanwood-Camano school districts held a one-day walkout Wednesday to call on the Legislature to pay for smaller class sizes at all grade levels, provide raises and better benefits for teachers, and reject a bill that would link teacher performance reviews with their students’ scores on state tests. The local unions are part of the statewide Washington Education Association.
► From AP — State AG to update high court Monday on education funding progress — The state Attorney General’s office will update the state Supreme Court Monday on the Legislature’s progress toward complying with a contempt order in an education-funding case.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Expand state budget to meet needs of real people (by Reps. Hunter and Carlyle) — As the House works with Senate Republicans to reach a final budget agreement, we invite them to join us in investing in real people living real lives instead of protecting the status quo of our unfair tax system. We’re all in this together.
► In today’s Seattle Times —State must live within its means (by Sen. Andy Hill) — The Senate passed a complete operating budget that prioritizes education, would protect our most vulnerable citizens and would balance over the next four years. All this was made possible by setting priorities and living within our means — in other words, without raising taxes.
► In today’s News Tribune — Levy swap plan would boost taxes for some, reduce taxes for others in Washington school districts — A Republican plan to reduce school districts’ use of local levies to pay for basic education would raise property taxes in more than 40 percent of Washington’s school districts.
► In the Seattle Times — One-third of WA state’s urban highways in poor shape, report says — Maintenance has been shortchanged so long that urban highways in Washington state are becoming worse than in other states, a new analysis says. Some 34 percent are in poor condition, as are 22 percent of the state’s rural highways.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Campaign finance bill dies in Senate — A campaign finance reform bill that supporters said would shine light on “dark money” in politics appears dead after a procedural fight between the two caucuses in the Senate Wednesday.
► From KPLU — UW student teachers, researchers authorize strike — By an overwhelming majority, the Academic Student Employees union at the University of Washington approved a strike if it cannot reach a contract with school administrators. The vote came after an impasse during tense negotiations with the university over issues such as pay and student fees and the rising cost of living in Seattle.
ALSO at The Stand — UW Academic Student Employees OK strike
► In today’s Columbian — County Councilor Madore’s labor resolutions appear dead, for now — Councilor David Madore’s two proposed labor union resolutions, which have incited protests and demonstrations at county meetings for more than a month, appear to have died.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Labor talks are far from finished for Wauna mill — A year after contract talks started, Georgia-Pacific and Wauna paper mill workers remain divided, work flexibility and economic issues, according to company and union (USW) sources.
► From IAM 751 — Spokane Machinists build wheelchair ramp for teens — Members of Machinists Union Local Lodge 86 in Spokane have built their first wheelchair ramp, spreading a proud tradition started by Machinists Union volunteers in Seattle nearly 20 years ago.
► From PubliCola — Yes, the rent is too damn high. But what’s the solution? (by Josh Feit) — Just as liberals and progressives like to talk about raising taxes on the 1 percent, but not the middle class, I wish we could get back to a place where we understand that the only way to make the social contract work for everyone is to involve everyone in the solution. Singling out landlords (or developers) is a tax-everybody-but-me solution that’s ultimately going to fail. Let’s stop advocating for easy choices and make some hard ones.
ALSO at The Stand — ‘Rent is Out of Control’ town hall at 6 p.m. Thursday at Seattle City Hall
► From AP — Boeing tops 1Q profit forecasts, airplane deliveries rise — Boeing Co. delivered more commercial airliners in the first quarter, offsetting sluggish results in the defense side of its business and pushing its first-quarter earnings up 38 percent. The profit topped Wall Street expectations, but revenue was below forecasts, and production costs of the Boeing 787 jet continued to pile up.
► In the PSBJ — 787 costs create turbulence in Boeing earnings report
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — House Hanford budget would increase spending $38 million — The proposed U.S. House budget for Hanford would spend less money than President Obama’s administration requested for the vitrification plant and tank farms next year, but restore some of the money the administration wanted to cut from completion of cleanup along the Columbia River.
► From Bloomberg — $23,660-a-year ‘managers’ to get a raise — President Barack Obama is preparing to do what the U.S. economic recovery has been slow to accomplish: raise the wages of millions of Americans. His administration is drafting new rules on who qualifies for overtime compensation, forcing more businesses to pay time- and-a-half after 40 hours of work. Many employees now earning as little as $23,660 a year — below the federal poverty line for a family of four — aren’t entitled to overtime pay because they are considered managers.
► In the NY Times — Democrats are rallying around a $12 federal minimum wage — Within the next several days, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate committee that deals with labor issues, plans to introduce a bill to increase the minimum wage, in steps, from its current level of $7.25 to $12 by 2020.
► From Roll Call — Senate contractors to join federal workers strike at Capitol — Contract workers in the U.S. Senate will walk off their jobs Wednesday to join contractors from across the District of Columbia in a strike calling for preference to be given to contractors who offer better wages, benefits and collective bargaining rights.
► From BNA — NLRB files brief supporting union’s lawsuit, calling county right-to-work laws preempted — The National Labor Relations Board April 17 urged a federal district court in Kentucky to invalidate a county ordinance that prohibits the use of union-security provisions in collective bargaining agreements and regulates other practices that are either permitted or prohibited by federal law.
► From Huffington Post — How raising the minimum wage to $15 changed these workers’ lives — A valet attendant and shuttle driver at a parking company called MasterPark, Sammi Babakrkhil saw his base wage jump from $9.55 per hour, before tips, up to $15. Having scraped by in America since immigrating from Afghanistan 11 years ago, he suddenly faced the pleasant predicament as his co-workers: What to do with the windfall? For the overworked father of three, it wasn’t a hard question. Babakrkhil decided to quit his other full-time job driving shuttles at a hotel down the road. Though he’d take home less money overall, the pay hike at MasterPark would allow him to work 40 hours a week instead of a brutal 80 — and to actually spend time with his wife and three young girls.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.