Friday, April 24, 2015
► From The Hill — House panel approves Obama trade powers bill — The House Ways and Means Committee approved a “fast track” trade promotion authority measure, 25-13, with only two Democrats — Reps. Ron Kind (Wis.) and Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) — lending their support to the divisive bill.
EDITOR’S NOTE — In this committee vote, Rep. Dave Reichert (R) voted “yes” and Rep. Jim McDermott voted “no.”
► In today’s NY Times — Congressional panels approve Fast Track for trade deals, with conditions — House and Senate committees this week easily agreed to give President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate a sweeping trade accord with Pacific nations, but the package of bills intended to speed completion of the deal also imposes difficult burdens on its negotiators.
► From Huffington Post — Dems’ frustration with Obama boils over as trade bills advance — Democrats’ frustration with President Obama’s trade agenda bubbled over Thursday, with key opponents accusing their party’s leader of putting more effort into a bid to aid corporate America than anything he’s done for the middle class.
► From AP — Obama’s trade agenda finds GOP support in House — The president put in a plug for the legislation while speaking dismissively of its critics. “When people say this trade deal is bad for working families, they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
► At Salon — Elizabeth Warren slams Obama for ‘rigging’ secret trade deal to benefit corporate lobbyists — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) tells Rachel Maddow that the only thing that the American public has been able to learn about the trade deal is who was negotiating it — corporate lobbyists. “My view is,” she said, “when the process is rigged, the outcome’s likely to be rigged too.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Warren mentions this petition urging No on Fast Track at least until the American people get to see what’s in the deal.
► In the PSBJ — Boeing layoffs continue, 153 Puget Sound area workers given pink slips — The Boeing Co. announced Thursday it is laying off 153 employees of its Commercial Airlines Division in the Puget Sound region. SPEEA spokesman Bill Dugovich said 125 of those employees that were laid off were represented by the union: “This is definitely a continuation and of extreme concern to us regarding the movement of highly skilled jobs out of our state.”
► In today’s (Everett Herald — Boeing to lay off 153 workers in Puget Sound region — The Legislature has considered bills tying state aerospace tax incentives worth as much as $8.7 billion to employment levels at receiving companies, but it is unlikely they will be voted on.
► In today’s Seattle Times — With state budget unfinished, Inslee sets special session for next week — With no budget deal even close, Washington state lawmakers will adjourn Friday, but Gov. Jay Inslee has called them back for a special session, to start Wednesday.
► From NBC TV — State workers rally to gain support for pay increase — As the Legislature debates whether to grant state employees their first general pay increase in 7 years, public employees are making the statement “public service matters.”
ALSO at The Stand — Message to Olympia; Public Service Matters!
► In today’s Olympian — More teachers unions joining walkouts to protest Legislature — Additional teachers unions are staging one-day strikes to oppose education proposals in the Legislature, bringing the total number of unions participating in the walkouts to about a dozen.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Governor signs into law bill providing farm worker training — HB 1127 would set aside up to $1 million a year to train farm workers on skills such as tractor operation, horticulture and pesticide safety.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Let’s talk about an income tax (editorial) — A state income tax. Now that he has your attention, state Treasurer James McIntire hopes that everyone in Washington, not just lawmakers, might give the idea some thought over the next year… In the interests of our students, our economy and income equality, it’s a conversation we can’t afford to delay any further.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Take carbon reduction plan to the public (editorial) — It can still be a year of action for the governor and those who support the carbon-reduction proposals. To get a majority of legislators behind these and other proposals, it will be necessary for lawmakers to see that a commitment to reducing carbon pollution is supported by a majority of their constituents.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Alaska Air profit up 67% to record $149 million — Alaska Air Group said Thursday its first-quarter net income rose 67 percent to a record $149 million. Said CEO Brad Tilden: “It is gratifying to see such strong growth and financial results.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — As the Seattle Times’ Ron Judd pointed out in his Sunday column about the snoozing baggage handler:
The handler worked for Menzies Aviation, a nonunion, UK-based subcontractor… That contractor is on the job today because Alaska in 2005 fired all 472 of its union baggage handlers — for the crime of trying to hang onto hard-won wages and benefits. The millions saved annually by Alaska’s hiring of low-bidder contractors have helped the airline boost annual profits by hundreds of millions per year.
The firings, meanwhile, helped spawn the 2013 SeaTac $15 minimum-wage movement. Alaska fought that measure, then successfully sued to ensure the $15 wage can’t apply to thousands of lowly airport workers. The company continues to fight all attempts to boost minimum-airport pay.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — City Council creates panel to craft paid sick leave legislation — The Spokane City Council on Monday approved the formation of a committee comprising health, labor and business representatives to help craft a city paid-leave law.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima spends more than $981,000 on ACLU voting rights case — If the case, which was brought by the ACLU on behalf of Hispanic residents, proceeds before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals it would cost the city another $100,000 in attorney fees. The Yakima City Council voted to appeal the case last week.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Activists trying to stop work on new animal-research lab — Animal-welfare activists have launched a national campaign to try to halt construction of a new animal lab on the University of Washington campus.
► From The Hill — Murray launches new push for paid leave — Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said she’s pushing Republicans to include paid sick leave in a final budget deal.
► From Politico — What will Patty Murray do? — Sen. Patty Murray’s two decades in office have been marked by her knack for turning her vanilla-ness into an asset to pass big bills and accrue power. In a measure of Murray’s prominence and influence, she’s managed to roil the Senate Democratic Caucus just by remaining silent about her ambitions… She’s already the Senate’s most powerful woman, building her status among senators partly by taking on tasks no one else wanted to do. Asked about her penchant for taking on thankless tasks, Murray quipped: “Doesn’t every mom?”
► From The Hill — Republicans debate keeping ACA subsidies until 2017 — They are locked in a debate about whether to temporarily keep in place the Affordable Care Act subsidies that are at risk of being struck down at the Supreme Court. The stakes are high, as a ruling could strip federal aid from an estimated 7.5 million people ahead of the 2016 elections, with red states hit particularly hard.
► In today’s News Tribune — Cost of National Park Service deferred maintenance tops $507 million in Washington — Estimated cost at parks nationwide reaches $11.49 billion.
► In today’s Washington Post — For a change, news about government workers saving us money — Senior federal employees who helped to achieve about $32 billion in efficiencies have received awards.
► From Al Jazeera America — Democrats must have a concrete plan to empower workers (by Amy Dean) — Democrats cannot afford to pay only lip service to organized labor when the moment is convenient. Unless they take real measures to shore up employees’ rights to collectively organize, the Democratic Party will be courting a major crisis, as will America’s working families.
► MUST-READ in today’s NY Times — The Plutocrat Primary (by Timothy Egan) — While the political press was obsessing over what Hillary Clinton had for lunch, the real action this month in the interminable run-up to the presidency was taking place at the knees of the Brothers Koch, David and Charles. Turns out, we may get an election after all, albeit one that will be decided by a pair of septuagenarians whose combined worth is more than the richest person on the planet. We are in the “invisible primary,” an apt term for the age of oligarchs and dark money. It’s invisible, this suck-up campaign, because it’s happening behind the closed doors of a wealthy few, as a half-dozen or so Republicans audition to win the blessing of billionaires. It should be called the Plutocrat Primary.
► From AFL-CIO Now — 11 things you need to know about safety on Workers Memorial Day — Every year on April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew our efforts for safe workplaces. Here are 11 facts about worker safety and health you should know in honor of Workers Memorial Day.
ALSO at The Stand — Workers Memorial Day events honor fallen
► From Upworthy — Have you ever heard of the Ludlow Massacre? You might be shocked when you see what happened (by Brandon Weber) — The early 1900s were a time of great social upheaval in our country. During the years leading up to the Ludlow Massacre, miners all around the country looking to make a better life for themselves and their families set up picket lines, organized massive parades and rallies, and even took up arms. Some died. I’ve always wondered why history like this was never taught in school when I grew up. Could it be that the powers that be would rather keep this kind of thing under wraps?
► In The Onion — Entire Treasury Department competing for same Goldman Sachs job opening — Most of the Treasury regulators who applied for the job highlighted their previous experience working closely with Wall Street financial firms.
► On this day in music history 39 years ago, Paul and Linda McCartney spent the evening with John Lennon at his New York Dakota apartment and watched Saturday Night Live on TV. Producer of the show Lorne Michaels made an offer on air of $3,000 for The Beatles to turn up and play three songs live. Lennon and McCartney reportedly thought about taking a cab to the studio as a joke, but decided they were too tired. George Harrison did show up at SNL weeks later, but was denied his $750 share without the rest of the band. Had they all shown up, we’re pretty sure Lorne Michaels would’ve withheld the $3,000 until they played this. Enjoy.
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