Thursday, April 30, 2015
► From Politico — Obama trade bill in trouble — The House is currently dozens of votes short of being able to pass legislation that would allow President Barack Obama to send trade deals to Congress for fast approval, according to senior lawmakers and aides in both parties, imperiling a top White House priority for the president’s final years in office. At this point, upward of 75 House Republicans could vote against trade promotion authority if it comes up for a vote in the coming weeks, according to aides and lawmakers involved in the process. Some of the lawmakers fear job losses in their districts from free trade; others distrust Obama and oppose giving him more power. House GOP leaders will begin officially canvassing for votes Friday, but they’ve been in private strategy sessions for weeks… House Democrats, meanwhile, say just 12 to 20 of their lawmakers support Obama’s request.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story says “more than 30 pro-business lawmakers who are members of the moderate New Democrat Coalition will meet with Obama on Thursday at the White House.” Washington Reps. Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer, Rick Larsen, and Adam Smith are all members of the NDC.
TAKE A STAND! — Call the AFL-CIO’s toll-free trade hotline NOW — 855-712-8441 — to get patched through to your member of Congress and tell him/her: “Vote NO on Fast Track.”
► From Vox — Obama says we need the TPP to compete with China. That argument has a big flaw. — China isn’t a party to the TPP, so the agreement wouldn’t stop China from subsidizing its exports or stealing American technology. And the Obama administration has pointedly refused to include currency manipulation language in the TPP, arguing that insisting on it would cause countries like Japan to walk away from the table. But the larger problem with this argument is the assumption that if “we” — American negotiators — write the rules, then it must be good for the American people. But that’s not necessarily true… Having America write the rules for trade in Asia sounds great until you realize that the people representing “America” aren’t necessarily focused on the interests of the American public at large. Too often, they’re focused on the interests of narrow U.S. interest groups like drug companies and movie studios.
► In today’s Oregonian — Obama may attend trade event at Nike during Portland visit — The White House is laying plans for the president to attend a pro-trade event on Friday morning, May 8, possibly at Nike.
► In the NW Labor Press — Wyden trying to pull a fast one on fast track — U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said the bill creates “unprecedented transparency in trade negotiations, and ensures future trade deals break new ground to promote human rights, improve labor conditions, and safeguard the environment.” But a line-by-line analysis shows Wyden’s statement to be false. Wyden’s bill is almost identical to a fast track bill from the year before.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Rep. Susan Fagan accused of ethics violations, resigning — Rep. Susan Fagan faces ethics violations that House officials have deemed “extremely serious” and will resign Friday. Fagan, a Pullman Republican, is accused of inflating mileage reports to increase reimbursements she received from the state, using state resources for campaigning and pressuring staff to change expense reports so she would receive more money.
► Fuse Washington held a “Half-Baked Sale” outside the Legislative Building in Olympia on Wednesday to highlight the budget of Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond), which relies on $296 million in risky marijuana revenue — shifting that money away from prevention and health programs as approved by voters — to fund basic education. (Rep. Reuven Carlyle of Seattle stops by in this photo.) “Sen. Andy Hill’s ‘sell joints first’ approach to education funding is based on the people of Washington smoking 80 million joints,” said Aaron Ostrom, Executive Director of Fuse Washington. “I’ve never really been a toker, but I guess I better get started. Sen. Andy Hill has made it our paramount duty to smoke pot.”
► From KPLU — Throwing strikes: Unions protest teacher pay proposals as lawmakers open special session — On Wednesday, Sedro-Wooley teachers walked off the job for a day. On Thursday, Bainbridge Island and Burlington-Edison teachers plan to do the same. After that, seven more local teachers unions have approved similar “one-day strikes” as the Washington Legislature convenes a special session to finish a two-year state budget — a pocketbook issue for educators, who say neither political party’s spending plans do enough to reverse six years of stagnant wages.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Possible pay raise for lawmakers irritates teachers — On May 13, the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials is set to vote to give lawmakers an 11 percent raise. That would be more than double the percentage increase that those same legislators are considering for state workers and teachers. Teachers know this and are incensed about it.
► In today’s Columbian — Local lawmakers react to possible teacher walkout — Local teacher unions are asking their members to weigh in on a potential one-day walkout May 13, with the goal of sending a clear message to lawmakers that it’s time to fully fund education.
► In today’s Columbian — La Center school board backs right-to-work — The La Center School District made a contentious move Tuesday night, asking union reps to allow district employees to drop their representation. The issue surfaced in the form of a “right-to-choose” resolution that gained unanimous approval from the district’s five-member school board. In essence, the resolution voices the district’s support for allowing its employees to work at the district without any obligation to become members of a union. The nature of the resolution is symbolic; the school board doesn’t have the power to change union rules on its own.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Washington state plummets in ‘aerospace attractiveness’ study. Experts dubious — In a new PricewaterhouseCoopers report entitled “2015 Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness Rankings,” Washington dropped from No. 3 on the list in 2013 to No. 12 this year.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Female council members take on women’s pay, hiring at City Hall — A woman makes $11,614 less than a man, on average, at Spokane City Hall. Females represent nearly half the city’s population, but they hold just a quarter of positions in city government. About 90 percent of clerical and secretarial positions at the city are held by women. These imbalances have drawn the latest promise for change from the Spokane City Council.
► In the NW Labor Press — Baggage handlers at PDX vote to join Machinists Union — Contract baggage handlers for ABM Onsite Services West at Portland International Airport have voted to join Machinists District W24.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Shared duty for worker safety (editorial) — L&I organizes the Workers Memorial Day ceremony to ensure that these lives are not lost in vain, that they serve as a reminder about the importance of workplace safety issues.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
► From The Hill — ACA boosts hospitals’ finances, study finds — The study finds that hospitals’ charity care costs fell by 40 percent in states that expanded Medicaid, compared to just 6 percent in states that did not. As more people gained coverage through Medicaid, the need for charity care fell.
► From The Hill — GOP budget heads for crucial vote — Republicans on Wednesday unveiled a joint House-Senate budget that aims to torpedo the ACA. The release of the blueprint sets up a vote in the House on Friday, with the Senate expected to follow suit next week.
► From AP — GOP divided as Supreme Court ruling on health care law nears — Congressional Republicans are divided over how to respond to an approaching Supreme Court decision on President Barack Obama’s health care law, even as growing numbers concede that their long-sought goal of repealing the statute will have to wait.
► From AP — Obama lives up to pledge to slow immigrant deportations — President Obama has failed to live up to a campaign promise to push through immigration legislation, but he has met a post-election pledge to slow deportations with or without approval from Congress.
► From Reuters — BP, USW reach tentative deal to end Whiting refinery strike — BP and the United Steelworkers union chapter representing striking workers at the company’s Whiting, Indiana, refinery reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday to end an 11-week work stoppage.
► From the Onion — Baltimore residents urged to stay indoors until social progress naturally takes its course over next century — “As we continue to incrementally evolve into a completely free and fair society over the next 100 years, please do not venture outside unless it is absolutely necessary,” said Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “Those who go out onto our streets before our social, economic, and political structures have undergone gradual reform over the course of several generations are doing so at their own risk.”
► From AFL-CIO Now — 150 workers will die today — Despite significant advancements in workplace health and safety in the 44 years since the Occupational Safety and Health Act become law, today and every day 150 people will be killed on the job or die from job-related illnesses and diseases. That and other sobering statistics about the preventable deaths and injuries workers face each day are in the 2015 edition of the AFL-CIO’s annual Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect released Wednesday. The report includes state-by-state profiles of workers’ safety and health and features state and national information on workplace fatalities, injuries, illnesses, the number and frequency of workplace inspections, penalties, funding, staffing and public employee coverage under the OSH Act. Among the findings: states with the highest union density are among the safest for workers, with 13 states (including Washington) ranked in the top 20 for both union density and lowest rates of workplace fatalities.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.