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Fast Track whip count, Boeing accountability is OK, who likes unions…

Wednesday, May 6, 2015




murray-cantwell► From The Hill — Whip list: Dems bucking Obama on Fast Track — Democrats are bucking President Obama on a trade bill, with 47 House members of his party already lined up against a measure that would speed global agreements through Congress, according to The Hill’s Whip List.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are listed here as “yes” votes, as is Rep. Dave Reichert (R). Rep. Jim McDermott (D) is listed as “no.” The rest of Washington’s Congressional delegation are considered “undecided.” Call toll-free — 855-712-8441 — to get patched through to your member of Congress and tell him/her: “I’m a constituent, and I want you to vote NO on Fast Track.”

► From The Hill — Democratic candidates slam Obama’s trade agenda — Swing-state Democrats are sounding the alarm that Obama’s free trade proposals, backed by their GOP opponents, would ship U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas and lead to greater unemployment at home. No other issue, they say, presents such a stark contrast between Democratic challengers and vulnerable Republican incumbents in 2016 than trade.

ap-obama-nike► From NPR — Obama laces up to tout Asian trade deal at Nike — The president has chosen a curious setting to make his pitch for the trade agreement this week. He’ll be speaking Friday at the Beaverton, Ore., headquarters of the Nike Corporation. “All of their footwear, all of their clothing is produced in contract factories in places like Vietnam and Indonesia and China,” said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium. “Nike is one of the companies that helped perfect the sourcing model that now defines production in footwear and garments and other major light manufacturing sectors. And it’s a model based on cheap labor and poor working conditions.”

► From Politico — Elizabeth Warren: Trade bill could “tear down” Wall Street oversight — Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the next big threat to keeping Wall Street risk-taking in check is an upcoming fast-track trade bill.

reid-harry► From Politico — Harry Reid’s power play rankles GOP — Senate Republicans emerged from their weekly luncheon Tuesday with a clear directive from party leaders: Don’t let Harry Reid get away with acting like he’s still majority leader. It’s unclear, though, whether Republicans have the votes to stop Reid. The Senate minority leader is trying to cobble together 41 votes against Trade Promotion Authority legislation that would allow the president to fast-track new trade deals. He’s attempting to force floor votes on surveillance legislation and a highway funding bill before the Senate takes up the trade measure, which Reid and much of his caucus oppose.

► From The Hill — White House takes on Reid over trade — The White House is criticizing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid for his promise to block a vote on fast-track trade authority for President Obama.

anvil-made-in-china► From Huffington Post — Sen. Schumer explains currency manipulation — China’s central bank floods the market with yuan and buys dollars, making greenbacks scarcer and more expensive. The country also sets limits on trading its currency. That has a huge impact on American manufacturers because it means that one U.S. dollar buys more Chinese yuan than it rightfully should. And it means that Chinese products that are similar to U.S. versions wind up being much cheaper. “In effect, what it means is it’s harder for American workers to sell their goods to China and a whole lot easier — 33 percent — for China to sell its goods here,” Schumer said… In a sign of just how important currency manipulation is to several countries that would be included Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama administration officials who testified on Capitol Hill last month almost universally warned that passing currency measures would be a trade-deal killer.

► From Huffington Post — A trade pact in the corporate interest (by William Spriggs and Ralph Gomory) — Because tariff barriers are very low, this is not really a trade deal; it is about the protection of corporations. This deal contains major new provisions that would directly affect the lives of every American by moving important national decisions on regulating corporations, from product labeling to pollution out of the hands of the legislature and into those of special corporate dominated international tribunals.


► In today’s Seattle Times — The persistent problem of America’s permanent trade deficit (by Jon Talton) — Today’s trade numbers can be explained away but they shouldn’t be ignored. The dramatic trade deficit undercuts the meme that America is an export powerhouse now… It might be too simplistic to note that the deficit really goes south as NAFTA kicks in, then gains momentum as China joins the World Trade Organization.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Too simplistic? If you’re not satisfied that’s a causal relationship, you must concede that the reality of America’s trade deficit experience has been exactly the opposite of what advocates for NAFTA and WTO promised.




aerospace-accountability-front► MUST-READ in today’s Seattle Times — Oklahoma City is our savvier nemesis (by Danny Westneat) — Oklahoma City may be our annoying nemesis, but it just wooed 900 Boeing jobs with only a $6 million subsidy. Net Boeing job loss here since we passed the largest corporate tax break ever granted by a state: 3,000. “I support the tax breaks,” said Tom Gendzwill, a Boeing engineer in Bellevue. “But none of us ever thought the tax breaks would subsidize Boeing’s expenses for moving our jobs out of state.” Summed up Thomas Cafcas, of the nonprofit Good Jobs First: “No state has given so much money with so few strings attached.” We could change that. There’s a measure, HB 2147, to tie the tax breaks to specific job targets, as other places have done. But this bill isn’t expected to pass. It’s hard psychologically, because lawmakers would first have to acknowledge that they got fleeced. Then they’d have to go in and drive a tougher bargain. Like our stalker city keeps doing to us. Be more like Oklahoma City — that’s a tough sell around here.

► In today’s Columbian — A taxing situation (editorial) — Boeing has developed an expertise at the high-stakes game of tax incentives. Lawmakers should be wary of who they are sitting across from at the poker table.




ap-teachers-rally-15Apr25► From KPLU — Teacher walkouts: 1 in 4 Washington kids now impacted — Two weeks from now, a teacher walkout will have impacted one out of every four of Washington state’s 1 million public school students. That’s after Monday’s confirmation teachers in Seattle Public Schools would join colleagues in 28 other districts in approving a “one-day strike” to protest state lawmakers’ spending plans that they say don’t do enough to fund basic education and reverse six years of stagnant wages.

EDITOR’S NOTE — “Shortchanging education: 4 in 4 Washington kids impacted.”

► From KUOW — State lawmakers react along party lines to teacher walkouts — Democrats are careful about how they talk about these and react. A couple of weeks ago the governor said that while he doesn’t necessarily approve of these one-day walkouts he understands teacher frustration. Republicans are more likely to bring up a bill introduced by Sen. Tim Sheldon — he’s actually a Democrat who caucuses with Republicans — that would basically prohibit teachers from being paid on walk-out days.

► In today’s Olympian — North Thurston teachers union to hold rally in Olympia Thursday

► In today’s Seattle Times — Lifting cap on property taxes proposed in Legislature — As legislators struggle to agree on how to fund schools, roads and government services, a pair of state lawmakers are throwing another proposal into the mix — lifting the 1% property-tax cap.

► From AP — Lawmakers say mental health improved, critics disagree — Lawmakers say the Legislature made significant improvements during the 2015 session to provide services for Washington’s mentally ill, but critics say some of the bills passed in an effort to fix a system sharply criticized by the courts could make matters worse and lead to more litigation.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — GOP officers to pick nominees to replace ex-Rep. Susan Fagan — Republican activists in southeast Washington could choose tonight from among as many as 10 possible candidates to nominate three replacements for former Rep. Susan Fagan, who resigned amid ethics allegations.




► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma mayor, Chamber agree to work on alternative to $15 minimum wage — Tacoma’s political and business leaders must come together with citizens to find a compromise on raising the minimum wage, and the city’s mayor should be out front, a leading business group said Tuesday. The creation of the Tacoma Minimum Wage Task Force is the first organized response to 15 Now Tacoma, an advocacy group gathering signatures for a ballot measure in the fall that would raise the minimum wage in the city to $15.

NALC-stamp-out-hunger_front► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Leave food by mailbox Saturday for letter carrier food drive — It’s time to pick up a few more items at the grocery store or sort through your kitchen pantry for the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. The drive is perhaps the easiest way for most people to help local food banks. Just leave nonperishible food in bags under or near — but not in — your mailbox before your letter carrier arrives Saturday, May 9.

MORE local coverage of the Letter Carriers’ food drive in today’s Columbian.

► In the PSBJ — As nurses prep for strike, Washington’s new for-profit mental health hospitals raise eyebrows — As the state scrambles to find beds for its most severely mentally ill patients, it has turned to for-profit mental health hospitals for help. But those facilities might not be the saving grace that some hoped they could be. What’s more, the rising sector of for-profit mental health care in the South Sound is now turning into a workforce issue. About 100 unionized health care workers at Tukwila’s Cascade Behavioral Health plan to strike on May 14 over issues with staffing and patient safety.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Comcast to build Spokane call center, creating 675 jobs — Comcast will build a new call center in the Spokane area that brings 675 jobs to the region, the company announced Tuesday. The jobs include benefits such as health and dental insurance, a 401(k) retirement savings plan and tuition reimbursement. He declined to give specific pay ranges, but said total pay and benefits for employees at the Spokane call center is expected to be $27 million a year.




so-whats-the-point► In today’s NY Times — Senate passes cost-cutting budget plan — On a 51-28 vote, the Senate ratified a 10-year blueprint that would cut spending by $5.3 trillion, overhaul programs for the poor, repeal President Obama’s health care law, and ostensibly produce a balanced budget in less than a decade. But for the plan to take effect, Republican committee chairmen would have to draft legislation that would impose the prescribed cuts. But they have made little effort to do so, and committee leaders in both parties are already calling for new negotiations on a more bipartisan approach.

► From The Hill — Senate blocks NLRB veto override vote — Senators on Tuesday blocked any future attempts to override President Obama’s veto of a union election law. Obama vetoed the union election legislation in March, after Congress passed a resolution of disapproval on a National Labor Relations Board rule that would have sped up union elections.

► In today’s Washington Post — Uncle Sam had better start treating his employees right (by Joe Davidson) — Federal employees who have to contend with a political environment that has become partisan, poisonous and barely productive.

► From The Onion — Candidate profile: Mike Huckabee — Campaign Promise: Shore up Social Security to ensure it lasts until End Times. Campaign Goal: Strengthen salary negotiating position with Fox News.




► In today’s LA Times — New firm is victory for port truckers in CaliforniaThe owners of a trucking firm targeted by the Teamsters union have launched a company with employee drivers, giving the union and drivers a win in their effort to classify truckers who serve the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports as employees, rather than independent contractors.





► From the New Republic — Even conservative millennials support unions — First, young people of both parties are more amenable to labor unions than their older peers. Despite recent strides in right-to-work legislation, a resurgence in union strength might just come as millennials ascend to political power. It makes sense: Young people have grown up during a massive recession and watched wages associated with middle-class jobs of yesteryear drop precipitously. Unions might be the most promising way to assure that working class people get a shot at turning their jobs into livable occupations. Union-friendly young people may yet recover the dignity and value of working-class jobs as they move into the workforce en masse.

walker-scott-in-a-hole► From Reuters — Why the 2016 GOP race may be all about taking down unions — Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is emerging as a strong potential candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination largely because he took on the public-employee unions in his state. If he wins the White House because of his union-busting chops and for pushing right-to-work laws, maybe he’ll abolish the U.S. Labor Department, too… But something bigger is happening: Labor is starting to think outside the box. It is hard to get across to Americans the weirdness of the U.S. labor model — the idea that a union can only bargain if it is the “exclusive representative” of everyone. In most countries, labor is never the exclusive representative. Nor does it have to be a majority. Instead, a union can bargain, strike or disrupt with 40 percent, 20 percent or just whoever supports it.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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