Friday, May 15, 2015
► From Politico — Senate reversal opens debate on key trade bill — The Senate voted Thursday to start debate on key trade legislation to “fast-track” a landmark Asia-Pacific free trade deal, reversing an embarrassing setback for President Barack Obama earlier this week and setting the stage for approval of the bill as soon as Memorial Day. With the help of 13 Democrats — including Washington Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray — Senate Republicans overcame opposition from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and began consideration of the trade promotion authority legislation, which would allow Obama to submit the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to Congress for straight up-or-down votes without any amendments.
► From Politico — Dems look to start Senate trade war next week — Senate liberals are doing all they can to prolong the fight — perhaps even past the Memorial Day recess into June — in hopes that a long delay will damage the bill’s already difficult prospects in the House.
► In today’s Washington Post — AFL-CIO chief: White House trade bill argument is ‘unadulterated horse waste’ — “If the president wins this fight, Democrats will be in the minority for a decade or so” on Capitol Hill, Trumka said. If Obama is seeking to build on his legacy with the TPP, Trumka added, “it will be the wrong legacy.”
► From Huffington Post — Why is President Obama having so much trouble selling TPP? (by Stan Sorscher) — Some of our elected officials ask, “Why don’t you trust the President?” We have accumulated over $10 trillion in goods trade deficits since NAFTA. Our lived experience tells us the 99 percent are getting burned by our trade policy, while global companies are doing great. Twenty years after NAFTA, our leaders and negotiators have lost the presumption of trust. They now have the burden of proof. Presidents back to Gerald Ford have made and broken the same promises. President Obama is the last in a long line of leaders playing a weak hand in the trade policy card game. We need a new trade policy before we can rebuild trust. We can do better. We normally rely on democracy to solve difficult problems. Nothing about TPP looks like democracy.
► From Think Progress — TPP could have disastrous results for the climate, environmental groups warn — The TPP could have catastrophic repercussions for climate change, including giving corporations the power to sue governments that try to limit polluting industries, environmental groups say.
► From The Hill — Pelosi: Shorten duration of ‘fast-track’ power — Pelosi warned that the TPA bill under consideration would also govern trade negotiations as far as six years into the future, including deals Congress would effectively be accelerating without knowing anything about them. She likened it to a get-out-of-jail-free card for presidents — both Obama and his successor — to negotiate trade accords without much congressional input.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Strike ends, but PeaceHealth workers can’t go back to work yet — PeaceHealth employees who tried to return to work at the end of their 25-hour strike the morning of Thursday, May 14, were barred from entering the hospital.
ALSO at The Stand — PeaceHealth locks out workers in Bellingham
► From KING 5 — Nurses, staff on one-day strike at Cascade Behavioral Hospital — Nearly 100 nurses and healthcare workers have walked off the job at Cascade Behavioral Hospital for a one-day strike over staffing levels, benefits and retirement plans.
► In today’s Spokesman Review — Paid sick leave won’t kill Spokane businesses (by Shawn Vestal) — Would requiring paid sick leave for Spokane workers drive businesses to Idaho? Or is that just a herring that grows redder every year? Against those two extremes, the evidence from other cities that have adopted sick-leave requirements suggests something milder and more mixed: some “negligible” impacts on profits, real but modest effect on prices, and limited downside in lost wages or hours for workers. The tradeoff for workers is significant, if you care about that. And if you don’t, there is a potential benefit for you as well, as someone whose food might be handled by sick employees.
► In today’s Oregonian — Portland adopts $15-an-hour minimum wage for full-time workers, some contractors — The Portland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to amend its fair wage policy, boosting pay for more than 150 contractors and a handful of full-time workers to $15 an hour
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — After 2 weeks, legislators still not negotiating a budget — Democratic and Republican envoys from the caucuses in both chambers met for several hours Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss — not negotiate — roughly 830 differences in the two-year spending plans passed by the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-run Senate.
► In today’s Olympian — State to release earlier revenue report to speed up budget deal — State lawmakers are looking to jumpstart budget negotiations by moving up the quarterly report that updates them on how much money they have to spend.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Port Commissioner Bill Bryant announces run for governor — Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant launched a bid for governor Thursday, becoming the first significant Republican challenger to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee in 2016.
► From Working Washington — Thousands of SeaTac workers can measure Bill Bryant’s track record in their poverty-wage paychecks — Bryant has served as a Port Commissioner at a time when Sea-Tac Airport workers have led a living wage campaign that is widely recognized for helping spark the nationwide $15 movement — and yet he has opposed essentially every proposal which has come before him to lift up poverty-wage airport workers and boost our local economy.
► From Huffington Post — Immigration hardliners prevail in fight over Dreamers and the military — Asking the Department of Defense to consider allowing young undocumented immigrants to enlist proved a bridge too far Thursday in the Republican-led House of Representatives. Members voted 221 to 202 to strip a measure from the National Defense Authorization Act that asks the secretary of defense to review policies on whether certain undocumented young people, often called Dreamers, can join the military if they have work authorization.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) was the ONLY member of our state’s delegation who voted in favor of blocking young immigrants from serving our nation.
► From Politico — Boehner: ‘Stupid’ to link Amtrak cuts to Philly derailment — Speaker John Boehner’s said Thursday it’s “stupid” to blame federal funding of Amtrak for the deadly train crash in Philadelphia. At least one safety expert said that federal investment in train-speed technology would have prevented the accident that killed eight people.
► From the Hill — Majority of businesses taking steps to avoid ACA tax — Only 2.5 percent of companies that would be hit by the Cadillac tax starting in 2018 said they plan to pay the tax. Most say they are shifting toward higher deductible plans, while others said they are reducing benefits, shifting more costs to employees or dropping high-cost plans altogether.
► From AFL-CIO Now — NLRB reaffirms Kellogg lockout was illegal; orders workers to be made whole — The NLRB has reaffirmed that the Kellogg illegally locked out more than 220 members of BCTGM Local 252G at the company’s Memphis, Tenn., cereal plant from Oct. 22, 2013, to Aug. 11, 2014. The decision directs the company to make all employees whole for any loss of earnings and benefits they suffered as a result of the unlawful lockout.
► In today’s NY Times —End immigration detention (editorial) — The system of jails and prisons shatters families and squanders taxpayer money. It should be shut down.
► From AP — Illinois lawmakers reject right-to-work, send message to governor — Illinois Democratic lawmakers rejected their own right-to-work bill on Thursday in a symbolic vote meant to send a message to Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who says he wants union membership to be voluntary.
► MUST-READ in today’s Seattle Times — Facebook’s higher minimum wage avoids a key issue (By Jon Talton) — Facebook makes a symbolic start on raising pay for low-wage workers. But it really sidesteps the real problem, domestic outsourcing that keeps wages low, stifles worker mobility and offloads costs to the public.
► Yesterday, America lost a legend with the passing of the great blues guitarist B.B. King. “His world-weary voice and wailing guitar lifted him from the cotton fields of Mississippi to a global stage and the apex of American blues,” reads today’s New York Times. After a string of hits through the 1950s made him one of the most important names in R&B, he was embraced in the 1960s and ’70s by rock ’n’ roll fans and influenced many of the most successful rock guitarists of the era, including Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.
King considered a 1968 performance at the Fillmore in San Francisco to have been the moment of his commercial breakthrough. When he saw “long-haired white people” lining up outside the venue, he told his road manager, “I think they booked us in the wrong place.” When he was introduced to the sold-out crowd — “Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the chairman of the board, B. B. King” — King said, “Everybody stood up, and I cried. That was the beginning of it.” The Entire Staff of The Stand will always remember him by this song, written in 1988 by U2 for the “King of the Blues.” R.I.P., B.B.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.