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Boeing’s Fast Track bargain, Oregon leads, Bernie’s freedom…

Friday, May 22, 2015




787-murray-cantwell► From Huffington Post — Senate advances Fast Track for Obama trade deals — The Senate handed President Barack Obama a major win Thursday, voting to advance his trade agenda by ending debate on a bill that would grant him the power to fast-track massive new pacts through Congress… The vote nearly failed while it was still a few votes shy of the 60 threshold needed. It only succeeded after about a dozen senators engaged in a tense discussion in the middle of the Senate floor, well after the time for the vote had expired. Several senators said later that the key was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promising Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to have a vote on reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. A key beneficiary is Boeing, in Cantwell’s state.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Both Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voted “yes.”

► From The Hill — How the Senate got 60 votes on Fast Track — Before the vote, Obama and McConnell got help from an outside source: Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, who met Thursday morning with Democratic leaders and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), a crucial swing vote.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Both Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray had a strong bargaining position to get something truly important by withholding their decisive Fast Track cloture votes on Thursday. Would it be language to discourage child labor or human trafficking? Would it be something to stop our trading partners from cheating U.S. companies and workers alike by manipulating their currency? Would it be labor standards that at least frown upon the murders of union leaders abroad?

Boeing-McNerney-thanksAlas, no. Murray reportedly held out for… nothing. And Cantwell held out for something (else) Boeing wanted. Meanwhile, the Chicago-based company continues to shift jobs and production out of Washington state despite getting billions in subsidies from state taxpayers. And thus, Boeing CEO/ lobbyist-extraordinaire Jim McNerney gets a two-fer: Fast Track AND the Import-Export Bank. He turns 66 this summer, but why retire? His heart is still beating. Congress will still be cowering…

► From The Hill — Hatch: No deal yet on trade amendments — Senators are still struggling to reach an agreement to allow for more amendments to fast-track trade legislation, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Friday morning.




► From — Voices from the WFSE Unity Breaks


► In today’s Tri-City Herald — More than 1,000 Tri-City teachers gather to protest state actions in Thursday walkout — By staging a one-day walkout, picket and rally, teachers hoped legislators will get the idea that they are frustrated about the state’s inability to adequately fund public education, the heavy testing burden and poor teacher pay.

► In today’s Oregonian — Bill protecting Oregon workers from retaliation for discussing wages advances to Senate — A bill that would protect Oregon workers from employer retaliation for discussing their pay in the workplace is headed to the Senate floor for final legislative approval. The legislation is part of a broader effort to address the gaps in pay between men and women.

baumgartner-michaelEDITOR’S NOTE — A similar bill in Washington state, HB 1646, the Equal Pay Opportunity Act sponsored by Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island), passed the House this year but never advanced from the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee chaired by Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane).

► In the Columbian — Marijuana safety manual being developed — Under the leadership of the labor union UFCW Local 367, a group of industry experts are developing the first “Cannabis Industry Workplace Safety and Health” manual for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.




take-back-kcts-front► In the Seattle Times — Region needs better local public-television programming (by Barry Mitzman) — Seattle’s PBS television station, KCTS 9, recently laid off 11 production staffers and canceled its only regularly scheduled program on local issues. The cutbacks were not financially driven, Channel 9 says, but are part of a new “digital-first” approach.

ALSO at The Stand — Help ‘Take Back KCTS,’ save PBS in Seattle




► From AFL-CIO Now — America’s infrastructure is key to good jobs, economic security and quality of life (by Richard Trumka) — Our vision is to make America the best it can be, and that requires significant investment in our infrastructure. The fact that the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce, which seldom agree on much, can come together on this issue should speak volumes to those in Congress who are jeopardizing our economic future by refusing to act responsibly. Congress needs to do its job — so business and workers can do ours.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Federal gas tax increase is long overdue (editorial) — This latest short-term funding patch should be Congress’ last. Pass the six-year transportation plan and the gas tax increase that will fund it.




► From The Hill — States quietly consider ACA exchange mergers — A number of states are quietly considering merging their healthcare exchanges under the Affordable Care Act amid big questions about their cost and viability. Many of the 13 state-run exchanges are worried about how they’ll survive once federal dollars supporting them run dry next year.

monopoly-rich-l► From the Washington Post — If you thought income inequality was bad, get a load of wealth inequality — When we think about and discuss economic inequality in this country, we usually focus on income inequality, like the CEO who makes 300 times more than his workers. But there’s another type of inequality that gets a lot less attention and arguably contributes far more to the divide between the haves and have-nots in this country, and it’s been highlighted in a huge new report: wealth inequality.

► In today’s Washington Post — Labor rides a building backlash (by Dana Milbank) — After more than three decades of income growth for the wealthiest 10 percent and stagnation for everybody else, the top 3 percent now has more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. And Americans are angry about it. The percentage of Americans who believe you can get ahead through hard work has declined about 15 points over the past 15 years. Straws in the wind suggest a building backlash.




► The Entire Staff of The Stand has a great appreciation for behind-the-scenes communications professionals. In pop music, that appreciation extends to the lyricists who deliver the message that syncs with the composers’ vision. There may be no more famous lyricist in pop music than Bernie Taupin, Elton’s John’s longtime collaborator. Over the span of more than 30 albums, Taupin’s words have informed John’s music to create legendary hits for decades.

Today, as Taupin celebrates his 65th birthday, we present a song John and Taupin wrote for John’s close friend, tennis superstar Billie Jean King, as a homage to her tennis team, the Philadelphia Freedoms. Taupin told John, “I can’t write a song about tennis.” Nor did he write a song about flag-waving patriotism, although it’s often misinterpreted as such because it was released amid the fervor about America’s bicentennial celebration. (And because some people are inflicted with a Pavlovian patriotic response to the words “freedom” and “flag.”) No, as is the case with many of Taupin’s enigmatic lyrics, he claims they mean nothing and leaves their interpretation entirely up to each listener. Now, that’s freedom. Happy birthday, Mr. Taupin.


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