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Solidarity wins, paid sick leave in Oregon, H-1Betrayed…

Monday, June 15, 2015




► From Politico — House GOP eyeing another shot at trade bill — House Republicans could take another shot at passing Obama’s trade agenda this week, just days after Democrats handed Obama a stinging defeat by blocking the package. But it’s not clear what’s happened since last Friday’s trade votes that could change the minds of the more than 70 Democrats Obama needs to advance the centerpiece of his economic agenda.

ALSO at The Stand — Fast Track stalled in the House — for now

MayWorks2015-solidarity-forever-front► In the NY Times — Labor’s might seen in failure of trade deal as unions allied to thwart it — While a broad coalition of unions and liberal activists can claim credit for beating back the president’s favored legislation, the key to labor’s display of force in Congress, according to supporters and opponents of the trade deal, was the movement’s unusual cohesion across various sectors of the economy — including public employees and service workers not directly affected by foreign competition.

► From the NY Times — Hillary Clinton urges Obama to listen to Democrats on trade deal — Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday urged the president to make changes to the TPP that reflect Democrats’ concerns about protecting American jobs and wages.

► In the Washington Post — Clinton, Pelosi leave Obama in the lurch on trade deals — The moves left Obama without any major allies on Capitol Hill or on the campaign trail promoting the 12-nation deal that he thinks is key to global leadership and helping the domestic economy.

TPP-secrecy► In the Seattle Times — Trade policy: Open TPP negotiations to protect labor and the environment (by Stan Sorscher) — This is not that hard to figure out. If we let an open, transparent and inclusive political process work, we could have the benefits of trade and meaningful protections for labor and environment. And we could put an end to currency manipulation, which costs us billions of dollars per year. And we could balance investor interests with public interests. And we could retain policy options to deal with climate change. And we could share the gains from globalization.

► From Huffington Post — The real meaning of Obama’s trade defeat (by Robert Kuttner) — The TPP was never primarily a trade deal. The Obama administration marketed it as a trade deal; and for the most part, the press bought the storyline. The TPP was just the latest in a series of deals that are mostly about the use of “trade” agreements to allow corporations to do end runs around national regulation. TPP, like NAFTA, included measures, such as sweetheart patent deals, that never could have won passage as separate legislation… Maybe now we can have a debate in which we discuss how globalization might be used to raise social standards rather than do favors for elites.




entering-oregon► In The Oregonian — Paid sick leave bill wins final approval from Oregon Legislature — The Oregon House on Friday gave final legislative approval to a controversial bill requiring employers with 10 or more workers to give them up to five paid sick days a year. Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign SB 454, making Oregon the fourth state with a statewide sick leave policy, joining California, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

► From AP  — U.S. Open creating housing issue for Washington lawmakers — Some state lawmakers whose temporary leases in the state capital have run out are scrambling to find places to stay as the current overtime legislative session continues.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Lawmakers’ watchdog asks for money — Fred Kiga, interim executive director of the PDC, is asking lawmakers for more money in the next state budget to help deal with a backlog of enforcement cases. Kiga said budget cuts and layoffs in the past eight years have crippled the commission’s ability to carry out its mission.




sakuma-fw-dignity► From KUOW — Can labor changes bring peace at Sakuma Brothers berry farm? — On a recent morning at Sakuma Brothers Farm, eight Latino workers sat on a bench seat behind a tractor, planting strawberry roots that will bear fruit in a few years. Dust masks and goggles covered their faces. There’s a good chance these field workers have joined, or work side by side, with a group calling for a union contract here.

► In the News Tribune — Labor not yet backing Tacoma group behind minimum wage ballot measure — Tacoma business leaders fear national labor unions will donate big bucks to support a ballot measure that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15. But 15 Now Tacoma is not rolling in dough, and individual unions haven’t donated a cent.




► From Gawker — Fact: Union members earn more money — If you are not in a union, you are leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars in lifetime earnings on the table. And the CEO is tilting that table, so it all spills into his pocket, according to the Century Foundation’s new report on the prospects for using technology to assist in labor organizing.

NYT-gawker-union► In the NY Times — At Gawker Media, new economy workers aim to form new kind of union — On Gawker’s rooftop lounge and in phone interviews last week, several employees of the company’s websites discussed the sense of insecurity that still haunts people in the churning media business, even as the economy improves.

► From AP — Kansas governor to sign sales tax hike after bruising budget battle — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature personal income tax cuts emerged mostly intact from a grueling legislative fight to close a budget deficit that arose after revenue failed to match the conservative governor’s predictions of an economic boom. Instead, they raised the state’s sales tax to one of the highest rates in the nation and smokers will be paying 50 cents more for each pack of cigarettes.

► In today’s NY Times — Workers betrayed by visa loopholes (editorial) — With no immediate possibility of such an immigration overhaul, opportunistic tech companies are pursuing their own narrow agenda, pushing for vast increases in H-1B visas. That might help their recruiting problems, but leave much of the system as dysfunctional as ever. Better to fix immigration with the right goals in mind: a fair deal for all workers and their families.


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