Monday, July 6, 2015
► From AFSCME — Coordinated actions win raises, stop state shutdown — It took thousands of public employees rallying across Washington state at more than 100 locations over two days this May and June to urge state legislators to agree to a sensible budget and avert a shutdown of state services on July 1. And they won. Just before the stroke of midnight on June 30, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed the new, biennial operating budget that funded AFSCME Council 28 members’ first pay raises in seven years, and holds the line on health care costs.
► In the News Tribune — Senate Democrats had reason for acting as they did (by Sen. Sharon Nelson) — Three times this year, our colleagues in the House overwhelmingly passed HB 2214, which will reform our state’s entire high-stakes testing system… If this bill lowered academic expectations, a whopping 92 House Republicans and Democrats wouldn’t have joined forces to pass this bill for a third time just four days ago in a last-ditch effort to fix the system. But just like before, Senate Republicans neglected to even give the bill a hearing, let alone debate its merits… We were clear with Senate Republicans – if you expect us to vote for something that hurts kids (suspending I-1351), you better help us do something to help kids. We asked for HB 2214. But Senate Republicans refused to budge and the suspension of I-1351 failed.
► From AP — After year of Washington legal pot sales, taxes top $70 million — Despite some industry gripes and recent tweaks to the state’s legal pot law, officials and legalization backers say the state’s slow and deliberate effort to regulate marijuana has been a success.
► In today’s Olympian — Long session in Olympia hurts some state lawmakers’ campaigns — Both state Rep. Carol Gregory (D-Federal Way) and state Rep. Mary Dye (R-Pomeroy) are fighting to retain their seats in the November special election. But unlike their opponents, the two sitting lawmakers are prohibited from raising money while the Legislature is still meeting in Olympia.
► In the PSBJ — Nurses picket Swedish for increased staffing, higher pay — Nearly 1,000 nurses and other health care workers at Swedish Medical Center and Swedish Edmonds picketed the health provider on Wednesday amid contract negotiations that have been ongoing since April.
ALSO at The Stand — Swedish-Providence nurses call for better staffing, care, jobs
► In the News Tribune — Tacoma $15 wage boosters: Right approach could remove issue from ballot — Said Mike Ladd, a janitor and member of 15 Now Tacoma: “We dragged everyone in the political establishment kicking and screaming into this struggle. Now they want to know when we’re going to wave the white flag.”
► From Politico — GOP extols worker training, then slashes funding for it — In the great trade debate last month, the air was filled with promises to help American workers keep pace with a changing world. Days after, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved new Republican cuts from funding for adult education and worker training — programs the GOP had embraced just a year ago.
► From The Hill — Budget brinkmanship grips D.C. — Republicans and Democrats are locked in an increasingly bitter debate over government spending, with few legislative weeks remaining to avoid another shutdown this fall. Bolstered by veto threats from President Obama, Senate Democrats are vowing to block all GOP spending bills, arguing the legislative work is pointless until Republicans come to the negotiating table.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Bill would create plan for easing freight — Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are sponsoring legislation that would create a blueprint for reducing freight bottlenecks and congestion across the country, and increase funding for new grade separations — building bridges and tunnels to separate roads from rail.
► From Politico — AFL-CIO leader tries to quell pro-Sanders revolt — In a memo to state, central and area divisions of the labor federation, the AFL-CIO chief reminded the groups that its bylaws don’t permit them to “endorse a presidential candidate” or “introduce, consider, debate, or pass resolutions or statements that indicate a preference for one candidate over another.” Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, agreed that it was important for the AFL-CIO to speak with a single voice. But “there’s a lot of anxiety out there in the labor movement,” he said, “and we’re desperately searching for a candidate that actually speaks to working-class values. The Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders camp is very, very attractive to many of our members and to many of us as leaders, because they’re talking about the things that need to happen in this country.”
► From Yahoo! News — How government, business and labor can better protect workers from chemical exposure (by Jamie Smith Hopkins) — The country’s safeguards against toxic workplace exposures are dangerously weak, but they don’t have to stay that way.
► From AP — Scott Walker, Wisconsin GOP retreat on open records limits — In a sudden reversal amid a stinging backlash, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and GOP legislative leaders said they agreed Saturday to completely remove a part of the proposed state budget that would severely roll back open records laws.
► From Huffington Post — There’s always money for the boss (by Leo W. Gerard) — Highly profitable corporations are complaining about President Obama’s proposal to update the overtime rule. The National Retail Federation, the group that opposes all minimum wage increases, said “there’s no magic pot of money,” from which to pay overtime. There is, however, always a big fat magic pot load of money to pay CEOs… Businesses lavish CEOs with fat paychecks and perks whether they do a good job or not. A well-run firm could find money to properly compensate employees who devote extra hours to ensure the place keeps humming.
ALSO at The Stand — Support overdue update of overtime rule
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