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What’s the holdup, Bellingham sick leave, TPP nearly done…

Tuesday, July 7, 2015




nelson-sharon► In today’s Seattle Times — Why state Democrats held up a budget deal over I-1351 (by. Sen. Sharon Nelson) — Senate Republicans refused to discuss the issue of high-stakes testing this session, never holding a hearing or work session on any of the five Senate bills or House bill dealing with this issue. One might ask why SEHB 2214, which passed the House three times this year with near unanimous support can’t even get discussed in the Senate. The decisions we made last week came only after careful thought by each senator about how he or she could best represent constituents, many of whom voted to limit class sizes.

► From AP — Class size, testing extend legislative session — Senate Democrats said Monday they don’t believe the Legislature needs to move this year to address a class-size initiative with a multibillion-dollar price tag that has put the new state operating budget out of balance. However, they said they are willing to negotiate with majority Republicans to find an agreement that ends the longest single-year legislative session on record.

manweller-swears► In today’s Olympian — Despite rumor, colleagues say Senate Democrats weren’t drinking the night of crucial vote — Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) said Senate Democrats were “inebriated” last week when they voted against a crucial measure needed to balance the state budget. But no one has substantiated that claim, and now Manweller is refusing to discuss his comments that “too much alcohol” contributed to Senate Democrats’ actions.

► In the Spokesman-Review — Budget gave state’s roads an overdue investment (editorial) — After more than a half-century of broken promises, the Legislature has appropriated the $879 million it will take to connect the highway strand that now terminates north of Francis Avenue all the way down Spokane’s east side to I-90. The vision of a divided highway that could take trucks from Canada or other points north off Division and other North Side arterials will be realized, and the city’s place as a transportation hub reinforced.




► In the P.S. Business Journal — Boeing (workers) hit a quarterly production record: 197 jets — Driving the record was the Renton plant’s production of 128 model 737s, which made up 65% of Boeing’s total output. Smooth aircraft assembly is at the center of Chicago-based Boeing’s current mission as it works down a record seven years of backlog and works to control costs.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing leads Airbus in first-half deliveries, lags on orders — First-half order tallies for Airbus Group and Boeing showed a 41 percent drop from 2014, reflecting a slowdown in jet demand after airlines and lessors spent recent years gorging on new planes.




► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Bellingham council to consider requiring paid sick leave — During an afternoon work session Monday, council member Roxanne Murphy asked that the council look at requiring a set amount of paid sick or safe leave for businesses in the city limits.

sakuma-march-15Jul11► From Labor Notes — How migrant farmworkers are cross-pollinating strategies — and winning — As the blueberry season opened last week, the Sakuma pickers staged another two-day strike. Two hundred walked off the job after Sakuma introduced a new quota of 35 pounds of blueberries per hour and refused to negotiate over lowering it. Another spur to the strike: the company was trying to introduce staggered start times, which workers suspected was a tactic to divide them. Sakuma now says the staggered schedules were only temporary. To keep up the pressure on Sakuma, the workers are inviting allies from labor, community, and faith groups to join a July 11 march for a contract. The date commemorates the berry pickers’ first strike in 2013, which led to the formation of their union.

ALSO at The Stand — Join Sakuma berry pickers’ March for a Contract on Saturday

► In today’s Seattle Times — Sound Transit planning heats up for light-rail expansion and public vote — Planners began promoting a $15 billion light-rail-expansion plan, but still need to work out crucial route details before presenting anything to voters in 2016.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Memorial Hospital, Yakima at odds over contract — A contract dispute over health care coverage between Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital and the city of Yakima could derail health services for the city’s about 700 employees and their families, hospital officials said Monday.

► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver council OKs pair of labor contracts — The Vancouver City Council on Monday approved two employee union contracts and a professional services agreement with five private companies for on-call construction management and inspection.

sr-waste-management► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Waste management workers face high injury, fatality rates — There are about 100 waste and recycling collectors in Spokane’s Solid Waste Management department. The work come with a high degree of risk: Waste and recycling collectors have one of the highest occupational fatality rates in the United States. At least 33 waste and recycling collectors died at work in 2013, putting them in the top 10 most dangerous jobs behind loggers, fishermen, roofers, pilots and flight engineers. Police and firefighters died at much lower rates.




► In today’s NY Times — TPP negotiators see a wrap in late July — U.S. officials feel confident enough a deal is at hand that they have scheduled a meeting among the chief negotiators during the last four days in July and have notified Congress that they expect this to be the last one. Still, it will be some time before a deal is ratified. Under terms set by Congress in trade negotiating legislation last month, a July 31 agreement could not be signed until Oct. 31 or more likely the beginning of November. Congress cannot begin considering it until December.

port-container-congestion► From The Hill — Unions move to sink GOP port bills — The AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department said Monday that a pair of Republican measures to reduce the potential for strikes at U.S. ports are “unnecessary” interventions into labor relations at the nation’s docks. The AFL-CIO TTD, which represents more than 30 transportation-related unions, said Monday that the measures are overreaches by Republicans in reaction to a standoff at West Coast ports earlier this year that resulted in a temporary shutdown of nearly 30 ports in February.

► From the Hill — Ex-Im vote holds peril for No. 2 House Republican McCarthy — The California Republican has spent the past year positioning himself as an ardent foe of the bank. The problem is that Speaker John Boehner has signaled he’ll allow a vote on renewing the bank’s charter later this month. If McCarthy agrees to schedule it, it could anger conservatives who already are distrustful of the genial Californian.

► From The Hill — Monthly U.S. trade deficit widens to $41.9 billion — The nation’s trade gap increased slightly in May on a drop in exports as U.S. firms struggle to sell their products in foreign markets.




► From the AFL-CIO Now —Join Richard Trumka in telling DOL to fix overtime pay


ALSO at The Stand — Support overdue update of overtime pay rule

► In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch — The laborer is worthy of his hire. And his overtime. (editorial) — One of the great scams in the American workforce has long been the title “assistant manager.” Jesus says in Luke’s gospel that “the laborer is worthy of his hire,” but he doesn’t mention assistant managers getting overtime… Americans are slowly catching on to how they’ve been exploited. The only question is how many of them can be motivated to go to the polls and do something about it.




walker-scott-15► From Think Progress — Scott Walker tries to use a back door to get rid of Wisconsin’s living wage law — Gov. Walker wants to completely eliminate the state’s 100-year-old definition of a “living wage,” which now says workers deserve pay that provides “minimum comfort, decency, physical and moral well-being.” This major change would strip the state of the power to to investigate complaints that an employee is not being paid a living wage, and would replace “living wage” with “minimum wage” throughout Wisconsin’s laws. The change to the wage law comes just as low-income workers in the state are suing Governor Walker for refusing to consider their complaint that the current state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not a living wage.




single-payer-health-care► From Huffington Post — The choice ahead: A private health-insurance monopoly or a single payer (by Robert Reich) — The Supreme Court’s recent blessing of Obamacare has precipitated a rush among the nation’s biggest health insurers to consolidate into two or three behemoths. The result will be good for their shareholders and executives, but bad for the rest of us — who will pay through the nose for the health insurance we need. We have another choice: a government-run single payer system — such as is in place in almost every other advanced economy — dedicated to lower premiums and better care.


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