Farm workers win, Boeing wrong, special sessions’ costs…

Thursday, July 16, 2015




► BREAKING from AP — Supreme Court: Washington farm workers must be paid for rest breaks — Piece-rate farm workers must be paid separately for rest breaks, the state Supreme Court said in a ruling issued this morning that is expected to drastically change the way Central Washington’s fruit growers pay employees. Piece-rate workers should be paid minimum wage or their regular rate for rest breaks, according to the ruling. In the lawsuit that generated the decision, a Skagit County berry farm (Sakuma Brothers) argued that the piece rate — or the amount paid per unit of fruit picked — was intended to account for rest breaks.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Construction powers Washington state job growth — Washington state nearly leads the nation in job growth over the past year, much of it driven by growth in the construction sector. These days, one of the biggest issues facing the construction industry locally is the lack of enough skilled workers to fill the jobs. “During the recession, a lot of trained people left,” said Monty Anderson, executive secretary of Seattle-King County Building & Construction Trades Council. “They didn’t come back. Now it’s hard getting them back.”

► In the P.S. Business Journal — 106 active projects, 3,487 new apartments: This is the most development Seattle has seen in a decade

► From KPLU — Green River College spares one program, axes two more over union’s objections — Green River College administrators will move ahead with plans to cut two small trade programs — including one led by the president of the faculty union — in an effort, they say, to narrow a budget gap. Faculty union members, who have alleged from the outset the cuts are meant as retaliation against their leadership, had staged vocal on-campus protests and delivered a “no-confidence petition” against Green River president Eileen Ely. Administrators have denied the cuts are retaliatory.

ALSO at The Stand — Green River College board backs Ely; faculty authorizes strike (May 27)

► In today’s News Tribune — The city’s minimum wage proposal is a credit to activists, but questions remain (by Matt Driscoll) — What happened inside Tacoma City Council chambers Tuesday night, after four grueling hours of messy local democracy, is a testament to how far 15 Now Tacoma pushed and prodded the minimum-wage conversation in the city.




► From KPLU — NLRB judge: Boeing wrong for withholding job-relocation information — Boeing violated labor law by not giving information to its engineers’ union regarding plans for moving jobs out of the Puget Sound region, a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge has ruled.




► In today’s News Tribune — Legislature’s special session costs top $440,000 — State lawmakers racked up more than $440,000 in daily expenses and travel costs during their three overtime sessions this year, according to a review of legislative records — and those numbers are still incomplete.

ALSO at The Stand — Star making: The Seattle Times shills for Hill, Republicans (by The Entire Staff of The Stand) — It appears that some of our Capitol Press Corps already considers the threat of a shutdown to be business as usual in Olympia. In fact, some of them — and not just the Times — are suggesting that the side that gave the least in high-stakes last-minute negotiations were the “winners.” This not only accepts, it encourages shutdown politics.

► From AP — Inslee signs $16 billion transportation package — With the State Route 520 Bridge construction behind him, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bills making up a $16 billion transportation package on Wednesday at the University of Washington. The package, which includes an 11.9 cent gas tax hike over the next two years, provides money for projects and maintenance across the state.

► In today’s Seattle Times — More work ahead on fixing public-schools financing (by Dan Grimm) — Our state Supreme Court found legislators in contempt last September for their failure to comply with the McCleary decision mandating ample state funding of our public schools. Now that a final state budget has been adopted for the next two years, the time has come for the court to take decisive action. To ensure legislators fulfill their obligations, the court must ban the use of local levies for basic education and appoint a special master to oversee the process.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Hobbs has eye on lieutenant governor’s office — if the job is open — The Lake Stevens Democrat says he won’t run if the current five-term lieutenant governor, Brad Owen, seeks re-election. Says Owen: “I’m not sure when that decision will be made.”




► From The Hill — House approves $8 billion highway funding extension — The bill to extend federal transportation funding until December now goes to the Senate, which is considering a funding bill that could also include an extension of the Export-Import Bank’s charter. That would introduce a new complication to the fight over highway funding; conservatives in the House want to keep Ex-Im from being revived.

EDITOR’S NOTE — All members of Washington’s House delegation voted “yes,” except Rep. Jim McDermott.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — Sen. Murray takes on conservatives in fight for Ex-Im Bank – without once mentioning Boeing

► In the NY Times — Former Medicare chief to lead lobbying arm of health insurance companies — Marilyn B. Tavenner, who stepped down from her federal job in February, will become president and chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the trade group whose members include Aetna, Anthem, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and many Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

► From Reuters — Thailand confident it can avoid U.S. sanctions as human trafficking report looms — Officials in Thailand say they will likely avoid U.S. sanctions even if their country stays on the lowest tier of an annual State Department human trafficking report.




► From Politico — Unions seethe over early Clinton endorsement — On Saturday, when the AFT became the first international labor union to make an endorsement in the contest by announcing its support of Clinton, it drew sharp criticism from teachers as well as other labor leaders, who questioned the timing amid Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ surge in popularity.

► In today’s NY Times — Which presidential candidates are winning the money race so far — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign raised $47.5 million through June 30, more than any other campaign so far. Bernie Sanders is in second place, having raised $15.2 million and he has the highest percentage — more than 80% — of donations of $200 or less. Jeb Bush has the most outside support, with a reported $103 million raised by the super PAC backing him.

► In today’s Washington Post — 2016 fundraising shows power tilting to groups backed by wealthy elite — Nearly $4 of every $5 raised for GOP candidates went to super PACs and other groups.

► From TPM — Wisc. Supreme Court ends secret ‘John Doe’ probe that long plagued Scott Walker — The case centers on political activity conducted by Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative organizations during the 2012 recall campaign against Walker. Prosecutors accused Walker and the groups of illegally coordinating their campaign efforts in violation of state law.




► From Huffington Post — The myth of the ethical shopper — For a generation now, buying better has been one of our most potent forms of protest. Who doesn’t want to believe that he can rescue sweatshop children from misery simply by purchasing the right T-shirt? The same idea underpins hundreds of earnest NGO advocacy campaigns urging people to take action against the Swooshtika, Badidas, Killer Coke. It prompted a much-praised John Oliver exposé in which he blasts H&M for selling “suspiciously cheap” clothes sourced in Bangladesh. The only trouble is, this narrative is bullshit… Boycotts have failed. Our clothes are being made in ways that advocacy campaigns can’t affect and in places they can’t reach. So how are we going to stop sweatshops now?


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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