Break pay, mass incarceration, 5 days ’til Wednesday…

Friday, July 17, 2015




► From AP — High court: Washington farmworkers entitled to break pay — “Paid breaks for workers are a basic principle embodied in state law, and this decision ensures that some agricultural workers, who often perform difficult work for low pay, aren’t denied this right arbitrarily, based solely on their compensation method,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office supported the pickers. The decision came in a case involving Sakuma Brothers Farms.

► In the Skagit Valley Herald — Court rules farmworkers must be paid separately for rest breaks — Familias Unidas por la Justica is counting the ruling as win for farmworkers, but said it’s just one step in the right direction. The group has been trying for several years to negotiate a contract with Sakuma.

► In the Yakima H-R — How real is the farm labor shortage? — The term “labor shortage” gets thrown around a lot these days, with percentages ranging from 8 percent to 15 percent to 20 percent attached to describe the gap. But not everyone is convinced that the industry has a labor shortage at all, especially with 8 percent of Yakima County residents receiving unemployment benefits. In fact, state economists charged with quantifying the “labor shortage” carefully qualify their language in the annual Agricultural Workforce Report, produced by the Employment Security Department.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Construction of Pacific Northwest’s largest hotel can begin: city ruling — A Seattle developer has won a fight against a powerful union to build the largest hotel north of San Francisco. Officials at R.C. Hedreen Co. say a ruling this week by the city’s hearing examiner on an appeal filed by Unite Here Local 8 means they can finally begin construction on the $400 million, 45-story project.

► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — KapStone workers OK unfair labor practice strike — About 99 percent of voting union members approve of the strike authorization, AWPPW officials said Wednesday night. The vote is an attempt to show that any strike would be over an unfair labor practice rather than purely economic concerns. KapStone could not legally hire permanent replacement workers if it was an unfair labor practices strike.

► In today’s News Tribune — Union wants more controllers at Tacoma Narrows Airport — When air traffic controllers at Tacoma Narrows Airport have to use the restroom, they take a portable radio with them to answer calls from aviators.

► From AP — Seattle tunnel contractors say digging to resume by Nov. 23 — Critical final repairs are being made this week to Bertha, Seattle’s tunnel boring machine, and digging is slated to resume by Nov. 23.

► In today’s Oregonian — Port of Portland needs labor peace, truckers and infrastructure (editorial) — As has always been the case, the best resolution is for ICTSI Oregon Inc. and the ILWU to resolve their differences and help the Port to convince international shipping lines that turnaround times in Portland will meet industry standards if container vessels return to Portland.




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — State gas tax a tale of two votes (by Shawn Vestal) — On one hand, Sen. Michael Baumgartner worked alongside local Democrats to pull a lot of money to the dry side of the state, including the final funding for the North Spokane Corridor. Baumgartner took perhaps the toughest vote a Republican can take these days, voting yes on the gas tax. On the other hand, Rep. Kevin Parker stuck to the never-tax line and voted against the package. He took perhaps the easiest vote a Republican can take these days, voting a symbolic no as the benefits come to his district anyway.

► From KUOW — Capital construction budget includes $130M in lawmaker-requested projects — Before they left town, Washington lawmakers approved a nearly $4 billion capital construction budget. That includes $130 million in member-requested projects – what you might call pork. These are the “bring home the bacon” projects.

► From KUOW — Record-long session produced surprisingly few new laws — Split control of the Washington legislature may explain why so many ideas failed to make it through the legislative sausage-making process.




► From CNN — President Obama makes historic trip to prison, pushes reform — Barack Obama is putting an exclamation point on his recent call for criminal justice reform by becoming the first sitting president to visit a federal prison Thursday. He arrived at the El Reno Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, on Thursday to meet with inmates and law enforcement.

► From Huffington Post — Labor must act to stop mass incarceration (by Richard Trumka) — In every possible way, mass incarceration is a worker issue and a labor issue. President Obama has taken an important first step down the road to sensible and fair criminal justice policies that make our communities and our country stronger. The AFL-CIO is proud to stand side by side with the President in this important and necessary endeavor.

► In the NY Times — Bill Clinton concedes his crime law jailed too many for too long




► In the Washington Examiner — Unions, businesses launch effort to flood Labor Dept. with mail on overtime rule — Supporters and opponents of the White House’s proposed rewrite of overtime regulations are urging their members to flood the Labor Department with comments on the proposed rulemaking, hoping to sway the administration on the final version.

ALSO at The Stand — Support overdue update of overtime rule

► From The Hill — Senate hasn’t given up on long-term transportation bill — Top senators from both parties sounded increasingly confident on Thursday that they could negotiate a long-term highway bill, just a day after the House passed the latest in a series of short-term patches.




► In today’s NY Times — Liberals and wages (by Paul Krugman) — Our understanding of wage determination has been transformed by an intellectual revolution — that’s not too strong a word — brought on by a series of remarkable studies of what happens when governments change the minimum wage… There’s just no evidence that raising the minimum wage costs jobs, at least when the starting point is as low as it is in modern America… The minimum-wage studies are not relevant just to the lowest-paid workers. There’s every reason to believe that public policy can, in a variety of ways — including making it easier for workers to organize — encourage more firms to choose the good-wage strategy.

► From TPM — The inside story of the crony court that deep-sixed the Scott Walker probeThursday’s decision is the fruit of a years-long collaboration among Wisconsin conservatives, with national institutional support, to hack away at the state’s campaign finance laws as a way to ensure down-ballot victories and enact a maximalist legislative agenda.

► In the American Prospect — How the American South drives the low-wage economy (by Harold Meyerson) — With divided government at the federal level blocking such measures as a minimum-wage hike, and with Southern congressional resistance to strengthening workers’ rights blocking labor-law reform even when Democrats have controlled Congress, the federal government in recent decades has done little to obstruct the nationalization of the white South’s racist and anti-worker norms. Since 2013, however, at the very same time that Northern Republicans have moved right, states and cities where multiracial liberal coalitions govern have taken it upon themselves to enact their own minimum-wage increases, paid sick-day legislation, and statutes making it easier to vote. But there are too few such states to offset the malign influence of the South on broader wage trends.




► About 10 years ago, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement “the almost award-winning fourth-most-popular folk duo in New Zealand” was starting to make it big. Soon, Flight of the Conchords would have their own HBO television series and become international stars. That’s why the Entire Staff of The Stand, who are longtime fans, loves this video of an audience hearing their classic “Business Time” for the first time. Enjoy! And remember, Wednesday is just five days away.


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

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