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Failing grade, TPP in Maui, AFL-CIO waits…

Monday, July 27, 2015




F-mccleary-court-education► In the Olympian — Lawmakers still fail on K-12 funding (editorial) — There’s no polite way to say this. Washington’s Legislature deserves censure by the state Supreme Court over its chronic failure to fix the public school funding system. No matter how the blarney is parsed, the nine justices on the high court know that local, voter-approved school levies still subsidize basic education.

► In the Seattle Times — Keep pressure on state lawmakers to fund basic education (editorial) — The state Supreme Court should keep the pressure on the Legislature to solve education inequities of its over-reliance on voter-approved local levies.

► In today’s Columbian — Legislators run tab of $600,000 in overtime per diem — The costs from the three special overtime sessions already top $600,000 with per diem, travel and temporary staff costs for both chambers. The House has not finished tallying its total.

transportation-poison-pill► In the (Everett) Herald — Swallowing this ‘pill’ is too costly (editorial) — Mr. Governor, don’t swallow the pill. We previously supported both the carbon tax and the low-carbon fuels standard in editorials… And we were critical of the maneuver by Republicans to use this procedure to force the governor’s hand. Opponents of the rule had better avenues of opposition than holding public transportation funding hostage. It tarnishes what otherwise is a stellar package that Republicans and Democrats ought to be proud of. Those opinions have not changed.

► In the Seattle Times — Carbon-tax initiative divides environmentalists — A scrappy initiative campaign to create a revenue-neutral carbon tax has run into opposition from major environmentalist groups and other Democratic Party allies. They want to run their own carbon initiative in 2016.




► From AP — Washington counties struggle with criminal justice costs — Washington’s 39 counties are draining their budgets trying to keep their communities safe, and if they have to prosecute a big murder case some fear they’ll end up bankrupt. Counties large and small are either getting creative with the way they support their criminal justice system or petitioning the state for help to pay for police, lawyers, court personnel and other costs.

► In the Spokesman Review — Workers Bill of Rights proposal qualifies for Spokane ballot — If passed, the newest measure put forth by Envision Spokane would amend the city charter to require large employers to pay workers a “family wage,” ensure equal pay for equal work regardless of gender or race, and make it more difficult to terminate workers. The measure would make the rights of a corporation secondary to people’s rights.




► From Politico — Rice, milk and cars among the stumbling blocks in historic trade pact — Top trade officials from 12 countries scattered around the Asia-Pacific region descended on the island of Maui on Friday for a week of meetings, where they will sit in hotel conference rooms negotiating a free trade zone that would cover about 40 percent of world economic output. And while they could leave with a breakthrough deal, the talks could just as easily be blown up by petty and not-so-petty grievances over everything from cheese labels to auto tariffs.

► From AP — Congress pushes ahead on highway bill after Senate smackdown — Lawmakers are pushing forward on must-pass highway legislation after an amendment reviving the federal Export-Import Bank provoked a heated clash on the Senate floor. The amendment advanced over a procedural hurdle by a vote of 67-26 in an unusual Sunday session, and was likely to win approval Monday to be included on the highway bill.




► From Reuters — AFL-CIO may delay endorsement of Clinton as 2016 presidential candidateIn a possible setback for Hillary Clinton, the AFL-CIO’s political committee has recommended the nation’s largest labor union federation delay endorsing a candidate for the 2016 presidential race as it seeks to push her to be more supportive of its policies on issues such as trade and wages.

Scott Walker► In the Washington Post — Why Scott Walker is so dangerous (by Dana Milbank) — Walker is not as outrageous as Donald Trump and Sen.­­ Ted Cruz, but his technique of scapegoating unions for the nation’s ills is no less demagogic. Sixty-five years ago, another man from Wisconsin made himself a national reputation by frightening the country about the menace of communists, though the actual danger they represented was negligible. Scott Walker is not Joe McCarthy, but his technique is similar: He suggests that the nation’s ills can be cured by fighting labor unions (foremost among the “big government special interests” hurting the United States), even though unions represent just 11 percent of the U.S. workforce and have been at a low ebb.




Unions-Work-reducing-inequality► From AFL-CIO Now — IMF: Unionization, higher wages reduce income inequality — The notion that unionization and higher wages decrease income inequality is a fundamental premise of the Solidarity Center and our allies. But now a surprising source has reached the same conclusion: the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

► In today’s NY Times — Raising floor of minimum wage pushes econ0omy into unknown — Even where the $15/hour proposals are politically viable, the economic challenge could prove daunting. That is because the sheer magnitude of the recent minimum wage increases sets up an economics experiment the country has rarely if ever seen before.

► In today’s LA Times — Minimum wage waiver for organized workers a point of debate among unions — The push for the loophole, which began in the final days before the law’s passage, caused a backlash rarely seen in this pro-union city and upended perceptions of labor’s role in the fight to raise pay for the working poor. Union activists were among the most stalwart backers of L.A.’s ordinance raising the wage to $15 by 2020, and argued against special consideration for nonprofits and small businesses.

► From AP — Verizon workers vote to authorize strike, if necessary — Verizon workers in nine states have voted to go on strike if necessary over a dispute about a new contract, a CWA official said at a rally Saturday.




► John Oliver takes on the human cost of mandatory minimum sentences. Oliver tells the story of a 24-year-old father who sold small amounts of marijuana to an informant while he was carrying a gun, an act which led to a 55-year prison sentence with no possibility of parole. Even the judge who sentenced that man said, “That’s not right.”


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