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Sea-Tac workers win, Boeing 401(kosts), Cathy’s choice…

Thursday, August 20, 2015




WAwildfire-15Aug19-front2► In today’s Seattle Times — Wind-whipped wildfire kills 3 firefighters, injures 4 near Twisp — A wind-whipped wildfire outside of Twisp trapped and killed three U.S. Forest Service firefighters in a vehicle Wednesday afternoon as the blaze exploded across the sunbaked foothills of the North Cascades and raced toward two towns. The firefighters reportedly died after engaging the fire, then becoming involved in a vehicle accident and ultimately being overtaken by the flames.

ALSO at The Stand — Stay informed, safe amid deadly wildfires




seatac-good-jobs-initiativeBREAKING NEWS from KPLU — State Supreme Court rules that $15 minimum wage applies at Sea-Tac airport — In a long anticipated decision, the Washington state Supreme Court has ruled the $15-an-hour minimum wage law narrowly approved by voters in the city of SeaTac in fall 2013 applies at Sea-Tac International Airport. That means that about 4,700 workers ranging from restaurant employees to baggage handlers should be paid the higher wage, according to SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs, a union-backed group that led the effort to pass the minimum wage initiative.

► In the Stranger — City of Seattle proposes massive overhaul of labor laws — A massive, 100-plus-page bill currently circulating in the mayor’s office would strengthen the city’s labor laws, including stiffer penalties for lawbreaking businesses, better compensation for workers who aren’t paid adequately or given sick days, and more ways for workers to file complaints anonymously. But perhaps the most controversial piece of the draft legislation is the inclusion of the “private right of action,” which would give employees the right to sue their employer over violations of the city’s minimum wage, wage theft, and paid sick and safe time laws.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Despite low jobless rate, part-time workers struggle to go full-time — Washington state’s unemployment rate is at a 7-year low in July, but the number of people working part time while desiring full-time work is still higher than before the recession.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — Washington health exchange gets interim CEO, downsizes staff — The exchange held a special meeting on Wednesday to officially name Pam MacEwan interim CEO of the exchange when Richard Onizuka steps down from that role on Aug. 28. The $110 million budget the board passed reflects a reduction of 11.8 percent from its previous biennium budget and will include a 15 percent reduction in staff at the exchange.





► From KPLU — Trial set to start over whether Boeing allowed workers to be charged excessive 401(k) fees — A class-action lawsuit covering about 190,000 Boeing employees and retirees heads to trial that accuses Boeing of offering employees 401(k) retirement plans that charged excessive fees. Attorney Jerry Schlichter says not only did Boeing fail to negotiate lower fees that a company of its size should expect, he alleges that the company put its own interests ahead of its workers’: “Boeing steered its banker to provide services in the 401(k) plan at excessive fees while Boeing was getting various loans and lines of credit from the same banker.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — These are the plans that Boeing is forcing employees into as it takes away their defined-benefit pensions.




► In the Yakima H-R — This bears repeating: Reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank (editorial) — Washington’s congressional delegation, including 4th District Rep. Dan Newhouse, understands what’s at stake. Congress would do well to take Boeing’s threat seriously and keep that company’s jobs — along with the jobs of smaller businesses like Yakima’s Manhasset — on our shores. Congress can do that by reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank when it reconvenes in September.

mcmorris-rodgers-LEDITOR’S NOTE — This also bears repeating: Ex-Im reauthorization could use some leadership from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th). It has passed the Senate and it has sufficient votes to pass the House, but House Republican leadership is blocking a vote because it doesn’t want to anger its Tea Party contingent — and the Koch brothers — who oppose Ex-Im. McMorris Rodgers is part of that leadership team and has spent the past year hedging her bets by calling for Ex-Im “reforms.” Her Tea Party colleagues have made their goal clear: to kill the Ex-Im Bank. McMorris Rodgers has a choice to make. She can do what’s clearly in her state’s best interests and publicly push to allow an Ex-Im vote. Or she can continue playing footsie with the Tea Party and the Kochs to safeguard her personal political ambitions. What’s it gonna be, Cathy?

► From AFL-CIO Now — Another reason PP won’t work: Currency manipulation (by Celeste Drake) — Last week, China, the world’s second largest economy, devalued its currency by about 4% against the dollar. Vietnam — a party to the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations — followed suit. This devaluation makes it tougher to sell U.S. goods on the world market — by making “Made in America” goods relatively more expensive and Vietnamese and Chinese goods relatively cheaper.

ALSO at The Stand — Currency manipulation: Does Congress care?




ap-mcdonalds-protest-brazil► In today’s NY Times — Union takes a McDonald’s challenge overseas — The union-led effort to raise wages and organize workers at fast-food chains in the United States is expanding its focus beyond organized protests at home to highlighting McDonald’s actions abroad in hopes that foreign regulators will bring further pressure to bear on the company. The efforts are intended to build on the success of the anti-McDonald’s campaign in raising wages for fast-food workers in the United States. But it is also a tacit acknowledgment that the campaign’s second major goal, a union for workers at McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants, remains elusive.

► From The Atlantic — How to get low-wage workers into the middle class (by Steven Greenhouse) — With SEIU spending more than $30 million on the Fight for 15 campaign, it would make sense for that union to seek to organize fast-food workers with an eye to making them dues-paying members to help finance the fight and help the union grow… If the SEIU can come up with a way to unionize a franchising giant like McDonald’s, it would be a watershed for organized labor — and could create a replicable strategy for lifting hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of low-wage workers.

► From AP — Poll: Majority in U.S. wants government to curb prescription costs — Regardless of political affiliation, Americans strongly support government action to control prescription drug costs, according to a new poll.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Scientists suggest way to cut stroke risk: Trim your workweek — An analysis of more than half a million men and women from around the world found that those who put in long hours at the office were 33 percent more likely to have a stroke than their colleagues who clocked out earlier.

EDITOR’S NOTE — We’re looking at you, Mr. Bezos.




► In today’s Washington Post — GOP jumps on immigration bandwagon (by Harold Meyerson) — The anti-immigrant animus that fuels the Republican right finds scant support anyplace else on the political spectrum. In a Gallup Poll released last week, 65 percent of Americans favored letting undocumented immigrants remain in the United States with the right to become citizens if they met certain criteria, while just 19 percent wanted to deport them.

► In today’s NY Times — GOP candidates follow Trump to the bottom on immigration (editorial) — The danger is that when the campaign is over, no matter what becomes of Trump’s candidacy, he will have further poisoned the debate with his noxious positions, normalized an extremism whose toxicity is dulled by familiarity and is validated by a feckless party. He has emboldened the fringe lawmakers whose “hell no” on any positive immigration legislation has stymied reform for years.

mini-me► In today’s NY Times — Momentum slipping away in Iowa, Scott Walker adopts a Trump-like stance — Gov. Scott Walker acknowledged on a private conference call with donors that voters have found him passionless. He announced a reset of his campaign, in which he would take on the Republican establishment to show that, like Donald Trump, he, too, strongly opposes the status quo.

► From Reuters — Republican candidate Trump says low U.S. wages ‘not a bad thing’ — “Having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country,” Trump said.




► And finally, the GOP presidential candidates start making a little more sense…


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