Monday, November 30, 2015
► In today’s Seattle Times — State gave Boeing a free pass on $19.5M in sales tax — For the first time, Boeing’s precise savings from portions of a record-setting state tax-break package is available to the public. But much more remains undisclosed.
► In the News Tribune — Western State Hospital struggles to keep jobs filled — State officials say an extreme shortage of staff at Western State Hospital is a major reason federal regulators declared patients’ safety to be in danger before lifting that finding Tuesday. The facility doesn’t have enough social workers, psychologists, nurses and — most critically — registered nurses and psychiatrists, DSHS Secretary Kevin Quigley told state lawmakers in an e-mail Monday.
► From AP — Assaults on staff at Western State Hospital costing millions — Hundreds of employees at Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital have suffered concussions, fractures, bruises and cuts during assaults by patients, resulting in millions of dollars in medical costs and thousands of missed days of work.
► MUST-READ in the Spokesman-Review — Republicans taking an ugly turn (editorial) — Thoughtful Republicans need to ask themselves whether the unchecked hysteria and ignorance of Trump, Idaho state legislator Heather Scott and Rep. Jay Rodne (R-Snoqualmie) lead down the road to national and state leadership, or dissolution.
► From Slog — State representative who made Islamophobic comments laughs at Democratic spokesperson’s Lebanese surname — Rep. Rodne laughed when (the Freedom Foundation’s Jeff) Rhodes made fun of the surname of Jamal Raad, communications director for the Washington State Democrats.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Who left room for initiatives? (editorial) — Tim Eyman wants the legislators to respect the intent of voters and approve a ballot measure for a constitutional amendment on his two-thirds threshold for tax increases. It’s a valid point. But most recent election’s low voter turnout hurts his argument. Senators and representatives are elected to serve the best interests of all residents of their districts, not only those who vote. With each percentage point drop in voter turnout, so too does confidence drop in how well a particular vote represents the will of all citizens.
► In today’s Seattle Times — An Uber union? Seattle could clear way for ride-app drivers — Politicians, labor activists and business executives across the U.S. have their eyes on Seattle City Hall as a vote draws closer on what could become a legal breakthrough establishing collective-bargaining rights for contract employees.
► In the (Longview) Daily News — NLRB finding may lead to rehire of fired KapStone workers — Five former KapStone employees fired after last summer’s 12-day strike may get their jobs back. NLRB investigators say they found no evidence that the workers engaged in any wrongdoing during the walkout. KapStone accused four striking workers of blocking public right-away and one of kicking a truck, according to AWPPW Local 153. One of the workers who lost his job was the union member who was hit by a car while on the picket line.
► In today’s News Tribune — KPLU sale would mean less news for the Northwest (editorial)
► From KPLU — New non-profit in Washington state aims to help workers sue over wage violations — Now that Seattle’s $15 minimum wage is being phased in, the mayor is proposing tougher rules to enforce it, including allowing workers to sue employers for violations and receive damages if they win. A new non-profit legal group in Seattle called the Washington Wage Claim Project aims to help workers do that.
► In the Washington Post — Why wage and hour litigation is skyrocketing — Attorneys cite increased attention being drawn to wage and hour issues by a Labor Department that’s been cracking down on misclassification of independent contractors, moving to change overtime rules, and promoting minimum-wage hikes on the local level; that the FSLA has failed to adapt from an industrial to a service-based economy, creating ambiguities that often have to be litigated to resolve; and as unions have declined, lawyers are suing less under the laws that govern labor-management relations and more over wages and hours, gaining familiarity with the statute as they go.
► A related story from Bloomberg — If contract drivers win bid for reimbursement, it could cost Uber millions — Whether the drivers can pursue pay for mileage on their own vehicles going back to 2009 is up for debate at a California court hearing set for Tuesday.
► From Al Jazeera America — World leaders begin push for climate deal at critical talks in Paris — World leaders gathered in Paris on Monday as a U.N. conference aimed at forging a global treaty to avert the worst effects of climate change began. Heads of 147 state and government — including the leaders of the world worst polluters, such as the U.S. and China — arrived for the conference along with members of the private sector, labor groups, members of the scientific community, indigenous leaders, and environmental activists.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, is among the labor leaders who were invited to attend.
► In today’s NY Times — Two-thirds of Americans want U.S. to join climate change pact — A solid majority of Americans say the United States should join an international treaty to limit the impact of global warming, but on this and other climate-related questions, opinion divides sharply along partisan lines.
► From the WSJ — Native American casinos seek labor law exemption — The bill, which cleared the House last week, has support from an unusual mix of Republicans and Democrats who contend the exemption is critical to keeping Indian tribes’ fragile economies afloat. But it has also garnered opposition from labor unions that call it an affront to workers’ rights, and from President Barack Obama, who is pushing for changes to the bill.
ALSO at The Stand — State’s Dems split on exempting tribal businesses from labor law — Reps. Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer were among the 24 House Democrats who sided with majority Republicans in voting “yes.”
► From The Hill — Lawmakers prepare for end-of-year dash — The looming battles — including avoiding a government shutdown — could challenge Republicans’ desire to show they can govern heading into the 2016 election, as well as provide a fresh challenges for new Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
► From BNA — Tax extender talks intensify, but deal remains elusive — Congressional negotiations to revive dozens of expired tax credits and deductions are keeping hope alive that some provisions will be made permanent in the tax code, but a deal doesn’t appear to be at hand, lobbyists and congressional staff members told Bloomberg BNA.
► From The Hill — Obama plans aggressive regs push in final year — The White House quietly released its formal rulemaking schedule late last week. The document sets 2015 and 2016 deadlines for major rules on everything from food safety and drones to electronic cigarettes and workers’ exposure to harmful silica dust.
► From AP — Clinton vows hundreds of billions for infrastructure, jobs — Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled the first piece of a new jobs agenda on Sunday, but her initial proposal, a $275 billion infrastructure plan, falls short of the $1 trillion pledged by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to rebuild the nation’s crumbling bridges, ports, highways and airports.
► From Think Progress — Walmart workers strike, protest Walton heiress on Black Friday — Walmart workers and their supporters are protesting at a dozen stores around the United States on Black Friday as part of an ongoing campaign for union recognition and a $15 hourly wage.
► In the Seattle Times — Unrest on campuses shows failure to address racism, activists say — Black students say universities around the nation — including here in Washington — must go beyond dialogue and take real action to bring substantial changes, including more faculty of color and more recruitment of black students.
► From Think Progress — You are more than 7 times as likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than by Muslim terrorists — Though terrorism perpetrated by Muslims receives a disproportionate amount of attention from politicians and reporters, the reality is that right-wing extremists pose a much greater threat to people in the United States than terrorists connected to ISIS or similar organizations.
► In the NY Times — A wealthy governor and his friends are remaking Illinois — The wealth of Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire founder of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, and his friends has forcefully shifted the state’s balance of power. Last year, the families helped elect as governor Bruce Rauner, a Griffin friend and former private equity executive from the Chicago suburbs, who estimates his own fortune at more than $500 million. Now they are rallying behind Rauner’s agenda: to cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions.
EDITOR’S NOTE — A scientific study from Princeton and Northwestern (in Illinois!) universities last year determined that the U.S. is no longer a democracy, but an oligarchy.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.