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Freedom of association, Kilmer vs. non-competes, a Koch Xmas…

Monday, December 14, 2015




Seattle-for-hire-drivers-Teamsters► From Al Jazeera America — Uber and taxi drivers may soon win right to unionize in Seattle — This week, the Seattle City Council will vote on a bill that advocates say gives both app-based drivers and traditional cabbies a means of improving their working conditions: the right to unionize. If, as expected, the majority of councilmembers vote “yes” and the mayor does not object, Seattle would become the first city to establish collective bargaining in this segment of the transportation industry.

ALSO at The Stand — Support Seattle for-hire drivers at hearing today — Attend today’s 2 p.m. hearing at Seattle City Hall and join the Entire Staff of The Stand in supporting for-hire drivers.

► In today’s NY Times — Seattle considers measure to let Uber and Lyft drivers unionize

MEANWHILE, the anti-union Seattle Times predictably opposes the ordinance, adopting the right-wing rhetoric of equating collective bargaining with sacrificing “freedom.”




kilmer-derek► From KPLU — Kilmer introduces legislation to protect grocery workers — Consolidation in the grocery business has workers uneasy about their jobs. Finding a new job isn’t straightforward either, as store chains compete and dwindle. Congressman Derek Kilmer is home in Gig Harbor talking with grocery workers about new legislation that would do away with non-compete clauses. Kilmer got involved earlier this year when Haggen stores were slated to close, putting the workers’ jobs at risk.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Government medical care a vital resource for sick nuclear workers — Medical expenses account for about 40 percent of the compensation paid out by the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act in the last year.

ALSO — Opening doors to compensation for nuclear workers

► In the News Tribune — Group Health stands by rules regulating vote on Kaiser deal — Seattle’s Group Health Cooperative says it won’t budge on plans that exclude about 95 percent of its members from voting on a proposed acquisition by California’s Kaiser Permanente.

► In today’s Seattle Times — More than a name change at stake in Group Health-Kaiser deal (by Jon Talton) — If Kaiser Permanente wins approval to acquire Group Health, it will mark more than the loss of another Seattle institution. Group Health was a model for how we might push back against money driven health care.

► From PubliCola — Seattle says it can’t disclose recipients of tax breaks




► From KPLU — New book explores Boeing workers’ changing attitudes about the company — Authors found that workers who know “the heritage Boeing” have very fond memories of the company and are almost wistful about it. At the same time, though, they a lot of criticism from the workers they interviewed: “There’s a lot of bitterness toward the leaders about a lot of decisions they made, specifically the 787 business model, which outsourced so much of the production.”




► In today’s Seattle Times — How Microsoft moves profits offshore to cut its tax bill — The company operates through three regional sales units — centered in Ireland, Singapore and Puerto Rico — rather than its headquarters in Redmond. By conducting sales from places with small populations and low tax rates, and routing some profit through virtually tax-free jurisdictions like Bermuda, Microsoft has cut billions of dollars from its tax bill over the last decade.

wile-e-fiscal-cliff► In the (Everett) Herald — Steer schools from ‘levy cliff’ (editorial) — The Legislature must address the “levy cliff” that school districts could be pushed over at the end of August 2017. That’s the point at which the percentage that school districts can fund their maintenance and operations, which includes salaries and benefits for teachers, classified staff and administrators, from school levies drops to a maximum of 24 percent from the current 28 percent.

► In the (Everett) Herald — AG won’t offer opinion on use of local levies for teacher pay — The Attorney General’s Office has decided not to weigh in on the legality of using local levy dollars to make up for a lack of state money to pay teachers, principals and staff in public schools.

► In the Spokesman-Review — Eyman coffers already in six figures for next year’s initiative — Eyman received loans of $600,000 from Vancouver-area investment CEO Ken Fisher and another $50,000 from Yakima businessman Mark Needham for a proposal he calls “Tougher To Raise Taxes.” It would require any new tax increase to expire after one year unless it was approved by two-thirds of the Legislature or a majority of voters.

► In today’s News Tribune — State officials, including Gov. Inslee, scramble in face of fundraising freeze — State elected officials, facing a fundraising freeze that will last until at least March, took to email, Twitter and Facebook this week to plead for last-minute donations.




WA-congress-TPP► From The Hill — Obama’s trade agenda faces huge hurdles — The White House is battling suggestions that President Obama’s trade agenda is in jeopardy after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said it shouldn’t bother to send a Pacific Rim deal to Congress until after the elections. McConnell indicated he has serious reservations that the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership can win approval, and warned Obama would be risking an embarrassing defeat if he pursues a floor vote this year.

► From AFL-CIO Now — How the TPP would undermine human rights across the globe — The AFL-CIO convened an expert discussion to explore the potential human rights impacts the TPP would have on working families, LGBT people, migrant workers, human and labor rights, food security and the environment. Here is how the TPP fails to meet the mark on human rights…




► In today’s NY Times — A climate deal, 6 fateful years in the making — It took almost two weeks for negotiators from 195 countries to finally pass the landmark climate accord this weekend after several espresso-fueled all-nighters and long, passionate debates over the meaning of a single word, such as “shall.” But the story of how the deal came together started long before that — in December 2009, with the failure of the last such summit meeting, in Copenhagen.

ALSO at The Stand — From Paris: “We are unstoppable. Another world is possible” (by Jeff Johnson)




► In the WSJ — Is the U.S. going to slash the number of H-1B visas it issues? — Two U.S. senators have filed legislation that would cut the number of skilled-worker permits, known as H-1B visas, the Department of Homeland Security issues to 70,000 from 85,000– a reduction of some 17%. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said the bill he and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) are proposing also stipulates that the government give the visas based on salary, rather than via a lottery.

Friedrichs-graphic► In today’s Huffington Post — Warning: CEO class’ next big attack on the incomes of ordinary Americans (by Robert Creamer) — An outfit called the “Center for Individual Rights” — which is a front group for the notorious Koch Brothers financial network and other mega-wealthy right wing CEOs — has filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to substantially weaken the ability of working people to negotiate together for better wages and working conditions. The case will be argued in January. If the court rules in favor of the corporate CEOs, it will turbo-charge their efforts to divert an even greater portion of the country’s income into higher pay and bigger bonuses for them and billionaire investors like the Koch’s.




► From Politico — The Kochs’ war on poverty — The political operation created by the billionaire conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch is quietly investing millions of dollars in programs to win over an unlikely demographic target for their brand of small-government conservatism — poor people. Bridge to Wellbeing last week served hot dinners to crowds of dozens of primarily African American attendees at a church in Miami and a community center in Orlando. A chef offered tips on how to prepare “dinner on a dime,” while attendees were guided into “learning about freedom.” The Koch efforts can seem at times almost like a post-Citizens United version of turn-of-the-century political machines like Tammany Hall — part privatized social-service agency, part voter mobilization. But liberal critics see it as a craven and patronizing gambit to bribe the disadvantaged into supporting a de-regulatory agenda that helps the haves at the expense of the have-nots.

► And then, from The Onion — Koch brothers get each other same election for Christmas — “When we realized we both bought New York’s 1st District, we just looked at each other and laughed,” said Charles Koch, who acknowledged that he and David have pretty similar tastes. “Now that I think about it, I can’t believe this has never happened before. It was probably bound to sooner or later. I guess we just know each other too well! At least it’s something we can enjoy using together.”


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

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