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Lowering WA’s wage floor, corporate UW, Macy’s cuts…

Thursday, January 7, 2016




macewan-drew► In the P.S. Business Journal — Health benefits would count toward minimum wage under state bill — Rep. Drew MacEwan (R-Union) has pre-filed HB 2291, a bill to include the money employers pay toward medical benefits as part of a worker’s hourly wage. It would also establish a separate (sub-minimum) wage for younger workers. “Employers are paying workers significantly more than the minimum wage,” MacEwan said. “At the end of the day, businesses can only do so much.”

► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — Legislators talk 2016 session during sendoff — Fully funding education and strengthening the local economy got much of the attention Tuesday as legislators from the 19th and 24th districts talked about the upcoming session… Hoquiam Schools Superintendent Mike Parker asked the legislators about the possibilities of teacher strikes. Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam) said the best way to deal with the possibility of strikes is fully funding education.

► From AP — Washington aims to limit carbon pollution from largest facilities — The state’s largest industrial emitters would be required to reduce carbon emissions by 5 percent every three years, under a proposed rule released Wednesday by state regulators. The Department of Ecology’s proposed Clean Air Rule would initially apply to about two dozen manufacturing plants, refineries, power plants, natural gas distributors and others.

inslee-jay-gov► In the Seattle Times — Gov. Inslee leads GOP challenger Bryant in new poll — Gov. Jay Inslee leads 2016 GOP challenger Bill Bryant by 9 percentage points, according to the results of a new Elway Poll. Inslee leads Bryant, a former Port of Seattle commissioner, 39 to 30 percent. Thirty-one percent of poll respondents were undecided.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Challenges still on the horizon for Inslee (by Jerry Cornfield) — Gov. Jay Inslee is beginning the last year of his first term with every expectation of winning re-election in November. But challenges stacking up for his administration will test his executive mettle and political skills as he pursues a second term.

UW-corporate-logo► In the Seattle Times — Governor names one new UW regent, reappoints another — Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed retired Costco executive Joel Benoliel to the University of Washington Board of Regents, and reappointed Microsoft’s Joanne Harrell… A group of faculty members campaigning to form a faculty union had been pressing Inslee to appoint someone who did not have a corporate background. They have argued the UW is being run like a company.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Proposal would make charter schools accountable to voters (editorial) — Proposed legislation in the Senate allows the charter school laboratories of learning to continue and seems to satisfy the constitutional requirement for public oversight of state and local funding.




union-beers► From The Stranger — Why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dislikes Seattle’s new Uber unionization law (explanatory drinking game included!) — The Chamber just issued a statement on why it thinks the city of Seattle is violating the NLRA. Last month, the Seattle city council passed a controversial new ordinance that allows Uber, Lyft, and other ride-for-hire drivers to collectively bargain with the owners of their apps. The Chamber has said this new ordinance violates federal law twice over: the NLRA and antitrust law. I want to explain why this could become a defining legal fight of the 21st century, but I have to go into some wonky legal territory in order to do so. You could bear with me. Or you could crack open a beer and start a reading drinking game now. (Do it!)

► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Puget Sound Naval Shipyard hiring 365 ‘helper trainees’ — PSNS plans to hire 365 entry-level employees in various shipyard trades in a whirlwind recruitment effort. The shipyard announced Wednesday morning that it’s recruiting “helper trainees” in trades such as shipfitter, welder, machinist, marine machinery mechanic, pipe fitter, shipwright, electrician and painter. Job seekers have until 8:59 p.m. Friday to apply via

► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — REG abandons crude-oil storageRenewable Energy Group, one of three biofuel companies at the center of environmental reviews by the DOE, will not include crude oil as part of the expansion proposed at its Port of Grays Harbor facility.




► In today’s NY Times — TransCanada to sue U.S. for blocking Keystone XL pipeline — The action will be taken through a provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the company said.

Warren-ISDS-TPP► From Huffington Post — TransCanada’s Keystone XL lawsuit could galvanize resistance to new trade agreements (by Jaime Henn) — They’re using a complex and opaque process known as the investor-state dispute system, which allows corporations to bring lawsuits against countries that they feel are unfairly blocking the free flow of trade… TransCanada’s lawsuit is another important reminder of how terrible trade agreements like NAFTA can be for our environment.




► From Reuters — Congress sends bill to gut ACA, to certain veto — The Republican-run House of Representatives finalized passage on Wednesday on a 240-181 vote, sending the bill to the White House. Republican leaders are expected to try to override Obama’s promised veto, but they lack the two-thirds majority needed to do so.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington’s congressional delegation voted along party lines.

► From AFL-CIO Now — Obama administration’s crackdown on immigrants ignores due process, creates communities filled with fear — Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

The AFL-CIO has consistently urged the Obama administration to designate those fleeing violence in Central America as “refugees,” and to honor its legal commitments to ensure that individuals who are eligible for protective status will not be returned to danger. Instead, the shameful response of our government has been to erode due process protections by expediting legal proceedings and to lock families in remote detention facilities with little access to counsel. Now, in an inexcusable escalation and without any transparency, the Department of Homeland Security has begun conducting armed home raids in order to deport vulnerable women and children back to some of the most dangerous countries in the world.




macys-spokane► From AP — Macy’s announces thousands of job cuts — Macy’s is cutting up to 4,800 jobs and has slashed its profit outlook after a miserable holiday season. The nation’s largest department store chain said about 2,110 of the job cuts will come from reducing staffing levels at stores, eliminating duplications in back office operations and consolidating regional store groups. The remaining 2,710 job cuts will come from the store closings that Macy’s announced last fall.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Macy’s to close department store in downtown Spokane — The historic Macy’s store in Spokane, the largest retailer in downtown, will close in March. The move is one of 40 company store closures across the country.

► In today’s Oregonian — Macy’s closures: Here’s a full list of all 40 — Store closures in the Pacific Northwest include two in Oregon (in North Bend and Roseburg), one in Washington (a downtown Spokane store) and one in Idaho (Moscow).

trump-donald► From Business Insider — Donald Trump gloats after massive Macy’s job cuts — Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, declared on Twitter that the company’s cratering stock was “another win for Trump!” Macy’s was among several corporations to sever financial ties with Trump in June after the campaign speech in which he accused the Mexican government of sending rapists and murderers across the border.amid the resulting firestorm.

► From AP — Firm to pay up after making workers clock out for bathroom — A Pennsylvania company that publishes business newsletters will pay about $1.75 million to thousands of employees who had to clock out while going on short breaks, including for the bathroom.

► In the Seattle Times — Workers and wages: What Henry Ford understood (by Jon Talton) — Today in middle-class history Henry Ford doubled the wages of his production workers in 1914 to $5 a day. Adjusted for inflation, that would come out to $118.67 in 2015 dollars, almost $15 an hour for an eight-hour day. Contrary to myth, it was not done so workers could afford Ford automobiles. Instead, it was a reaction to high turnover and the resulting costs from production downtime and retraining. The turnover ceased and in two years Ford’s profit doubled.




work-for-less► In The Atlantic — Why do Americans work so much? — Economists are trying to figure out why U.S. workers’ increased productivity has not translated into increased leisure time. Perhaps people just never feel materially satisfied, always wanting more money for the next new thing. Another theory is that “in an era of ever fewer settings that provide effective opportunities for personal connections and relationships,” people may place more value on the socializing that happens at work. But a third possibility proves more convincing: American inequality means that the gains of increasing productivity are not widely shared. In other words, most Americans are too poor to work less. Unlike the other two explanations, this one fits chronologically: Inequality declined in America during the post-war period (along with the duration of the workweek), but since the early 1970s it’s risen dramatically.


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