‘Do more’ for dairy workers, kumbaya, unions make you happy…

Monday, January 25, 2016




► In today’s Yakima H-R — State House bill would improve dairy farm worker protections — The death of a dairy farm worker in Mabton last spring has spurred labor activists and some lawmakers to push for increased safety protections, but the industry says that accident doesn’t warrant new regulations. The bill introduced in Olympia last week would require safety trainings and random inspections, and would increase penalties for safety violations and strengthen anti-retaliation protections for dairy workers. “We can do more for safety and we can do more for our dairy workers,” said lead sponsor Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (D-Seattle). “We need to think long and hard about how an industry that’s been left out of a lot of protections for workers can catch up.”

► In today’s Seattle Times — Legislators push for free tuition at community, technical colleges — Democratic lawmakers are proposing free community-college tuition for two years, following models like Oregon’s. No word on where the money will come from, however.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Two-thirds tax hurdle unnecessary, unwise, ill-timed (editorial) — If a two-thirds requirement for tax increases is the will of the people, then the state’s tax system should be reformed first. Otherwise, that two-thirds requirement would lock in a 0.system where the reliance on sales and property taxes has subjected the state’s residents to the most regressive system in the nation and where its business and occupation taxes put it 32nd in the nation for business tax burden.

► In the Columbian — Benton’s looking over his shoulder (by Lou Brancaccio) — Acting County Manager Mark McCauley told Don Benton that when he’s doing senatorial work, he can no longer say he’s working on county stuff from Olympia.

► In the Seattle Times — ‘Combat veteran’? Records fail to back Rep. Graham Hunt’s claims — A doctored war photo and discrepancies about medals have raised questions about state Rep. Graham Hunt’s (R-Orting) military background. He served in the Middle East and says he was “wounded in combat,” but has been vague about the details.




► In the Seattle Times — Kumbaya at last for Boeing and SPEEA (editorial) — The surprise, six-year contract agreement announced last week between Boeing and SPEEA signals a promising turn in a historically acrimonious relationship. The news is a windfall for the economy and people of Western Washington… A well-educated workforce requires a just, sustainable income. And a 21st-century company demands predictability, while continuing to innovate. Somehow SPEEA and Boeing managed both.

ALSO at The Stand — SPEEA, Boeing reach tentative contract extension

► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing tanker passes first midair refueling test for Air Force — The Air Force said the tanker passed 1,600 pounds of fuel to an F-16. The new refueling boom is a rigid tube that telescopes out from the aircraft’s rear underbelly to feed jet fuel to other aircraft.




► In the News Tribune — $5.75M settlement reached in Albertsons, Haggen lawsuit — Albertsons will pay $5.75 million to settle a lawsuit that sought up to $1 billion in damages related to the sale of stores to Haggen, currently involved in bankruptcy proceedings.

► In the Tri-City Herald — Union carpenters, ironworkers available for building projects (letter) — Qualified help is but a phone call away with no training costs, available tomorrow. When the job is done G2 can just lay them off and bid their next job. Yes, you’ll pay them more per hour, but it’s money well spent for quality and profit, especially when working on multimillion dollar projects. Most of these projects are covered under prevailing wage laws, so your labor costs are not increased by hiring dependable union labor. Think it over, the value is there.




► From Teamsters 362 — Countries with a higher level of income inequality are unhappy, and unions could be the answer — A recent study by the Harvard Business Review found that “the more income is concentrated in the hands of a few, the more likely individuals are to report lower levels of life satisfaction and more negative daily emotional experiences.” … Meanwhile, researchers used data from five different years between 1980 and the mid-2000’s to study the effect of union membership on life satisfaction. They found that overall union members are “more satisfied with their lives than those who are not members and that the substantive effect of union membership on life satisfaction is large and rivals other common predictors of quality of life.”

► In today’s Washington Post — Trial to start in lawsuit over North Carolina’s voter-ID law — The photo-ID rules — part of one of the strictest voting laws in the country — will go on trial in a federal courthouse Monday in the first battle over the ballot this presidential year.

► Fro Huffington Post — Koch brothers have gotten much, much richer under Obama — The brothers are now worth $41 billion each, meaning their fortune has more than doubled under Obama.

► From The Onion — Boss wants friendly, relaxed company culture in place by Friday — “If we have to stay late every night this week figuring this thing out, then that’s what we’re going to do. And if we don’t have a casual, cheerful workplace environment all wrapped up by end of day Friday, everybody’s coming in this weekend.”




► From The Atlantic — Upheaval in the factories of Juarez — Women and men, more than 70 of them, were fired on Dec. 9 from the factory on the Mexican side of the Mexico-Texas border where they made printers for the American company Lexmark. They say they were terminated because they were trying to form an independent union. The company says they were fired because they caused a “workplace disruption.” Now, the workers protest by occupying a makeshift shack outside the factory, still advocating for a raise and for a union, even though they no longer have jobs… In the Lexmark maquiladora, or factory, Blanca Estella Moya made 112 pesos, or roughly $6, a day. Her shifts were nine-and-a-half hours long. That’s about 39 cents an hour… It’s not just Lexmark: Workers at Mexican subsidiaries of FoxConn, Eaton, and CommScope in Juarez have all protested working conditions and compensation in recent months. Women tell of sexual harassment at the factories and of working multiple shifts to make ends meet. The devaluation of the peso has meant their money buys less than it once did. The protests come at an inopportune moment for Mexico. Many companies, especially automakers, are moving production to Mexico after deciding that the costs and logistical headaches of manufacturing in Asia are too great to bear. Mexico is trying to welcome them with open arms. But workers, especially those on the border, aren’t making that easy.


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

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