Tuesday, January 26, 2016
► From KUOW — Assaulted on the job, prison staff want time limit on benefits lifted — Working in a prison is a dangerous job. Inmates outnumber officers and fights are common. Fourteen-year veteran correctional officer Patrick McPherson said over the course of his career he’s been assaulted four or five times… Washington has a program that awards prison staff their full salary if they miss work because of an inmate assault. However, that benefit runs out after a year. A bipartisan proposal in the legislature would lift that cap. McPherson said a colleague of his lost two years of work after ripping his pectoral muscle breaking up an inmate fight.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — House rejects fast track for super majority amendment — An effort by House Republicans to allow the amendment to skip a committee hearing and come up for a floor vote failed late Monday morning on a 49-48 party line vote. To make such a leap in the legislative process, the motion needed two-thirds approval.
► In today’s Olympian — King County court rescues state on I-1366 (editorial) — A judge in King County struck a blow for common sense and constitutional law on Thursday by striking down Initiative 1366. This was the flawed tax-control measure from Tim Eyman, which was paid for by wealthy donors. Voters narrowly approved it statewide last November. Voters in Thurston, King and a few other counties had the sense to reject it.
► From KPLU — House pledges to eliminate reliance on local school levies — The state House has pledged to take action next year to end the reliance on local levies to fund schools. The vote Monday also directs the 2017 Legislature to fully fund competitive salaries and benefits for teachers and staff.
► In today’s News Tribune — GOP lawmakers leery of Inslee’s Western State Hospital staffing plan — The governor wants the Legislature to add more than 60 positions, mostly for nurses, at the Lakewood psychiatric hospital after federal inspectors found a lack of properly trained staff and other problems. Sen Andy Hill (R-Redmond) raised questions about the need for more staff positions with about 300 current job vacancies there. Even before the current crisis, employees and consultants have reported chronic understaffing at the hospitals. The union that represents nurses says it is hard to hire and keep new staff when each one is expected to do the work of multiple people. If “you were trying to hire for a waitress to serve a whole 100-table restaurant, you would never get that waitress,” said Lindsey Grad of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Lawmakers propose oversight panel for psychiatric hospitals — A bill introduced with bipartisan support calls for creating a legislative oversight committee and hiring a mental health expert to keep watch on how Western and Eastern state hospitals are run.
► In today’s News Tribune — Lt. Gov. Owen boots Roach off human trafficking task force — Sen. Pam Roach allegedly demeaned trafficking victims at a meeting. (Here is her response.)
► In today’s News Tribune — Rep. Graham Hunt should disclose his military record (editorial) — Any politician who represents a deep veteran community like Pierce County had better make sure he’s squared away on all information related to his military service.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Alcoa official: Cheap power could keep Ferndale smelter open — Alcoa is showing more optimism over the future of its two Washington aluminum smelters. Last week an Alcoa official gave a presentation indicating that if power costs continue to decline, the aluminum smelter west of Ferndale might stay open.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane City Council overrides veto, requires employers to provide paid sick leave — Employers in Spokane will be required to provide their workers with paid sick leave. As expected, the Spokane City Council on Monday overrode Mayor David Condon’s veto of the sick leave policy the council approved earlier this month.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Kadlec nurses ratify contract — Registered nurses at Kadlec Regional Medical Center overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract on Monday. “We bargained hard, and we know the tremendous support from nurses and the community got us a far better contract than we would have gotten without it. This is a fair contract that supports great patient care,” said Kelsi Duncan, bargaining team member.
► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘We’ve been very busy,’ says man charged with enforcing Seattle’s minimum-wage law — Seattle officials have launched 62 investigations into potential violations of the city’s new minimum-wage ordinance and have closed 14 of them, settling violations in eight cases and ordering remedies in four.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Largest Group Health union hopes Kaiser acquisition means more jobs — While the news that California’s Kaiser Permanente will be taking over Seattle-based Group Health has ruffled a few feathers, the largest labor union to work Group Health sees the acquisition as an opportunity to expand patient care throughout Washington and create more jobs.
ALSO at The Stand — SEIU 1199NW nurses at Group Health endorse Kaiser deal
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Group Health’s ‘best path forward’ is sale to Kaiser (editorial) — The importance of local control should not be easily dismissed, but in Kaiser, Group Health appears to have found a partner that will allow for growth and development, improvement of services, continued high-quality care and respect for local voices and priorities.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Contractors challenge Inslee’s order to halt Bertha over sinkhole — Gov. Jay Inslee’s order to suspend tunneling at the Highway 99 project is unjustified because Seattle Tunnel Partners was already solving a sinkhole problem, project manager Chris Dixon says.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — A $32B tally, but Boeing’s 787 costs don’t bother Wall Street — It is a mind-boggling number: $32 billion. That’s how much money Boeing has spent making 787s so far. Despite spending billions on the 787 program, Boeing’s stock value Monday — $123.99 — was well above the $69.73 it averaged in 2011 when the composite material airplane was first delivered. Cash flow. That’s what matters most for investors and stock analysts.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Pacific trade deal gets a deep look (by Jon Talton) — The study indicates the TPP would increase overall trade and its dislocations to the domestic economy would be outweighed by its benefits. Importantly, however, the economists said the agreement would slow manufacturing jobs growth in the United States. This has been a key contention of critics. Manufacturing provides better wages than most service jobs and has already been savaged by years of offshoring, while further automation is a headwind for the future. The report is also honest about not portraying TPP as a “free trade” agreement. They write, “Despite the nearly complete elimination of tariffs, tariff liberalization accounts for only 12 percent of the benefits of all TPP members, and an even smaller share for the United States.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — As WSLC President Jeff Johnson has written, “The TPP isn’t just about trade and tariffs. It would set the rules for about 40 percent of the global economy and grant international corporations and investors extraordinary new rights. In doing so, it poses many political, economic and moral questions that require thoughtful consideration.”
► In today’s Washington Post — As voting nears, Trump seems stronger — One week before the first votes of the 2016 campaign are cast, Donald Trump has solidified his standing nationally, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Republicans see Trump as strongest candidate on major issues and by far the most electable in the large field of GOP hopefuls.
► In today’s NY Times — As Trump and Cruz soar, GOP leaders’ exasperation grows — Republican leaders are growing alarmed by the ferocious ways the party’s mainstream candidates for president are attacking one another, and they fear that time is running out for any of them to emerge as a credible alternative to Donald J. Trump or Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Leaders of the Republican establishment, made up of elected officials, lobbyists and donors, are also sending a message to the mainstream candidates, such as former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, that they should withdraw from the race if they do not show strength soon.
► From Fierce Healthcare — Low staffing levels hold back hospital revenue, patient satisfaction scores — Hospitals could treat more patients, increase revenue and improve patient satisfaction if they hired more staff to work directly with patients, a new study finds.
► In today’s NY Times — Liberals turn to cities to pass laws, spread ideals — If Congress won’t focus on a new policy idea, and if state legislatures are indifferent or hostile, why not skip them both and start at the city level? That’s the approach with a proposed law in San Francisco to require businesses there to pay for employees’ parental leaves. “The more local jurisdictions that tackle these issues, the more momentum there is for statewide and eventually national action,” said Scott Wiener, the city and county supervisor who proposed the policy.
► From Think Progress — Rick Snyder donor picked to lead investigation of Flint water crisis — Weeks after refusing to even look into allegations of wrongdoing in the Flint water crisis, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) announced on Monday that he is appointing a special counsel to investigate the situation. Schuette said that he has selected former prosecutor Todd Flood, a donor to both Schuette and Gov. Rick Synder (R), to determine whether anyone broke state law.
ALSO at The Stand — Government run like a business poisons kids (by Leo W. Gerard)
► In today’s NY Times — Lawsuit claims Disney colluded to replace U.S. workers with immigrants — Laid-off Americans are suing Disney and two global consulting companies, HCL and Cognizant, which brought in foreign workers who replaced them. They claim the companies colluded to break the law by using temporary H-1B visas to bring in immigrant workers, knowing that Americans would be displaced.
► From Politico — How to fight inequality with stocks — New research finds that ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans) actually reduce inequality a significant amount — and they might do it in a different way than anyone previously imagined.
► In the American Prospect — Labor goes South — Since the 2013 “Southern Strategy” AFL-CIO resolution, some signs of life have emerged from the Southern labor movement — not so much in workplace organizing, but in political victories at the municipal level. The AFL-CIO has targeted five Southern “mega-cities” as starting points for building up progressive power hubs. From the Piedmont to the Gulf Coast, emboldened by the surprising momentum of the Fight for $15, Southern cities are passing local wage ordinances in states that have no chance of getting the wage hiked at the state level. (Indeed, the five states with no minimum-wage laws are Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee.) Labor strategists, accordingly, are looking toward the future, thinking carefully about how to translate rapidly shifting demographics into a new Southern political paradigm.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.