Monday, February 1, 2016
► In the (Longview) Daily News — KapStone workers reject contract — Union workers have rejected the latest contract offer from KapStone Paper and Packaging Corp., prolonging a labor dispute that has simmered and festered for nearly two years. Leaders of AWPPW Local 153 said the majority of voting members rejected the contract offer. But they declined to provide numbers or make additional comments Friday night. Many mill workers also are angry that five workers fired for alleged misconduct during last summer’s 12-day strike apparently do not have their jobs back — in spite of findings from the NLRB suggesting there wasn’t enough evidence to support claims of misconduct.
► In the Seattle Times — Group Health members meet to examine proposed buyout by Kaiser — Saturday’s meeting in downtown Seattle was a required step in the proposed acquisition, which would add Group Health to Kaiser’s 10.1 million members in eight states and Washington, D.C. All voting members of Group Health will receive ballots in early February.
► In the News Tribune — KPLU supporters say they’ve raised $1 million to save station from sale to UW — The effort to wrest radio station KPLU from a deal that would transfer it to the University of Washington has raised $1 million, a spokeswoman says.
► In today’s News Tribune — Lawmaker wants minimum wage, sick leave alternative on ballot — Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) wants to give voters an alternative to the minimum-wage and sick-leave initiative that unions and their allies are trying to place on the fall ballot. Unlike the labor-backed initiative, the proposal in the Legislature would block new city and county laws that diverge from state wage and leave standards. The plan reflects the views of some business groups and would phase in a $12-an-hour minimum wage.
► In today’s Olympian — If lawmakers ‘met every deadline’ on school funding, why is state in contempt of court? — Legislators from both parties have claimed in recent weeks that they “met every deadline” when it comes to fully funding public schools. So what about the 2014 date by which the Legislature was supposed to submit a plan for fixing school-funding problems by 2018? Lawmakers have yet to produce the plan. When asked last week about their claims, several lawmakers clarified their statements: They are referring only to deadlines the Legislature has set for itself.
► From KPLU — Still waiting for McCleary funding, school districts ask voters to pass levies — From the Methow Valley to Seattle and everywhere in between, school districts will be going directly to voters on February 9 to ask them to say “yes” to higher taxes so that schools can keep paying for teachers’ salaries, supplies and so that new buildings can be constructed to ease overcrowding.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — $100 million software system for community colleges so flawed it will need millions more to fix — A $100 million computer software system for 34 community colleges is so far behind schedule and operating so poorly that it will likely cost another $10 million. Because students rather than taxpayers are responsible for the initial cost – and probably the overruns – the system and its problems have gone largely unnoticed by state lawmakers.
► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — With deadline looming, Washington insurance website down most of Saturday — Those trying to meet Sunday night’s deadline to sign up for health insurance on the state exchange found the system down most of Saturday. The site was back in action at 7:30 p.m.
► In Sunday’s Columbian — State Sen. Benton won’t run for re-election — Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver) said he would step down at the end of his term on Dec. 31. On Jan. 14, Democrat Tim Probst announced he was running for Benton’s seat. Probst, a former legislator, lost to Benton for the 17th Legislative District Senate seat in 2012 by 76 votes.
► In the Oregonian — Minimum wage deal: Kate Brown now wants $14.50 for Portland — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown released a revised minimum wage plan Friday that scales back proposed increases but offers workers a raise as soon as this summer. The Portland area’s rate would go up to $14.50 and the statewide to $13.50 by 2022, rising with inflation after.
► From The Atlantic — What economists got wrong about free trade — Whatever their cause, the drawbacks of trade have been regarded as not so severe that they can’t be overcome; it’s assumed that workers who find themselves in a region whose jobs are vulnerable to foreign competition could simply move and find a job somewhere else. But a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that workers’ ability to relocate may be overstated, and that the negative impacts of large trade deals may be more significant than previously thought.
► From KUOW — For more than a million food stamp recipients, the clock is now ticking — One month down, two to go. For unemployed adults in 22 states (including Washington), that’s how long they can count on help with the grocery bills: Starting this January, they have three months to find a job or lose their food assistance.
► From The Atlantic — Most Americans aren’t ready to give up tipping — According to a poll by the ad-buying firm Horizon Media, 81 percent of American restaurant-goers aren’t interested in getting rid of tipping. According to the survey, diners are still attached to the idea of rewarding good service, and are concerned that losing the ability to tip would produce a rash of inattentive waiters and waitresses. The concept of being forced to pay a service charge — which is how most tipping-free restaurants implement their policy — doesn’t sit well with people.
► From Think Progress — 300 union plumbers spent the weekend installing water filters for Flint residents for free — Due to the inaction of state and federal officials, thousands of people in Flint have been exposed to unsafe levels of lead in their water. Now a group of union plumbers are taking matters into their own hands.
► From Think Progress — Justice Ginsburg’s warning to the American worker — Justice Ginsburg warns against the common practice where companies refuse to do business with consumers — or threaten not to hire a worker — unless the worker or consumer agrees to sign away their right to bring any disputes against the company in a real court, and instead submit to a private arbitrator.
► In today’s NY Times — No more exposés in North Carolina (editorial) — A new state law aims to stop whistleblowers from exposing abusive practices not only at factory farms, but at businesses across the state.
► From Variety — ‘Spotlight,’ Idris Elba, diversity dominate SAG Awards — In a rebuke to the all-white Oscar nominations in the acting categories, Idris Elba won the supporting actor SAG Award for “Beasts of No Nation,” along with a second award for his role in “Luther” in the TV movie/miniseries category. Diversity continued to rule with Netflix’s multi-racial “Orange is the New Black” taking two awards and transgender-themed titles “Transparent” and “The Danish Girl” winning trophies.
► From Huffington Post — Angry white primaries (by Jeff Jarvis) — This election, as we’ve all heard, is dominated by angry white people. That is because the primary system is fundamentally racist. The first two presidential contests occur in states whose populations are 92% and 94% white, respectively. They are the only primaries that media pay attention to for months beforehand, nevermind that states that look much more like America than episodes of Petticoat Junction — with cities and African-American and Latino populations — will soon follow. No, the tide of this election and our future is set by these two racially, demographically, politically, and perhaps emotionally anomalous homelands of the peeved. Thus the people who have a four-hundred-year birthright to anger are completely disenfranchised from the primary process thus far. And the people who are being attacked as outsiders because they know how to speak another language have no voice in it.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.