Friday, February 5, 2016
► In today’s Washington Post — West Virginia House passes ‘right-to-work’ bill, after harsh debate — The West Virginia State House narrowly passed a right-to-work bill on Thursday, setting the state up to become the country’s 26th that
doesn’t require employees to pay dues to their unions bans workers and employers from negotiating union-security agreements and instead requires unions to provide services for free-riders — a measure that has hobbled organized labor elsewhere. Its passage comes two years after Republicans took control of the state House for the first time since 1928, and days after the state’s Supreme Court handed control of the evenly divided Senate to Republicans as well… The bill had also been promoted by the national group Americans for Prosperity, funded by conservative mega-funders Charles and David Koch, which set up a West Virginia chapter in 2013 with right-to-work at the top of its agenda.
► From Think Progress — New report debunks key conservative argument for corporate tax breaks — State political leaders looking for positive economic press often dish out lavish packages of tax breaks to attract corporations to their soil. But that approach to job creation gets it backward, new research indicates. Barely 13 percent of all net job creation in any given state in any given year comes from out-of-state businesses either relocating from one state to another or expanding into new states, the research found.
► In the Charleston (S.C.) P-C — S.C. workers must take a stand for better wages (by Richard Trumka and Erin McKee) — Gov. Nikki Haley has provided over a billion dollars in incentives to get profitable global corporations to relocate to the state in recent years. And these companies have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to South Carolina politicians, PACs and political parties. But the quality of jobs is low. A 2015 study found that 57 percent of the new jobs created in South Carolina paid less than $15 an hour. This is not an accident: Haley discourages union companies from settling in the state, and South Carolina is one of only five states with no state minimum wage (employers are only bound by the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour and $2.13 an hour for tipped workers).
► From AP — Health reform: Number of uninsured people in state cut in half — The number of uninsured people in Washington state has been cut in half since health care reform took effect, but there are still about half a million uninsured people in the state, the insurance commissioner’s office reported Wednesday.
► From AP — Committee clears bill limiting large public records requests — A bill that would allow local agencies to restrict time spent responding to public records requests has passed a House committee on a 5-4 vote.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Tom McCabe’s Freedom Foundation is demanding $58,800 in taxpayer dollars from Thurston County in exchange for dropping a public records lawsuit. This after taking $15,000 from Island County services and $15,091 from Kitsap County services last fall using the same tactics. The incident led the Whidbey News-Times to call it a “set up” by the Freedom Foundation and to call the group “vindictive.”
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — State Supreme Court rules against Envision Spokane — A unanimous state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the 2013 proposal — which included provisions to give neighborhoods the right to block proposed developments and would have declared the Spokane River has “a right to exist and flourish” — goes beyond things local citizens can decide at the ballot box.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Machinists union workers weigh first contract proposal at Everett Boeing supplier — Newly minted union Machinists are to vote on their first contract Friday, at Boeing supplier Cadence Aerospace-Giddens in Everett. The vote, which gives about 220 workers improved wages over the three-year contract, comes 10 months after the employees voted to unionize.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle council may tackle ‘livable’ schedules for area workers — Having recently passed paid sick-time standards and a higher minimum wage for workers, the Seattle City Council might next consider legislation requiring more consistent and livable schedules for employees of companies like Starbucks. Two council members took part Thursday in a “Secure Scheduling Online Town Hall” held by Working Washington, a union-supported worker-advocacy organization.
► A superior headline for The Stranger — City Council might actually do something about unpredictable scheduling for low-wage workers — Local Starbucks employees have tried going directly to Howard Schultz with their complaints about how the company schedules its workers. He hasn’t responded. So they’re going to the Seattle City Council instead.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Port of Tacoma terminals were substantially busier than those at the Port of Seattle during 2015 — Seattle terminals have suffered from the temporary closure of Terminal 5 until it can be upgraded to handle larger ships, an action that moved some of the cargo to Tacoma.
► In the News Tribune — Unions: Support rights of working people (letter by WSNA member) — In the two years that I’ve been working as a nurse, I have seen the immense value in having a union on my side. Through collective-bargaining, nurses work to ensure that patients are safely cared for and nurses are being paid fair wages.
► From The Hill — Vulnerable senator comes out against Obama trade pact — Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on Thursday announced his opposition to President Obama’s landmark Pacific Rim trade agreement. “From currency manipulation, to rules of origin for automobiles, to protection for U.S. biologics — we can do better,” said Portman, who served as U.S. Trade Representative under former President George W. Bush.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Makes you wonder what kind of trade policy America could have if more members of Congress felt vulnerable to losing their jobs.
► From the U.S. News & World Report — AFL-CIO protests federal deportations — Five Central American children and mothers told their stories at an AFL-CIO news conference in Washington, D.C., to condemn recent federal deportation raids across the nation, announced by Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on a Jan. 4 statement. The focus of the raids, Johnson wrote, was on adults and their children who were apprehended while crossing the southern border illegally after May 1, 2014.
► From The Hill — Obama to push $10-per-barrel oil tax for green transportation plan — The proposal would go toward a $32.4 billion annual push to green the transportation sector by funding public transit, an urban planning initiative and clean vehicle research.
► In today’s NY Times — Democratic senators block energy bill in dispute over aid to Flint — They block action on a comprehensive energy bill that had drawn broad bipartisan support after lawmakers failed to agree on including a $600 million amendment to address the crisis over lead-tainted water in Flint, Mich.
► From Huffington Post — Gov. Snyder was aware of Legionnaire’s outbreak around Flint, did nothing — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has said he didn’t know about an uptick in deadly Legionnaires’ disease around Flint until this year, but newly released emails show a Snyder aide had been warned last March.
ALSO at The Stand — Government run like a business has poisoned our children
► In what seems to be a weekly occurrence so far in 2016, popular music lost another legend this week with the passing of Maurice White, the founder, principal songwriter, producer and co-lead singer of Earth, Wind & Fire. (If, at the very least, you don’t own a copy of this band’s classic Greatest Hits album, you should be ashamed of yourself.) Here, Maurice sings The Entire Staff of The Stand’s favorite EWF song. Well, pretends to sing it. Although EWF was a fantastic live band for decades — including recent years when many of us caught them at the Ste. Michellle winery — we chose this video so you could savor Maurice’s production and vocal performance, in his memory, as future generations will. Feel free to dance. R.I.P., Maurice, and thank you.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.