Thursday, February 25, 2016
► In today’s Seattle Times — Carbon-tax initiative’s backers say it’s flawed, needs legislative fix — Supporters of an initiative to create a carbon tax in Washington are asking legislators to consider fixing flaws in the measure. But the Legislature appears unlikely to oblige, leaving I-732 facing political headwinds.
EDITOR’S NOTE — I-732 supporters told the people that signed petitions that it was “revenue neutral.” Turns out it will require either $900 million in cuts from public schools and other state services over the next four years, or a tax increase of the same same to make up that projected shortfall. Oops.
ALSO at The Stand:
OneAmerica opposes I-732 carbon tax. Here’s why. (by Rich Stolz and De’Sean Quinn)
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Senate, House budgets far apart — Senate Republicans released a budget plan that would spend less on schools, mental health or homeless programs than either the House Democrats or Gov. Jay Inslee have proposed.
► From KPLU — Republicans say ‘no’ to dipping into rainy day funds — The stage is set in Olympia for a fight over eliminating tax breaks and whether to dip into the state’s rainy day fund. House Democrats say “yes” to both. Senate Republicans say “no.” The Senate’s chief budget writer, Andy Hill, opposes a Democratic plan to boost beginning teacher pay by closing or curtailing a series of tax exemptions.
► From AP — Senate budget seeks money for mental health, charter schools — The state’s charter school system would get money to stay open under the supplemental budget proposal released by Senate Republicans.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Heads will roll over prison scandal — if there are any left (by Jerry Cornfield) — Are there any heads left to roll — or ones high enough on the agency’s internal totem of power to satisfy the public and assuage the governor’s political critics?
► From Huffington Post — Obama has a plan to bring paid leave to 828,000 workers — The proposal, set in motion by an executive order from President Barack Obama in September, would guarantee that workers under federal contracts could accrue up to a week of paid leave per year. Companies that want to maintain their business with the government would be required to offer the leave as a benefit. Says DOL Secretary Tom Perez:
“I’m looking forward to a day when working moms and dads can afford to stay home with their sick kids, when a younger worker can take paid sick leave to care for an ailing grandparent and a husband can use his earned sick time to care for his wife — all without fear of losing a day’s pay or their livelihood. Today, we’re one step closer to making it happen.”
TAKE A STAND! — We can make this happen for all workers in Washington state. VOLUNTEER TODAY to collect signatures for Initiative 1433, which would allow all workers in Washington state to earn paid sick and safe leave and raise the state minimum wage incrementally to $13.50.
► In the LA Times — Why do conservatives keep saying Seattle’s minimum wage hike has failed — without data? (by Michael Hiltzik) — The problem with using Seattle as an early warning signal for minimum wage increases is that, as yet, there’s almost no good information.
► In the Tri-City Herald — Tyson workers toss union at Wallula beef plant — Workers at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant at Wallula ejected the UFCW Local 1439 after a vote counted last week.
► In today’s Columbian — Union sets up resume-writing clinic for B.G. teachers — The Battle Ground Education Association has organized a resume writing workshop for Battle Ground Public Schools teachers from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Battle Ground Senior Center, 116 N.E. Third Ave., Battle Ground.
► From The Street — Boeing Charleston exec poses one more obstacle to union organizing — One change Beverly Wyse made after arriving was to eliminate mandatory Sunday overtime. A Boeing quality inspector, who asked not to be named, said that mandatory overtime remains a problem… The way Mike Evans, the IAM organizer who heads the Charleston effort, looks at it Wyse “is trying to address something, and (her effort) is helping the union” because workers recognize that the IAM’s organizing efforts make Boeing more eager to resolve issues at the plant.
► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — How a more labor-friendly Boeing could cool South Carolina unionization campaign — Several analysts said less-heated rhetoric from Boeing headquarters in Chicago may be dialing back the polarization between management and the unions. A bad relationship between workers and management can sometimes be enough to drive employees to join a union.
► From The Hill — Obama officials weighing ‘appropriate time’ for trade bill push — Several top White House officials on Wednesday said they are working with Congress to pass a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade agreement as quickly as possible, arguing that delaying the deal will damage the U.S. economy.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Even using the White House’s rosy predictions of the TPP’s economic impact — that it will boost the GDP by 0.4% after 12 years — it’s hard to understand how delaying the vote is costing America. If anything, the time being taken to weigh this “fast tracked” agreement is slowing the ongoing exodus of the U.S. manufacturing sector, and sparing us an even bigger trade deficit. Until TPP supporters begin to acknowledge the plainly apparent harm that these NAFTA-like free-trade deals continue to do to American workers and communities — and explain what their plan is to reverse that trend or at least mitigate that harm — there is absolutely no reason to accept their fantasyland predictions of economic gain. Fool me once…
► From Huffington Post — The WTO just ruled against India’s booming solar program (by Ben Beachy) — On the heels of the recent global summit in Paris to tackle climate disruption, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled against an important piece of the climate solution puzzle: India’s ambitious program to create homegrown solar energy. The ruling shows that decades-old, over-reaching trade rules are out of sync with the global challenge to transition to 100 percent clean energy.
► MUST-READ in today’s NY Times — Senate Republicans lose their minds on a Supreme Court seat (editorial) — Following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Republicans apparently believe they can profit by creating a political crisis that the nation has never seen before. On Tuesday, the leadership doubled down on its refusal to take any action on any nominee from President Obama to replace Justice Scalia. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the majority leader who seems to have lost touch with reality and the Constitution, accused Obama of plunging the nation into a “bitter and avoidable struggle” should he name anyone to the court. Forget an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. Top Republicans are pledging not to hold hearings or even to meet with a nominee… Only two Republican senators, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine, were brave enough to say that they would vote on President Obama’s nominee. This is what passes for moderation in today’s GOP: simply stating a willingness to do the job you were elected to do… McConnell and his colleagues plan to shut their doors, plug their ears and hope the public doesn’t notice. The Republican spin machine is working overtime to rationalize this behavior. Don’t be fooled. It is panic masquerading as strength.
ALSO at The Stand — Tell Senate GOP: Do your job, work to fill Court vacancy
► In today’s Washington Post — Scalia spent his last hours with members of a secretive society of elite hunters — The group is called the International Order of St. Hubertus, an exclusive all-male group dating back to the 1600s.
► In today’s Seattle Times — CBO sees more inequality ahead (by Jon Talton) — According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the big growth in income over the next decade will be among the richest — those making above the Social Security tax cap — while low- and middle-wage workers will fall further behind… The share of labor compensation as a share of GDP is at its lowest level since this record-keeping began in the late 1940s. It has fallen precipitously since 2001. And the CBO seems to believe the situation can only get worse.
► From The Progressive — ‘You’re fired!’ Abuses of the skilled worker visa programs — The H-1B visa has its origins in the 1990 Immigration Act and was intended to bring in workers with specialized skills to complement, not replace, workers already in the United States… The program is supposed to have safeguards against abuse, including rules designed to ensure that guest workers are not a significantly cheaper option for companies looking to save a buck. But critics say 83 percent of the H-1B recipients are paid wages below the average for that occupation, because of flaws in the system.
► In today’s NY Times — Trump taps foreign workers for his in Florida club — Since 2010, nearly 300 U.S. residents have applied or been referred for jobs as waiters, waitresses, cooks and housekeepers at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, which describes itself as “one of the most highly regarded private clubs in the world,” But only 17 have been hired. In all but a handful of cases, Mar-a-Lago sought to fill the jobs with hundreds of foreign guest workers from Romania and other countries.
► In the Denver Business Journal — Colorado Senate OKs bill turning state into right-to-work territory — Republicans in the Colorado Senate approved a bill Monday that would turn the state into a right-to-work state, though the measure is extremely unlikely to make it through the House.
► From AFL-CIO Now — It’s time to reform sentencing law in the U.S. (by Lee Anderson) — The AFL-CIO is joining with its allies — in labor and beyond — to end mass incarceration in the United States. Decades of evidence and experience tell us that mass incarceration and current sentencing laws have done more harm than good.
► In today’s NY Times — Private prisons are cashing in on refugees’ desperation (by Antony Loewenstein) — From Australia to Austria to America, governments are relying on for-profit contractors to warehouse detainees. It’s bad policy.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.