Tuesday, March 8, 2016
► In today’s News Tribune — Gov. Jay Inslee to lawmakers: Finish budget or kiss bills goodbye — Three days before the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn, Gov. Jay Inslee said lawmakers aren’t making enough progress toward a budget deal, and he warned he will start vetoing bills if they don’t move faster.
► From KPLU — Another resignation, demotions, reprimands follow early release of inmates — Another former Department of Corrections official has resigned over the accidental early release of nearly 3,000 prison inmates. Four other employees have been disciplined.
► From AFL-CIO Now — Oregon Legislature approves unemployment extension for locked-out workers — Oregon lawmakers approved an unemployment insurance extension for locked-out workers, and the bill now goes to the governor for final approval. The legislation was introduced after Allegheny Technologies Inc. locked out members of the United Steelworkers in August of last year. Last week, the lockout ended when USW and ATI ratified a new contract.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Some of us remember the 20-month Kaiser Aluminum lockout in Spokane and Tacoma in 1999-2000. During the 2000 legislative session, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a similar bill to grant locked-out Kaiser workers extended unemployment benefits. But the bill died in the House — which was tied 49-49, with each committee having co-chairs from each party — because the Republican co-chair of the labor committee refused to allow a hearing or vote.
► From Daily Kos — ‘School choice’ is not the hot issue that Republicans claim — According to a recent poll, the privatization of public education through charter schools that operate with little transparency or public oversight isn’t so popular.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — County Council ratifies 4-year contract with AFSCME — A new four-year contract covering Snohomish County’s largest public sector union was ratified unanimously Monday by the County Council.
The approval was widely anticipated after union members overwhelmingly voted to accept the deal last week. The previous AFSCME contract expired at the end of 2014. The new agreement gives employees a 2 percent retroactive raise for 2015 and a raise of the same amount in 2016. It includes a 2.5 percent pay bump in 2017 and 2018.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seahawks’ Ricardo Lockette credits firefighters and paramedics for saving his life — Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette, who left a game on a stretcher in November after suffering a serious neck injury, recently visited Redmond Fire Station 11 and told a poignant story of how close he was to dying on the field in Dallas last year. He told the first responders: “What saved my life is the trainers and the work that you guys do. The trainers came over, and they did it perfectly, perfectly by the book. The way that they held my neck, all the training is what saved my life. If they would have went too far to the left or moved me without stabilizing this or that, then I would have been dead. I thank God that I’m here. I thank you guys for the work that you do. And if there’s anything that I can do to help you save another life or whatever it takes — me, my teammates, my family or your workers. I appreciate the opportunity and hopefully I can help you guys. ”
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Albertsons to close its Bellingham store May 7 — Albertsons has worked out an agreement with the union UFCW 21 to move the store’s 66 employees to Safeway stores in the area and keep their seniority, said a union spokesman. Albertsons has two Safeway stores in Whatcom County that it acquired last year.
► From KPLU — Tacoma City Council to consider streamlining regulations for Uber drivers — On Tuesday, Tacoma’s City Council will consider a measure to streamline its licensing process as a way to reduce the burden for city staff.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Walmart to give 1,800 workers in Snohomish County pay raises — The retail giant is increasing most of its associates’ pay to $10 an hour starting with Thursday’s paycheck. In Washington, 19,200 Walmart employees will receive pay raises.
EDITOR’S NOTE — That’s great. But even a rare full-time Walmart worker at $10/hour makes barely more than $20,000/year before taxes are taken out. (Many Walmart employees are involuntarily part-time and don’t get the consistent hours they want.) At $10/hour, Walmart workers still live in poverty. That means they must rely on public assistance for food, housing, health care, and other basic needs. Bottom line: as taxpayers, we are subsidizing the biggest corporation and wealthiest family on the planet because they insist on paying poverty wages.
► From The Stranger — Labor activist who tried to unionize Microsoft workers will run for the State Legislature — Marcus Courtney, a longtime labor activist best known for efforts to unionize contract workers at Microsoft, is launching his campaign for the open state house seat in the 43rd Legislative District. The seat is currently held by Brady Walkinshaw, who’s running for Congress.
► From The Hill — Five things to watch on Tuesday — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are positioning themselves for big victories Tuesday in Michigan’s primary, where they will attempt to stunt their challengers’ momentum. Both have led polls in Michigan for some time and are heavy favorites, but they also have rivals seeking to close the gap.
► In today’s Washington Post — Seeing Trump as vulnerable, GOP elites now eye a contested convention — There is an emerging consensus among Republican leaders and donors that Trump is vulnerable and that a continued blitz of attacks could puncture the billionaire mogul’s support and leave him limping onto the convention floor.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Our own GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is among the Republican establishment elite who attended a secretive meeting of GOP bosses and tech donors a private island resort off the coast of Georgia last weekend to plot against Trump. Maybe she should start by telling her own constituents why she opposes Trump and why they should, too. Instead, she won’t tell her local newspaper whether she supports him. Is McMorris Rodgers afraid of a backlash, hedging her bets, or both?
► In today’s NY Times — Will Trump send working-class whites to the Democrats? (by Andrew Levison) — Some voters turned off by his divisive rhetoric might respond to progressive populism.
► In today’s NY Times — More Latinos seek citizenship to vote against Trump — Over all, naturalization applications increased by 11 percent in the 2015 fiscal year over the year before, and jumped 14 percent during the six months ending in January, according to federal figures. The pace is picking up by the week, advocates say, and they estimate applications could approach one million in 2016, about 200,000 more than the average in recent years.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Washington State Labor Council, OneAmerica, and other organizations will sponsor the next Citizenship Day on April 23 at Yakima Valley Community College. Volunteer immigration attorneys, paralegals and interpreters will offer FREE assistance with citizenship applications. Stay tuned for details.
► From The Nation — Is retirement facing extinction? — The American nest egg is facing financial extinction. Aging workers who thought they could relax in retirement face unprecedented economic stressors, according to new analysis of retirement wealth. Data from Economic Policy Institute reveals retirement wealth is turning into retirement poverty for a growing portion of working households… Instability has generally grown due to a shift from steadier defined-benefit plans to more financially volatile defined-contribution savings accounts. Social Security cutbacks have further eroded assets, bringing “increased longevity risks and investment risks.”
► From Think Progress — Bobby Jindal’s anti-tax fervor may have destroyed Louisiana — The basic services a government provides — watchdogs to guard abused and abandoned children, emergency rooms and hospitals, scholarships and safety-net stipends to lift families out of poverty — will barely be able to keep the lights on unless politicians can find $3 billion in new revenue in the coming days.
► In From Daily Kos — Boston students walk out to protest school budget cuts — Boston Public Schools students protested planned budget cuts Monday, with more than 1,000 walking out of classes and marching to the Boston Common.
► From Bloomberg — How Amazon shames warehouse workers for alleged theft — While waiting to clock in each morning, workers at some Amazon.com warehouses get a steady stream of company-provided reading: the stories of co-workers fired for theft.
► From Reuters — Penn. governor raises minimum wage for state workers, contractors — Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf raised the minimum wage for state workers and employees of some contractors by 40 percent to $10.15 an hour on Monday.
► In the Financial Times — Executive perks: The private jet files — Barry Diller, the billionaire media mogul, has taken more than $12 million of personal flights on a company-owned private jet since 2005, the highest total among U.S. executives who access corporate aircraft for fare-free holidays and other non-business trips. Most of the largest U.S. corporations own or lease private jets to fly top managers to business meetings, but the contentious practice of companies paying for executives to use the planes for personal trips has come under pressure since the 2008 financial crisis.
EDITOR’S NOTE — As Gawker reminds us, these are all public companies, so shareholders are paying for these private jet flights on personal trips by America’s overpaid corporate elite. (BTW… Boeing ranked #8, paying for $868,850 worth of personal trips for its execs.)
► From Gawker — Tech workers should unionize — Last week, the drivers who shuttle San Francisco Google employees to work voted to unionize with the Teamsters. How long until their passengers do the same thing? Most of these tech workers are relatively well-compensated and work in highly desirable jobs. The immediate reaction to suggesting that they should unionize tends to be one of dismissal. But why? The fact that tech companies are profitable and pay their employees well relative to other, less profitable industries does not change the fact that they operate according to the same rules of capital and labor that all other companies do. That means that a very small group of people who control the capital get most of the profit, and a much larger group of people who do most of the work get much smaller returns. It also means that those workers who do most of the labor can increase their bargaining power—and get a better deal—by bargaining collectively, rather than as a bunch of individuals. This is a universal truth of the workplace. The fact that your company gives you good free lunches and shuttles to work and nice paycheck does not change the fact that you could get more by negotiating together, as a union. Anyone smart enough to get a job at Google is smart enough to grasp these facts.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Tech workers: Find out how to get organized!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.