Thursday, March 24, 2016
► From the NW Accountability Project — What’s going on in Washington’s 17th Legislative District? — What’s going on with the Freedom Foundation and its heightened political intervention in Washington’s 17th LD? The so-called 501(c)3 “non-partisan” not-for-profit “think tank” appears to have its sights set on electing a Freedom Foundation slate in this swing district near the WA/OR line. Since Sen. Don Benton (R-17) announced his retirement, the wife of Freedom Foundation board member Tracy Wilson, Rep. Lynda Wilson (R-17), announced she’s running for Benton’s Senate seat. That same week, a Freedom Foundation staffer, Vicki Kraft, announced she’s running for Wilson’s House seat.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Absentee votes flood in before Saturday’s Democratic caucuses — An unprecedented surge in absentee votes is contributing to an expected turnout of about 200,000 in Saturday’s Democratic caucuses.
ALSO at The Stand — I-1433 volunteers needed for Dem caucuses
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Bernie Sanders is returning to campaign — The Vermont senator will return for a Thursday afternoon rally at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. Doors open at 9 a.m., but the program doesn’t start until 2 p.m. After Spokane, Sanders will travel to Yakima for a rally at the Yakima Valley SunDome at State Fair Park, an event at 7 p.m. Thursday. On Friday, he’ll hold an evening rally at Safeco Field in Seattle.
► In today’s Washington Post — The GOP — and its big funders — scramble to insulate Congress from Trump — Establishment Republicans and their big-money allies are rushing to build a multistate defense system to protect Senate and House candidates, fearing that the party could lose its hold on Congress if Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket in November. The behemoth Koch operation — which aims to spend almost $900 million before the November elections — is now considering abandoning Trump as a nominee and focusing its resources on behalf of GOP congressional candidates.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Inslee walking a charter schools tightrope (by Jerry Cornfield) — There’s a bill sitting on his desk that would give charter schools permanence in Washington — and every indication is that Inslee’s going to sign it. He didn’t tell his WEA friends what he’s going to do, and they were polite enough not to ask, but he didn’t leave much room for doubt as he said he is “very closely” reviewing SB 6194.
► In today’s Olympian (via the Tri-City Herald) — Voting Rights Act needs vote in state Senate (editorial) — The Washington Voting Rights Act (HB 1745) cleared the House and made it out of the Senate’s Committee on Government Operations and Security, but ended up in the Senate X-file. Bills usually are not reconsidered after being placed in this holding file, but since the governor called a special legislative session, technically it’s possible it could resurface. If there is any way our legislators could bring this bill back to life, they should try. Pasco shouldn’t continue to find itself caught between the the federal Voting Rights Act and state law.
► In today’s News Tribune — State prisons IT chief steps down — The state prison system will need to look for someone new to lead an information-technology staff that has undergone months of scrutiny over the wrongful early release of prisoners. Ira Feuer stepped down this week after less than a year as chief information officer for the Department of Corrections.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Legislature’s special session likely going into next week — Washington residents likely will get a visit from the Easter Bunny before their state lawmakers get a budget deal.
► From Reuters — Measure to hike California’s minimum wage to $15 qualifies for ballot — A proposal to raise California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2021 has qualified to be listed on the upcoming November ballot in the state. A wave of minimum wage increases at the state level is sweeping the United States as the federal minimum wage has gone more than six years without an increase from $7.25 an hour.
EDITOR’S NOTE — In Washington, Initiative 1433 would raise the minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020 and it would automatically adjust for inflation each year after. It would also allow all workers to earn paid sick days.
► From KUOW — Idaho cities blocked from raising the minimum wage — Idaho cities and counties will not have the option to approve increases in the minimum wage in the absence of action at the state level. A legislative measure to block local minimum wage increases became law Tuesday.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Thanks, ALEC! The language of the bill — barring “political subdivisions” of the state from lifting pay for workers is identical to draft legislation prepared by ALEC.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Starbucks CEO put on the spot about workers’ unpredictable work hours — The email went out early Wednesday, an official-looking message to reporters saying that the Starbucks annual shareholders meeting, long slated for later that morning, was being rescheduled due to “exigent business needs.” The email — complete with hoax website — was sent by Working Washington, a union-backed advocacy group that has been pushing for more consistent scheduling for workers, including those at Starbucks. “Scheduling is a serious issue. But sometimes it’s good to have a little fun in exposing the issue too,” Sage Wilson, Working Washington’s spokesperson, said of the hoax, which initially fooled a few media organizations and investment websites. The intent wasn’t to trick people but to have them think about what it feels like to have their schedules changed by Starbucks at the last minute, he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Bravo, Working Washington. Well done.
► In today’s Seattle Times — App-based ride services may be able to pick up at Sea-Tac — The Port of Seattle plans to allow app-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft to pick people up from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as early as March 31.
TAKE A STAND — Please sign this petition created by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity that urges Supreme Court justices to honor unions and reject the Friedrichs case attacking public employee unions.
Although the court remains ideologically tied at 4-4 with the Senate Republicans’ refusal to consider Obama’s nominee, it is not known whether Friedrichs will be decided this year or held over for rehearing when there is a new justice.
► From Politico — By 2-to-1 margin, Americans want Senate to consider Supreme Court nominee — By a margin of 2-to-1, American voters say the Senate should consider the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, according to the results of a national Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday.
ALSO at The Stand — ‘Consensus nominee’ Garland faces GOP blockade (editorial)
► In the Spokesman-Review — Senate should hold judicial hearing (editorial) — U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th) says, “I stand by the Senate in their decision on how to move forward with the confirmation process.” This “forward” motion is a refusal to budge. There’s nothing thoughtful about that. McMorris Rodgers (is) trying to cover blatant partisanship with high-minded-sounding rhetoric… If Garland is deemed unworthy, vote him down. That’s how the process has always worked. Changing it now would set an irresponsible precedent.
► In today’s NY Times — Rule to require employers to disclose use of anti-union consultants — The Labor Department on Wednesday released the final version of a rule requiring employers to disclose relationships with the consultants they hire to help persuade workers not to form a union or support a union’s collective bargaining position. The department said the rule, which will be published on Thursday and apply to agreements made after July 1, is necessary because workers are frequently in the dark about who is trying to sway them when they exercise their labor rights.
► From AFL-CIO Now — The makers of those cheesy anti-union movies will soon be more transparent
► In today’s LA Times — Labor Dept. finally closes a loophole favoring union-busters — after 57 years (by Michael Miltzik) — The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, otherwise known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, required these deals to be reported only if the consultants were speaking directly with employers, but not if their influence reached the workplace floor indirectly, via intermediaries. In the opinion of a close observer, that was one of the “enormous, gaping errors in the law that have left room for a sleazy billion-dollar industry to plod through.” The words come not from a union official, but a former union-buster — Martin Jay Levitt, whose 1993 book “Confessions of a Union Buster” should be required reading for every rank-and-file employee in the country. Thanks to the loophole, Levitt wrote, “I never filed with Landrum-Griffin in my life, and few union busters do.” Thanks to the new Labor Dept. rule, that dodge ends as of July 1.
► In today’s NY Times — New rules aim to reduce silica exposure at work sites — The Labor Department plans to announce on Thursday new rules that sharply reduce workplace exposure to silica, a potentially deadly mineral found in materials commonly used in construction and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
► From US Weekly — Ken Howard, ’30 Rock’ actor, SAG-AFTRA president, dies at 71 — Ken Howard, president of SAG-AFTRA, died at the age of 71 on Wednesday, March 23, SAG-AFTRA confirms. “Ken was an inspirational leader, and it is an incredible loss for SAG-AFTRA, for his family and for everyone who knew him,” acting president Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement on Wednesday. “He was a light that never dimmed and was completely devoted to the membership. He led us through tumultuous times and set our union on a steady course of excellence. We will be forever in his debt.”
► From AFL-CIO Now — Unions push ‘Right to Work’ off the table in Kentucky — Think voting really doesn’t matter? Talk to Kentucky labor leaders, and they’ll tell you otherwise. After union-endorsed candidates won three of four special House elections this month, “right to work” is dead for now in that state’s General Assembly.
► From WTSP — Oreo maker ignores Trump, Clinton criticism, begins layoffs in Chicago — Snack giant Nabisco on Wednesday began the process of laying off hundreds of workers at its Chicago factory as it expands operations in Mexico.
► BREAKING from the Chicago Tribune — Illinois Supreme Court deals Emanuel a blow on pension cost-cutting effort — The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday dealt Mayor Rahm Emanuel a blow in his effort to shore up two city worker pension funds, finding unconstitutional a law that sought to cut benefits and require employees to pay more toward their retirement.
► From TPM — It’s time for these two Democrats to go (by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship) — Hillary Clinton should come right out and ask for the resignations of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Democratic National Committee Chair — and Florida congresswoman — Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In one masterstroke, she could separate herself from two of the most prominent of all corporate Democratic elitists. Each is a Clinton disciple and devotee, each has profited mightily from the association and each represents all that is wrong with a Democratic Party that in the pursuit of money from rich donors and powerful corporations has abandoned those it once so proudly represented — working men and women.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.