Thursday, April 28, 2016
WORKER MEMORIAL DAY
► From KUOW — Half the workers killed in Washington are over 50 — Worker Memorial Day, the day Washington state honors people who lost their lives on the job, is today. Half of the workplace deaths involved people over the age of 50. That number has been trending upward in Washington. In 2010, only about a third of the state’s workplace deaths involved older workers. The AFLCIO labor federation says this is a national trend.
ALSO at The Stand — Worker Memorial Day events statewide this week — Commemorations are planned today in Tacoma, Bellingham and Olympia/Tumwater.
► From WFSE — WFSE/AFSCME asks court to block release of private information requested by ‘Freedom Foundation’ — Our union filed a request Wednesday for an injunction to stop the release of state employees’ personal information that the so-called “Freedom Foundation” requested from dozens of agencies — over employees’ angry and justified objections. The Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28 is asking Thurston County Superior Court to stop the release of the birthdates of state employees in several agencies, colleges and universities represented by the Federation. Until a hearing is held, the information will not be released.
TAKE A STAND! The longer-term solution is to change the law. The law is flawed. It shouldn’t be this way. Click here to take action and tell legislators now that they need to change the law when lawmakers return in January so this never happens again.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — $8 million deficit to trigger Community Colleges of Spokane cutbacks — Community Colleges of Spokane will eliminate some staff and faculty positions starting in the fall in response to an $8 million deficit, which Chancellor Christine Johnson blamed partially on major glitches caused by the flawed rollout of a new software system.
► In today’s Olympian — His federal trial over, Troy Kelley returns to Auditor’s Office — A day after his federal trial ended in an acquittal on one count and a deadlocked jury on 14 others, state Auditor Troy Kelley returned to work.
► From AP — Secretary of state, her staff, to skip Tennessee meeting — Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman says no one from her office will attend a national conference in Tennessee in part because of a bill signed by the governor there allowing counselors to refuse to treat patients based the therapist’s religious or personal beliefs.
► In today’s Oregonian — Sponsors suspend effort to privatize Oregon liquor sales — The grocer-led group behind Initiative Petition 71, Oregonians for Competition, announced Wednesday that it has withdrawn the proposal. Instead, the group said, it will focus on defeating Initiative Petition 28, a union-backed measure that would increase taxes on corporations.
► In today’s NY Times — Colorado weighs replacing Obama’s health policy with universal coverage — For years, voters in this swing state have rejected tax increases and efforts to expand government. But now they are flirting with a radical transformation: whether to abandon President Obama’s health care policy and instead create a new, taxpayer-financed public health system that guarantees coverage for everyone. The estimated $38-billion-a-year proposal, which will go before Colorado voters in November, will test whether people have an appetite for a new system that goes further than the Affordable Care Act.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — ‘Intense competition’ could drive further job cuts at Boeing’s Puget Sound-area facilities — Boeing last month announced plans to cut 4,000 jobs in Washington state, including executive and manager roles. The cuts will happen by June and include a combination of attrition and buyouts. Boeing estimates 1,600 people will have to take the buyouts. If not enough people volunteer, the company will resort to layoffs. The company could announced more cuts later in the year, and many are likely to be in Washington. Boeing employs 160,000 people around the world, and about half of those work in the state. CEO Dennis Muilenburg declined to specify how many cuts the company could make later in the year:
“I won’t give you any specific head count targets because that’s not the way we do our business,” Muilenburg said. “We set cost reduction productivity targets, we look at all elements of our cost structure and if it comes down to direct head count, we deal with that in a way that’s very respectful of our employees and try to do our best to help them transition when that does become a necessity.”
► From Bloomberg — Airbus, Boeing split multibillion-dollar jet order from China Eastern — China Eastern ordered 20 Airbus A350-900 planes valued at $5.96 billion based on January 2014 list prices, it said in a filing to the Shanghai stock exchange Thursday. The airline also ordered 15 787-9 Boeing Dreamliners valued at $3.9 billion at July 2014 prices.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Recall that Boeing announced last fall that the company would shift some work to China, where it has agreed to set up a new jet completion center. Would Boeing have split this order without such a move? Who knows? Which, we suppose, is the beauty of such a move. We just can’t wait until the company threatens to close its China center unless it gets a multi-billion dollar tax break.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — May Day immigrant labor march to span 27 miles — Activists promoting immigration reform and workers rights will do something that hasn’t happened in 30 years Sunday when they march from Granger to Union Gap.
ALSO at The Stand — Sunrise-to-sunset May Day march in Yakima
► In today’s Seattle Times — May Day: Seattle police ready for peaceful protests but also violence — Throngs are expected for the annual workers and immigrant march that, historically, has been peaceful. That contrasts with separate anti-capitalist protests that, in past years, have erupted in violence.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane Valley city manager’s severance three times what his contract stipulated — Those who left Spokane Valley City Hall Tuesday night with a bit of sticker shock and lots of questions about the $411,000 severance package granted dismissed city manager Mike Jackson may never get answers.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Minimum-wage law: This is not play money (editorial) — It’s way too early to say whether Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has been a success.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Dear Seattle Times: The next time you decide to write an editorial doing “damage control” on what should be considered good news for all Seattle businesses, including those that pay minimum wages, maybe you should mention the people who earn them. The many benefits of raising the minimum wage — like helping people to afford to live, eat and stay healthy — doesn’t rate a mention in this editorial, only the ordinance’s effect on businesses. Note to yourself: minimum wage standards have been established for “health, safety and the general welfare of the citizens.”
P.S. Could you have written a more condescending, patronizing headline?
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — State’s Republicans are mum on Trump — Donald Trump is building momentum, with ballots to be mailed out next week for this state’s Republican presidential primary in which 44 delegates are up for grabs. He is expected to show up next week at rallies in Vancouver, Spokane and maybe even the Puget Sound area. The timing couldn’t be better for the Republican Party in a state rarely considered important in our national nominating nightmare. Or could it? Last week 550 people gathered for the Snohomish County Republican Party gala. In the nearly three-hour event, none of the featured speakers, including the county and state party leaders, mentioned Trump, Ted Cruz or John Kasich.
► From The Hill — Hispanic voter registration spikes — Registration among Hispanic voters is skyrocketing in a presidential election cycle dominated by Donald Trump and loud GOP cries to close the border. One official projects 13.1 million Hispanics will vote nationwide in 2016, compared to 11.2 million in 2012 and 9.7 million in 2008.
► In today’s Washington Post — In year for outsiders, Democratic voters stick with Clinton — While the success of Donald Trump shows that Republicans blame their own leaders for the nation’s problems and are eager for a radical fix, Democrats still believe their elected leaders can bring change from within.
► In today’s NY Times — After losses, Cruz picks Fiorina as running mate; Bernie Sanders retrenches — Cruz named a running mate, Carly Fiorina, to help bring down Trump and both spoke of Trump in the language of relentless opposition, casting him as a sinister figure who must not be allowed to become president. Sanders said he would scale back his upstart bid for the White House and lay off hundreds of campaign workers, a measure seemingly intended to extend the life of his candidacy but not to prepare for a general election.
► From The Hill — How Bernie Sanders is actually winning — While his hopes of victory in the battle for the Democratic nomination are nearly extinguished, the Vermont senator has surpassed all expectations in the presidential race, creating a movement of impassioned supporters that is likely to shape politics for years to come.
► From The Hill — Boehner: Ted Cruz a ‘miserable son of a bitch’ — Former House Speaker John Boehner panned Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh” during comments at Stanford University. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone,” he said. “But I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”
► From Huffington Post — House Democrats push back on Obama plan to cut drug prices — The DHHS is working toward finalizing a new rule that would experiment with ending the financial incentive doctors have for prescribing some extremely expensive medications. The rule has been well-received among some patient advocates, but congressional Democrats have been largely silent, while the pharmaceutical industry and medical community have waged an aggressive campaign to stop it. The campaign is bearing fruit. A letter being circulated among House Democrats warns of unintended consequences.
► From Reuters — Verizon, striking unions at impasse as health benefits to expire — A strike by nearly 40,000 Verizon Communications Inc workers is in its third week with unions and the company still far apart on contract talks, even as employee healthcare benefits are set to expire on Saturday.
► From Huffington Post — Even in work benefits, black and Latino workers lose out to white peers — When it comes to paid leave, the situation in America is dire for everyone — but it’s worse for people of color. A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that workers’ access to paid leave and workplace flexibility varies dramatically depending on their race and ethnicity. Black and Latino workers have far less access to paid sick leave, vacation and flexible work schedules than their white peers.
► From Huffington Post — Farm workers are taking on poor pay and conditions — and winning — A growing group of farm workers are pushing back and successfully transforming ways of life that some have equated to modern-day slavery. An organization called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has fought for better pay and conditions for tomato pickers in Florida and has created a model that is beginning to improve the lives of farmworkers in other parts of the country as well.
► From Huffington Post — Why I’m joining Uber’s board (by Arianna Huffington)
► In today’s NY Times — At McDonald’s, fat profits but lean wages (editorial) — The fast-food giant has done well for its executives and shareholders, at the expense of most of its workers and the taxpayers.
► From CNN Money — Why restaurants, stores are hiring more full-time workers — Some retail and fast food outlets are realizing these cost-cutting tactics come with hidden expenses, while hiring full-time workers yields some monetary benefits that aren’t immediately noticeable just from looking at a spreadsheet. Full-time workers tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, which improves customer service. They quit less often too, so companies don’t have to replace and train as many new workers. And as their on-the-job experience builds, these workers perform better.
► From Bloomberg — T-Mobile accused of fighting a real union by creating a fake one — CWA is alleging to the NLRB that T-Mobile has adopted an anti-union tactic that’s been illegal since 1935: creating a company-controlled union to drain support for an independent one.
► In the NY Times Magazine — Where did the government jobs go? — The public sector has long been home to the sorts of jobs that lift people into the middle class and keep them there. These are jobs that have predictable hours, stable pay and protection from arbitrary layoffs, particularly for those without college or graduate degrees. They’re also more likely to be unionized; less than 7 percent of private-sector workers are represented by a union, while more than a third of those in the public sector are. In other words, they look like the blue-collar jobs our middle class was built on during the postwar years. The public sector’s slow decimation is one of the unheralded reasons that the middle class has shrunk as the ranks of the poor and the rich have swollen in the post-recession years. Across the country, when public-sector workers lose their jobs, the burden disproportionately falls on black workers, and particularly women
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.