AFT wins, paying teachers, ACA truth, toothless labor law…

Thursday, January 5, 2017




► In the NW Labor Press — PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center workers vote to join AFT — As a result of a Dec. 15 vote, 886 hospital support workers at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver will be represented by AFT Local 5017. An earlier vote on Nov. 22 showed that a clear majority of the workers wanted to unionize, but neither of the two unions seeking to represent them had an outright majority. So the Dec. 15 vote was scheduled as a runoff between AFT Local 5017, and and SEIU. The result was 319 for AFT, and 110 for SEIU.

► In the Wall Street Journal — Macy’s and Kohl’s hit by weak holiday sales — Macy’s Inc. said it will slash more than 10,000 jobs and detailed plans to close dozens of stores after another holiday season of weak sales, providing more evidence that department stores have lost their once-central place in American retailing.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Macy’s targeted for closing in Washington state: Everett Mall (109 employees) and Kelso Three Rivers (57 employees).

► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle fines airline caterer LSG Sky Chefs for violations of minimum wage law — The City of Seattle has ordered airline catering company LSG Sky Chefs to pay $335,033 for violating the minimum wage law — the largest amount the city has ordered a company to pay for not following the law.

► In today’s News Tribune — Federal judge declines to intervene in labor dispute involving Seattle police reforms — U.S. District Judge James Robart, after listening to arguments, said he didn’t have sufficient reason, at this time, to begin “mucking around” in the dispute.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Democrats seek $1.6 billion to pay teachers, settle McCleary school-funding case — The Democrats on a state task force on school funding want to spend $1.6 billion during the next two years to provide competitive wages for teachers and settle the landmark McCleary case. Their proposal, released Wednesday, would increase teacher average pay to nearly $71,000 across the state, and aims to provide relief for school districts that rely on local property taxes to recruit and retain educators and other school workers.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Bipartisan task force stalled, unlikely to recommend fixes soon for McCleary school-funding case — A state task force charged with figuring out how the state can meet the requirements of the McCleary school-funding case isn’t likely to submit a list of recommendations before the Legislature convenes in Olympia next week.

► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — $11 minimum wage brings fear, hope in Cowlitz County — “Many people earning minimum wage are adults supporting families. Those families will spend their extra dollars in the community, which will strengthen the local economy and create greater prosperity for Southwest Washington as a whole,” said Mike Bridges, president of the Kelso-Longview Building Trades Council.

► From The Hill — GOP plans to rein in liberal cities — Republican state legislatures are planning so-called preemption laws, which prevent cities and counties from passing new measures governing everything from taxes to environmental regulations and social issues. They say liberal cities and counties vastly overstepped their bounds by raising local minimum wages (among other things). The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, has offered five sample preemption bills on everything from local minimum wage hikes to rules governing genetically modified food and other agriculture products.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Because they hate “big government” right up until they are in charge, then they love it.




► MUST-READ in the LA Times — Republicans call Obamacare a ‘failure.’ These 7 charts show they couldn’t be more wrong (by Michael Hiltzik) — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) emerged Wednesday from a meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence to assert: “This law has failed. Americans are struggling. The law is failing while we speak. … Things are only getting worse under Obamacare. … The healthcare system has been ruined — dismantled — under Obamacare.” Every one of those statements is demonstrably untrue. How do we know this? We know because every measure of healthcare spending, access and cost has improved since the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

EDITOR’S NOTE — One of our favorite charts is this one, showing the dramatic decline in uncompensated care. In the pre-ACA days, these costs were borne by people with insurance, who paid higher health care costs to subsidize hospitalized people who lacked insurance. Now THAT is socialized medicine, and those are the good old days for Republicans.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review – Loss of Obamacare could affect 750,000 Washington residents — Repealing all aspects of Obamacare, and the federal money that came with it, could take away health coverage from about 750,000 Washington residents and throw the insurance market into chaos, state officials said Wednesday.

► In today’s Washington Post — Republicans are about to feel Obama’s pain on Obamacare — and he knows it — The president knows that repealing the Affordable Care Act is a difficult and fraught exercise. His advice to Democrats: Let Republicans hang themselves.

► In today’s NY Times — Republicans are courting disaster on health care (editorial) — After years of attacking Obamacare they still aren’t ready to repeal it. They’re about to do so anyway.




► From Politico — Trump labor meeting worries progressives — For 30 minutes on Wednesday — more time than he has given some candidates for Cabinet positions — President-elect Donald Trump held court in his Tower with a high-powered New York Democratic operative and two labor leaders (IUOE President Jim Callahan and Peter Ward, president of the New York Hotel Trades Council).

► From The Hill — House GOP revive rule that lets lawmakers slash gov. employees’ pay down to $1 — House Republicans reinstated an old procedural rule created in 1876 this week, allowing for lawmakers to cut the pay of individual federal workers down to $1. The Holman rule allows members of Congress to propose amendments to appropriations bills that target specific government employees or programs and cut spending.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Hey, there’s our own Dave Reichert among the white guys makin’ rules!

► From The Hill — GOP chairman hopes to spin off air traffic control under Trump — Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) is once again preparing to fight for an aviation bill that includes his controversial proposal to spin off air traffic control from the federal government. A similar plan stalled on the House floor last year. But this time around, Shuster is hoping to have a powerful new ally in his corner: President-elect Donald Trump.

► From The Hill — McConnell: Americans ‘will not tolerate’ Dems blocking SCOTUS nominee — McConnell’s remarks come after nearly 10 months of Senate Republican opposition to the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, the federal appeals court judge nominated by President Obama in March 2016.




► In today’s Washington Post — Retired ironworkers could face pension cuts next month — Larry Burruel is starting the new year with a grim reality: His monthly pension check could be cut in half at the end of the month. Burruel, 68, is among the hundreds of retired ironworkers who received the tough news a few weeks before the holidays. The cuts proposed by his pension plan, a small Cleveland-based fund with about 2,000 members, were approved by the Treasury Department on Dec. 16. It is the first time the agency has given the green light for a private pension plan to cut benefits for its members.

► In the Wall Street Journal — The champions of the 401(k) lament the revolution they started — Many early backers of the 401(k) now say they have regrets about how their creation turned out despite its emergence as the dominant way most Americans save. Some say it wasn’t designed to be a primary retirement tool and acknowledge they used forecasts that were too optimistic to sell the plan in its early days. Others say the proliferation of 401(k) plans has exposed workers to big drops in the stock market and high fees from Wall Street money managers while making it easier for companies to shed guaranteed retiree payouts. “The great lie is that the 401(k) was capable of replacing the old system of pensions,” says former American Society of Pension Actuaries head Gerald Facciani, who helped turn back a 1986 Reagan administration push to kill the 401(k). “It was oversold.”

► In the NW Labor Press — Long day AND long week? For Oregon factory workers, double the pay — Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) has changed how it interprets overtime laws — in a way that could fatten the paychecks of Oregon factory workers.




► In the NW Labor Press — Toothless labor law: 3 years in, still no penalty for flagrant unionbuster — When bosses at Edwards Painting in Oregon City found out there was a union campaign among their employees, they squashed it, and broke federal labor law 18 different ways. But violating the law got the job done: The union campaign was obliterated. All this was in the summer and fall of 2013. Over three years later, the company has faced next to no consequences. “The Edwards case is such a good example of the ineffectiveness of the NLRB,” says Seattle labor attorney Daniel Hutzenbiler, who represents the Painters Union. “Nobody’s been reinstated, and any organizing campaign we had is dead.”


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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