Friday, January 6, 2017
► From KUOW — $15 minimum wage kicks in for thousands of Seattle workers — Thousands of Seattle workers got a raise on January 1 when the city’s minimum wage increased to $15 per hour. The raise is for people working at Seattle’s companies with more than 500 employees worldwide. And many workers say the bump makes a big difference. Sylvia Liang, a home care worker, said it feels good to be properly compensated for her work. She also said the higher minimum wage is having an impact in the broader Chinese-American community: “Many of us no longer have to take a second job. We can save a little money and we have more time with our families.”
► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — Local 7-11 stores add 25-cent fee to every transaction to offset higher minimum wage — Local 7-Eleven franchises have added a 25-cent fee to every transaction in response to the state’s new minimum wage requirement of $11 per hour beginning Jan. 1.
EDITOR’S NOTE — In comntrast to the KUOW story above, the Daily World interviews several business owners worried about how it will impact their business but doesn’t bother interviewing any minimum wage workers about getting a raise or mentioning that these higher wages will get spent locally and will boost business for these complaining owners. Sad!
► From AP — Mexican veterinarians sue Idaho dairy for human trafficking — Six Mexican veterinarians who say they were recruited to work at Funk Dairy Inc. of Murtaugh as animal scientists have filed a federal human trafficking lawsuit against the dairy’s owners and the lawyer who arranged work visas, claiming they were instead forced to work as laborers, milking cows and shoveling manure for about a year… The veterinarians said in their lawsuit they were placed in dirty and overcrowded housing, charged rent after being moved to better housing, denied meal breaks, forced to eat meals at unhygienic work stations around cows, and lacked sufficient protective equipment. When one veterinarian suffered a back injury and another had part of a finger amputated in an on-site accident, they said they were not provided adequate medical treatment or time off.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Unfortunately, the unsafe and inhumane working conditions described in this lawsuit are not that unusual. They shouldn’t be condoned for any workers. Last year, dairy and farm industry lobbyists in Washington quashed the Dairy Worker Safety Act, saying they believed the bill was unnecessary and that the dairy industry is not that dangerous.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — State incentives for film production, used by Spokane-based ‘Z Nation,’ are set to expire — Spokane will fight to keep the zombies, and film crews, interested in filming in Washington. The Motion Picture Competitiveness Program was created by the Legislature in 2006 as a way to attract crews filming movies, TV shows and commercials to the state to employ local labor and buy local goods. Efforts to grow the program have stalled in the state Legislature over the past year, despite bipartisan support.
ALSO at The Stand: Zombies attack Capitol to keep films, jobs in Washington (March 18, 2015)
► From AP — Dems accuse GOP of failing to do homework on education funding — School funding challenges facing lawmakers were on stark display Thursday, with Democrats sharply criticizing the GOP at a legislative forum for not coming up with a detailed education-funding plan and Republicans countering they need more information to bring their caucus members to come up with a viable proposal.
► From PubliCola — King Co. Council will pick new Eastside Seattle state senator (and likely House member) today — Look for the council to appoint the PCOs’ top pick, current state Tep. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) to replace Cyrus Habib. If that happens, the PCOs’ top pick for Kuderer’s House spot is Vandana Slatter, a current Bellevue City Council member and Indian American.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — At 87, the pink slip catches up to longtime Boeing engineer — Bob King, one of the oldest of 14,000 Boeing employees in the St. Louis area, was part of a reduction in force at the $97 billion behemoth. All of a sudden, he had 60 days to prepare for retirement and pass along parting knowledge after 53 years with Boeing. As part of his layoff package, he was paid one week’s salary for every year he worked. But he said Boeing capped the payout at 26 years of service.
EDITOR’S NOTE — In contrast, former CEO “Diamond Jim” McNerney retired at 66 and got a pension of $4 million per year for just 10 years of service. Known for cutting or eliminating pensions for everybody else at Boeing, Diamond Jim left the company a legacy of $29 billion in deferred development costs from his failed 787 “Frankenliner” experiment. We suppose that’s what made him the perfect guy to advise Donald Trump on how to make America great again.
► From Bloomberg — Boeing, Airbus brace for slowdown as jet-buying binge nears end — Unlike past retrenchments triggered by terrorism or recession, demand has also been hurt by the relatively low cost of fuel. That gives airlines less incentive to retire older jetliners or order newer, more efficient models.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Save retirement by reforming 401(k) laws and Social Security (editorial) — Employers aren’t likely to start offering pensions again, leaving us to shore up our 401(k)s and — most importantly — protect and strengthen Social Security and increase the benefits it pays… The 12.4 percent Social Security payroll tax’s current cap of $118,500 in annual salary must be increased to at least to $250,000, so that a fairer share of wealthier Americans’ income is paid into Social Security’s trust fund. That move alone would substantially extend Social Security’s solvency.
► From The Hill — GOP won’t promise ObamaCare ‘fix’ will cover all — Republican leaders are refusing to commit on whether their replacement plan will cover the nearly 20 million people who gained health insurance under ObamaCare. It is impossible to know how many people a GOP plan would cover, because Republicans are moving forward to repeal ObamaCare without an immediate replacement. That means that any measure to repeal the current law will be done without knowing the alternative.
► From Morning Consult — Democrats push for fast-food workers to testify at Puzder’s hearing — Democratic lawmakers, led by Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), said the committee has an “obligation” to hear testimony from workers who were employed by CKE during Puzder’s tenure or from those who are familiar with his business practices.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Murray expresses concerns about Puzder, seeks outside witnesses
► From YouTube — Kilmer defends federal employees — Yesterday, we reported that House Republicans reinstated an old procedural rule from 1876 that allows lawmakers to add amendments to any legislation in order to cut the pay of individual federal workers down to as low as $1. Today, we share the response of Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-6th) made on the floor of the House.
► A MUST-READ in today’s NY Times — Erasing Obama (by Timothy Egan) — Most of the Trump agenda — building a wall, cutting taxes on the rich, ramping up oil and gas drilling at the expense of alternative fuels, taking away people’s health care — is opposed by clear majorities. Trump will erase Obama’s policy legacy at his peril. What he cannot do is erase the mark of the man — a measured and rational president, a committed father and husband, who is leaving his country much better off, and the office without a trace of personal scandal.
► From AP — In final report of Obama administration, U.S. added 156,000 jobs in December — The number of new jobs added in December was far above what’s needed to keep up with population growth, economists said. December marks the 75th straight month of job growth — the most extended streak the country has seen since 1939. Meanwhile, hourly pay jumped 2.9 percent from a year earlier, the sharpest increase in more than seven years.
► In today’s NY Times — Where Trump sees economic ‘disaster,’ experts see something more complex — Data suggests many of the nation’s economic fundamentals are solid, and economists say the president-elect’s agenda won’t alter the more worrisome trend lines.
► From Bloomberg — U.S. Postal Service drops service at Staples amid union pressure — Following union-backed boycotts and an adverse labor board ruling, the United States Postal Service has agreed to curb a controversial arrangement allowing private employees to provide its services at Staples Inc. stores.
ALSO at The Stand — USPS, Staples deal is over; boycott ends
► From AFL-CIO Now — Day 1 in newly seated Kentucky Legislature is about attacking working people — Kentucky Republican leaders, led by Gov. Matt Bevin, gained control of the state House, giving them control of the executive and legislative branches. Their first order of business? Go after working families.
► From McClathcy — A security guard skipped work for the birth of his son. He was fired while his wife was in labor. — As news of his firing has spread, the Austins have begun to receive support from the community. Two labor unions, the IBEW and the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, have offered him apprenticeships.
► In the New Hampshire Union Leader (ironically) — Time is now for organized labor reforms in New Hampshire (by Washington’s own billionaire-funded union-busting boss Tom McCabe, in support of so-called right-to-work laws, among other things)
EDITOR’S NOTE — In addition to opposing pay raises for public employees, minimum wage earners and most other working people, Tom McCabe’s quest to deny workers any power or voice through collective bargaining has officially gone national! And we can say when knew him back when he was calling our governor a “heartless, power-hungry she-wolf who would eat her own young to get ahead” and blowing more than $6 million in struggling homebuilders’ money during a recession in a failed effort to get Republican Dino Rossi elected. Good times. Good times.
► The Entire Staff of The Stand — the entire staff — has been hit by the flu epidemic sweeping the state and has brought you this week’s news from the comfort and safety of home. We are grateful because not many have the ability to do this. Many sick people are forced to choose between losing precious income to stay home and get well, or showing up to work sick and exposing the public, their co-workers, and themselves to health risks.
That’s one of the reasons why last fall’s overwhelming approval of Initiative 1433 was so important. Not only are our state’s lowest-paid workers now earning at least $11 per hour on their path to $13.50 by 2020, but also all workers in this state — one million of them for the first time — will be guaranteed the opportunity to earn paid sick leave starting in 2018.
So, thank you, Washington voters, and here’s hoping that you can maintain your health insurance coverage under Republican control of the federal government. This one’s for you.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.