Friday, February 3, 2017
► MUST-READ from Vice — One of the most important union fights in years is happening in South Carolina right now — As opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency mounts, progressives have scrambled to find signs of hope. Will Democratic senators vote against Trump’s cabinet picks or try to block Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch? Can street protests coalesce into a movement at the ballot box? In South Carolina — an area hardly on liberal America’s radar — a multiracial group of blue-collar workers is poised to deliver a simple message that requires no question marks and should resonate with wage-earners nationwide: They want a union.
Last month, the International Association of Machinists (IAM) filed for an election to represent roughly 3,000 workers at Boeing South Carolina, a sprawling complex that has churned out more than 100 state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner jets since it opened in 2011. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal agency that regulates most private-sector labor relations, has set the voting day for February 15.
The stakes are enormous: A union victory of this scale could energize the labor movement’s long-tortured efforts to make headway in the American South, a region whose low wages and lack of collective bargaining helps depress employment standards nationwide. It may offer a lesson that labor’s future under Trump requires gambling on expansion — not merely “hunkering down” to defend the status quo. And it would mark a not-so-subtle rebuke to race-baiters in the White House: About a third of the plant’s workforce is African American.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Plans to lower Washington’s minimum wage could be difficult sell — Efforts to change Washington’s higher minimum wage approved by voters last November face a tough road in the Legislature. But that didn’t keep Sen. Mike Baumgartner from proposing lower wages for teens, for nonprofit workers, and for anyone outside of King County.
ALSO at The Stand — GOP bills would exempt I-1433 to death — Republicans in Olympia are trying to undermine I-1433’s minimum wage increase and paid sick leave by exempting teenagers, nonprofits, and not just rural counties, but every county in the state but one: King County.
► In today’s Wall St. Journal — Minimum-wage increases may deliver the best wage growth in 8 years — Millions of workers earning at or near the minimum wage received a mandated raise in 19 states in their first January paychecks–ranging from a $1.95 an hour increase in Arizona to an extra nickel an hour in Florida and Missouri–and that could push overall hourly earnings growth, from a year earlier, above 3% for the first time since early 2009.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — State needs a paid family leave law that actually pays (editorial) — While the Democratic and Republican bills differ in the length and amount of benefit and in how they are funded, they offer a starting point for compromise. But lawmakers should look for a way for employer and employee to share in the responsibility, as Rep. June Robinson’s bill outlines.
► In today’s News Tribune — State lawmaker defends dual jobs in Senate, Trump administration — State Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Bellingham) on Thursday defended his role at the Environmental Protection Agency, saying he could handle his Senate responsibilities while also helping the Trump administration. Before Wednesday, Ericksen hadn’t made a committee meeting in more than two weeks, drawing criticism from some Democrats he was slowing the committee process.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Challenge to Trump immigration ban from Washington attorney general to be heard Friday
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Rep. Matt Shea elected GOP caucus leader in Washington House — Spokane Valley Rep. Matt Shea was elected House Minority Caucus chairman by his fellow Republicans on Thursday, filling an opening created by the falling dominoes of an appointment to the Trump administration.
ALSO at The Stand — It’s up to Republicans to hold Rep. Matt Shea accountable (March 21, 2016) — Now that there are reports that Rep. Matt Shea aided and abetted domestic terrorists, one wonders if any Republicans in Washington state will muster the courage to call him out.
► In today’s PSBJ — Port of Seattle CEO resigned amid probe into $4.7M payout to 642 employees (subscription req’d) — Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick’s Thursday resignation came one day after auditors briefed port officials on their probe into $4.7 million in additional compensation to hundreds of port employees. The Washington State Auditor’s Office concluded the arrangement violated state’s Constitution as an unlawful gifting of public funds.
► In the Washington Post — Labor nominee Puzder is facing complications separating himself from his fast-food chain — Andrew Puzder began working on his ethics paperwork three weeks ago but encountered complications because CKE, which includes burger chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, is privately held, a spokesman said. Shares of publicly held companies can be sold easily on the stock market, but it can be more difficult to offload private holdings. If confirmed, Puzder would step down as chief executive of his fast-food business.
TAKE A STAND — Andrew Puzder should step down from his high-paying CEO job, but NOT because he is Labor Secretary. He should step down because employees at the restaurants he oversees describe a workplace full of danger, chaos, and low pay. He is the kind of CEO who should face charges for his action, not the director of the agency intended to protect workers. Dial 1-866-829-3298 or CLICK HERE to tell your senators to REJECT the nomination of Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary.
► From The Hill —Wanted: One Republican with integrity, to defeat Betsy DeVos (editorial) — Public pressure may help sway Republican senators on unfit cabinet nominees.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — House Democrats target Herrera Beutler’s seat for midterm elections — House Democrats say they have raised a record amount in January and are using their momentum to target Republican seats in the 2018 midterm elections. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s seat is one of them.
► From Bloomberg — GOP rebrands Obamacare strategy from ‘repeal’ to ‘repair’ — Some Republicans in Congress are starting to talk more about trying to “repair” Obamacare, rather than simply calling for “repeal and replace.” Republicans are grappling with their party’s desire — and President Donald Trump’s promise — to dismantle Obamacare, as well as the political disaster that could ensue if millions of Americans lose coverage as a result of legislation.
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump to sign executive order calling for rollback of Wall Street reform — President Trump plans to ease regulations put in place after the 2008 financial crisis to rein in Wall Street, according to a White House spokesperson. The move would address another one of Trump’s campaign promises: Dismantling 2010’s financial reform legislation, known as Dodd Frank.
► From Huffington Post — Senate votes to kill Dodd Frank anti-corruption rule
EDITOR’S NOTE — What could possibly go wrong?
► From The Hill — House begins to map out infrastructure strategy — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called for increased user fees and a more stable Highway Trust Fund. Trumka thinks a package in the $1 trillion-range is the “right scale,” but urged lawmakers to ensure so-called Buy America rules and Davis-Bacon worker wage protections are included in any measure.
► From AP — AFL-CIO meets with Trump on labor (video) — The president of the AFL-CIO federation of labor unions says he is hopeful that Donald Trump will deliver on his campaign promise to improve the job market and wages for working-class Americans.
► From AFGE — Senate FAIR Act supports middle-class government workers — After six years of budget cuts, pay freezes, and lost benefits, federal civil servants could receive a 3.2 percent pay raise in 2018 thanks to new legislation introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and cosponsored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Patty Murray of (D-WA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). The bill — the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act — comes on the heels of a 2.1 percent raise in 2017, after six years of sacrifices and lost wages.
► MUST-READ in the LA Times — Politicians aiming to cut Social Security and Medicare use weasel words to hide their plans. Let’s call them on it. (by Michael Hiltzik) — Republicans and conservatives have plotted for decades to turn this flow of cash over to Wall Street via privatization. Financial firms would skim billions off the top, administrative costs would soar, and to make up for the diversion benefits would shrink. The promoters of these schemes can’t tell the truth about this, of course, so they talk about “reforming,” “revamping,” and “overhauling,” as though they’re dressing a crumbling old house with a new coat of paint.
► Last Friday, the Entire Staff of The Stand shared Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” because of its reference to the late, great Mary Tyler Moore. This week, we share the real deal on the 58th anniversary of “the day the music died.” On Feb. 3, 1959, 22-year-old Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and 17-year-old Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash shortly after take off from Clear Lake, Iowa. The pilot was also killed. During his short career, Holly wrote, recorded, and produced all of his own material. He is often regarded as the artist who defined the traditional rock-and-roll lineup of two guitars, bass, and drums. Holly was a major influence on later popular music artists, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Elton John. Enjoy.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.