Tuesday, April 25, 2017
► From The Stranger — Women detainees at Tacoma immigrant prison end hunger strike, but vow to keep fighting — On Sunday evening, a group of women immigrants detained inside Tacoma’s Northwest Detention Center ended a nearly week-long hunger strike. The women stopped eating on April 18 to raise awareness of conditions inside the facility, which is owned by GEO Group, a private prison company. Detainees’ demands included properly cleaned laundry, prompter medical care, reasonable commissary prices, access to educational programs, raising the $1 per day prison wage, more nutritional cafeteria food, and contact visits “so parents can hug their children.”
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — On Skagit County farms, Trump’s tough talk on immigration means fewer workers — As President Donald Trump vows to beef up the Border Patrol and deport more illegal immigrants, farm owners in Skagit County say it’s more difficult than ever to find workers for their fields — threatening the county’s $300 million agriculture industry.
► In today’s NY Times — With ally in Oval office, immigration hard-liners ascend to power — For years, a network of immigration hard-liners in Washington was known chiefly for fending off proposals to legalize the status of more people. But with the election of a like-minded president, these groups have moved unexpectedly from defense to offense, with some of their leaders now in positions to carry out their agenda on a national scale.
► In today’s News Tribune — Puget Sound ports mark record shipping numbers — The Northwest Seaport Alliance, a partnership between the Puget Sound ports of Tacoma and Seattle, said year-to-date container volumes were up 10 percent compared with the previous year. In a news release, the alliance said international volumes recorded the highest first quarter since 2005.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Update city rules for taxi and ride-share services (editorial) — Last week the city council postponed a vote on an ordinance for ride-share companies to operate under the same regulations as for-hire taxi companies after representatives for Uber and Lyft raised objections.
► In today’s Columbian — Do better, Legislature (editorial) — Throughout the process, both sides have engaged in cynical political displays rather than statesmanship. It is shameful that lawmakers have approached one of the most important policy debates in state history without a sense of urgency or a desire to put solutions above politics. The people of Washington deserve better.
► From CBS News — Big labor’s delicate dance with Donald Trump — Trump’s rhetoric has led to enthusiasm not just from blue-collar workers who bolted from the Democrats to support Trump, but also from some labor leaders who hope the new president will look out for their membership. “Ask someone what the Democratic Party stands for and they look at you and they don’t have any answer,” said AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka.
► From Politico — Decision time for GOP on Trump’s wall and government shutdown — Republicans had been caught in one of their biggest dilemmas of the year: Whether to cross President Donald Trump and ignore his demand for border wall funding or join him and invite a government shutdown while the GOP controls all of Washington. With four days before government funding expires, administration officials had stepped up their insistence that a must-pass spending bill include initial funding for his U.S.-Mexico border wall — surprising Republican leaders who had been quietly moving forward with Democrats on legislation without money for the wall.
ALSO at The Stand — Shutdown: ‘It’s the American people who pay the price’
► In today’s NY Times — In new trade front, Trump slaps tariff on Canadian lumber — The Commerce Department determined that Canada had been improperly subsidizing the sale of softwood lumber products to the United States, and after failed negotiations, Washington decided to retaliate with tariffs of 3 percent to 24 percent. The penalties will be collected retroactively on imports dating back 90 days.
► From Bloomberg — Big business asks Congress for protection from local paid leave laws — During the 2016 presidential campaign, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton pledged their support for more paid family leave. Now big business is countering the calls with a proposal of its own: Congress should establish a certain optional amount of paid leave and, if companies meet that threshold, they should be protected from state or local laws that might require more.
► In today’s Washington Post — Public pans Republicans’ latest approach to replacing Affordable Care Act — Public sentiment is particularly lopsided in favor of an aspect of the current health-care law that blocks insurers from charging more or denying coverage to customers with medical conditions. Roughly 8 in 10 Democrats, 7 in 10 independents and even a slight majority of Republicans say that should continue to be a national mandate, rather than an option for states to retain or drop.
► In today’s Washington Post — President seeks 15 percent corporate tax rate, even if it swells the national debt — Sticking to one of his campaign pledges but shattering another, President Trump instructed advisers to drastically cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent.
► From the AFL-CIO — Trump’s tax plan is a massive giveaway to the wealthy few
► From Politico — State Department, U.S. embassies promoted Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
► In the S.F. Chronicle — Albertsons is reportedly considering a takeover of Whole Foods — Sources say that the private equity funds that own Albertsons, including Cerberus Capital Management, have held talks with bankers regarding a takeover of Whole Foods. Albertsons merged with rival grocery chain Safeway in 2014 and explored an initial public offering in 2015 before deciding against it.
► From the Washington Post — America’s manliest industries are all competing for women — Baby boomers are retiring in droves, vacating construction sites and body shops and 18-wheelers. Now America’s male-dominated industries, faced with a looming worker shortage, are trying to tap talent that has traditionally found such working conditions hostile: women. The Iron Workers union this month leaped to the cutting edge of the effort, becoming the first building trades union to offer up to eight months of paid maternity leave to pregnant women and new moms.
► In today’s NY Times — Hollywood writers’ unions vote to authorize strike against producers — The vote could lead to the first production shutdown in a decade, as a labor contract between the two writers’ guilds and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expires at midnight May 1.
► In today’s NY Times — Today’s energy jobs are in solar, not coal — President Trump has promised to revive the coal industry and double down on fossil fuels, creating “so many energy jobs,” but he has so far ignored the increasingly important role of renewable power in America’s energy economy. Last year, the solar industry employed many more Americans than coal, while wind power topped 100,000 jobs.
► In today’s Washington Post — Workers who really do ‘support our troops’ are getting their wages slashed (by Catherine Rampall) — Government officials often pay lip service to “supporting our troops.” But some of the people who literally do that vital work have just been badly shortchanged. For at least the third time in two years, the National Guard Bureau has awarded a contract for military family services to a lowball bidder. For the third time, that bid was based on plans to cut workers’ pay by about a third on average, and in some cases by half. These pay levels are so low that they may not be legal, according to a complaint filed Monday with the Labor Department. And for the third time, these sudden wage cuts have led to mass resignations, leaving few workers available to help prepare military families for deployment, reintegration into civilian life, and the financial and psychological stresses that can come with both. “They’ve devalued not only us but the services we give to military families across the country,” said Kevin McDonnell, a veteran and contract worker whose hourly wages fell from $24.85 to $14.02.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.