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A union is born, no time left in Olympia, TrumpCut in peril

Tuesday, June 27, 2017




► From David Bacon — A new farm worker union is born — The signing of the contract with Sakuma Brothers Farms was a quiet end to four years of strikes and boycotts, in which these workers had organized the first new farm-worker union in the United States in a quarter-century: Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ). The union itself will not be like most others. At the ratification meeting held the previous night, many of the people packed into the hall of Mt. Vernon’s Unitarian Church spoke with each other in Mixteco or Triqui. Members of Familias Unidas por la Justicia come originally from towns in Oaxaca and southern Mexico where people speak indigenous languages that were centuries old when the Spanish colonized the Americas.

“We are part of a movement of indigenous people,” says Felimon Pineda, FUJ vice president. An immigrant from Jicaral Cocoyan de las Flores in Oaxaca, he says organizing the union is part of a fight against the discrimination indigenous people face in both Mexico and the United States: “Sometimes people see us as being very low. They think we have no rights. They’re wrong. The right to be human is the same.”

► From the Economic Opportunity Institute — A tale of two studies: poor research leads to poor findings on minimum wage (by Marilyn Watkins) — The quality of a study hinges on the quality of its methods. But the UW study was too myopic in its lens. It eschewed all of the hallmarks of good science – including all the data, equivalent control group, breadth of time. There’s a reason its findings go against what the vast majority of previous studies found: the UW study isn’t as academically rigorous.

► In today’s News Tribune — A meal at the luxury inn cost $342. The kitchen help got little or no pay, feds say. — The renowned Willows Inn on Lummi Island will pay $149,624 to kitchen workers as part of a settlement with the federal government. An investigation found many employees worked for free or sub-minimum wages to get experience at the high-end establishment.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Secret budget, education talks down to the wire in Olympia — The Legislature faces a Friday deadline on state budget and education negotiations. Much of their work has been done in secret: Citizens will get little time to review any agreement. The talks are a striking contrast to the budget negotiations of 2015, when each party publicly released detailed compromise proposals throughout the overtime sessions. Legislators are also engaged in closed-door negotiations over a proposed paid family-leave program for private-sector workers and bills to address rural-water use. The budget and McCleary negotiations involve billions of taxpayer dollars, discussions about new revenue and reviews of existing government policy and programs.

TAKE A STAND — There’s STILL no budget deal with just 4 days until the state shutdown. Call 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message for your State Senator to STOP THE SHUTDOWN and pass a budget!

► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘I’m terrified’: Fight over Fircrest School divides families of people with developmental disabilities — For developmentally disabled people, integration into the community is considered a civil right. But what if an institution is the safest place? A new attempt by Washington state lawmakers to close Fircrest School — and reap millions from the property — shows why families are bitterly divided.

PREVIOUSLY at The Stand — Rally, picket May 20 to save Fircrest School from closure — The Fircrest School sits on 86 wooded acres that are considered a very valuable piece of property, much of it currently undeveloped. That has Sen. Dino Rossi (R-Sammamish), a commercial real estate broker serving as a one-year placeholder in the Senate, pushing for its closure. “When closed, the idea is to lease or sell the land,” Rossi told KING-TV. He sponsored legislation to close Fircrest by the year 2022 and the Senate Republican budget calls for beginning its closure. In the short term, the closure process would cost the state $5 million to $7.5 million per year from 2017 to 2021.




► In today’s NY Times — Health Tax cut bill is in peril as GOP support wanes after report — Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Rand Paul said they would vote against even debating the measure after the Congressional Budget Office said it would cause 22 million people to lose insurance. Sen. Mitch McConnell must change the minds of reluctant Republicans, withdraw the bill or let it be defeated.

► From HuffPost — Democrats pan ‘cynical and immoral’ GOP health care tax cut bill

► From HuffPost — Senate Democrats hold raucous sit-in to protest GOP health care tax cut bill

► From Politico — Republicans eye billions in side deals to win votes

► From Politico — McConnell warns Trump over health tax cut bill failure — If Obamacare repeal fails in the Senate, the GOP might be forced to compromise with Democrats.

► From The Hill — GOP Trumpcare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote — The CBO score has raised the stakes on a procedural vote that could come as soon as Tuesday. At least four Republicans say they may vote against their party on the motion to proceed. McConnell can only afford two defections.

► In today’s NY Times — A vote of conscience and courage (by David Leonhardt) — Senators entered politics with high ideals. The health care tax cut vote presents them with a career-defining decision.

► In today’s Washington Post — Want to know the worst thing about the GOP’s health care tax cut bill? (editorial) — Perhaps nothing in the CBO’s analysis was more damning than its conclusion that none of this disruption is needed. The current system is not perfect, but it is also not collapsing. Though the CBO acknowledged that “premiums have been rising under current law,” it projected “sufficient demand for insurance by enough people, including people with low health care expenditures, for the market to be stable in most areas.” The Senate bill’s system, meanwhile, would struggle to serve people in sparsely populated and other difficult-to-cover areas, just as the Affordable Care Act has. Obamacare requires fixes, not a destabilizing “rescue.” The Senate bill contains provisions to shore up the existing system before transitioning to the shoddier one. It should just pass the fixes and move on.

► A related story in today’s Seattle Times — Individual health insurance to be offered in 2 rural Washington counties after all

► In today’s Washington Post — For many seniors, retirement gets more expensive if Senate’s health care tax cut bill is passed — AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond says the Senate bill imposes an “Age Tax” on older adults, which would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than everyone else and cuts the tax credits that help make insurance more affordable.

► In today’s NY Times — The GOP rejects conservatism (by David Brooks) — Republicans are so bankrupt that they refuse to use quality health care policy ideas put forward by conservative intellectuals, opting instead for tax cuts for the rich.




► From AFL-CIO — Working people remain united against discrimination — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

“As the courts continue to review the constitutionality of President Trump’s travel and refugee ban, the labor movement reaffirms our resolve to ensure our workplaces and our society respect the dignity and rights of all working people, regardless of race, religion, immigration status or country of origin. Working people and their unions across the country have stood together in airports and in the streets to reject the administration’s efforts to criminalize our immigrant communities, discriminate against Muslim families, and turn our backs on those fleeing violence and persecution. We will continue to stand together against this unjust ban.”

► In today’s Seattle Times — Ruling in travel ban leaves myriad questions unanswered — The Supreme Court’s decision to partially reinstate President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban has left the effort to keep some foreigners out of the United States in a murky middle ground, with unanswered questions and possibly more litigation ahead.

► In today’s Washington Post — Poll shows U.S. image abroad has tumbled under Trump — President Trump has alarmed citizens of the nation’s closest allies and others worldwide, diminishing the standing of the United States in their eyes, according to a new international Pew study. But in the 37 countries surveyed, Russia is a bright spot for Trump.




► From HuffPost — This is what lax regulation looks like — At least 79 people died in London’s Grenfell Tower this month, in an inferno that safety experts have blamed largely on the cheap, flammable cladding used to wrap the high-rise apartment building. “Those who mock health and safety, regulations and red tape need to take a hard look at the consequences of cutting these and ask themselves whether Grenfell Tower is a price worth paying,” London Mayor Sidiq Khan wrote last week in an op-ed on the disaster. Khan may as well have been writing for an American audience.


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