Hanford harms, ending poverty, low-wage H1-Bs, Sail Away

Friday, August 4, 2017




► From KING 5 TV — Tests show Hanford workers inhaled radioactive plutonium — On June 8 approximately 350 Hanford workers were ordered to “take cover” after alarms designed to detect elevated levels of airborne radioactive contamination went off… At the time Hanford officials called the safety measure “precautionary.” Officials downplayed the seriousness of the event with statements including, it appeared “workers were not at risk,” and there was “no evidence radioactive particles had been inhaled” by anyone. The KING 5 Investigators have discovered those statements are incorrect. An internal CH2M Hill email sent to their employees on July 21 states that 301 (test kits) have been issued to employees and of the first 65 workers tested, a “small number of employees” showed positive results for “internal exposures” (by radioactive plutonium). Sources tell KING the “small number of employees” is twelve. Twelve people out of 65 is 20 percent. Still outstanding are 236 tests. A communication specialist with CH2M Hill sent a statement that more positive results are expected.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Lucky Friday miners rally at Hecla headquarters in Coeur d’Alene — It’s been 143 days since Bob Clark has stepped foot in Silver Valley’s Lucky Friday mine. And the same can be said for many of his co-workers, who voted 230-2 in favor of striking on March 12.. Clark and more than 100 of his coworkers and their families, retirees and union workers from across the U.S. gathered Wednesday to rally in front of Hecla’s corporate headquarters in Coeur d’Alene.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Parent of Red Lion Hotels moves corporate headquarters from Spokane to Denver — After 43 years in Spokane, the company is giving up its executive offices in the Inland Northwest. CEO Greg T. Mount, already a resident of the Denver area, said the move will have a minimal effect on Spokane, where Red Lion Hotels will retain a regional office.

► In today’s News Tribune — Large employer announces it’s leaving Tacoma — DaVita, a Fortune 500 company specializing in kidney dialysis, will move its remaining 500 employees to Federal Way in four years.




► MUST-READ in today’s Seattle Times — End poverty? It’s not as pie-in-the-sky as you may think (by Jerry Large) — In this country, poor health, inadequate education, stagnating wages at the low end of the economy, fines and court fees that disproportionately affect the low-income and regressive tax systems are among the many factors that combine to perpetuate, or even cause, poverty. It’s not extreme poverty, but it negatively affects millions of American lives. The president and the House of Representatives have proposed budgets that would cut programs like SNAP, which provides food assistance, that support low-income families. Policy choices, not some law of nature, keeps poverty alive. Citizens have the right and the moral obligation to challenge those choices and advocate for better ones.




► From Politico — Trump rallies his base against Russia investigation — President Donald Trump used a campaign-style rally Thursday night to level a sustained attack on the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election, just hours after news broke that special counsel Robert Mueller had tapped a grand jury as part of the wide-ranging probe.

► From Think Progress — Trump is about to make America much crueler to unionized workers — Since Election Day, unions have lived on borrowed time. The National Labor Relations Board, which has exclusive authority over many key questions of labor law, is still controlled by Democrats – thus shielding workers and their unions from attacks that became far likelier the moment Donald Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 election. But this period of interregnum is about to end. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began the process of confirming the first of Trump’s two nominees to the NLRB on Monday. When both nominees sit on the Board, a swift rollback of union rights is likely.

► In today’s Washington Post — Recess just started for Congress, and it’s not going to be much fun for Republicans — The Senate left town for the rest of the summer Thursday, bringing a historically unproductive period of governance to a close for Republicans, who failed to produce any major legislative achievements despite controlling Congress and the White House.

► From The Hill — Senate blocks Trump from making recess appointments over break — The Senate blocked President Trump from being able to make recess appointments on Thursday as lawmakers leave Washington for their summer break. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), doing wrap up for the entire Senate, locked in nine “pro-forma” sessions — brief meetings that normally last roughly a minute.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Rep. Dan Newhouse co-sponsoring presidential tax return bill — The action comes nearly four months after Newhouse, at a town hall in Sunnyside, promised residents he would help write a bill making it mandatory for a president to release his tax returns.

► In today’s Washington Post — Secret Service vacates Trump Tower command post in lease dispute with president’s company — The Secret Service has vacated its command post inside Trump Tower in Manhattan following a dispute between the government and President Trump’s company over the terms of a lease for the space.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Yes, that happened.




► From Quartz India — New data on H-1B visas prove that IT outsourcers hire a lot, but pay very little — Data made available by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for the first time show that the widely made complaint about the visa program is true: a small number of IT outsourcing companies get a disproportionately high number of H-1B visas and pay below-average wages to their workers.

► From The Guardian — Nissan attacked for one of ‘nastiest anti-union campaigns’ in modern U.S. history — The company has blitzed local TV with anti-union ads and stands accused of both threatening and bribing workers to vote no. It requires workers to regularly attend anti-union roundtable group meetings as well as one-on-one meetings with their direct supervisors, some of whom have worn “vote no” T-shirts to work. The Republican governor, Phil Bryant, has also come out hard for Nissan. “If you want to take away your job, if you want to end manufacturing as we know it in Mississippi, just start expanding unions,” he said.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Dear Governor, That’s the point exactly… to end manufacturing as YOU know it: exploitative, with low wages, few benefits, and no freedom to stand together at work. And to replace it with manufacturing that respects your constituents and allows them to negotiate a fair return for their work.

► From Politico — West Virginia Democratic governor switches to GOP — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who seldom worked with other Democrats, recently spent a well-publicized day hunting with Donald Trump Jr. But his move still blindsided his old party, which is now left with control of just 15 governor mansions.

► In today’s LA Times — Officials say immigration agents showed up at labor dispute proceedings. California wants them out — Federal immigration agents have shown up twice at California labor dispute proceedings to apprehend undocumented workers, in what state officials believe may be cases of employer retaliation.

► From WRAL — Union, feds at odds on countering surge in coal mine deaths — Deaths in U.S. coal mines this year have surged ahead of last year’s, and federal safety officials say workers who are new to a mine have been especially vulnerable to fatal accidents.




► The Entire Staff of The Stand™ considers Randy Newman to be one of our nation’s greatest living songwriters. In a Los Angeles Times story commemorating today’s release of Dark Matter, Newman’s first studio album of original songs in nine years, Don Henley of The Eagles calls him “the most misunderstood and underappreciated recording artist alive.” Before he became primarily a film composer, Newman wrote many brilliant, brave songs filled with social and political commentary about everything from American greed to racism.

Rather than share one of his new album’s worthy new songs — about everybody from Sonny Boy Williamson to Vladimir Putin — here’s one of Newman’s all-time classics written in 1972. In his typical fashion, this deceptively beautiful song is sung by an unsympathetic character: a slave trader making a disturbing, racist pitch to potential slaves to climb aboard his ship and go with him to America, a land of happiness and plenty where “every man is free.”

As Henley says of Newman, “This is music for thinking adults.” Enjoy.


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

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