H-2A + FUJ = muscle, forgetting 9M kids, work ’til you die

Monday, October 2, 2017




► In today’s Seattle Times — Foreign farmworkers’ unusual strike in Central Washington shows new labor muscle — Mexican workers’ strike against Larson Fruit was a rare flexing of bargaining muscle by an increasingly important part of the apple-industry labor force: Foreign guest workers who come to the U.S. under temporary H-2A visas and generally have been reluctant to protest for fear of being sent back home. The agreement was reached with the assistance of a Northwest farmworker union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia, and could signal a new phase of organizing efforts that in the past have largely been focused on U.S.-based workers.

► In The Stranger — UFCW 21, UNITE HERE Local 8 endorse Cary Moon for Seattle mayor — The split among labor players in the mayoral race continues with an announcement from UFCW 21, the largest private-sector union in the state, and hotel and hospitality UNITE HERE Local 8 endorsing Moon.

► In the (Longview) Daily News — Rising economy, contractor shortage boost cost of public works projects — Like many public works projects in the region these days, the Commerce avenue project cost a good deal more than the city had expected. There was only one bidder, and the streetscape work ended up costing nearly 30 percent more than the city’s estimate.





► In the (Longview) Daily News — Community leaders grapple with Millennium coal terminal decision — Ecology’s decision last week to deny a water quality certification for Millennium was a lightning rod throughout the community. Dejected coal supporters worry about what message this could send to other industries interested in locating in Washington. How will Cowlitz County will claw its way out of the economic doldrums? “It’s going to be tough to tell people to come here and bring your factory or build your project when you don’t know how long it’s going to take. It could be 3, 5, 6 years and then at the end it’s a toss of the coin whether you’ll get it or not,” said Sen. Dean Takko (D-Longview).




► In the LA Times — Time’s up: As CHIP expires unrenewed, Congress blows a chance to save healthcare for 9 million children (by Michael Hiltzik) — Funding for CHIP ran out on Saturday, and no vote on reestablishing the program’s $15-billion appropriation is expected for at least a week, probably longer. That’s the case even though CHIP is one of the few federal programs that has enjoyed unalloyed bipartisan support since its inception in 1997. The consequences will be dire in many states, which will have to curtail or even shut down their children’s health programs until funding is restored. Hanging in the balance is care for 9 million children and pregnant women in low-income households.

► In the News Tribune — Signs of sanity as Murray tries for health care deal  (editorial) — Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander have come out of their partisan trenches to lead the way forward on a bipartisan health care solution.

► In today’s NY Times — Actually, a health care deal is possible (editorial) — Two senators of different parties have resumed negotiations that offer a more productive path, one that could preserve the best of Obamacare while offering adjustments that both parties can accept.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Private immigration detention center must follow state laws (editorial) — GEO Group, the corporation running a for-profit immigration detention center in Tacoma, is exploiting workers by not paying them the state minimum wage.

► In the Columbia Basin Herald — Newhouse urges extension to DACA renewal deadline — Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Yakima) is urging the Department of Homeland Security to change the renewal deadline for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program beneficiaries. People who currently benefit from DACA are facing a strict Oct. 5 deadline for permit renewal. In response, Newhouse and other colleagues sent a letter to the DHS asking to extend the permit renewal deadline to Jan. 18, 2018, or until Congress has time to examine a legislative solution.

ALSO at The Stand — DREAMers’ renewals due Oct. 5; scholarships can cover fees

► In today’s NY Times — On ‘Dreamers’ deal, Democrats face a surprising foe: The Dreamers — The pressure from some immigrant activists to reject any compromise that would tighten border security has frustrated Democratic leaders, who recognize the political risks of being labeled the party of open borders.




► From Reuters — Health and safety rules targeted as Trump begins to slash red tape — A Reuters examination of rules published in the Federal Register, a U.S. government journal, shows that so far in 2017, agencies have proposed or finalized 25 deregulatory measures under the two-for-one requirement – a broad easing of rules that will affect workers from miners and farmers to pilots and crane operators.

► In today’s NY Times — Under Trump’s plan, tax cuts shrink over time for everyone but the richest — The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center released a preliminary analysis of President Trump’s tax plan on Friday, showing that the proposed tax cuts would get smaller over 10 years for all but the top 1 percent of earners.

► From Vox — Liberal activists fear these 3 Senate Democrats could back Trump on tax reform — They are West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp.

► In the Washington Post — How Trump’s time at his golf club hurt the response to Maria — As storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food, water and electricity, President Trump and his top aides said virtually nothing about it for four days while he fixated on public feuds with North Korea’s leader, Republicans in Congress and the NFL.

► In the Washington Post — Trump just proved he doesn’t understand Puerto Rico’s plight by lashing out at a mayor (by Aaron Blake) — This is who the president is. He doesn’t accept criticism and move on; he brings a bazooka to a knife fight — even when those wielding the knife are trying to save lives.




► From Salon — The fight for $7.25 — On Monday, the day that kicks off the Supreme Court’s new term, the justices will hear arguments in three consolidated cases with far-reaching implications for wage-earners. The cases are all about whether employers have the right to compel workers go through onerous individual arbitration proceedings in order to bring labor law claims. If the justices answer that question in the affirmative, then the affected workers will — as a practical matter — find it nearly impossible to win back pay in cases involving wage law violations.

► In today’s NY Times — Let wronged workers join together for justice (by David Freeman Engstrom) — Three far-reaching cases are scheduled to be argued on Monday at the Supreme Court. The question in these cases is whether workers are bound by company-imposed employment contracts requiring that they bring workplace complaints via arbitration rather than lawsuits, and that, further, they waive their right to bring these complaints in arbitration as class actions. The cases are among the most watched this term, and for good reason. Arbitration agreements with class-action waivers threaten the rights of the least powerful in America. Estimates are that as many as half of companies impose such agreements. This matters because workplace disputes, particularly those involving low-wage workers, aren’t usually worth enough money for a single wronged worker to pay a lawyer or court or arbitration costs. But aggregated, they become viable. If workers can’t join together, they very likely can’t seek vindication at all. The alternative to collective arbitration is no arbitration.




► In the Washington Post — ‘I’m going to work until I die’: The new reality of old age in America — People are living longer, more expensive lives, often without much of a safety net. As a result, record numbers of Americans older than 65 are working and millions of people are entering their golden years with fragile finances. Fundamental changes in the U.S. retirement system have shifted responsibility for saving from the employer to the worker, exacerbating the nation’s rich-poor divide. Polls show that most older people are more worried about running out of money than dying.

► From HuffPost — Starbucks under fire for giving less parental leave to hourly workers — Why does Starbucks think it’s OK to give its well-compensated salaried employees far better paid leave benefits than hourly workers who are already barely scraping by? On Monday, some of the company’s shareholders filed a resolution demanding an explanation.

► From Politico — Could America’s socialists become the Tea Party of the left? — No longer happy to languish in principled irrelevance, socialists are plotting a Sanders-like insurgency inside the Democratic Party.


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

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