Monday, February 12, 2018
► From Teamsters Local 174 — School bus drivers ratify new agreement that ends 9-day strike — The new agreement is an overwhelming victory for the group of more than 400 bus drivers. Most of them did not receive healthcare through their employer and did not have access to a reasonable retirement plan. All of that changes with the ratification of this agreement. “This is life-changing,” said First Student driver Olivia Moore, who has been struggling to receive treatment for cancer despite having no health insurance. “This is what we have been fighting for. I can go to the doctor. I can retire someday. I can’t even tell you how much that means.” “I’m so happy right now,” said First Student driver Chrystale Holiwell. “We’ve never had anything like this before. I’m in tears.”
“I am so proud of this group for their incredible courage, strength, and solidarity,” said Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “We are also thankful to the support from the community – the parents, the teachers, the politicians and all our sisters and brothers in the labor movement who brought strength to the Teamsters on the picket line. Everyone who made a phone call, walked a picket line, sent an email, or just honked their horn as they drove by – without you, we wouldn’t be here right now. This is an important and historic victory the entire labor movement can celebrate!”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Do YOU want to find out how to stand together with your co-workers to win a fair return for your work? Contact a union organizer today!
► In today’s Seattle Times — Strike ends: Seattle school-bus drivers approve new contract — The tentative agreement includes an expanded benefits package and comprehensive health-care coverage for the bus drivers and their families, Teamsters and First Student said in a joint statement Friday.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Consider bringing Seattle school buses in-house (editorial) — Seattle Public Schools should consider pulling student bus service in-house so they can negotiate directly with bus drivers, and their union and avoid future strikes.
► In the (Longview) Daily News — KapStone profits jump 182% with help from GOP tax bill — KapStone Vice President Andrea Tarbox said the company has not awarded any worker bonuses so far, declining to comment on how the company plans to invest the tax windfall, which is nearly double KapStone’s net income of $86 million in 2016.
► In the Spokesman-Review — Washington nurses, health care workers are dying of opioid overdoses — A Spokesman-Review analysis of Washington death records, health care provider licenses and Department of Health disciplinary records found at least 33 medical professionals in the state have died from opioid overdoses from 2010 to 2015, the most recent year that overdose death data is available. Most of the deceased are not physicians. They’re nurses, pharmacy technicians and, in some cases, chemical dependency counselors.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing’s biggest trade fight could spark a U.S. confrontation with Europe — Despite its loss in U.S. trade court against Bombardier, Boeing believes 2018 will be a turning point in its lengthy WTO challenge to Airbus over government subsidies. The threat of hefty tariffs could redraw the playing field — or trigger a trade war among traditional allies.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Emboldened by new majority, Senate Democrats set fast legislative pace — The Democrats are voting morning, afternoon and sometimes late at night. Bills that previously languished in committees have gotten committee votes. Now just past the session’s halfway mark, they’re pointing to a string of victories.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Sen. Cleveland rebukes critics of unions in powerful floor speech
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Hundreds of millions of dollars at stake on school ballots — Ballots are due Tuesday in an election with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in school levies and bonds.
► In the Seattle Times — The property-tax bomb they just dropped? They could diffuse it if they wanted to (by Danny Westneat) — Rep. Kristine Lytton (D-Anacortes) has proposed what Democrats should have pushed last year — a tax on capital gains, with the revenue, nearly $1 billion a year, used to reduce the property tax. HB 2967 would levy a 7 percent tax on the sale of investments such as stocks and real estate (though not your primary residence.) It would exempt the first $50,000 of gains or profit. So it’s basically a windfall profits tax: One analysis estimated that 92 percent of it would fall on the truly rich, those making at least $600,000 a year… Local Democrats love to emote about the burdens of the working and middle classes. They run everything at the Capitol now, and so have the means to try to fix it. It’s a great test case of whether Democrats are all talk.
► From The Hill — Senate braces for showdown over ‘Dreamers’ — The Senate is barreling toward a battle on immigration with no clear end game in sight. The chamber is expected to turn to the issue Monday evening, but where the debate goes after it begins is anyone’s guess.
► From Politico — McConnell’s immigration gamble — No one knows the GOP leader’s endgame, nor how he personally prefers the stalemate over Dreamers be resolved. It’s highly unusual for a Senate majority leader, particularly one as calculating as McConnell, to bring a divisive issue to the floor with no clearly intended result in sight.
► From TPM — DACA may die in three weeks, and Democrats have no leverage left — A sweeping $400 billion budget passed both chambers of Congress in the wee hours of Friday morning with a mix of Democratic and Republican votes, leaving those anxious to protect roughly 700,000 young immigrants without a way to force a vote to restore the legal protections President Trump revoked last year.
OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
► From AP — Trump won’t declassify Democratic memo on Russia probe — Citing national security concerns, the White House has notified the House Intelligence Committee that President Donald Trump is “unable” to declassify a memo drafted by Democrats that counters GOP allegations about abuse of government surveillance powers in the FBI’s Russia probe. The president’s rejection of the Democratic memo is in contrast to his enthusiastic embrace of releasing the Republican document, which he pledged before reading to make public.
► In today’s NY Times — Is Devin Nunes obstructing justice? (by Norman Eisen, Caroline Fredrickson, and Laurence H. Tribe) — By writing and releasing the memo, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee may just have landed himself, and his staff members, in the middle of Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.
► From HuffPost — GOP lawmaker Devin Nunes reportedly made his own fake news website
► In today’s NY Times — Trump’s infrastructure plan: Modest federal incentives, facing long odds — President Trump on Monday will propose offering $100 billion in federal incentives to encourage cities and states to invest in road, bridge and other building projects, the centerpiece of a plan to spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next decade without devoting significant federal money. But in Congress, many are skeptical of any plan that fails to create a dedicated new funding stream to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Lawmakers are also doubtful that such a small federal investment will be sufficient to spur an infrastructure spending boom.
► In today’s Seattle Times — America’s railroad blues are self-inflicted wounds (by Jon Talton) — Even if human error is ultimately to blame (for recent railroad crashes), the incidents point to the uniquely complex, bifurcated and backward state of American railroads. The biggest problem sewn into the creation of Amtrak was the lack of a reliable and adequate federal subsidy. As a result, Amtrak’s funding help is the source of an annual fight in Congress. Republicans, especially, insist that the railroad become self-sustaining, even though every form of transportation is subsidized.
► In the NY Times — The brutal life of a sanitation worker (by Carl Zimring) — Nationwide, sanitation and recycling work remains more dangerous than policing or firefighting; in 2016, only loggers, fishermen, airplane pilots and roofers suffered a higher rate of job-related fatalities in the United States than did waste workers… Fifty years after the Memphis strike, workers continue to risk their lives across the United States to handle garbage and recycling. The solution in 1968 was collective bargaining, and it is the solution today as well… At the conclusion of his final speech, Dr. King asked, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” It’s time to ask that question again.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — 50 years later, a new Poor People’s Campaign (by Michael Honey)
► From In These Times — Here’s how a Supreme Court decision to gut public sector unions could backfire on the right — Janus v. AFSCME, which begins oral arguments on Feb. 26, is the culmination of a years-long right-wing plot to financially devastate public-sector unions. And a Supreme Court ruling against AFSCME would indeed have that effect, by banning public-sector unions from collecting mandatory fees from the workers they are compelled to represent. But if the Supreme Court embraces the weaponization of free speech as a cudgel to beat up on unions, the possibility of other, unintended consequences is beginning to excite some union advocates and stir fear among conservative constitutional scholars. The ruling could both wildly increase workers’ bargaining power and clog the lower courts with First Amendment challenges to routine uses of taxpayer money. At a minimum, it has the potential to turn every public sector workplace dispute into a constitutional controversy—and one Midwest local is already laying plans to maximize the chaos this could cause.
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