Thursday, February 22, 2018
THE WAR ON UNIONS
► Long and wonky but… from the EPI — Janus and fair share fees — We examine the core group of organizations financing Janus v. AFSCME. By tracing the origins of these legal challenges, and explaining how the challenges target unions, we show that challenging fair share fees in the courts appears to be part of a broader billionaire-financed agenda to weaken unions and shift power away from ordinary workers… Conclusion: The legal attack on public-sector unions “fair share” or “agency” fees poses the greatest immediate threat to workers’ meaningful participation in our democracy. If unions are prohibited from collecting fees from workers they are required to represent, they will be forced to operate with fewer and fewer resources. This will lead to reduced power — at the bargaining table and in the political process. In a political system dominated by moneyed interests, workers are left with little power if they do not have an effective mechanism to pool their resources. It is profoundly undemocratic to elevate the objections of a minority over the democratically determined choices of the majority of workers. This principle is what is at stake in Janus. The decision in this case will determine the future of effective unions, democratic decision-making in the workplace, and the preservation of good, middle-class jobs in public employment.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand:
‘Right to Work’ is a cynical power grab (by SPEEA’s Stan Sorscher)
► From the National Catholic Reporter — Catholic response to the ‘Janus’ labor union case — Leo, John Paul, Francis, and all other popes of the 20th and 21st centuries have insisted on the centrality of labor. It is bedrock teaching of the Catholic magisterium that labor has rights that must be respected by public authorities. It behooves a Supreme Court, whose majority is Catholic, to take seriously the teaching of the church.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — They agree on a tax cut and now have to decide how to do it (by Jerry Cornfield) — Getting enough Republican votes to access the reserves for one year of property tax relief shouldn’t be extraordinarily tough. Doing it for two years will be a harder sell, though not impossible. Capital gains is another story. Even if it passes in the House, Republicans and probably some moderate Democrats in the Senate are not likely to embrace it given all the dough piling up in state coffers. But who knows. No one envisioned that months after their grueling negotiations on increasing the property tax, lawmakers would be debating the best means of bringing it down.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Bill would give state initiative law needed tweak (editorial) — The bill would require paid signature gatherers to provide names and other information to the state.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Legislators pushing to make some of their records secret — Facing a judge’s ruling that they’re violating the state Public Records Act, lawmakers will use special rules Thursday to begin pushing through a change to the law that would allow them to continue hiding many of their records and set a process to release others.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — State colleges could also ‘ban the box’ — Washington’s public colleges and universities would have to “ban the box” on their initial student application under a bill considered by a House panel Wednesday.
► In today’s News Tribune — Allegation about Tacoma lawmaker’s behavior prompts review at state Capitol — House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said Wednesday that state Rep. David Sawyer (D-Tacoma) was also restricted from contacting some staff.
► In today’s Seattle Times — As debate heats up in Olympia over guns, a GOP state lawmaker invents a massacre — The remarks by GOP House Minority Leader Rep. Dan Kristiansen (R-Snohomish) about a Norwegian knife attack that never happened came as Democrats pushed for new gun regulations in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.
► In today’s Seattle Times — If you invent mass knife attacks, you lose the gun-control debate (editorial) — By insisting that lawmakers solve a range of complex societal problems — from depression to poor parenting — before imposing additional limits on firearms, Kristiansen and other like-minded politicians are promising only one thing: Continued inaction.
► In today’s NY Times — 11 of the most dramatic moments in a day of confrontation over guns — It was a day of tense exchanges, emotion-packed speeches and confrontation as lawmakers, students and parents sparred on Wednesday over what to do about shootings in American schools.
LOCAL COVERAGE of walkouts, rallies and events by students in Bellingham, Cheney, Everett, Kennewick, Kitsap County, Moses Lake, Silverdale, Spokane, and Wenatchee. Meanwhile, the Classical Christian Academy, a small private school in Post Falls, Idaho, is proceeding with a fundraising auction of an AR-15.
► Today from AP — California school shooting plot foiled, assault rifles found
► In today’s Washington Post — This photo of Trump’s notes captures his empathy deficit better than anything — President Trump held a worthwhile listening session Wednesday featuring a range of views on how to combat gun violence in schools…. After what appear to be four questions he planned to ask those assembled, No. 5 is an apparent reminder for Trump to tell people, “I hear you.”
► In today’s Wall St. Journal — White House reaches out to labor unions on trade policy — President Trump sought input Wednesday from the largest labor unions in the U.S. on trade policy, including the talks to renegotiate the NAFTA. Trump met at the White House with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and the presidents of the Teamsters, UAW, USW, CWA and the IAM. The union leaders described the meeting as “very productive.”
EDITOR’S QUESTION — At the end of the meeting, did Trump say “I hear you”?
► From AP — Investors are winners as companies lay out tax-saving plans — The biggest tax rewrite in three decades was sold by its Republican backers as a way to help American workers, and there have been plenty of announcements about bonuses and plans to buy equipment and make other capital investments to improve productivity and raise wages. But much more money has been earmarked for dividends and buybacks.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — After border visit, Gonzaga students talk immigration with McMorris Rodgers — A group of Gonzaga University students, fresh from a visit to the Mexico border last month, questioned the need for a border wall during a Wednesday meeting with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th), who reiterated her support for President Donald Trump’s request for $1.6 billion that included plans for a wall.
► From CNN — Melania Trump’s parents’ immigration status could be thanks to ‘chain migration’ — The Slovenian parents of first lady Melania Trump are legal permanent residents of the United States, according to the lawyer representing them in the process — raising questions about whether they are living in the U.S. by the very means President Donald Trump has strongly criticized and sought to end.
► From Vox — Trump’s quiet campaign to bring back preexisting conditions — The Trump administration is quietly dismantling the Affordable Care Act, taking a series of regulatory steps that will make it easier for insurance companies to sell plans that exclude patients with preexisting conditions or don’t cover basic services like maternity care, mental health treatment, and prescription drugs. Republicans weren’t able to repeal Obamacare in Congress. Now the Trump administration appears to be settling for the second-best thing: weakening Obamacare’s insurance regulations, changes that will hurt Americans who are older and sicker while benefiting the young and the healthy.
► From The Hill — Liberal think tank releases universal coverage plan — The Center for American Progress plan, called Medicare Extra, would provide government-run health insurance modeled on Medicare for people currently on Medicare, Medicaid, or in the individual ObamaCare market. Notably, it would preserve employer-sponsored health insurance, which is popular among many middle-class Americans, although it would give employers and employees the option of joining the government-run Medicare Extra option. By leaving employer-sponsored insurance as an option, the plan does not go as far as Sen. Bernie Sanders‘s (I-Vt.) “Medicare for All” proposal. It could also make the CAP plan at least somewhat more politically feasible.
► From WCHS — Teachers rally across West Virginia, flock to State Capitol for work stoppage — Thousands of teachers and school personnel in West Virginia began the first day of a two-day walkout Thursday, ignoring a threat by the state attorney general that their action is illegal and showing continued dissatisfaction over pay and health insurance issues. Outside of Riverside High School, teachers chanted “fed up and fired up,” hoisted signs and were greeted by honks from passing motorists.
Classes cancelled in all 55 #WestVirginia public school districts. #Teachers across the state have walked out to call for better wages. More from @wchs8fox11: https://t.co/UznrafUuBE https://t.co/CGoTDhVT8r
— Morning Express with Robin Meade (@MorningExp) February 22, 2018
► From Bloomberg — Airlines ‘flush with money’ spur pilots’ quest for lost pensions — Airline pilots, still resentful over pensions yanked away in a wave of industry bankruptcies, see growing company profits as a chance to reclaim some of those lost benefits. Unions at American Airlines Group Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. are studying ways to reconstitute or replace retirement plans that were scrapped or frozen during the carriers’ past financial struggles.
► In today’s NY Times — Complaints about nursing home evictions rise, and regulators take note — One reason for the evictions, legal advocates say, is that the residents’ better-paying Medicare coverage is ending and will be replaced by Medicaid.
► In today’s Seattle Times — The false fear of rising wages and risky inflation (by Jon Talton) — When wages rose 3 percent in January, the narrative became that this was destabilizing the market. The reason: Investors feared inflation would emerge, hurting stock prices. Apparently the problem is now that most American workers are rolling in so much wealth? I don’t think so.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.