Friday, February 23, 2018
THE WAR ON UNIONS
► From In These Times — Behind Janus: Documents reveal decade-long plot to kill public-sector unions — In the past decade, a small group of people working for deep-pocketed corporate interests, conservative think tanks and right-wing foundations have bankrolled a series of lawsuits to end what they call “forced unionization.” They say they fight in the name of “free speech,” “worker rights” and “workplace freedom.” In briefs before the court, they present their public face: carefully selected and appealing plaintiffs like Illinois child-support worker Mark Janus and California schoolteacher Rebecca Friedrichs. The language they use is relentlessly pro-worker. Behind closed doors, a different face is revealed. Those same people cheer “defunding” and “bankrupting” unions to deal a “mortal blow” to progressive politics in America.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand:
‘Right to Work’ is a cynical power grab (by SPEEA’s Stan Sorscher)
► In today’s NY Times — A Supreme Court showdown could shrink unions’ power — Workers in a small Illinois town are worried that a Supreme Court decision curbing union power would hurt their community.
► From KNKX — Workers contaminated with radioactive waste at Hanford climbs to 10 — As many as 11 workers may have ingested or inhaled radioactive contamination at the Plutonium Finishing Plant demolition site at Hanford in southeast Washington state. Ten workers are confirmed to have tested positive and one needs more testing to confirm the results. That’s up from the previous count of six. In the good news column: federal contractors found no contamination inside 53 government vehicles that were being re-checked. Workers had enacted a “stop work” this week until the insides of all the vehicles were gone over. Work is now back on.
► From KUOW — Our building boom helps ex-cons find work, shelter and brotherhood — The Seattle area needs more housing. There’s not enough construction workers to build all the houses we need. Meanwhile, ex-prisoners have a hard time finding work and a place to live. One woman and her company found a way to tackle all these problems at the same time.
► From AP — Public records exemption for lawmakers advances — State lawmakers are advancing quickly on a bill to exempt themselves from the state’s voter-approved Public Records Act, with the House and Senate expected to take final votes on the measure Friday, just two days after the bill was introduced.
► In today’s News Tribune — Puyallup lawmaker says she won’t seek reelection to state House — State Rep. Melanie Stambaugh (R-Puyallup) says she won’t seek reelection in 2018, ending her time in office after four years and sparking what could be a contentious campaign to replace her in the state House.
► From Crosscut — Immigration officials subpoena Seattle City Light for customer info — In late January, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement approached Seattle City Light with an administrative subpoena, demanding information on a particular customer location, including phone numbers and information on related accounts. The request set off alarm bells among department officials who quickly took the matter to the Mayor’s Office.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Marchers brave icy conditions, rally by candlelight for ‘Dreamers’ — About 200 Spokanites attended a vigil and march Thursday night for Dreamers and immigrant families that began at First Presbyterian Church. Faith leaders from several Spokane churches and World Relief prayed for congressional action to help Dreamers and their families stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation, then marched to the Monroe Street Bridge, forming a line on the pedestrian walkway and holding prayer candles in the icy dark.
► From Vox — America’s immigration agency removes “nation of immigrants” from its mission statement — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services isn’t for immigrants anymore. That’s not an exaggeration. USCIS, the federal agency responsible for issuing visas and green cards and for naturalizing immigrants as U.S. citizens, has unveiled a new mission statement that strips out all references to immigrants themselves — including taking out a line that called the U.S. a “nation of immigrants.”
► From The Hill — Trump: Affordable Care Act being wiped out ‘piece by piece’ — President Trump argued Friday that the Affordable Care Act is being “wiped out” in a “piece by piece” way despite the failure of the GOP Congress to repeal the law. Trump, speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, pointed to a number of actions that Republicans have taken against the law, including repealing the individual mandate to buy health insurance as part of the tax-cut bill. Experts have warned that steps taken by Trump could damage the stability of the law and raise premiums.
► In today’s NY Times — Trump suggests teachers get a ‘bit of a bonus’ to carry guns — President Trump again promoted arming specially trained teachers, saying some could get bonuses, but rejected active-shooter drills to prepare for a rampage.
► From ABC News — Teachers’ groups reject President Trump’s suggestion to arm educators — AFT President Randi Weingarten said there was a telephone town hall with 60,000 teachers Wednesday night and “the response was universal, even from educators who are gun owners: teachers don’t want to be armed, we want to teach.”
► In today’s NY Times — Let the teachers teach (editorial) — Even police officers often fail to hit their target when they shoot. How much worse would such an unintended consequence be in a crowded school?
► From The Nation — Postal Service workers are shouldering the burden for Amazon — As the Seattle-based tech giant commands an ever greater share of the retail market, the number of packages handled by the USPS keeps increasing. But employees say Postal Service management hasn’t responded to the surge in heavy items by investing in staffing or infrastructure. Instead, its leadership has cut costs and resorted to what union leaders call “management by stress.”
► From Public News Service — Report: Local democracy ‘run over’ by Lyft, Uber — The National Employment Law Project’s “Uber State Interference” report details how transportation network companies have bought, bullied and bamboozled their way into states. Report co-author Rebecca Smith, senior counsel for the project, said Uber and Lyft have more lobbyists nationwide than Amazon, Microsoft and Walmart combined.
► From The Hill — Missouri governor indicted for felony invasion of privacy — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was indicted by a St. Louis grand jury Thursday on a felony invasion of privacy charge. The indictment stems from allegations he threatened to release a naked photo of a woman he was having an affair with if she revealed their relationship.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Greitens signed a law making Missouri a “right-to-work” state shortly after taking office last year. Unions filed a referendum and successfully collected the needed signatures to suspend the law’s effect until Missourians vote on it this November.
► In today’s St. Louis P-D — Greitens cannot defend himself in court while running the state. Resign, governor. (editorial) — Greitens cannot effectively represent Missouri as governor while defending himself against the serious charges that caused him to be led away by sheriff’s deputies Thursday. He should resign.
► On this day in 1940, Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics to “This Land Is Your Land” in his room at the Hanover House Hotel in New York City. He wrote it because he was sick of hearing Kate Smith singing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” on the radio all the time. Then Guthrie promptly set the song aside. The earliest known recording of it was four years later in 1944 and it features “subversive” verses that were later omitted when the song was popularized during the new folk movement of the 1960s. One of those verses: “There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me / Sign was painted, it said ‘private property’ / But on the back side it didn’t say nothing / This land was made for you and me.” Most interpret that verse as a protest against the vast income inequalities and the sufferings of millions during America’s Great Depression.
Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger sang an uplifting version of the song at President Obama’s inauguration. But in the context of what’s happening in our country today, The Entire Staff of The Stand prefers this somber version recorded by The Boss during his 1985 “Born in the U.S.A.” tour, in which he laments America’s disappearing industrial jobs. Enjoy.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.