Monday, February 26, 2018
DAY OF ACTION TODAY — Union solidarity events statewide as Janus case is heard Monday — Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on Janus v. AFSCME, a case that aims to take away the freedom of public employees to join together in strong, all-in unions. So union members across Washington state will be demonstrating their solidarity today at rallies, banner drops, leafleting, and other events with the message: when we stand strong in our unions, we have the power to win for our communities and our families. Join us at one of these events today!
THE WAR ON UNIONS
► From The Guardian — The future of American unions hangs in the balance — The case, Janus v AFSCME, promises to be the most consequential judicial decision for the U.S. labor movement in a generation. The Republican-leaning court is widely expected to overturn 40 years of legal precedence by outlawing a major source of funding for public employees’ unions, called agency fees. The fact that few people know what these fees are works in the favor of conservative groups which have been pushing anti-union legislation and lawsuits under the guise of defending workers against “compulsory union membership.” There is, in fact, no such thing: nowhere in the U.S. can workers be compelled to join a union, nor contribute money to unions’ political activities.
ALSO at The Stand:
‘Right to Work’ is a cynical power grab (by SPEEA’s Stan Sorscher)
TODAY — Check out this Twitter thread by Charlotte Garden, a Constitutional/Labor Law Professor at Seattle University, who attended this morning’s Supreme Court oral arguments and describes how it went.
SATURDAY — Thousands of union members and their supporters held solidarity rallies in Chicago, Columbus, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego, St. Paul, Wilkes-Barre, and many other cities.
► In today’s NY Times — Behind a key anti-labor case, a web of conservative donors — A foundation bankrolled by Richard Uihlein, an Illinois industrialist, who has spent millions backing Republican candidates in recent years, including Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois. Tax filings show that Uihlein has also been the chief financial backer in recent years of the Liberty Justice Center, which represents Mark Janus, the Illinois child support specialist who is the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case.
In the NY Daily News — Union workers rally ahead of Supreme Court hearing on organized labor ‘agency fees’ — Hundreds of union workers gathered in lower Manhattan Saturday to chant, cheer and wave signs in a show of unity ahead of a Supreme Court hearing that could have a profound effect on organized labor.
► From HuffPost — The Supreme Court should honor Dr. King’s legacy on labor rights (by Sen. Cory Booker) — Throughout our history, generations of Americans ― from Frederick Douglass to Samuel Gompers, Dolores Huerta and The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ― have gone up against entrenched interests to protect and activate the power of American workers, recognizing that a strong, fair economy is built on the strength of its workers. The issue before the Supreme Court this week is fundamental. It’s about whether to uphold or reject this legacy. It’s about whether the nation’s highest court agrees that workers of all races, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds should have the ability to join together to fight for better wages and working conditions for themselves and for all Americans.
► In today’s NY Times — The consequences of judicial activism on the Supreme Court (by Moshe Marvit) — If the Supreme Court overrules Abood v. Detroit Board of Education on First Amendment grounds, as expected, it recognizes a constitutional right to withhold payment for matters one disagrees with. This diminishes the government’s interest in efficiently managing its work force, and it will turn every minor payment and every workplace matter into a federal case.
► From AP — State legislators exempt themselves from records law — It took just two days to introduce and overwhelmingly approve a proposal that will make some of their records public in the future while circumventing a recent court ruling that found they were already fully subject to the state’s broad public disclosure laws.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand:
Public Records Act expands disclosure, but protects privacy (by Sen. Jamie Pedersen)
► From the Olympian — Can soaring prescription drug costs be controlled? Some state legislators think so — The cost of some prescription drugs and their impact on health care affordability have come under scrutiny in the state Legislature as lawmakers try to introduce more transparency into the drug-pricing process. Three bills aimed at freezing or lowering the cost of prescription drugs have been introduced in the 2018 legislative session. All three cleared a Friday legislative cutoff, including one contentious effort to require drug manufacturers to share data and justify price increases with state officials.
► In the News Tribune — Multiple women accuse Tacoma lawmaker of unprofessional, inappropriate behavior — In recent weeks, eight women have said Rep. David Sawyer (D-Tacoma) has crossed personal and professional boundaries, sometimes repeatedly, and accused him of engaging in behavior before and after he joined the Legislature that ranged from inappropriate to harassing.
► In the Seattle Times — BNSF sent crews into a treacherous Stampede Pass blizzard, union tells WA lawmakers — A train workers’ union told a harrowing tale Thursday about ascending Stampede Pass in a blizzard, where a train broke apart, and a locomotive engineer spent 10 hours stranded inside the tunnel. “While waiting, we could hear the two crews ahead of us talking about hitting numerous trees and how much snow was coming down,” conductor Mark McGaffey, of Tacoma, testified to the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee Thursday, recalling a Dec. 21, 2015, shift. The hearing follows the Dec. 18 Amtrak Cascades derailment near Nisqually that killed three passengers and revived political interest in safety.
► In the Tri-City Herald — Tri-City firefighters are saving you money. Here’s how. — The firefighters are the second class of recruits taking part in a local training academy that started last year. This year, Richland recruits are joining those from Pasco. It is a cost-saving switch for departments, which had been sending recruits to the Washington State Patrol’s academy in North Bend.
► In the Columbian — Evergreen teachers union hosts film showing — The Evergreen Education Association is hosting a film screening of “Girl Rising,” a documentary about the power of educating girls around the world. The free showing will be at 6:30 p.m. on March 8 at Evergreen High School.
► Today from the Washington Post — Supreme Court declines to enter controversy over ‘dreamers’ — The Supreme Court on Monday declined to enter the national controversy over “dreamers,” turning down the Trump administration’s request to immediately review lower court decisions that keep in place the program that protects undocumented immigrants brought here as children from deportation. Federal district judges in California and New York have issued nationwide injunctions against ending the program, siding with states and organizations challenging the administration’s rescission. The court orders effectively block the Trump administration from ending the program on March 5, as planned.
► In today’s NY Times — Well-heeled investors reap the tax cut bonanza (editorial) — Businesses are buying back stock to boost prices, giving dividends and pursuing mergers, not raising wages.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Who’d a guessed?! (Besides everybody who paid attention.)
► In the Washington Post — Manufacturer that cut jobs deal with Trump gets $2.5 billion Pentagon contract without competition — United Technologies handed Donald Trump bragging rights in late 2016 when, just weeks after he won the election, the company publicly credited the soon-to-be president with striking a deal to save hundreds of Indiana furnace factory jobs that seemed destined to move to Mexico. In exchange for $7 million in state tax credits, the firm agreed to retain 770 of roughly 1,400 positions at a Carrier plant and send the rest to Monterrey, Mexico. More than a year into Trump’s presidency, the Defense Department recently gave the company’s aeronautics subsidiary a $2.5 billion contract without competition to provide equipment to the armed services.
► In the Washington Post — As NAFTA talks go into their seventh round, Canada isn’t optimistic — Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s calls for unity, there are signs that the trade talks have strained relations between the United States and Canada as the neighbors remain far apart on issues.
► In the Washington Post — After call with Trump turns testy over border wall, Mexico’s president shelves plan to visit White House — Tentative plans for Enrique Peña Nieto to make his first visit to the White House to meet with President Trump were scuttled this week after a call between them ended in an impasse over Trump’s promised border wall and who would pay for it, U.S. and Mexican officials said.
► From Politico — California Democrats decline to endorse Feinstein — Riven by conflict between progressive and more moderate forces at the state party’s annual convention, delegates favored Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s progressive rival, state Senate leader Kevin de León, over Feinstein by a 54 percent to 37 percent margin. Neither candidate reached the 60 percent threshold required to receive the party endorsement for 2018.
OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
► In the NY Times — Two weeks after Trump blocked it, Democrats’ rebuttal of GOP memo is released — The document was intended by Democrats to offer a point-by-point refutation of what it called the “transparent” attempt by President Trump’s allies on the House Intelligence Committee to undermine the congressional and special counsel investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.
► From Vox — The Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes memo tears it apart (by )– Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) quotes key FBI documents that explicitly contradict the Nunes memo’s core arguments. Any fair-minded observer who reads these two documents side-by-side can only conclude one thing: Nunes is either deeply misinformed or straight-up lying.
► From AP — Day 3 of teacher’s strike closes all West Virginia schools — A teacher’s strike is keeping public schools closed for a third day in West Virginia. The state Department of Education’s website shows all school districts are closed in all 55 counties Monday morning. Gov. Jim Justice has signed teacher pay raises of 2 percent next year and 1 percent the following two years. But West Virginia’s teacher pay ranks 48th in the nation, and teachers say the increases are too stingy, especially as health care costs more.
► In today’s Washington Post — The Amazon headquarters search mystery has been solved! Or has it? — As anticipation builds, new clues surface seemingly every day about where Amazon is headed, one revelation overtaking the next. So why not indulge? Here’s a sample of guesses.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.