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H-2A ‘servitude’ | FFers taint Supreme Court | Another DACA win

Thursday, March 1, 2018




► From KNKX — Does a foreign worker program verge on ‘indentured servitude’? A debate simmers in Washington state — Recent high-profile lawsuits have thrust the state into a debate about the benefits and shortcomings of the H-2A visa program, which allows farmers to import temporary workers from other countries to make up for labor shortages at home. To farmworker advocates, the cases point to inherent flaws in the program that leave foreign workers isolated and vulnerable to abuse.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Minority groups call for resignation of state DOL director for cooperation with ICE — A number of groups are calling for the resignation of Pat Kohler, the state Department of Licensing’s director, in the wake of news that the agency shared drivers’ personal information with federal immigration agents, despite Gov. Jay Inslee’s order prohibiting state agencies from doing so.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Who can beat Republican Dino Rossi? Democratic rivals jostle in pivotal 8th CD — Five Democrats in the 8th Congressional District race faced off in a debate that showcased broad agreement on issues from tighter gun restrictions to expanded government-sponsored health care.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — SFCC acting president resigns amid allegations of sexual harassment — Darren Pitcher, the acting president of Spokane Falls Community College, has resigned amid allegations of workplace sexual harassment.




► From KUOW — Inslee faces immense pressure to veto public records bill — Will he or won’t he? That’s the question as the governor faces immense pressure to veto a bill that exempts the Legislature from the state’s Public Records Act. Inslee has until midnight Thursday to decide. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, Inslee’s office said it had received more than 8,000 emails and over 4,000 calls on the issue. The governor’s staff called the volume “unprecedented.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — On KXLY news radio this morning, Inslee said he would be making an announcement later today on this.

► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘The fast-fast-fast-track’: Lawmakers rushed secrecy plan to beat deadlines — Some lawmakers were alarmed by the process and how quickly the legislation advanced. Staff in the Legislature and the governor’s office were also taken aback. Lawmakers, however, saw a need for urgency.

ALSO at The Stand:

By ignoring process, ’emergency’ disclosure bill promotes cynicism (by Nick Licata)

Public Records Act expands disclosure, but protects privacy (by Sen. Jamie Pedersen)

► In the (Everett) Herald — Area projects get boost in proposed state road budgets — Efforts to ease congestion on Highway 9 through Clearview, to slow drivers on Highway 530 in Darrington and revitalize Main Street in Mountlake Terrace are among several area projects getting a financial boost in spending plans under consideration by the Legislature.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Tax break could bring more data centers to state (editorial) — Currently, the state is losing potential IT construction and maintenance jobs to Oregon. An estimated $1.9 billion has been invested in Hillsboro data centers since 2011, only a fraction of that has been built in Western Washington. That’s a significant loss of a range of jobs, including electrical and IT contractors, that would go into construction of the data centers, followed by steady employment for maintenance and regular upgrades of the centers.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Senate OKs teen voter pre-registration — Washington could soon allow, and even encourage, 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote so that they will be on the rolls and start getting ballots as soon as they turn 18. The Senate gave final approval and sent to Gov. Jay Inslee a bill that supporters said would allow them to sign up for future ballots at the most common place people register – when getting a driver’s license.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Baumgartner to run for Spokane County treasurer — Sen. Mike Baumgartner (R-Spokane) will not run for re-election this fall and instead will run for Spokane County treasurer.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Last year, Baumgartner was the sole sponsor of a Senate bill to make Washington a “Right to Work” (for less) state. He has also sponsored bills to promote lawsuits against unions, block cities from enacting higher minimum wages, weaken prevailing wage standards, require laid-off workers to do community service (you know, like criminals) before collecting unemployment benefits, privatize public services, and privatize the state workers’ compensation system (an idea voters soundly rejected just a few years ago). He will be missed in Olympia… by Freedom Foundation strongman Tom McCabe. Which brings us to…




► MUST-READ in today’s NY Times — The Supreme Court’s power play against labor (by Linda Greenhouse) — There is a major mystery that goes to the heart of the Janus case: how Justices Alito and Kennedy, with all their years of experience, could have permitted their intense dislike of organized labor to strip them of judicious inhibition and drive them to act as advocates and even something very close to bullies… Trying to understand the unseemly anger radiating from the bench, I came up with two theories. Under one theory, the anti-union justices are simply angry at having to go through this exercise again when they came so close two years ago, with victory snatched from them by Justice Scalia’s death. In my second theory, these justices are responding to accounts in the press and elsewhere of the intensely political nature of this case, financed by right-wing donors who have spent years looking for an opportunity to cripple organized labor. A brief filed in the case by two Democratic senators, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, is unusually explicit in recounting how “this case is not only bizarre in its procedural history, it is part of a broader special-interest campaign spanning multiple cases that departs from the ordinary course of litigation in multiple ways.”

This remarkable brief reproduces a fund-raising letter from one group, the Freedom Foundation, which proclaims that thanks to this case and specifically to the arrival of Justice Gorsuch, “The Supreme Court is about to hand us the opportunity of a lifetime.” The letter adds that “we’ve been pointing toward this moment for our entire existence” and asks for financial help “to take advantage of the expected 5-4 decision for freedom.” The two senators — one of whom, Senator Blumenthal, was once a Supreme Court law clerk — tell the justices that “these bold predictions, which can only taint the court’s institutional standing, surely must disconcert any member of the public who cares about the judiciary’s impartiality.”

► In today’s Washington Post — Conservatives are using the Supreme Court to destroy unions (by E.J. Dionne) — A 5-to-4 anti-labor ruling would remind us why Senate Republicans refused even to consider Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination for the seat now occupied by Justice Neil Gorsuch. It would reveal a truly activist court mired in politics — and a long way from Roberts’s vision of judges who only call balls and strikes.

► In the USA Today — Supreme Court Janus case is bigger than unions. Upward mobility is at stake. (by Neera Tanden) — The case before the Supreme Court threatens the freedom of millions of Americans working in the public sector to bargain for decent pay, better benefits and a voice in their workplace. But the court’s decision won’t just affect government employees. Unions help boost equality and build our nation’s middle class.




► From CNN — Court hands DACA recipients another victory — Young immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children have won another legal victory. A federal judge in California ruled Monday that the government can’t revoke DACA recipients’ work permits or other protections without giving them notice and a chance to defend themselves. The ruling in a California district court marks the third time a lower court has ruled against the administration’s handling of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

ALSO at The Stand — DREAM nurse speaks out to save DACA (Sept. 19, 2017) — Jessica is one of the nurses in Washington state who is undocumented and has a work permit only because of the DACA program. The day Trump said he was going to end DACA, Jessica wrote that she would continue to be the best nurse she can…

“Because my patients do not care what documentation I have as I hold their hand and cry with them after that terminal diagnosis. Because my patient’s family does not care what color my skin is as I give CPR to their loved one. Because my patients do not care about my accent as I educate them about their chronic condition. Because my patients do not care about where I am really from when I’m taking care of them.”

► From the AFL-CIO — Time to stop tax breaks for outsourcing — It makes little sense for the U.S. government to provide tax breaks to companies that outsource America’s jobs, and yet the recently passed Republican tax law makes the problem worse, it doesn’t solve it. That’s why Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) are introducing the “No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act.”

► From Politico — At $2.3 trillion cost, Trump tax cuts leave big gap — Between new cost estimates and the White House’s own budget numbers, the wheels are coming off Republican claims that President Donald Trump’s tax cuts will pay for themselves by generating increased growth and government revenues over the next decade. Politico’s own calculations, working entirely from data in the 2018 and 2019 budgets, indicate that the added revenues generated by the tax cuts themselves would fall substantially short of matching $2.3 trillion. For the years 2018 to 2027, the shortfall ranges from $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion.

ALSO at The Stand — Ads warn of GOP plan to cut Social Security, Medicare (Dec. 12, 2017) — “Republican leaders have made it clear that this irresponsible tax giveaway for people who need it the least will require cuts in spending and they have their sights set on what they call our Social Security and Medicare ‘entitlements’,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson. “Those are earned benefits that working people paid for their entire lives. It would be a travesty for Congress to hand more than $1 trillion to corporations and the richest Americans, and then cut these earned benefits that seniors rely upon to survive. But that’s exactly what they intend to do.”

► From The Hill — Poll: ObamaCare favorability reaches all-time high –The favorable rating for ObamaCare has reached its highest level since the law was enacted in 2010, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. The poll finds that 54 percent of the public has a favorable view of the law, compared to 42 percent who have an unfavorable view. Separately, the poll finds that health care costs are the top health care issue that voters want to hear candidates talk about ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

► From AP — AP poll: Most Americans say Trump is racist — More than half of Americans, including large majorities of blacks and Hispanics, think President Donald Trump is a racist.

► And finally, this.. which is real, and not from The Onion…




► From HuffPost — The West Virginia strike might not be over yet — All of West Virginia’s schools will remain closed on Thursday, despite a tentative deal between union leaders and Gov. Jim Justice earlier in the week. Many teachers had taken to the halls of the state’s Capitol during a “cooling off” period to voice their ongoing frustration with the negotiations. Many of them demanded that the unions and legislators get back to the bargaining table to improve a deal they deemed unsatisfactory.




► From Newsbroke with Francesca Florentini — Why the rich love destroying unions — Unions are on their last legs, and right-wing billionaires are getting ready to deal the final blow. And if you like having weekends, less than a 60-hour workweek and a living wage, then this is a big deal.


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

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