Monday, May 7, 2018
► In the Seattle Times — Outside Amazon Spheres, iron workers shout down Kshama Sawant over proposed head tax — The debate over Seattle’s proposed business tax to pay for affordable housing and homeless services took a confrontational turn Thursday when dozens of iron workers crashed a rally by Councilmember Kshama Sawant at the Amazon Spheres… Every time she tried to speak, the iron workers, who easily outnumbered Sawant’s supporters, shouted again and again, “No head tax, no head tax!” The workers hail from the Iron Workers Local 86, which represents about 2,600 members. Many of them present Thursday said they have worked on a number of Amazon projects.
► In the Seattle Times — Seattle City Council should reject head tax (editorial)
► In the Seattle Times — Amazon’s hard schooling of Seattle may not penetrate the civic skull (by Danny Westneat) — Corporations exist to grow and maximize profits, full stop. It’s not personal to them, it’s business. What makes the relationship so unbalanced is that it is personal to us… We need to get it through our sappy heads: Our relationship is a cold business calculation for them. Our leaders need to start treating it like one, too, instead of an ideological crusade.
► In the Seattle Times — The tax debate comes to a head: Shame on Amazon and the iron workers (letter) — Shame on Amazon and Jeff Bezos for trying to bully the city into dropping a modest tax on the most wealthy in order to fund survival needs of the poorest. And shame on the Ironworkers Union leadership for siding with the employer who locked out their membership.
► In the Tri-City Herald — A year after a radioactive tunnel collapsed, is Hanford safer? — In the year that followed the tunnel collapse on May 9, 42 workers inhaled or ingested airborne plutonium or other particles of radioactive material. Those exposures, which occurred during demolition of the highly contaminated Plutonium Finishing Plant, and the collapse of the tunnel were the result of DOE not taking risk seriously enough, said Tom Carpenter, executive director of Hanford Challenge. Other Hanford watchers say the collapse was the result of limited money to address the most serious risks at the site, as aging facilities — some of them built during World War II — deteriorate.
► In the (Longview) Daily News — Trade groups seek to join fray over Millennium coal terminal — A coalition of trade groups including the National Mining Association filed a “friend of the court” brief Friday in support of a federal lawsuit against Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration for blocking the Millennium Bulk Terminals’ proposed coal terminal.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Port of Longview faces legal threat over soda ash terminal — The Port of Longview is facing a legal threat over a major export project that would replace the port’s decrepit Berth 4 deepwater grain terminal.
► In the Columbian — Stamp Out Hunger drive seeks volunteers — The upcoming Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive happening May 12 is short on volunteers to help letter carriers collect food. Most post offices in Clark County are participating in the food drive, which benefits the Clark County Food Bank and its partners. Those interested in volunteering locally can contact Don Young at 360-904-6972 or email@example.com with “food drive” in the email’s subject line.
ALSO at The Stand — Letter Carriers ‘Stamp Out Hunger’ food drive is May 12
EDITOR’S NOTE — In the rest of the state, if you’re interested in volunteering to help this Saturday, ask at your local post office.
► From KUOW — Carbon fee initiative gains signatures — and opposition — Backers of a proposed carbon fee in Washington state say they’ve gathered 36,000 signatures and are on track to put their measure on the November ballot. Oil companies are leading the opposition to the initiative.
ALSO at The Stand — Volunteer to help collect signatures for Initiative 1631
► In the (Everett) Herald — Less hunting and fishing means less revenue for state agency — Costs are rising to manage fisheries, protect endangered species, conserve habitats and compensate roughly 1,500-plus employees. But revenues needed to pay the tab are not. Receipts from sales of hunting and fishing licenses — a vital source of revenue — are down as fewer and fewer people engage in those activities.
► In the News Tribune — House may strip Tacoma lawmaker of his committee chairmanship based on investigation findings — A House panel will decide next week whether to suspend Tacoma Rep. David Sawyer from his committee chairmanship after preliminary findings from an investigation into his conduct, House Democratic leaders said Friday evening.
► From the Columbia Basin Herald — Manweller to speak at Republican women’s meeting
► From The Stranger — Republican Dino Rossi won’t release his tax returns (by Rich Smith) — Rossi’s reluctance to release his tax returns reflects his essential character as a politician. He’s skeptical about town halls. He hides even lightly critical comments on his Facebook page. He dodges every hard question he’s asked. This is a guy who doesn’t want you to see behind the curtain. Why would the good people of the 8th District trust such a shifty and shadowy commercial realtor to check the Presidential power of an even shiftier and shadowier commercial realtor? And if Rossi can’t even be forthcoming about his taxes, how is he going to be forthcoming about the real problems facing the district?
► From the AFL-CIO — AFL-CIO: TPP failed workers and deserved to die (by Richard Trumka) — The Trans-Pacific Partnership died because it ultimately failed America’s working families. Instead of addressing the economic devastation wreaked by wrong-headed trade deals, the TPP doubled down on a failed, corporate-driven ideology.
► In today’s Washington Post — Americans are starting to suffer from Trump’s health-care sabotage (editorial) — The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit foundation focused on health-care issues, announced last week that the rate of working-age Americans without health insurance in the group’s annual survey rose to 15.5 percent, up about three percentage points since 2016. Things are worse in the 19 holdout states, such as Virginia, that have refused to expand their Medicaid programs: The rate of uninsured working-age Americans hit 21.9 percent in those areas, up nearly six percentage points over two years. Nationally, the spike has been particularly bad at the modest end of the income scale, rising nearly five percentage points since 2016 for low-income, working-age Americans… Obamacare was never perfect. But Commonwealth Fund analysts noted that, rather than fixing the law’s problems, Republicans have done concrete things to worsen them.
► From The Hill — DHS expected to end immigration protection for 57K Hondurans — The Department of Homeland Security is expected on Friday to end Temporary Protected Status for 57,000 Honduran citizens in the United States. The Hondurans protected by TPS have been in the United States at least since Hurricane Mitch hit the country in 1998.
► From Reuters — Republicans in key election races turn down volume on Trump’s tax cuts — The most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the tightest congressional races in the November elections are talking less and less about the tax cuts, a Reuters analysis shows.
► A related story, from CWA — CenturyLink announces layoffs despite massive tax windfall — CenturyLink has announced plans to cut jobs across the country, despite receiving $1.1 billion as a result of last year’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act.
► In the Washington Post — ‘Without getting blamed or silenced,’ female Marriott employees urge executives to address sexual harassment — On Friday, eight women from across the country spoke at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C. to the hotelier’s board members and top executives to describe the company’s inaction when it comes to workplace sexual harassment. Whether they work as housekeepers or cooks or came from the east or west coasts, each of the women asked that Marriott use its vantage point as one of the world’s most powerful hotel chains to protect its female employees… The women had specifically come to press the company on its part in a lawsuit seeking to overturn a new Seattle law that provides protections to hotel workers, including panic buttons and a record of guests who had harassed workers.
► From The Hill — Arizona teachers end strike after governor signs funding bill — The teachers ended their walkout after days of striking for higher pay and education funding. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed an education funding bill Thursday morning. Certified teachers will earn a 20 percent raise by 2020. Schools were also promised $100 million for support staff, including classroom aides and janitors.
► From The Hill — Oklahoma bill aimed at dismantling unions takes ‘revenge’ on teachers for striking — Weeks after tens of thousands of Oklahoma teachers ended their nine-day strike after securing major wins, legislators introduced a bill that aims to hamper membership in the teachers unions that helped organized the walkouts.
► In the LA Times — More than 50,000 UC workers set to strike this week but campuses will remain open — More than 50,000 workers across the University of California are set to strike this week, causing potential disruptions to surgery schedules, food preparation and campus maintenance. The system’s 10 campuses and five medical centers are to remain open, with classes scheduled as planned.
► In the People’s World — AFL-CIO launches study of state of work and of unions — “A generation of bad policy choices have created an economy where many industries have grown up with no unions at all – and corporations and politicians have attempted to erode what it means to be an employee” and thus protected by labor law and the right to organize, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.
► In the Christian Science Monitor — Who’s an employee? California ruling updates debate for the gig economy. — The Dynamex ruling carries extra weight because it was made by the highest court in California – a state with a workforce of 19 million that prides itself on directing the flow of progressive policy. “I wouldn’t be surprised if other state courts picked up this ruling and looked at it carefully if similar issues were presented to them,” says Matthew Ginsburg, associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO.
► From The Guardian — In corporate America, too many bosses tell employees who to vote for (by Ganesh Sitaraman) — Alexander Hertel-Fernandez’s new book, Politics at Work: How Companies Turn their Workers into Lobbyists, documents an extraordinary practice: companies frequently try to persuade and mobilize their employees to support politicians and policies beneficial to the corporation.
► From Splinter — Study: Yep, unions made America great (by Hamilton Nolan) — As union membership in America has declined, economic inequality has risen. New research confirms the obvious: It ain’t a coincidence. Unions are the tools that built America’s “golden age.” The new research paper, by economists at Princeton and Columbia universities, draws on Gallup and other polling data reaching back to the 1930s… In all, the new information adds to the already strong case that unions are one of the most effective tools that exist for keeping inequality to a minimum. The decline of unions was a strong contributing factor to the rise of inequality that has defined our lifetimes.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Make America Great Again! Contact a union organizer today so you and your co-workers can join together and negotiate a fair return for your work.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.