Monday, May 14, 2018
EDITOR’S NOTE — No decision today. Could be next Monday, May 21.
► In the News Tribune — Washington’s public unions fight to retain influence in face of adverse court ruling — Washington’s public unions appear better positioned than many to absorb and even mitigate the likely effects of the landmark Janus v. AFSCME court case. But they’re still taking efforts internally and through the Legislature to build up defenses… “Yes we could lose fee payers, we could lose some percentage of members,” said Greg Devereux, executive director of the Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME. “But we’re not going to go back down” to those (1990’s) levels. WFSE even appears to be gaining steam in the face of the national right-to-work movement. The percentage of agency fee payers in workplaces represented by the union has steadily dropped for years…
For Pam Kruse, president of the Franklin Pierce Education Association, training, organizing and “being more intentional” about rallying union support is the key to softening the loss of agency fees and, potentially, more members. She said they have also been preparing for years. “We are ready to go the next step,” Kruse said. “We are together as one.”
► In the Columbian — Will the court break public-sector unions? — “Janus is the newest attempt to undermine and destroy public-sector unions,” said Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both Democrats, in a press release. “If Janus succeeds, it will be a win for powerful special interests and another setback for the struggling American middle class.”
► From Labor Notes — I work with Mark Janus. Here’s how he benefits from a strong union. (by Donnie Killen) — Like everyone else in the labor movement, I’m nervously awaiting the Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which would weaken public sector unions by letting workers receive the benefits of representation without contributing toward the cost. But I’ve got a unique vantage point: I work in the same building as the plaintiff, Mark Janus… Without our union, Mr. Janus’s job would probably have been outsourced by now.
PREVIOUSLY at The Stand:
— Janus (Part 1): The fix is in at the Supreme Court (March 6) — Meet Mark Janus. He’s a child support specialist for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. He has exercised his right under Abood to withdraw from the union and not be a member, but by law, AFSCME Council 31 must still represent him. Under his union contract, Janus makes $71,000 a year in a state where both the average pay for social work and the statewide median income is less than $60,000. He also earns time-and-a-half for working overtime. Almost every year he gets a step pay increase and/or cost-of-living increase. He gets paid holidays and paid vacation time. He gets his choice of several health care plans and is also eligible for retiree health care coverage. He gets paid sick leave and paid paternity leave. He is eligible to receive a defined-benefit pension that, when he retires, will pay him a portion of his salary for the rest of his life. He has job security and the peace of mind that if some manager violates his rights or tries to fire him without cause, the union will represent him to protect his job and his family. That job would be a dream come true for most social workers — and for most Americans. Thank you, AFSCME!
— Janus (Part 2): Get ready to defend your freedom (March 7)
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle City Council set to vote on controversial head tax for large employers — The Seattle City Council is scheduled to vote Monday afternoon on a proposal to tax the city’s largest employers to help address homelessness. If council members were to vote the same way they did in a committee meeting Friday and pass the tax with a narrow majority, Mayor Jenny Durkan would need to decide whether to sign it into law, let it become law or veto it.
► From HuffPost — How Amazon is holding Seattle hostage — The fight is about more than just one company or one policy. It is about the growing challenge of running American cities and all the ways companies make it even harder. Seattle faces an impossible choice: Either raise revenue from employers and risk driving them away, or keep levying taxes on voters and risk a backlash that could exacerbate the very problem it’s trying to solve. Whatever happens here, it will be a template for the rest of the country.
► In the Seattle Times — A warm, safe place — with cookies: Tradeswomen build tiny homes for homeless women in Seattle — Melinda Nichols, a carpenter since 1972 and longtime board member at the nonprofit that is developing and will operate this tiny village, thought a village specifically for women should be built by women. “Projects like this, we really fall in love with,” said Boo Torres, a union electrician who owns Q Generation Electric with her business partner Deb McGowan. “This is our work. We want to help women. We’re into providing transitional living and giving people second chances. And it’s just nice to be in a place where most of these people are women helping other women. There’s nothing more powerful than that.”
► In the Spokesman-Review — Unique partnership gives young people hands-on experience building low-income housing — Wolfgang Ford is the most recent young person to get hands-on construction experience thanks to a unique partnership between Walker Construction and several Spokane nonprofits focused on helping low-income people.
► From AP — State’s largest farmworker rental complex opening in Yakima — Valicoff Fruit will begin housing guest workers in a former 800-bed hotel next month. The project has caught the attention of Wafla, a labor recruiting firm formerly known as Washington Farm Labor Association, which has agreed to help manage the operation scheduled to open June 1.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Mukilteo teachers want new state funds used for salaries — The Mukilteo Education Association wants to renegotiate its contract, which runs through August 2019, to secure those incoming state dollars for salaries. But Assistant Superintendent Bruce Hobert turned them down, saying lawmakers “did not intend to impair existing contracts” when they added funding and made other changes earlier this year.
► In the Kitsap Sun — North Mason worries McCleary fix will lure teachers away from district — Teachers in the North Mason School District will see a slight increase in pay compared with what legislators promised them last year. But a wide gap persists between teacher pay in North Mason and Kitsap counties.
► In the Seattle Times — Washington state rejected a coal-export terminal on the Columbia River. Now 6 states are lining up for battle. — The project calls for moving coal mined in Western states through a terminal in Longview, on the Columbia River, for export to Asian markets. Washington’s Department of Ecology said no, citing problems including air pollution, rail safety and vehicle traffic. Now, six Western states and national industry groups have lined up against Washington state in a legal battle over that decision.
► In today’s Ellensburg Daily Record — Minimum wage changes exacerbate child care shortage in Kittitas County — Child care centers and preschools across the state have been reeling since the 2017 minimum wage increase, not because of the increased wages, but because the rates the state pays for child care subsidy assistance did not increase along with those wages.
► In the Spokesman-Review — End collective bargaining secrecy (editorial) — I-1608 would require local and state governments to conduct collective bargaining in public. There’d be no more haggling with public employee unions behind closed doors… Take a look at the insert in today’s paper… and consider providing one of those signatures. Government is most accountable when it is conducted in sunlight.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Speaking of sunlight, we assume the Spokesman-Review will be reporting this in-kind contribution to the I-1608 campaign. Surely, inserting a petition and urging readers to use it to collect signatures is a contribution, right? Also in the interest of sunlight, Anne Cowles, wife of Spokesman-Review Publisher Stacey Cowles, serves as Secretary and on the Advisory Board of the Washington Policy Center, a right-wing corporate-funded think tank that’s pushing I-1608. The editorial forgot to mention that. So we thought we would.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Washington Democrats fighting hard for longtime GOP seats; here’s how some key races are shaping up — Democrats this year are fighting hard to win election in state legislative districts where the party hasn’t scored victories — or in some cases, even fielded candidates — in many years.
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump’s improved standing, energized GOP voters worry Democrats — After months of confidence that public discontent with President Trump would lift Democrats back to power in Congress, some party leaders are fretting that their advantages in this year’s midterms are eroding amid a shifting political landscape.
► Today’s MUST-READ in the NY Times — Liberals, you’re not as smart as you think (by Gerald Alexander) — Liberals make good movies and television shows. Their idealism has been an inspiration for me and many others. Many liberals are very smart. But they are not as smart, or as persuasive, as they think. And a backlash against liberals — a backlash that most liberals don’t seem to realize they’re causing — is going to get President Trump re-elected… Liberals are trapped in a self-reinforcing cycle. When they use their positions in American culture to lecture, judge and disdain, they push more people into an opposing coalition that liberals are increasingly prone to think of as deplorable. That only validates their own worst prejudices about the other America.
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump voters stay loyal because they feel disrespected — Three new deep dives into Donald Trump’s strength in Midwestern counties that were previously Democratic strongholds — written by conservatives, liberals and a nonpartisan journalist — each highlight a deep craving for respect among supporters of the president and an enduring resentment toward coastal elites that buoys his popularity.
► From The Hill — Ryan, GOP scramble to win support for controversial farm bill — Republican leaders are scrambling to lock down enough votes for the GOP farm bill, with members still divided over the measure’s sugar support program and work requirements for food stamps. The legislation, a top priority for retiring Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) because it contains elements of welfare reform, is scheduled to hit the floor this week.
► ICYMI in the NY Times — Let them eat Trump steaks (by Paul Krugman) — Trump has reportedly threatened to veto the upcoming farm bill unless it imposes stringent new work requirements on recipients of SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, still commonly referred to as food stamps. There’s something fundamentally obscene about this spectacle. Here we have a man who inherited great wealth, then built a business career largely around duping the gullible. Yet he’s determined to snatch food from the mouths of the truly desperate, because he’s sure that somehow or other they’re getting away with something, having it too easy.
► From TPM — Trump admin poised to give rural whites a carve-out on Medicaid work rules — As the Trump administration moves aggressively to allow more states to impose mandatory work requirements on their Medicaid programs, several states have come under fire for crafting policies that would in practice shield many rural, white residents from the impact of the new rules.
► From Variety — Talking Points Memo unionizes with Writers Guild of America East — The editorial staff of the political news site Talking Points Memo has unionized with the Writers Guild of America East. The guild announced Thursday that management has recognized it as the collective bargaining representative of the organization’s 11-member staff.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.