More militant unions | Tax (and job) cuts | NFL kneels | TGIT

Thursday, May 24, 2018




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — If a worker pays no dues, why get union benefits? (editorial that previously appeared in The Olympian) — The current battle against public-sector unions is coming to a head at the U.S. Supreme Court in a case known as Janus vs. AFSCME in the state of Illinois… Of course the end game here is to undermine membership in unions… It’s worth asking: If workers can opt out of paying a share of contract bargaining costs, should they also opt out of benefits? Should state employees opting out be entitled to health-insurance benefits at the rate they receive them – with taxpayers picking up 85 percent of premiums? Or should they pay a higher percentage? Should opting-out employees receive cost of living raises at the same level as those who pay dues or agency fees?

PREVIOUSLY at The Stand:

Janus (Part 1): The fix is in at the Supreme Court

Janus (Part 2): Get ready to defend your freedom

► From Governing — Will teacher strikes influence the Supreme Court’s union ruling? — “When unions are deprived of agency fees,” said David Franklin, Illinois’ solicitor general, “they tend to become more militant, more confrontational. They go out in search of short-term gains that they can bring back to their members and say, ‘Stick with us.’” The comments didn’t attract a lot of attention at the time, but they seem more salient in light of all the public-sector labor protests since.

► From The Nation — Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in ‘Janus,’ labor needs to get more militant (by Michelle Chen) — Regardless of how the Court rules, teacher uprisings in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Kentucky — all “right to work” states — suggest that organizing outside the law can be a politically effective tactic. The more oppressive the legal environment, the more public workers may feel they have no choice but to revolt. The rebel teachers were already restricted from collective bargaining and strike actions — pressured by eroding wages and punishing funding cuts, what leverage do educators have, as workers and citizens, other than simply refusing to work for a broken system? For public workers nationwide, the final verdict won’t be delivered in court but at work, and on the march in the public square.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Officials identify worker who fell to his death at Sound Transit’s Bellevue job site — Walter R. Burrows, 63, was a longtime employee at Kiewit, the company building the elevated light rail on the Eastside.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane’s first black firefighter dealt with racist harassment for years on the force — As Spokane’s first black firefighter, Lawrence Goncalves said he experienced and endured many acts of racial harassment by his white crew mates. From the day he started working in 1972 to an early retirement in 1988, he said he would often hear racial slurs, either directed at him or at black people walking down the street. There were nooses left in his locker, and even an instance where his co-workers dressed like Klansmen and stood near his bed.

► In the Spokesman-Review — Report finds harassment, bullying by 5 Spokane firefighters; accused push back on allegations — An investigation into complaints of bullying and sexual harassment at Spokane Fire Department Station 2 found five officials violated city policies. Yet the investigation is being criticized as one-sided and thus, incomplete, by those named in the report and the union that represents them.

► In today’s Seattle Times — 114,000 more people: Seattle now decade’s fastest-growing big city in all of U.S. — New census data show Seattle notched another year of impressive population gains in 2017. We’ve now outpaced Austin in rate of growth since the start of this decade, ballooning 18.7 percent, or 114,000 more people.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Look who is No. 2 behind Seattle for state’s highest wages — Weekly wages in the Tri-Cities rose to $1,068, and hourly wages to $29.67, up 3.8 percent over the prior year. The Seattle metro area, including Everett and Tacoma, is the only Washington metro area with higher average wages — $37 per hour.

► In today’s News Tribune — Pierce County leaders put up a good show for jobs (editorial) — Tuesday’s united front of Pierce County government, labor and economic leaders might be largely about public relations and good feelings. But it was a well-timed opportunity to renew the message that the South Sound is open for business.

► In the Portland Tribune — Portland City Council endorses new worker board for Uber, Lyft drivers — In a unanimous vote early Wednesday evening, the council endorsed creation of a new public board to air wage disputes and other grievances of Transportation Network Company driver, the term preferred by app-based ride services like Uber and Lyft.




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — President, governor or retirement — only Inslee knows his plan (by Jerry Cornfield) — Run for president? Seek a third term? Retire on Bainbridge Island? His future is a source of renewed rumination because he’s heading to Iowa next month to deliver the keynote address at a party fundraiser.

► In today’s News Tribune — Special Washington legislative session for school safety? No thanks (editorial) — We expect the idea will find fans among the “do something, do anything” crowd. But a special session at the height of an election year would very likely be an exercise in futility, laced with lots of grandstanding. In the end, we predict it would do little but spotlight the Legislature’s failure to act on key gun-safety bills in the 2018 regular session.

► In today’s Seattle Times — GOP is right: It’s past time for a special session on school shootings (by Danny Westneat) — So? Spotlight away! Lawmakers have quietly failed school kids now for years, but they’ve done it weaselly, by ducking, dodging and never taking a vote. If all that happens is they stand in the well and fail the kids again right before an election, well at least then the public would know who to vote out.




► From TPM — Trump’s VA strips protection from workers’ contract — The Department of Veterans Affairs this week unilaterally scrapped an Obama-era provision in their labor contract, stripping many of doctors and nurses of the right to have a union representative advocate for them at a hearing at which they are being disciplined or fired. The effect, says AFGE, will be to make it easier to fire government employees.

► In today’s Washington Post — House GOP holds last-ditch immigration talks as showdown looms — With conservatives and moderates far apart on crucial provisions, there was little sign Wednesday that the warring factions would be able to reach a workable agreement on a compromise immigration bill.

► From Reuters — Trump rejects moderate immigration deal, wants ‘whole package’ — U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday rejected a push by moderate congressional Republicans for a “Dreamer” immigration deal, saying he would only back sweeping immigration legislation that met all of his demands, including a U.S-Mexico border wall.

► From Time — Here’s how America’s biggest companies are spending their Trump tax cuts (it’s not on new jobs) — We’re starting to learn what America’s biggest companies are doing with the huge windfalls from President Donald Trump’s tax cuts. And the answer is great for investors – but not so great for workers.

► From NBC News — Harley-Davidson workers stunned by plant closure after tax cut — Tim Primeaux has worked at the Harley-Davidson plant in Kansas City, Missouri, for 17 years. He was sure he was going to retire from the company. That all changed when Harley-Davidson told its 800 employees in January that the plant will be closing next year… Days later, Harley-Davidson announced a dividend increase and a stock buyback plan to reward shareholders, repurchasing 15 million of its shares, valued at nearly $700 million. House Speaker Paul Ryan visited a Harley plant in Wisconsin in September and said, “Tax reform can put American manufacturers and American companies like Harley-Davidson on a much better footing to compete in the global economy and keep jobs in America.”

► From Yahoo News — Trumpcare will hurt these people next year — “There’s going to be an enormous range of premium increases for 2019,” said Larry Levitt of the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. “Insurers are pointing toward actions by Congress and the Trump administration that will undermine the market and increase premiums. Bearing the brunt will be middle-class people who buy individual policies and don’t get subsidies under the ACA.”




► From AP — Vegas casino workers OK strike that may hobble famed resorts — Las Vegas casinos could watch tens of thousands of employees walk off the job for the first time in more than three decades after union members voted Tuesday to authorize a strike at any time starting June 1, a move that could cripple the city’s world-famous resorts. About 25,000 members of the Culinary Union who work at 34 different casino-resorts across the tourist destination cast ballots in two sessions, showing the collective power of the largest labor organization in Nevada. The move hands union negotiators a huge bargaining chip as they work to solidify new five-year contracts.

► In the Washington Post — The U.S. doesn’t have enough truckers, and it’s starting to cause prices of about everything to rise — Joyce Brenny, chief executive of Brenny Transportation in Minnesota, gave her truck drivers a 15 percent raise this year, but she still can’t find enough workers for a job that now pays $80,000 a year… The trucking industry shows an extraordinary labor shortage in one corner of the economy can spill out and affect the economy more broadly. “I’ve never seen it like this, ever,” said Brenny, who has been in the trucking industry for 30 years. “It doesn’t matter what the load even pays. There are just not drivers.”

► In today’s NY Times — The NFL kneels to Trump (editorial) — The owners of the National Football League have concluded, with President Trump, that true patriotism is not about bravely standing up for democratic principle but about standing up, period. Rather than show a little backbone themselves and support the right of athletes to protest peacefully, the league capitulated to a president who relishes demonizing black athletes. The owners voted Wednesday to fine teams whose players do not stand for the national anthem while they are on the field… The league has now decided it will also override the best interests of America and try to substitute a phony pageant of solidarity for a powerful civics lesson.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Chris Long, defensive end for the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, nails it with this tweet.

► MUST-READ from Bloomberg — Why do Americans stay when their town has no future? — America was built on the idea of picking yourself up and striking out for more promising territory. In recent years, though, Americans have grown less likely to migrate for opportunity. As recently as the early 1990s, 3 percent of Americans moved across state lines each year, but today the rate is half that. Fewer Americans moved in 2017 than in any year in at least a half-century… The reluctance to move is all the more confounding given how wide the opportunity gap has grown between the country’s most dynamic urban areas and its struggling small cities and towns, a divide driven by a mix of factors that include technology, globalization, and economic concentration. For policymakers, the low rates of migration to opportunity present a conundrum. Should there be a wholesale effort to revitalize places that have lost their original economic rationale? Or should the emphasis be on making it easier for people in these places to move elsewhere?

► A related story from the Onion — Nation’s rich and powerful wondering when rest of Americans will just give up — Said one outrageously wealthy citizen speaking on expectation of anonymity said that, realistically, no one in their right mind could possibly see the use of struggling against those who control the nation’s media, financial, and political institutions. “I suppose I should admire their sheer animal persistence, but, Christ, it’s been over since we somehow got them to accept that trickle-down bullshit.”




► The Entire Staff of The Stand is taking a long Memorial Day weekend off, hence today’s TGIT.

Tonight, The Entire Staff of The Stand is excited once again to see legendary Talking Heads frontman and avid bicyclist David Byrne perform at Seattle’s Paramount Theater. We saw the Stop Making Sense tour back in the day, and later, two of his solo tours in the 1990s. All were fantastic shows with incredibly talented bands. And if the following performance is any indication, tonight’s show will be as eccentric and fun as ever. Enjoy!


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

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