Thursday, May 31, 2018
► From Politico — ‘It borders on a regulatory fraud’ — Sinclair Broadcast Group is selling off nearly two dozen television stations to comply with federal ownership rules — but that may not stop the company from reaching millions of viewers in those cities with its conservative programming. Four of the sales include provisions that would leave the giant broadcaster with a role in the stations’ programming, finances and operations, even when it no longer owns them. Those strings could allow Sinclair to ensure that its content supporting President Donald Trump and other Republican causes continues to make it onto the air — despite regulations meant to ensure that no one company wields outsize influence in local media markets… One buyer of Sinclair’s stations, conservative commentator Armstrong Williams, defended the deals and rejected the notion that Sinclair would control the stations he’s purchasing in Seattle, Salt Lake City and Oklahoma City. But in its arrangement with Williams, Sinclair will handle advertising sales and offer news programming to the stations, maintain the studios and stations’ websites, and pocket up to 30 percent of the monthly net sales revenue from each station.
PREVIOUSLY at The Stand — Did Sinclair buy KOMO to shut it down? (by Dave Twedell, Oct. 17, 2017)
EDITOR’S NOTE — Lest we forget…
► In today’s Seattle Times — Amazon draws praise, protests at annual shareholders meeting — A gathering of advocates of good corporate governance, environmentalists and labor unions spoke around a cardboard cutout of Bezos in a robot suit, a reference to the CEO’s appearance in such a machine at a conference last year.
► In the Skagit Valley Herald — Local health center doubles reach to agricultural workers — In the past four years, a Sea Mar Community Health Centers program that provides health care services to farmworkers in Skagit and Whatcom counties has nearly doubled its reach, said Colleen Pacheco, who has run the program since 2011.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Billions of Hanford dollars will stay separate under defense bill — The Department of Energy’s two Hanford offices would remain separate at least through 2024 under the defense spending authorization act approved by the U.S. House.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Judge allows federal lawsuit over Millennium coal terminal to proceed — A federal judge Wednesday declined to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration of interfering with foreign and interstate trade by denying key permits for a proposed coal terminal in Longview. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan means parties to the suit will continue to spar over whether the state’s permit denials for the Millennium Bulk Terminals’ $680 million project violated the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution.
► In the Charleston Post and Courier — Boeing South Carolina ‘micro unit’ to decide this week whether to unionize — Despite a ruling that was supposed to make it harder for small groups of workers within larger organizations to unionize, the NLRB continues to give “micro units” the go-ahead to hold union elections. That includes the 178 flight-line workers at Boeing’s 787 campus in North Charleston, who will vote Thursday on whether they want to join the IAM.
► From Common Dreams — ‘This is a democracy, not a dictatorship’: Federal workers union sues Donald Trump — The nation’s largest union of federal workers (AFGE) filed suit against the Trump administration on Wednesday over an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that seeks to deny workers the right to job site representation—an established guarantee in existing labor law. The lawsuit argues that among a slate of anti-worker orders signed by the president last Friday, one of them specifically exceeds the president’s constitutional authority and violates the First Amendment right of workers to freely associate.
PREVIOUSLY at The Stand — Trump moves to silence federal employees (May 29)
► In the NW Labor Press — Unions denounce move by Congress to privatize Veterans Administration — Just before Memorial Day, Congress passed the VA Mission Act, which could lead to closure of veterans hospitals and send more veterans to private doctors for care. President Trump applauded the law’s passage. The AFL-CIO called it “a giant misstep toward privatization.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Every Republican in Congress voted for the VA Mission Act. In the House, it passed 347-70, with 70 Democrats voting “no” and 116 Democrats joining Republicans voting “yes.” In the Senate, it passed 92-5, with only four Democrats and one Bernie in opposition. Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith were the only members of Washington’s congressional delegation in either house who voted “no.”
PREVIOUSLY at The Stand — Call Senators: Urge ‘NO!’ vote on VA privatization bill
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump imposes steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico — The move is certain to trigger retaliation by the E.U. against a range of American products, including Kentucky bourbon and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and could complicate talks over a possible new North American trade deal — further straining ties between the United States and some of its closest allies.
► From The Hill — Trump to impose total ban on luxury German cars: report — Trump reportedly told French President Emmanuel Macron that he would maintain the ban until no Mercedes-Benz cars are seen on Fifth Avenue in New York.
PREVIOUSLY at The Stand — We need better answers on trade, America’s economy (by Stan Sorscher)
► In the NY Times — Big banks to get reprieve from Volcker Rule — Federal bank regulators on Wednesday unveiled a sweeping plan to soften the Volcker Rule, opening the door for banks to resume some trading activities restricted as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. The changes would give the largest banks significant freedom to engage in more complicated — and possibly riskier — activities by largely leaving it up to Wall Street firms to determine which trading is permissible under the rule and which is not.
EDITOR’S NOTE — As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka tweeted: “The Volcker Rule prevents Wall St banks from gambling with taxpayer-backed money. Gutting it would be a huge gift to the big banks, their well-paid lobbyists and substantially increase the risk that working people will have to bail out the banks again.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — Ten years after the panic, financial ‘deregulation’ is back in style (by Jon Talton) — The big banks never lost all their power in D.C. Now they’re really running the place, and risks will rise.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Sen. Merkley proposes Medicare option for all — Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is touting the benefits of a bill he introduced that would allow individuals and businesses to buy health insurance through an expanded Medicare program. Merkley spoke Tuesday in Medford about his Choose Medicare Act while surrounded by representatives from Rogue Valley health clinics. Buying into Medicare would be voluntary — not mandatory — under the bill.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — BPA power kept in public’s hands (editorial) — Broad-based opposition appears to have convinced the Trump administration to abandon plans that would have sold off the Bonneville Power Administration and three other federally owned power authorities in the U.S. With the BPA in corporate hands, there would have been less control over electrical rate increases charged to public utility districts and other customers as the focus shifted to maximizing profits and keeping shareholders happy.
► In the Sacramento Bee — The Supreme Court majority is quietly barring workers from having their day in court (by Erein Chemerinsky, Dean of UC-Berkeley Law School) — Above all the Roberts Court is strongly pro-business. The court recently demonstrated that again when it closed the courthouse doors to the ability of many workers to sue for wage theft, harassment, and discrimination… This is just the latest in a series of rulings in which the court, all in 5-4 decisions, has held that arbitration clauses in contracts should be enforced even though they are dictated by merchants and employers and doctors often in the small print of form contracts. The effect is to keep people from ever having their day in court.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Building Strong Unions: Get ready for Janus! — As part of its Building Strong Unions efforts, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is urging all affiliated unions — whether they represent public or private employees — to get ready in three ways: 1) Make plans to join in solidarity rallies and activities planned throughout Washington state on Janus Decision Day; 2) Attend a special daylong Janus Preparation Training on Wednesday, June 6 at the WSLC’s Seattle office (or via webinar); and 3) Check out the Building Strong Unions TOOLKIT to help your union get ready for Decision Day and thereafter.
► In today’s NY Times — Teachers find public support as campaign for higher pay goes to voters — After shutting down schools and shaking up politics in six states, teachers are looking to the ballot box in their campaign for better pay and increased school funding. And their demands are meeting with widespread public support. A survey conducted in early May for The New York Times found that nearly three in four adults — 71 percent — considered teacher pay too low, while just 6 percent felt it was too high. And two-thirds said they supported increasing the salaries of public-school teachers even if it meant raising taxes.
► From The Hill — American health-care workers are committing suicide in unprecedented numbers (by Dr. Vinita Parkash) — My junior colleague was among an estimated 400 physicians who took their lives in 2016. Many physicians know more doctors than patients who have taken their lives. Physicians and nurses complete suicide more often than do average Americans; rates are even higher for women in both professions.
► From AP — Contract for Vegas casino employees nears expiration — The two largest resort operators in Las Vegas would lose more than $10 million a day combined if housekeepers, cooks and others go on strike, a possibility starting Friday, the union representing thousands of casino workers said.
► From NBC News — The Toys R Us bankruptcy is what happens when Wall Street puts profits before people (by Winnie Wong and Michael Kink) — More than 30,000 U.S. workers face unemployment as the 70-year-old retail chain unwinds its business. The fabled toy store finally collapsed under its crushing debt load this spring, causing the third-largest retail bankruptcy in U.S. history. And as a result, workers with decades of retail experience are being left with no jobs, no benefits and no severance pay. Hundreds of communities across the country will bear the social and economic cost of this plunder. Meanwhile, the private equity barons who bought the company in 2005 have reaped hundreds of millions in extracted profits, and top executives are leaving with $16 million in golden parachutes. Smith’s story is a potent reminder of the human cost that Wall Street vulture capitalists inflict on working class people in their seemingly never-ending pursuit of profit.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.