Hope for Hanford workers ● Confluence update ● Janus cashes in

Monday, July 23, 2018




► In today’s Tri-City Herald — After 12 years at Hanford, this father is wracked by seizures. New state program offers hope. — Bill Evans, a Richland father of three, suspects his extensive medical problems are caused by exposure to chemicals, possibly mercury, during the 12 years he worked at the Hanford nuclear reservation. But lacking an official diagnosis, he did not think he could qualify for the federal workers compensation program that has helped many ill Hanford workers. However, a state program expanded in the last legislative session for Hanford workers may offer some hope.

ALSO from the WSLC Legislative Report — Safety net strengthened for Hanford workers

► In the Seattle Times — Facing pressure, state lawmaker unblocks constituents from his Facebook page — On Friday, Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) began to lift restrictions on his public Facebook page for people who say they have been blocked from it for more than a year. The move came only after about 75 people — including some progressive activists who have opposed Ericksen over various issues — signed an open letter calling on the senator to unblock them.




► In the Columbian — Camas school district, teachers union at odds — The Camas School District and Camas Education Association could be in for a tense August after their most recent bargaining session left the two sides in disagreement, with union officials saying they’re prepared for a strike on Aug. 27 if negotiations haven’t progressed.

► In the Wenatchee World — Contract negotiations continue with Confluence Health — Numerous people driving by Central Washington Hospital honked their horns in support of picketing healthcare workers gathered at the entrance to the hospital’s parking lot earlier this week. Hospital healthcare workers’ contract with Confluence Health expired in June 2017. UFCW Local 21 has been helping employees negotiate since then.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle council to vote on new rights for nannies, house cleaners and gardeners — Cooks and household managers also would be guaranteed minimum wages and rest breaks under Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda’s legislation, which would set up an appointed board to oversee the domestic-work industry.

► In the (Longview) Daily News — Celebrate unions at Labor Day picnic — The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Central Labor Council will host a Labor Picnic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3 in the large covered picnic shelter at at Tam O’Shanter Park in Kelso. There will be plenty of food — hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, cake and more — and anyone attending is welcome to bring a potluck dish to share. There will also be a croquet tournament. Families are welcome to attend.




► From Politico — ‘A difficult situation’: Republican women run in the Trump era — Like male GOP lawmakers who go against Trump, Republican women who blast the president risk alienating a base they need for reelection. Failing to speak up, however, risks turning off independent-minded women who are skeptical of the president, a key voting bloc. That dual-reality has forced Republican women to think creatively about how to reach female voters. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane) has plastered her competitive Washington district with 14 billboards featuring the faces of women who are supporting her for reelection. At the same time, voters won’t catch her attacking Trump.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Delegates representing the Washington State Labor Council’s affiliated unions think it’s time for a change. They voted to endorse CMR’s Democratic challenger Lisa Brown.

► In the Seattle Times — U.S. Chamber spends $200K on TV ads lauding Republican Dino Rossi on free trade; Trump’s tariffs not mentioned — The ads avoid the elephant in the room — import tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, which have already brought retaliation that threaten some Washington industries and agriculture. Republicans already control Congress but have not moved to limit the president’s tariff authority, and Rossi won’t say whether he supports such a move.

EDITOR’S NOTE — WSLC delegates voted to endorse Democratic candidates Jason Rittereiser and Kim Schrier, and to OPPOSE Dino Rossi, who has an abysmal 7% lifetime voting record on working families’ issues.

► In the News Tribune — We endorse: Melanie Morgan to replace embattled House incumbent David Sawyer (editorial) — Reports of unwanted advances toward women have soiled the reputation of Rep. David Sawyer (D-Tacoma). Fortunately, there’s another candidate we believe will fight hard for the people of South Tacoma, East Lakewood and Parkland: Melanie Morgan, a Franklin Pierce School Board member and former Pierce County Housing Authority commissioner.

EDITOR’S NTE — WSLC delegates voted to endorse Morgan and to oppose Sawyer.

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — ‘It’s time for us as women, and as women of color, it’s time for us to step in’ — Whatcom County voters will find women seeking office in nearly every local ballot race in the August, 2018, primary — the largest number of women on a local ballot ever.

► In today’s Columbian —  Stamp out low turnout (editorial) — Return envelopes for primary election ballots throughout Washington now come with prepaid postage. Voters may still drop off ballots at boxes throughout the county, but they no longer will need to affix a stamp if voting by mail. Ideally, this will make it easier for registered voters to make their voices heard and will increase voter turnout.

ALSO at The Stand — Vote for pro-labor candidates in the primary




► In the (Everett) Herald — ACA’s pre-existing conditions protections at risk (editorial) — Unable to repeal Obamacare in Congress, the Trump administration and Republicans have instead worked to remove its underpinnings in hope of its collapse. So far, the ACA has not obliged. During last year’s open enrollment period, more than 11.8 million signed up for health plans through the ACA, a 3 percent decrease from the year before but not the drop many had expected. But removal of the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions could be the final blow and one that would return Americans to ever-spiraling health care costs and leave millions again without coverage.

► In the NY Times — Brett Kavanaugh will fit right in at the pro-corporate Roberts Court (editorial) — Corporate interests haven’t had it so good at the Supreme Court in a long time. Under Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. the court has given big business a leg up on workers, unions, consumers and the environment — and will do so even more aggressively if the Senate confirms Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s choice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.





► In the Chicago Sun-Times — Mark Janus quits state job for conservative think tank gig after landmark ruling — Less than a month after he won a Supreme Court case to preserve his First Amendment rights as a state worker not to pay union fees, Mark Janus has announced he’s quitting his job for a position with the conservative think tank that helped bankroll his case. Janus will start Aug. 1 with the Illinois Policy Institute as a senior fellow, the think tank announced Friday night.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Under his union contract, Janus made at least $71,000 a year as a child support specialist for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services in a state where both the average pay for social work and the statewide median income is less than $60,000. He also earned time-and-a-half for working overtime. Almost every year he got a step pay increase and/or cost-of-living increase. He got paid holidays and paid vacation time. He got his choice of several health care plans and was also eligible for retiree health care coverage. He got paid sick leave and paid paternity leave. He was 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 had job security and the peace of mind that if some manager violates his rights or tries to fire him without cause, the union would represent him to protect his job and his family. In fact, many credited his union for saving his job and those of his peers by successfully fighting against a proposal to contract out that work to the private sector.

And for all that, Janus paid a fair-share fee of $45 per month to the union, about what the average American pays for a gym membership. But that was too much for him. The Illinois Policy Institute, that state’s equivalent to our billionaire-backed “Freedom Foundation,” won’t disclose what they’re paying him, but two years ago it had at least nine employees making more than six figures. Congratulations, Mr. Janus!

► From Reuters — Mortgage, Groupon and card debt: how the bottom half bolsters U.S. economy — By almost every measure, the U.S. economy is booming. But a look behind the headlines of roaring job growth and consumer spending reveals how the boom continues in large part by the poorer half of Americans fleecing their savings and piling up debt.

► In the Seattle Times — It’s suite at the top, but runaway CEO pay doesn’t help the economy (by Jon Talton) — Between 1978 and 2015 CEO pay grew 90 times faster than that of the typical employee, as middle-wage jobs have collapsed… We’ll keep publishing how much CEOs make. Many of them are perfectly nice individuals. Together, however, their extreme wealth is one symptom of a society pulling apart. It can’t end well.




► In today’s NY Times — Portugal dared to reject austerity, and it has paid off — As the economic misery deepened, Portugal took a daring stand: In 2015, it cast aside the harshest austerity measures its European creditors had imposed, igniting a virtuous cycle that put its economy back on a path to growth. The country reversed cuts to wages, pensions and social security, and offered incentives to businesses. The government’s U-turn, and willingness to spend, had a powerful effect. Creditors railed against the move, but the gloom that had gripped the nation through years of belt-tightening began to lift. Business confidence rebounded. Production and exports began to take off.


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

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