Family leaders ● NAFTA 2.0 pressure ● No raises? This isn’t working
Monday, December 3, 2018
► From KOMO News — Washington to implement best paid family and medical leave in America in 2019 — Washington state will start implementing one of thebest paid family and medical leave programs in America on January 1 – with employees eligible to take up to 16 weeks off in 2020. The new program functions much like insurance and applies to all companies. The premium is equal to 0.4 percent of wages, with both employees and employers each paying their share beginning Jan. 1, 2019. The benefits will kick in 2020. Workers can start taking up to 16 weeks of paid time off – whether to care for new children, sick relatives, or recover from an illness. Employees will receive weekly pay that equals up to 90 percent of their regular salary, with a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $1,000 per payment.
► From the WA State Budget & Policy Center — Washingtonians should be paid for the hours they work — We all want to live in a state where working people are fairly compensated for the hours they put in on the job, have the ability to balance work with their personal lives, and have a chance to get ahead. Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries have an opportunity to move us closer to this vision by modernizing our state’s overtime rules – a key labor protection for working people in our state.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Gov. Jay Inslee is raising money to explore presidential run — The committee, Vision PAC, was quietly registered in early October and is the most concrete evidence to date that Inslee is serious about possibly entering what will be a crowded Democratic presidential field.
► From The Hill — Trump’s new NAFTA faces uphill battle in Congress — Democrats mulling presidential runs in 2020, as well as labor and environmental groups, were already gearing up for a showdown with Trump over trade, and the revised NAFTA will give them an opening for a new line of attack. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Friday called for a major rewrite of the deal signed in Argentina at the Group of 20 summit: “As it stands, this agreement has not earned the support of America’s working families. Without major improvements, this supposed overhaul will prove to be nothing more than a rebranded corporate handout.”
► From Politico — Trump, Xi declare truce on new tariffs as trade talks continue — Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed Saturday to a temporary trade cease-fire to allow time for more negotiations. The move means that U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods will not rise to 25 percent on Jan. 1, from 10 percent currently.
► From AP — Thugs break up Mexico union vote despite new trade pact — Thugs broke up an attempt to certify a new, more independent union at a Finnish-owned automotive wiring plant in Ciudad Acuna a day before leaders of the U.S., Mexico and Canada signed a new trade pact requiring Mexico to better protect workers’ rights.
► In the Washington Post — How George H.W. Bush pushed the United States to embrace free trade (by Amanda Erickson) — The leader, who died this weekend, was a champion of free trade and a key architect of globalization, a legacy in danger under the Trump administration… George Bush’s biggest accomplishment, though, was the negotiation of NAFTA, and he signed the accord just a month before leaving office. It was the result of years of work. At the time, unions worried that the deal would hasten the flow of U.S. jobs to Mexico, where labor was cheaper and laws more lenient. Bush, however, saw it differently. He said the accord would open up a new market for American goods, creating more jobs.
► In the NY Times — Federal employees are warned not to discuss Trump ‘resistance’ at work — Roughly two million people who work for the federal government have now been told that it may be illegal for them to participate in such discussions at work — a pronouncement that legal specialists say breaks new ground, and that some criticized as going too far. Generally, federal employees have been free to express opinions about policies and legislative activity at work as long as they do not advocate voting for or against particular candidates in partisan elections. But in a guidance document distributed on Wednesday, the independent agency that enforces the Hatch Act, a law that bars federal employees from taking part in partisan political campaigns at work or in an official capacity, warned that making or displaying statements at work about impeaching or resisting Mr. Trump is likely to amount to illegal political activity.
► In the Washington Post — The surprisingly high number of Americans getting absolutely no raises — Even as the unemployment rate has declined to 3.7 percent, its lowest point since 1969, roughly 14 percent of workers — or 1 in 7 — have seen their earnings stall over the past year, counting only those who have stayed in the same job. That’s only a slight improvement over the 16 percent rate reached in the hangover years after the Great Recession.
► In the NY Times — American capitalism isn’t working (by David Leonhardt) — Not so long ago, corporate leaders understood they had a stake in the country’s prosperity. Most executives behaved as if they cared about their workers and communities. CEOs accepted pay packages that today look like a pittance. Middle-class incomes rose faster in the 1950s and 1960s than incomes at the top. Imagine that: declining income inequality. And the economy — and American business — boomed during this period. Things began to change in the 1970s. Facing more global competition and higher energy prices, and with Great Depression memories fading, executives became more aggressive. They decided that their sole mission was maximizing shareholder value. They fought for deregulation, reduced taxes, union-free workplaces, lower wages and much, much higher pay for themselves. They justified it all with promises of a wonderful new economic boom. That boom never arrived… The great stagnation of living standards is a defining problem of our time. The solution will need to involve a return to higher taxes on the rich. But it’s also worth thinking about pre-tax incomes — and specifically what goes on inside corporations. It’s worth asking the question that Benton asked: What kind of corporate America does the rest of America need?
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.