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Feds sue over Hanford bill ● UW growth OK’d ● Sticking with the union

Tuesday, December 11, 2018




► From KUOW — Federal government sues Washington state over law to help sick Hanford workers — The federal government filed a lawsuit Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington in an attempt to block a Washington law passed earlier this year that aims to help sick Hanford nuclear cleanup workers obtain workers’ compensation.

Nov. 27 at The Stand — Feds oppose workers’ comp protections for Hanford workers

► From AP — Inslee wants 100 percent clean energy in Washington by 2045 — Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday proposed an ambitious package of legislation to tackle climate change, including eliminating fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal from the state’s electricity supply by 2045.

► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma should disinvest from fossil fuels, and the reasons go beyond progressive politics (by Matt Driscoll) — Provided the city can disinvest from fossil fuels without jeopardizing the long-term financial outlook of its retirement system, which is rightfully the primary concern, it should heed such a recommendation, and fast. But this decision is about more than politics.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Manweller must proceed with resignation (editorial) — Plagued by sexual misconduct allegations, state Rep. Matt Manweller promised that if he won re-election Nov. 6, he would later resign. Yet weeks after the Ellensburg Republican coasted to a 22-point victory, he has yet to announce when he will step down. The lack of a clear timeline for Manweller’s departure is making it impossible for local government officials to move ahead with selecting his replacement… If Manweller delays too long, his replacement might miss the start of the legislative session, creating an unnecessarily rocky start to a job that already has a steep learning curve.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle City Council approves plan for UW to build 6 million square feet, add high-rise district — The University of Washington won City Council approval Monday for a massive growth plan, including a high-rise “innovation district.” The university’s master plan for its Seattle campus in the next 10 years and beyond calls for up to 6 million square feet in new construction to accommodate another 7,000-plus students and employees.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane City Council puts property tax to pay more firefighters, police on ballot — Voters will be asked to pass a property tax increase in February that would pay for 20 police officers and 30 firefighters as well as criminal justice programs.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane City Council passes Uber and Lyft regulations — The Spokane City Council unanimously approved new regulations on ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, requiring safety inspections, licenses and a surcharge on rides.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle approves new office to help city employees with workplace harassment, discrimination — The office will support city employees dealing with workplace misconduct and will operate independently from the Department of Human Resources and the Office for Civil Rights.




► In today’s Kitsap Sun — One-vote discrepancy in 26th District Senate race questioned by Secretary of State — Kitsap County’s canvassing board will reconvene and investigate why the manual recount of Precinct 003 (in Bremerton) was one ballot short of the electronic count in the 26th LD Senate race. The recount confirmed Democrat Emily Randall defeated Republican Marty McClendon by 102 votes out of more than 70,000 ballots cast.




► From ProPublica — How the IRS was gutted — An eight-year campaign to slash the agency’s budget has left it understaffed, hamstrung and operating with archaic equipment. The result: billions less to fund the government. That’s good news for corporations and the wealthy.

► From The Hill — Pressure builds as Pelosi, Schumer, Trump meet over border wall demands — Trump is pushing for $5 billion to fund one of his top priorities, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is under intense pressure not to give in just weeks after her party’s midterm victories. She also has the Speaker’s gavel on the line.

► From The Hill — GOP fights piling up for McConnell — The Senate Majority Leader finds himself in the middle of an increasingly public and bitter battle over criminal justice reform that pits TrumpJared Kushner and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee against a group of conservatives opposed to the bill.

► From The Guardian — Universal healthcare could save America trillions: what’s holding us back? — Casting Medicare-for-all as an economic impossibility is becoming a sisyphean pursuit: a slew of studies – including one released just the other week – are confirming that, yes, we can afford real universal healthcare in America. But if that’s the case, why haven’t we already achieved it? Well, the real stumbling block is not that single-payer advocates’ arithmetic is poor, it’s that American politics are dominated by the rich.

► In today’s Washington Post — We are former senators. The Senate has long stood in defense of democracy — and must again. (by 44 former U.S. senators) — As former members of the U.S. Senate, Democrats and Republicans, it is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.




► From The Guardian — Courts likely to strike down Republican lame-duck power grabs, experts say — Among other issues, experts contend many of the Republican laws blur the constitutionally mandated separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

► In today’s NY Times — With power grabs in the Midwest, GOP risks a 2020 backlash — The Republican efforts could hurt the party’s image with moderate voters in a region that President Trump considers crucial for his 2020 re-election effort, and where his standing has fallen in suburbs that he would need to carry again to win. 




► In The Guardian — ‘Blatant scare tactics’: Iowa university leads crackdown on student unions — A liberal arts college in Iowa is taking a hardline anti-union approach that could put student unions at private American colleges and universities in jeopardy across the whole country. Grinnell College filed an appeal last week to the NLRB after the regional office in Minneapolis denied its request to stop a student union vote on Nov. 27. The appeal gives the Trump-appointed NLRB an opportunity to revisit its August 2016 Columbia University decision that ruled student workers at private institutions should be considered employees and have the right to unionize.

► From Reuters — Verizon says to shed 10,400 jobs by mid next year — Verizon Communications Inc said on Monday that about 10,400 employees will be leaving the U.S. wireless carrier by mid next year as part of the company’s voluntary separation program.

EDITOR’S NOTE — As this Bloomberg report notes, about 6.8 percent of Verizon’s staff  accepted voluntary buyouts “that will result in a charge of as much as $2.1 billion, which will be offset by a $2.1 billion tax benefit in the fourth quarter.” So, Verizon is using its tax break to lay off more than 10,000 employees. A year ago, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th) & Co. were promising the tax breaks would create jobs and raise wages. Instead, most of the money was handed to shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks. At least Verizon’s tax-break money is going to its employees, in exchange for their jobs. And, as for tax cuts raising wages…

► From Vox — New jobs report shows that the economy is steady but wages are lagging — In November, private sector workers (excluding farmworkers) got an average 6-cent hourly raise, adding up to an average hourly pay of $27.35. That was lower than economists expected, and reflects the same slow wage growth that has plagued the economy in recent years.




► From Governing — Defying predictions, union membership isn’t dropping post-Janus — So far, even as anti-union organizations wage campaigns to convince members to drop out, most are staying put. Some unions have actually increased their numbers since the Janus verdict. “I think the right wing thought this would decimate public-sector unions, and they were clearly wrong,” says Kim Cook of the Cornell University Worker Institute, which provides research and education in support of unions and workers’ rights. According to AFSCME President Lee Saunders, “After the Janus case, public-service workers are choosing to join AFSCME at a much higher rate than those who drop.” But conservative groups are working to reverse that trend in the long run.


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