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EMTs may strike ● Proud to shut it down ● ‘A handle on our future’

Wednesday, December 12, 2018




► In today’s Tri-City Herald — U.S. government sues state over sick Hanford worker law — The federal government has sued the state of Washington to overturn a new law that has paid state workers compensation benefits to more sick Hanford workers.

ALSO at The Stand — ‘Depraved action’ by the Trump administration

► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee unveils $675 million plan to reverse crisis in Washington’s mental-health system — Seeking to reverse the multitude of crises that have engulfed Washington’s mental-health system, Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday released a plan that would radically reshape the care of patients by building hundreds of new community and hospital beds.

► From KNKX — Analysis: Gov. Inslee begins roll-out of proposed two-year budget (audio) — Gov. Jay Inslee is rolling out his proposed budget for the next two years, covering everything from climate change and mental health to orca recovery. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked in depth about some of the details on Morning Edition with Kirsten Kendrick.




► In today’s Seattle Times — With contract talks still stalled, Seattle EMTs set strike deadline of Dec. 21 — Saying some Emergency Medical Technicians make just above the minimum wage, the union representing about 450 EMTs plans to strike beginning Dec. 21 if they haven’t reached a new contract deal. The EMTs work for American Medical Response, a private company the City of Seattle contracts with to transport some patients to the hospital. Teamsters Local 763 ​has been negotiating with the company since the start of the year. Members overwhelmingly rejected the latest contract offer last month.

► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver Public Schools support staff push for contract — More than 200 Vancouver Public Schools secretaries, paraeducators and clerks demonstrated at district offices Tuesday, as their union and district leaders continue to negotiate a contract. The Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals will have a general membership meeting today, and some demonstrators, who declined to be named, say they believe the union should consider striking pending the outcome of today’s bargaining.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Mortenson replaces Skanska Hunt as general contractor for KeyArena renovation now topping $800 million — While the cost of the arena keeps mounting, much of that is due to additional features being added by Oak View Group and NHL Seattle.




► In today’s LA Times — Trump says he would be ‘proud’ to shut down the government over border wall funding — In a combative Oval Office meeting that previewed what a divided government may look like, President Trump sparred Tuesday with Democratic leaders and said he’d be “proud” to shut down the government later this month unless Congress provides taxpayer money to build his long-promised border wall with Mexico.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — AFGE to Congress, Trump: Spare working people from shutdown

► In today’s NY Times — Playing by his own rules, Trump flips shutdown script — Trump embraced ownership of a government shutdown if Democrats do not accede to his request for $5 billion to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico.

► In today’s Washington Post — Emergency! It’s time for Trump to fabricate another crisis! (by Dana Milbank) — Robert Mueller is circling, recessionary clouds are building, and Democrats are rising to power. For President Trump, this can mean only one thing: It’s time to fabricate a new crisis. And that’s exactly what he’s doing… His presidency has been one long series of self-generated crises, which he then resolves by more-or-less accepting a restored status quo. He is the arsonist who demands credit for dousing the fire.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Our long national nightmare is just beginning (by Max Boot) — We have a president who defrauded the American people to win office — and is now protected by the immunity that his office confers. All it takes is 34 votes in the Senate, and Trump can serve out his term even as his administration is consumed by the biggest political scandal in American history.

► From The Hill — Lame-duck House GOP may try vote on $5B for Trump border wall — A top GOP aide told The Hill that leadership is confident they’ll have the votes.

► From The Hill — In the Trump era, job satisfaction tumbles in the federal workforce — Job satisfaction tumbled this year at a majority of federal agencies, a survey set to be released Wednesday shows — a sign of failing morale and performance at a time when the Trump administration has made pointed critiques about the bureaucracy and many of its missions.

► From Politico — How Paul Ryan is selling his food stamp loss — House Speaker Paul Ryan is touting the bipartisan farm bill unveiled this week as a win for Republicans by claiming it strengthens work requirements for food stamp recipients — something Ryan has long sought. There is just one catch: It does no such thing.




► From the AFL-CIO — ‘A handle on our future’ — As details of the agreements between UNITE HERE workers and Marriott become public, one thing is clear: These victories provide a blueprint for collective bargaining going forward. As Brian Lang, president of UNITE HERE Local 26 in Boston said, “It changes people’s expectations about what’s possible.” For more than two months, 7,700 hotel workers from Boston to Hawaii went on strike, demanding better wages and respect from Marriott, the most profitable hotel chain in the world. These workers not only won better wages, they won a better future. Their wins could show the way forward for all workers, whether they’re in a union or not.

EDITOR’S NOTE — You and your co-workers can get a handle on your future, too! Contact a union organizer today to find out how you can join together and negotiate a fair return for your work.

► From The Hill — Americans stuck in place even as economy booms — The number of Americans who moved residences in the past year has fallen to the lowest levels ever measured by government statisticians, reinforcing the long-term battle for supremacy between urban cores and the rural communities that once dominated American politics. The lack of mobility has flummoxed demographers and economists, who say they would expect Americans to respond to a booming economy by chasing higher-paying jobs and new opportunities. 

EDITOR’S NOTE — Dear flummoxed demographers and economists: See chart.

► A related story 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.

► In the Washington Post — The star flutist was paid $64,451 less than the oboe player. So she sued. — Her lawsuit will be the first against an orchestra to test Massachusetts’s new equal-pay law, its outcome potentially affecting women across the U.S. workforce who are paid less than their male colleagues.

From Bloomberg — Employees at Amazon’s new NYC warehouse launch unionization push — A committee of employees at Amazon’s recently opened Staten Island fulfillment center is going public with a unionization campaign, a fresh challenge to the e-commerce giant in a city where it plans to build a major new campus.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Why Amazon Go cashierless stores could swoop into airport retail — Retail and airport experts agree that the Amazon Go model could bring a major boon to the company and airport shopping as a whole.

► From Bloomberg — Slate’s newly unionized writers and editors give OK to strike — Writers and editors at Slate have voted nearly unanimously to green-light a strike, escalating tensions between the digital publication and its newly unionized employees.




► From The Atlantic — The Golden Age of rich people not paying their taxes (by Paul Kiel and Jesse Eisinger) — In the summer of 2008, William Pfeil made a startling discovery: Hundreds of foreign companies that operated in the U.S. weren’t paying U.S. taxes, and his employer, the Internal Revenue Service, had no idea. Under U.S. law, companies that do business in the Gulf of Mexico owe the American government a piece of what they make drilling for oil there or helping those that do. But the vast majority of the foreign companies weren’t paying anything. Pfeil and the IRS started pursuing the non-U.S. entities. Ultimately, he figures he brought in more than $50 million in previously unpaid taxes over the course of about five years. It was an example of how the tax-collecting agency is supposed to work. But then Congress began regularly reducing the IRS budget. After 43 years with the agency, Pfeil — who had hoped to reach his 50th anniversary — was angry about the “steady decrease in budget and resources” the agency had seen. He retired in 2013 at 68. After Pfeil left, he heard that his program was being shut down. “I don’t blame the IRS,” says Pfeil. “I blame the Congress for not giving us the budget to do the job.”


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

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FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!