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End the shutdown ● Health plan takeover ● Tacoma leads the way

Thursday, January 3, 2019




► From the AFL-CIO — End the shutdown — Working people — and their livelihoods — should never be used as political pawns.

► In the NY Times — Trump’s shutdown is not about border security (editorial) — If Trump would take the time to check in with what’s happening in the real world, he might read about the divorced Army veteran who’d worked “three jobs to survive” before getting hired as a paralegal at the Federal Trade Commission — and who now has no idea if he’ll make the rent. He could hear from the single mother who says that she’ll have enough for rent — but not for food. He might be moved by the wife of a corrections officer wondering how her family will handle their “mortgage, day care and car payments” while her husband is working without pay. Or by the disabled Air Force vet who, having waited more than a year for “service-connected surgery,” cannot get final approval for her procedure until the shutdown ends.

An estimated 800,000 federal workers have had their lives upended by this latest presidential temper tantrum. Some 420,000 of those, deemed “essential personnel,” are working without pay. This includes upward of 41,000 law enforcement officials, 54,000 Border Patrol agents and 53,000 Transportation Security Administration workers. (If you flew this holiday season, it was only thanks to these unpaid women and men.) Another 380,000 workers have been furloughed, including 28,800 employees of the Forest Service, 16,000 in the National Park Service and 16,700 at NASA. The longer the stoppage continues, the more people will feel the squeeze.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — We need real immigration reform, not a wall (by Jeff Johnson)

► In today’s NY Times — Trump, Democrats dig in after talks to reopen government go nowhere — President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders dug in Wednesday for a lengthy partial shutdown in a newly divided government after a White House meeting — the first in 22 days — could not break an impasse over Trump’s demands for billions of dollars for a border wall.

► In today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal — No deal to end shutdown; Trump says it will last ‘as long as it takes’

► From ABC News — During shutdown, janitors, security guards, and other federal contractors receive no back pay

► From the Washington Post — Shutdown worsens strain on U.S. immigration system — Tens of thousands of U.S. immigration officers and agents are showing up for work each day to guard the Mexico border, where President Trump insists on putting a wall. But the government is shut down, so no one is getting paid. The paralysis in bank accounts extends to overburdened U.S. immigration courts. New filings are piling up on dockets already backlogged by nearly 1 million cases, but many of the judges and clerks who process them have been sent home.

► From WWSB — Continued government shutdown stalls FAA investigation into deadly plane crash — A plane crash investigation in Michigan is on hold because of the ongoing government shutdown. The FAA confirms it cannot send out of a crash investigator at this time.




► In today’s Seattle Times — With $900 million price tag, Washington state will soon take over all school employee health care plans — Big changes are coming to health benefits for all public school employees once the state takes control of them starting next January. But a lot of behind-the-scenes work needs to happen before those workers and their families — as many as 300,000 individuals — even know what monthly premiums they can expect to pay once open enrollment starts this fall.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Two former Spokane Valley fire captains died in December. In both cases, long-term exposure to toxins may be to blame. — For the second time in less than a week, the Spokane Valley Fire Department has announced the death of a former fire captain, and again, work-related exposure to toxins is suspected as the cause. On Friday, the department announced that former Capt. Tim Cruger, 67, died of cancer caused from exposure to smoke while on the job. Five days later, on Wednesday, the department announced the death of former Capt. David Phay, 57, adding that an investigation is underway to determine if Phay’s death was linked to work-related toxins encountered on the job.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Sound Transit probably won’t be ignored by lawmakers in 2019 — There’s unfinished business with car tab fees. And electing directors might be up for discussion, too.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Alliance of civic leaders to press lawmakers for 522 fixes — Coalition focused on lining up funding to widen highway and redo Paradise Lake Road interchange.




► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma treats low-paid workers with dignity, and Washington is catching up (editorial) — On Jan. 1, Washington’s minimum wage went up by 50 cents, to $12 an hour. Those who work in Tacoma got an even bigger sweetener. The city’s wage floor, already at $12, rose to $12.35 an hour, thanks to an inflationary adjustment that was part of the phased-in minimum wage hike approved by Tacoma voters in 2015… (I-1433) gave workers across Washington a valuable new benefit that was already in place in Tacoma: one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Tacoma voters should be credited for helping set the sick-pay trend, just as they did the higher minimum wage. It’s a godsend for low-income workers who historically have gone to work ill or had to take unpaid time off to care for themselves or an ailing family member.

ALSO at The Stand — New year brings family-friendly policies

► In today’s Columbian — Kaiser Permanente, unions set for court trial — Even though Kaiser settled contract negotiations with some labor unions in November, disagreement continues between Kaiser and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which consists of 11 labor unions in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Don’t let feds change the rules for cleaning up Hanford nuclear waste (by Tom Carpenter) — The Department of Energy wants to change the rules to make the job easier and save money. If approved, the proposal poses new dangers to the health and safety of people and the environment — not just in southeastern Washington, but at nuclear sites around the country.

► In the NW Labor Press — Transit union cries foul as TriMet contracts out shuttle service for its own drivers — Is Oregon’s largest transit agency incapable of operating a single shuttle bus? You might think so given TriMet’s decision to hire an outside contractor to provide temporary shuttle service for its own workers.




► From HuffPost — House Democrats start investigating Trump this morning — When the 116th Congress is sworn in on Thursday, the Democratic Party will control the House of Representatives ― and the new committee chairs are ready to finally conduct rigorous oversight of the president’s administration for the first time.

► From CNBC — House Democrats set up framework to intervene in federal court case striking down Obamacare — Democrats about to take over control of the House of Representatives have moved to defend Obamacare from a court challenge that threatens to kill the landmark health-care reform law.

► From Vox — The PAYGO fight roiling House Democrats, explained — This battle over an obscure budget rule is really a fight for the future of the Democratic Party.




► In the LA Daily News — Los Angeles School District hires hundreds of substitute staffers potential scabs as teachers prepare to strike — With negotiations on a new contract at a standstill, the giant school district says about 400 subs have been hired, drawing the ire of a defiant union.


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

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