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End the shutdown ● Skagit nurses rally ● L.A. teachers win ● Death to Scabby?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019




► In today’s Seattle Times — Federal employees rally outside Sea-Tac Airport to push for end of shutdown — As the Senate this week is expected to vote on dueling proposals to end the government shutdown, federal workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport face the prospect of a second missed paycheck. On Tuesday, day 32 of the longest shutdown in U.S. history, about 65 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers, air traffic controllers and their supporters rallied outside the airport to call for an end. “One missed paycheck is a problem, two is a crisis and three is a full-on disaster,” said NATCA’s Eddie DeLisle of the union’s estimated 400 workers in the Seattle region. “You’re taking an already exhausted workforce and stretching them thin.” Federal employees have applied for food stamps and utilized food banks, something many of them have never done before, said Cairo D’Almeida, president of AFGE Local 1121.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Unpaid air traffic controllers at Spokane airport try to draw attention to their shutdown plight — About a dozen air traffic controllers fanned out around the airport between 1 and 5 p.m., handing out pamphlets describing their work and encouraging travelers to call Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th) and tell her to fund the federal government.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Could the humble TSA agent save democracy? Increasingly they’re being asked to try. (by Danny Westneat) — Apparently the only thing bleaker than going through airport security is working for it. Low pay, terrible hours and the ever-cranky traveling public are the top reasons why. So it’s ironic that people now are turning to the lowly TSA agent and saying: Save us. The idea, as the partial federal shutdown enters its record-setting 32nd day, is that targeted walkouts or a full-on strike by TSA agents could temporarily cripple U.S. airports, potentially creating global-transportation chaos… “It’s unfair this political burden has fallen to us,” said TSA agent and AFGE Local 1121 President Cairo D’Almeida. Ain’t that America? Unfair, yes. But workers may have to rise up somewhere, somehow, to shake up the political dynamic. It’s pretty clear it’s going to stay broken at the top.

► From AFGE — Feds take to the streets after missing first paycheck — Across the nation, AFGE members, federal employees, and allies took to the streets after 800,000 federal workers missed their first pay check due to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

► From HuffPost — Coast Guard chief slams ‘unacceptable’ shutdown as members set to miss pay again

► From Reuters — Senate sets votes but U.S. shutdown likely to go on — There was no sign of relief on Wednesday for 800,000 federal workers going without pay because of the partial government shutdown as the U.S. Senate scheduled votes on competing proposals facing steep odds to end the month-long impasse triggered by President Trump’s demand for border wall funding.

► From KUOW — The border wall isn’t the only reason Democrats oppose plan to end the shutdown — The proposed bill includes some big changes to U.S. immigration policy that were not included in the president’s public announcement.

► From The Hill — GOP seeks to change narrative in shutdown fight — Republicans, who have seen poll after poll showing that a majority of respondents blame Trump for the shutdown, are eager to corner Democrats by forcing a vote on the White House proposal to reopen the government and provide Trump with $5.7 billion in wall funding.

► From The Hill — Trump disapproval rating at all-time high amid shutdown, Russia concerns

► From HuffPost — Passenger confronts GOP congressman over flying first class during shutdown

► In today’s Washington Post — Hundreds of IRS employees are skipping work. That could delay tax refunds. — Hundreds of Internal Revenue Service employees have received permission to skip work during the partial government shutdown due to financial hardship, and union leaders said Tuesday that they expected absences to surge as part of a coordinated protest that could hamper the government’s ability to process taxpayer refunds on time.

► From The Atlantic — The wheels of justice are grinding to a halt — FBI agents have lost irreplaceable sources. Joint Terrorism Task Force officers can’t get into the bureau’s computer systems. Federal investigations are being stymied by a lack of resources. The partial government shutdown, now in its 33rd day, has become a serious national-security threat, the FBI Agents Association said on Tuesday.

► In today’s WSJ — Shutdown poses risk to health care (subscription req’d) — Some consumers could risk losing tax credits to help pay for their ACA coverage, an Indian agency can’t continue paying clinics and insurers are scrambling to design plans for next year due to a shortage of government staff and funding.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Federal shutdown delays start of airline service in Everett — Key FAA officials, who must give a final OK to Paine Field passenger flights, are on furlough.




► In today’s Skagit Valley Herald — Nurses rally ahead of contract negotiations — Registered nurses with Skagit Regional Health rallied Tuesday to demand changes to staffing, compensation and benefits. “The main thing is staffing,” said WSNA’s Ruth Schubert. “Nurses work around the clock in all units of the hospital.” The rally came ahead of a contract negotiation session scheduled for Friday — the 14th such meeting since May and the first that will include a state mediator. About 65 people attended the rally in front of the Skagit County Courthouse in Mount Vernon.

► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver schools support staff union votes in favor of strike — Vancouver Public Schools’ support staff union will go on strike effective Friday if a contract deal is not reached this week. By a vote of 93 percent, the Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals voted Tuesday to go on strike in light of continued disagreements over contract negotiations. About 500 people attended the general membership meeting at Fort Vancouver High School.

ALSO at The Stand — Issaquah school support staff sets Jan. 29 strike deadline

► In today’s Wenatchee World — Union: No confidence in East Wenatchee police chief — The East Wenatchee police officers’ union submitted a letter to City Council on Tuesday detailing a lack of confidence in Chief Randy Harrison and Assistant Chief Ray Coble.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — PNNL contract launches $90 million energy research building in Richland — The contract, awarded to a Houston-based team of Harvey Cleary Builders and Kirksey Architecture, should provide opportunities for local construction subcontractors and suppliers.




► From Forbes — New Congress will hold historic hearings on expanding Social Security and Medicare (by Nancy Altman) — These hearings are a major development. They will mark the first time the House of Representatives has held hearings on expanding Social Security in almost half a century and the first time ever on improving Medicare and expanding it to cover all Americans.

► From HuffPost — The uninsured rate is the highest it’s been in 5 years — The Affordable Care Act brought the share of Americans without health insurance to a historic low. But things have changed since Donald Trump became president.




► From AFSCME — New union membership data reveal anti-worker assault is failing — Despite a multimillion-dollar, decades-long war waged by special interests on public sector workers’ right to join together for a better life—culminating in Janus, which was meant to “defund and defang” unions—official statistics show 2018 public sector membership held strong at 7,167,000, a marginal 0.5 percent decline, with total U.S. union membership at 14,721,000 million. Public service unions have all seen more membership joins than drops since the decision.

ALSO at The Stand — Washington state’s unions post big membership gains

► In today’s LA Times — L.A. teachers’ strike ends — The Los Angeles teachers union ended its strike Tuesday night, based on overwhelming support for a contract agreement with the school district, union leaders said. The strike was an undeniable victory in terms of public attention and support and political momentum… Striking teachers were sincere when they said the walkout was always about more than salary. The broader concerns they voiced — about overcrowded classrooms and schools without nurses on hand to help when a student got hurt or fell ill — had a lot to do with why the public responded so warmly and cheered them on, bringing food to the lines and even bringing their children to march alongside the strikers.

► From Jacobin — After L.A.’s strike, ‘Nothing will be the same’ — The Los Angeles teachers’ strike was big, it was united, and now it’s victorious. We interview UTLA chief negotiator Arlene Inouye about how the strike turned the tables on the billionaire privatizers.

► In today’s LA Times — L.A. teachers celebrate their victories as union and district reach a deal

► In today’s Denver Post — Denver teachers strike: Union votes to authorize first walkout in 25 years — “Tonight, Denver teachers overwhelmingly agreed to strike,” said Rob Gould, the union’s lead negotiator. “Ninety three percent voted to strike. They’re striking for better pay. They’re striking for our profession. And they’re striking for Denver students.”

► In the Detroit News — GM leaves workers’ futures uncertain (by UAW President Gary Jones) — The focus of GM’s November announcement shutting down plants in Lordstown, Ohio; Hamtramck and Warren, Mich.; and Baltimore shouldn’t be about money. It should be about people. UAW GM members are dedicated and committed to making a great product, supporting the success of a company, and supporting a solid, prosperous community. Unfortunately, that’s not how it’s playing out. UAW GM members are facing the disruption of their families.




► From Bloomberg — Death to Scabby: Trump labor counsel wants protest icon deflated — Scabby the Rat stands 12 to 30 feet tall, teeth bared and claws raised aggressively, with hungry, bloodshot eyes. The giant rodent’s sickly-looking underbelly refers to the ‘scab’ pejorative sometimes used by unions against strikebreakers, making it a global symbol of worker protest. Courts and the NLRB have issued rulings over three decades holding that the inflatables are permitted under federal labor laws or are symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment. But the NLRB’s current general counsel, Peter Robb, has had enough of the rat—to the point that since April 2018 he’s been looking for a case he can use to exterminate it, according to sources familiar with his thinking.


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