♥ Thursday, February 14, 2019 ♥
► In today’s Columbian — Clark College faculty seek pay increases — Clark College’s faculty union marched through campus Wednesday to support its bargaining team, which remains locked in contract negotiations with college administrators. Union members were clad in the trademark red of educator unions and carried the now-familiar Washington Education Association signs reading “Fair contract now!”
► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver Public Schools shaves away at budget cuts — District cites McCleary funding, teacher and support staff contracts, declining enrollment as it works to ax $14.3 million.
► In today’s News Tribune — Longtime Tacoma, Auburn grocery distribution sites to close as work moves to Centralia — United Natural Foods Inc. purchased Supervalu last year for $2.9 billion. As a result of the new combined operations, UNFI is closing distribution centers in Tacoma, Auburn and Portland. UNFI is building a new 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center in Centralia and expanding its Ridgefield operations in Clark County by more than 500,000 square feet.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Give schools a better chance to pass construction bonds (editorial) — Washington state’s Constitution, ratified in 1889, required a simple majority to pass a ballot measure authorizing bonds to pay for school construction. The Legislature changed that requirement to 60 percent in 1943 because of concerns about property taxes getting too high. The Legislature should put the threshold back to 50 percent. Too many school districts struggle to pass a school bond… Washington should restore the state Constitution to its original intent and require a simple majority to pass a school bond measure.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Car tab rumblings have yet to erupt into legislative fracas — There are proposals, but no hostile fire over how to provide savings without derailing light rail.
► In today’s Washington Post — Border deal nears passage as lawmakers prepare for votes, with Trump expected to sign — Lawmakers slogged toward completion of a massive spending bill and border security compromise Wednesday, preparing to pass it and send it to President Trump in time to avoid a government shutdown Friday at midnight. The mood in the Capitol was less of enthusiasm than relief as negotiators finalized legislation that would end, for now, political brinkmanship over Trump’s demands for money for a southern border wall. Those demands produced the nation’s longest partial government shutdown before it ended late last month after 35 days.
► From Vox — Congress’s spending deal doesn’t include back pay for federal contractors — Congressional lawmakers have finally released the full text of a spending package that includes $1.3 billion for new fencing along the southern border and funding for nine federal departments through September. The deal, if it passes and is signed by President Trump, means the government will avoid another shutdown.
PREVIOUSLY at The Stand — Tell your Representative to support H.R. 824 — Rep. Rick Larsen (D-2nd) is the only member of Congress from Washington state who has agreed to co-sponsor this legislation providing back pay for federal contract workers harmed by the shutdown.
► From NBC News — Trump blocking contractor back pay in gov’t funding deal, lawmaker says — President Donald Trump is blocking a measure to give back pay to federal contractors affected by last month’s government shutdown as part of a bipartisan agreement to avert another federal closure, a Republican lawmaker says.
► In today’s Columbian — Clark County federal employees anxiously await shutdown news
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — FAA, U.S. aviation needn’t be hostage in shutdowns (editorial) — Legislation offered by Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) would keep the FAA and its 17,000 employees, in particular air traffic controllers and FAA inspectors and others, on the job and, importantly, paid, even during a shutdown elsewhere in the government.
► From the office of Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.)
► From the AP — Democrats question pledges in $26.5B T-Mobile-Sprint deal — Democratic lawmakers challenged top executives of T-Mobile and Sprint on Wednesday over their pledge not to raise prices for wireless services or hurt competition if their $26.5 billion merger goes through.
► From Mother Jones — Another giant telecom merger could kill jobs and leave low-income consumers in the lurch. It’s happened before. — The story of T-Mobile’s iWireless acquisition, alongside new projections from economists, show that a T-Mobile/Sprint merger could lead to job cuts, higher prices for the lowest-income users, and downward pressure on competitors’ wages.
► From MSN — A confederate book was open to a racist passage in a GOP congressman’s office. He blamed his staff. — Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) has removed from his office a biography of Robert E. Lee, which was previously displayed there under a glass case and opened to a page highlighting the Confederate general’s racist ideology. Ferguson claimed he didn’t know the book was there until members of AFGE, who were visiting congressional offices on Monday, asked about it.
► From Bloomberg — Lacking buyers, Airbus abandons the iconic A380 superjumbo — Airbus decided to stop making the A380 double-decker after a dozen years in service. The radical move to cancel the plane outright marks a watershed moment for civil aviation. The A380 was always more than an aircraft, albeit a very large one. Rather, it was the manifestation of Europe’s collaborative drive and the continent’s industrial ambitions. For Airbus, the airliner sought to create a commanding counterweight to the Boeing Co., promising unparalleled space and luxury for increasingly congested airports and the skies above.
► In the NY Times Magazine — The secret history of women in coding — What sort of person possesses the kind of mentality to write code? Back then, it was assumed to be women. They had already played a foundational role in the prehistory of computing: During World War II, women operated some of the first computational machines used for code-breaking at Bletchley Park in Britain. In the United States, by 1960, according to government statistics, more than one in four programmers were women. At M.I.T.’s Lincoln Labs in the 1960s, where Mary Allen Wilkes worked (pictured at right), she recalls that most of those the government categorized as “career programmers” were female. It wasn’t high-status work — yet. Now, the industry is, astonishingly, less populated with women — and by many accounts less welcoming to them — than it was in Wilkes’s day. What went wrong?
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Why you should get excited about tech sector organizing (by Amy Yi) — On Saturday, Feb. 23, the Washington Labor Education and Research Center will be hosting a panel on “Tech Jobs and Organizing,” highlighting the momentum coming from within this sector as part of its Grand Re-opening Celebration & Conference.
► BREAKING from the NY Times — Amazon pulls out of planned New York City campus — Amazon said on Thursday that it was canceling plans to build a corporate campus in New York City. The company had planned to build a sprawling complex in Long Island City, Queens, in exchange for nearly $3 billion in state and city incentives. But the deal had run into fierce opposition from local lawmakers who criticized providing subsidies to one of the world’s most valuable companies.
► From Reuters — In rural Mississippi, still waiting on recovery — The economic decline in Leflore County, Mississippi, and rural places like it, worries Federal Reserve and other policymakers who fear it could feed broader problems, from slower growth overall to increased political tension.
► From American Prospect — How the public employee unions refused to die — When the Supreme Court ruled last June in the Janus case that government employees can’t be required to pay any fees to the unions that bargain for them, the common wisdom was the nation’s public-sector unions would be thrown hugely on the defensive. Evidently, the leaders of those unions didn’t get the message. To the contrary, they have gone on the offensive. As leaders from the nation’s four largest public-sector unions made clear at a forum last weekend in Washington, not only are their unions seeking to staunch the loss of fee-payers, they’re pushing mightily to add members…
“This is a battle to reclaim the soul of America,” said Becky Pringle, vice president of the NEA. “We are determined to change the narrative around unions. Unions built this country, and we got to start standing up and screaming that everywhere.”
ALSO at The Stand — After Janus, unions got even stronger in Washington state — More rank-and-file members in Washington state are maintaining membership in their unions, including thousands who previously did not. In fact, according to the latest BLS estimates, Washington now has the lowest percentage of “union withdrawals” of any state in the country.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.