Friday, February 15, 2019
SHUTDOWNS AND EMERGENCIES
► In today’s Washington Post — Congress approves border deal to avert shutdown; Trump to sign it and seek wall money elsewhere — Congress on Thursday approved a massive budget deal to avert an impending government shutdown, and President Trump promised to sign it, but only after announcing he would also declare a national emergency so he can get more money for a border wall. If Trump keeps his promise to sign the measure, it would avert a government shutdown that would have started Saturday and keep the government open through at least Sept. 30.
ALSO at The Stand — Rally Saturday at Sea-Tac Airport: No more federal lockouts! — Although it appears that this latest shutdown that would begin at midnight Friday will be averted, Saturday’s rally will go on. The message is the same: stop playing political games with federal employees’ lives and stop putting aviation safety at risk! Participants will gather Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Sea-Tac International Airport’s Flag Pavilion at International Blvd and S. 182nd St. Learn more.
► In today’s Washington Post — Was it worth it? Many suffered in Trump’s wall budget loss (by Joe Davidson) — Was it worth it? Was Trump’s 35-day shutdown and the menace of another three weeks of dispute worth more than a month without pay for 800,000 federal employees? Was it worth it to force about half of them to work in a state of involuntary servitude? Was it worth it for the contractors and other business people who lost income with no assurance of back pay? Was it worth it for the services that taxpayers lost? Was it worth it for the national and international shame, disgust and confusion that smeared Uncle Sam’s reputation? Was it worth it for a southern border wall most people don’t want and Trump repeatedly promised Mexico would fund? The answer for all responsible people is a resounding no.
► In today’s Washington Post — ‘Off the rails’: Inside Trump’s attempt to claim victory in his border wall defeat — After three weeks of pained negotiations to keep the federal government open, Trump almost blew the whole thing up again on Thursday… For Trump, the negotiations were never really about figuring out how to win. They were about figuring out how to lose — and how to cast his ultimate defeat as victory instead.
► In today’s NY Times — Trump will declare a national emergency. What happens next? — Congress has tools to override the president’s declaration, but opponents most likely do not have the votes to overcome a veto.
► From Politico — Legal war looms over Trump move to declare border emergency — Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency in order to access funds Congress refused to appropriate for his border wall is set to unleash a furious legal war that could bog down the project for months or years.
► In today’s NY Times — A Trump-made emergency (editorial) — To repeat: The influx of migrant families at the southern border does not constitute a national security crisis, much less a bona fide emergency. There is, at this point, a worsening humanitarian crisis, actively fueled by the draconian policies of the administration. But the suffering on display requires thoughtful policy adjustments, not a steel monstrosity… This administration is forever coming up with creative new ways to disturb and dismay the nation. Trump’s eagerness to undermine the Constitution to serve his short-term political gain remains among the most outrageous.
► From The Hill — Pelosi warns GOP: Next president could declare national emergency on guns — “Let’s talk about today: The one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America,” Pelosi said. “That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would. But a Democratic president can do that.”
OUR “GOLDEN GOOSE”
► From Fortune — Amazon will pay a whopping $0 in federal taxes on $11.2 billion profits –Amazon won’t have to pay a cent in federal taxes for the second year in a row, according to a report published by the Institute on Taxation and Economic (ITEP) policy. This tax-free break comes even though Amazon almost doubled its U.S. profits from $5.6 billion to $11.2 billion between 2017 and 2018. To top it off, Amazon actually reported a $129 million 2018 federal income tax rebate — making its tax rate -1%… ITEP notes that its non-existent federal tax payment is a result of the Trump Administration’s corporation-friendly tax cuts.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, don’t be surprised when you do your taxes to discover you are paying MORE this year. That horrible tax giveaway to corporations and the rich was strongly supported by Washington’s Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse. And now its resulting deficits are being used as an excuse to cut Social Security and Medicare, just as the labor movement warned it would.
► In today’s NY Times — Amazon’s retreat on New York City HQ followed unexpected backlash — Amazon on Thursday canceled its plans to build an expansive corporate campus in New York City after facing an unexpectedly fierce backlash from lawmakers, progressive activists and union leaders, who contended that a tech giant did not deserve nearly $3 billion in government incentives.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Amazon: Canceled New York jobs likely to go elsewhere; company will ‘continue to evaluate’ growth in Seattle — “We currently have more than 9,000 open roles in Seattle and will continue to evaluate future growth,” the company said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
EDITOR’S NOTE — 1) Is a “role” what the rest of us call a job?
2) Also today, The Seattle Times editorializes: “Seattle City Hall has done its best to stifle (Amazon’s) job creation, creating a template for how organized labor and shortsighted politicians can kill a golden goose, by demonizing a company like Amazon and creating a hostile climate for job creators.”
Seattle’s “hostile climate” has helped Amazon grow into the biggest corporation in the planet and helped create the world’s richest man (supplanting the previous world’s richest man, also from here). Meanwhile, this particular alive-and-well golden goose has been crapping out jobs with a median pay of under $29,000. That means that half of Amazon’s employees earned less than that. As Henry Grabar points out at Slate, when fewer and fewer people benefit, cities can no longer worship growth at any cost. And that’s why the Times’ jobs-no-matter-what ideology is so tired and out of touch with the moment. It’s that kind of thinking that helped create this era of historic wealth inequality, corporate control of our lives, oligarchy — and the growing backlash against all three.
► In the Washington Post — Why more and more people don’t want tech giants like Amazon moving into their neighborhood — Tech companies bring in small armies of workers but these are rarely recruited from the neighborhoods in question and the new arrivals drive up prices for locals. While city leaders may love the new additions, residents don’t.
► In the Tacoma Weekly — Nathe Lawver adds name to Tacoma City Council race — Nathe Lawver has announced he is running for Tacoma City Council, District 1. Lawver has spent much of the past 10 years working on policy to improve the lives of hard-working people in the city of Tacoma, including the City’s landmark minimum wage increase and paid sick leave laws. He is endorsed by Anders Ibsen who currently holds the position and is term limited out of running for a third term.
► In the Auburn Reporter — Rep. Entenman proposes sales tax break for low- and middle-income families — Rep. Debra Entenman (D-Kent) has proposed a refund on state sales taxes for lower-income workers. The bill to advance the Working Families Tax Credit aims to help families make ends meet while addressing the state’s inequitable tax code.
ALSO at The Stand — In 2019, let’s start balancing our tax code
► In today’s Seattle Times — Former Eastside lawmaker arrested after drinking with underage relative, police say — Police officers on Sunday arrested former state Rep. Jay Rodne (R-Snoqualmie), who according to a police report, said, “you guys are making a huge mistake.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — Former state Sen. Joe Fain to lead Bellevue Chamber of Commerce
► Speaking of Amazon paying $0 in taxes… in today’s NY Times — The federal debt is rising. Concern is not. — The federal debt ticked past $22 trillion this week, a record that comes despite continued economic growth, but neither political party appears to be making a priority of debt reduction. During the first two years of the Trump administration, the debt increased by more than $2 trillion, in part because of the $1.5 trillion tax cut and large spending increases the president has signed into law. Trump was among those who warned of the dire consequences of debt. In February 2015, he tweeted that if the debt topped $21 trillion, “Obama will have effectively bankrupted our country.” And the next year, in March 2016, Trump said he could eliminate the federal debt within eight years.
► From TPM — Top federal labor agency fires its union — Federal Labor Relations Authority Chairwoman Colleen Duffy Kiko has announced that she’s decertifying the authority’s own union. In other words, she’s firing the agency’s union. Her argument is that the agency isn’t allowed to have a union under the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act. It’s worth noting that the law is 40 years old. So no other chair in the last 40 years thought this was a problem.
► From Bloomberg — Six out of 10 U.S. CEOs see Trump’s tariffs as helping — With the U.S. and China starting a fresh round of trade talks this week, a new survey showed more American executives see their businesses gaining from a potential increase in tariffs than being hurt by it.
HOWARD THE SCHMUCK
► MUST-READ in the NW Labor Press — A union-busting billionaire mulls a run for president — Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is horrified at a proposal to return to 70 percent taxes on him and his fellow billionaires. He thinks Medicare for All is un-American. He’d prefer billionaires were referred to as “people of means.” He told MSNBC that “unions are not the answer” to the problem of growing inequality. Since he tweeted his presidential aspirations last month, his mostly-foam platform has gone over so poorly that in Indiana he had to ask his invitation-only audience to clap, and one poll showed him the lowest-rated of any potential candidate tested. Yet CBS, Fox, and CNN have given the “thinking about it” independent candidate for president copious free air time to share his “vision for the country.” All that makes Kent, Washington, union member Jeff Alexander a little bit sick.
► From Vox — The Denver teachers strike is over. They won. — More than 2,000 educators, who have been on strike since Monday, said they reached a tentative deal Thursday with the local school district. Details are not yet available, but the deal includes an average 11.7 percent pay raise and annual cost of living increases, according to the school district. It also addresses the teachers’ biggest concern: the need to overhaul the merit-pay system, which relies heavily on annual bonuses that fluctuate from year to year. The new system will place more emphasis on education and training when considering promotions, while keeping some bonuses in place.
EDITOR’S NOTE — When we fight, we win. Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today.
► From HuffPost — Severance pay could be the next big progressive labor cause — The recent mass store closures at retail chains Toys R Us and Sears have spawned a campaign to guarantee severance pay to laid-off workers. Its backers now face their first big legislative test: a bill in New Jersey that would make severance a requirement for large employers.
► From Variety — Game Workers Unite wants Activision Blizzard to fire its CEO — The grassroots labor organization is calling on Activision Blizzard to fire CEO Bobby Kotick following massive layoffs at the video game publisher earlier this week. “Upending 800 workers’ lives while raking in millions in bonuses for you and your c-suite buddies isn’t leadership, it’s theft,” Game Workers Unite said on Twitter. “We, the workers of Activision and their friends, have had enough. Join us in saying that it’s time to #FireBobbyKotick.”
ALSO at The Stand — Why you should get excited about tech sector organizing (by Amy Yi)
► On Saturday night, The Entire Staff of The Stand will be at this band’s sold-out show at The Showbox in Seattle. (Save the Showbox!) The last time we saw Guster at that historic venue in 2003, Maroon 5 opened for them. We’ve seen Guster perform several times since and they never disappoint. Watch this. We guarantee that you will never see/hear a more beautiful song performed with an apple.
Bonus T.G.I.F.! (Just because we love this band.)
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.