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Wage enforcement ● ‘Look at us like a big corporation’ ● Jayapal steps up

Wednesday, February 27, 2019




► In today’s Seattle Times — Highway 99 tunnel contractors owe dirt-handling workers $370,666 additional wages, L&I says — A subcontractor on the new Highway 99 tunnel underpaid 46 workers a total of $370,666 for receiving and depositing dirt in a quarry across Puget Sound, according to a state prevailing-wage investigation. Workers handled earth that had been excavated in Seattle from the back end of tunnel boring machine Bertha, when it arrived across Puget Sound to the former Mats Mats quarry near Port Ludlow between 2013 and 2017. They were paid $27.69 to $31.34 per hour but should have received $49.48 an hour to operate floating cranes, loaders, dump trucks, dozers and excavators, L&I said in a news release Tuesday.




► From the AP — Nikki Haley, who fought union effort at Boeing S.C. plant, nominated to jet maker’s board — Haley, former governor of South Carolina, fought attempts by unions to represent workers at the North Charleston plant where Boeing assembles 787 jetliners.

► From Politico — Trump signs Boeing trade agreement with Vietnam — Trump on Wednesday signed a trade deal with Vietnam valued at more than $20 billion, with several of the country’s airlines agreeing to buy Boeing jets and technology from the U.S. VietJet is buying 100 Boeing 737-Max jets and 215 GE/CFM joint venture engines, and Bamboo Airways is buying 10 Boeing 787-9 jets.




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Citizenship status could be added to anti-discrimination law under Washington bill — The nation’s debate over border security played out on the floor of the Washington Senate on Tuesday as Democrats approved banning discrimination for certain jobs, services and housing based on a person’s citizenship or immigration status. Republicans pushed back unsuccessfully, saying those who are in the country illegally don’t deserve that protection. Washington already protects people against discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender or sexual orientation or identity. Protecting them regardless of their immigration status is a way of being more tolerant of everybody who lives in the state, said Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), the bill’s sponsor.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Legislature’s solution to McCleary school-funding case leaves most state districts projecting budget shortfalls — Less than a year has passed since the Legislature injected nearly $1 billion into Washington’s public-school system. But districts from Seattle to Vancouver have warned that unless lawmakers offer them a lifeline, their financial straits could force them to cut budgets and lay off staff.

► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver Public Schools may eliminate about 50 teaching positions — More than 50 full-time teacher and instructional staff positions could be eliminated next school year in light of an expected $14.3 million budget deficit. According to a news release, the district will reduce its teaching staff by 23 full-time teachers due to declining enrollment. Some of the staffing cuts will be made through attrition, retirements and resignations.

► In today’s News Tribune — Puyallup schools to eliminate positions, increase class sizes to deal with labor costs — District officials say there’s not enough room in the budget to keep up with increased labor costs of its current staff.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Legislature considers sales-tax refunds for Washington’s poor (by Shawn Vestal) — Drayton Jackson, an advocate for homeless and poor people from Bremerton, had come to a Olympia committee room to encourage legislators to support a proposal to give impoverished Washingtonians a small but significant sales-tax refund. The proposal would be one way to help balance this state’s radically imbalanced system of taxation. Jackson told the members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee a story about how hard he and his wife had to work and scrounge through their budget to afford a $287 car repair. “So I say to you today,” Jackson said, “look at us like a big corporation. We need a tax break, and the workers family bill will give us that.”

ALSO at The Stand — In 2019, let’s start balancing our tax code

► In the Seattle Times — Stop exploiting people with disabilities by paying them subminimum wages (by Shaun Bickley) — Subminimum wage is an archaic relic of the 1930s. It dates to a time when children with disabilities were denied an education and before civil rights legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.




► From Politico — House progressives to unveil the most ambitious ‘Medicare For All’ bill yet — Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is unveiling legislation Wednesday that would create a single-payer health insurance program to cover every person in the country. The legislation, the Medicare for All Act of 2019, is a souped-up version of bills that garnered majority support from the House Democratic Caucus and one-third of the Senate Democratic Caucus in the last Congress… “Let’s stop nibbling around the edges. This is a crisis of enormous magnitude. And our response has to be proportional to that crisis. People are dying. They can’t afford their drugs… There are some things that should not be provided through the for-profit marketplace, and we believe health care is one.”

► In today’s Seattle Times — Jayapal to introduce Medicare for All bill that would overhaul nation’s health-care system — The legislation would expand not just who’s covered by Medicare but also the services Medicare covers.

► From The Hill — Push for ‘Medicare for all’ worries centrist Dems

EDITOR’S NOTE — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO voted for a 2017 resolution endorsing H.R. 676, the previous incarnation of Medicare for All legislation.

► In today’s NY Times — House votes to block Trump’s national emergency declaration about the border — The House voted on Tuesday to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the Mexican border, with just 13 Republicans joining Democrats to try to block his effort to divert funding to a border wall without congressional approval.

► In today’s Columbia Basin Herald — Newhouse votes against resolution to block Trump emergency declaration — Newhouse was the only congressman from Washington state to vote against the resolution, with all Democrats from the state and Newhouse’s Republican colleagues Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler voting to block the emergency declaration.

EDITOR’S NOTE — As noted in this article, two weeks ago Newhouse said, “If the terms of a declaration are that the President would unilaterally redirect funds not appropriated by Congress, then I believe that would be a slippery slope that would violate the separation of powers in our Constitution.” But Newhouse’s position changes dramatically on Tuesday after Republican leaders launched an effort to minimize “defections” and convince members like Newhouse, who had publicly expressed concerns about executive overreach, to vote against the resolution so as not to embarrass Trump.

► From the AFL-CIO — AFL-CIO supports bill expanding voting rights and restoring democracy — President Trumka: “The AFL-CIO proudly supports H.R. 1 as we continue the fight to restore the balance of power to working people. This bill is a major step toward ending the attacks on democracy that threaten damaging consequences to our country for generations. By expanding access to the ballot box, reducing the influence of big money in politics and strengthening ethics rules for government officials, we will begin to restore America’s core value of being a country where the voices of many cannot be silenced by the money of a few.”




► From WTOP — Workers strike at ex-GE Transportation plant in Pennsylvania — Workers at the former GE Transportation plant in northwestern Pennsylvania have gone on strike for the first time in a half-century, and a day after completion of a merger between GE Transportation and Wabtec. Employees at the plant now owned by Wabtec (the former Westinghouse Airbrakes Technologies Corp.) hit the picket line in Lawrence Park Township early Tuesday, The Erie Times-News reported. Leaders of UE Locals 506 and 618 said in a statement that they were unable to convince the company to negotiate what they called an “acceptable short term agreement that preserves the wages, benefits, and working conditions” for the 1,700 employees.

► From CBS News — Oakland teachers strike headed for 5th day despite state superintendent mediating talks — The Oakland Unified School District and the Oakland Education Association returned to the bargaining table on Tuesday, but the teachers strike will continue Wednesday for its fifth day, according to the district. OUSD reported that 6% of students have attended school each day since the strike began, which has turned into a loss of nearly $1 million per day for the district.

► In the NY Times — The shutdown made Sara Nelson into America’s most powerful flight attendant — Seven hours before the State of the Union address, Sara Nelson went to Capitol Hill to visit Sen. Bernie Sanders. She waited in the reception area of his office until the independent from Vermont emerged, cracked a grin and bear-hugged her: the most powerful flight attendant in America… Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants union, used social media and cable TV appearances to warn, loudly and effectively, of the dangers of not paying airport workers during the government shutdown. As aviation unions met behind closed doors, Nelson advocated for an aggressive response. Working together, the labor groups produced a series of increasingly alarming statements.

► From the AFL-CIO — The key to genuine equality? A union card (by Nakisha Lewis) — This Black History Month, we should remember the bloody, painstakingly-secured victories our community has won through the labor movement. And even more importantly, we should boldly secure the desperately-needed progress yet to be won by organizing, marching and fighting together.

ALSO at The Stand — Black history informs the future of labor (by April Sims)




► From Axios — Thousands of migrant youth allegedly suffered sexual abuse in U.S. custody — Thousands of allegations of sexual abuse against unaccompanied minors (UAC) in the custody of the U.S. government have been reported over the past 4 years, according to Department of Health and Human Services documents given to Axios by Rep. Ted Deutch’s office.




► From Politico — Cohen testimony on Trump: ‘He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.’


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