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Kadlec rally ● Hard ‘no’ for Sound Transit ● Sick and bankrupt

Monday, March 18, 2019





► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Kadlec nurses rally to keep staff and patients safe, they say — Kadlec nurses rallied Friday afternoon in Richland for safe staffing levels, paid time-off benefits and protection from violence as contract negotiations after passed the six-month mark. It’s the second round of contentious contract negotiations for the 915 nurses employed at Kadlec Regional Medical Center since the Richland hospital affiliated with Providence Health & Services in 2014.

► In the Seattle Times — Sound Transit CEO considers outside contractors to run Highway 520 buses — Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff is considering hiring private contractors to drive four Sound Transit Express routes between the Eastside and Seattle, prompting quick outrage from labor leaders who called the move a threat to existing union jobs. Rogoff spent part of Friday meeting with leaders at ATU Local 587, seeking to dispel tension… Nicole Grant of MLK Labor said she confronted Rogoff on Thursday after hearing about the search for private providers. “He was like, ‘We just need more [capacity] than we can get, so we’re going to throw things open and try to get it,’” Grant said. “I said I was absolutely not fine with that … This is a hard ‘no’ from the labor movement.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — You’ll recall that Sound Transit had to hire a $550-per-hour “management coach” for Mr. Rogoff last fall to help him get along better with his employees. It was part of an internal investigation alleging he used profanity, verbal aggression and sexism toward agency staff. And yet, Rogoff just got an 11 percent raise to $365,000/year.

► In today’s Seattle Times — A gender pay gap in Northwest public radio network sparks debate — A salary difference between male and female reporters in the Northwest News Network has ignited debate about the gender pay gap. Network officials dispute the gap was because of gender, but acknowledge female reporters’ pay was “on the low side,” yet weren’t able to address it.




► In the Seattle Times — Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system — As Boeing hustled in 2015 to catch up to Airbus and certify its new 737 MAX, FAA managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis. But the original safety analysis that Boeing delivered to the FAA for a new flight control system on the MAX — a report used to certify the plane as safe to fly — had several crucial flaws. That flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), is now under scrutiny after two crashes of the jet in less than five months resulted in Wednesday’s FAA order to ground the plane.

► In today’s Washington Post — Sensor cited as potential factor in Boeing crashes draws scrutiny — Aviation experts say that the angle-of-attack sensor on Boeing jets will get fresh scrutiny after two Boeing 737 Max airplanes crashed, in Ethiopia last week and in Indonesia in October.

► From The Hill — Federal prosecutors, officials looking into Boeing 737 Max: report — The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that a grand jury in Washington, D.C., issued a subpoena for documents last week to at least one person involved in the development of the 737 Max. The Journal reported that the Justice Department inquiry involves a prosecutor in the fraud division, which has previously brought cases against manufacturers over safety issues.

► In the Seattle Times — As Boeing faces crisis, filing reveals CEO got $30 million last year — Boeing’s outsize financial performance last year sent the stock soaring, and correspondingly the pay of its top executives, the company revealed in a securities filing Friday — even as the company faces a crisis after two deadly airplane crashes. In 2018, Boeing Chairman and Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg was awarded total compensation including stock awards of $23.4 million, up from $18.5 million a year earlier. The filing notes that this is 184 times the median compensation of a Boeing employee in 2018, which was $126,991.

► In today’s Washington Post — Trump cast himself as Boeing’s decider in chief on whether to ground jets — The president took the lead on matters typically left to the FAA.




► In the Peninsula Daily News — Long-term care program legislation now in Senate — The legislation will “mitigate our communities’ largest uninsured risk, provide security for families before they impoverish themselves to qualify for care, provide resources for family caregivers to support loved ones as they age at home,” according to the Agencies on Aging.

► From KNKX — Democratic lawmaker says raising the cap on local school levies is still a priority — Many school districts are planning substantial budget cuts for the fall, including Seattle, Olympia and Tacoma. At the same time, they’re urging state lawmakers to raise the limit on levies so they can collect more in local property taxes.

► From The Hill — Washington Senate passes bill that would keep Trump off 2020 ballot unless he releases tax returns — The bill would require any candidate on the ballot for president in the state to release five years of tax returns before appearing in a general or primary election.




► From The Atlantic — Americans are going bankrupt from getting sick — Medical debt is a uniquely American phenomenon, a burden that would be unfathomable in many other developed countries. According to a survey published this month in the American Journal of Public Health, nearly 60 percent of people who have filed for bankruptcy said a medical expense “very much” or “somewhat” contributed to their bankruptcy. That was more than the percentage who cited home foreclosure or student loans.

► In today’s NY Times — Democrats pledged to lower health costs. They just haven’t figured out how. — Centrists from swing districts, with the tacit support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, favor incremental moves to shore up the Affordable Care Act and to lower the out-of-pocket costs of prescription drugs and medical care. But they are butting up against an aggressive and expanding group of more than 100 outspoken Democrats — as well as at least four of the party’s presidential candidates — who want to upend the whole system with a single government insurance plan for all Americans — the old concept of single-payer, now called “Medicare for all.”

► In today’s Washington Post — ‘I have to perform to save my life’: Medical bills kept rock legend Dick Dale touring till the end –Dale passed away on Saturday night at 81. No cause of death has been released. The musician’s life story was also a constant struggle against health problems — and to pay medical bills. After his first cancer diagnosis in 1965, Dale continued to battle the disease. Up until the end of his life, Dale was explicit that he toured to fund his treatment.




► From the People’s World — Immigration: AFL-CIO pushing lawmakers to protect Dreamers, TPS recipients – Lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill are likely to approve labor-backed legislation to keep the Dreamers and beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status rights — two groups of migrants endangered by President Donald Trump’s deportations—in the U.S. So says Bricklayers President Jim Boland, chair of the AFL-CIO’s Immigration Committee.

► In the NY Times — Trump crackdown unnerves immigrants, and the farmers who rely on them — It has long been an open secret that some farms survive by relying on an undocumented labor force. Now, tough immigration enforcement has caused a crisis.

► From The Hill — House Dems renew push for government contractor back pay — Dozens of House lawmakers this week renewed calls to provide back pay for low-wage government contractors who were furloughed during the 35-day partial shutdown earlier this year.

► In today’s NY Times — It isn’t complicated: Trump encourages violence (by David Leonhardt) — He doesn’t deserve blame for any specific attack. He does deserve blame for the increase in white-nationalist violence.




► In today’s Washington Post — Trump blames union leader for GM job cuts in Ohio — jobs the president once vowed he’d save — President Trump blamed a small-town union leader Sunday for not doing enough to save a General Motors factory in Lordstown, Ohio, that shuttered on March 6, causing about 5,400 job losses in a struggling part of the country.

► From The Hill — GOP legislators clamping down on voter initiatives — Republican legislators in states across the country have introduced dozens of bills that would make significant changes to the initiative and referendum process, tightening rules and raising requirements after their voters approved progressive proposals that legislators opposed or refused to take up.

► In the Sacramento Bee — Teachers union votes to authorize strike against Sacramento City Unified — The move adds to the challenges faced by the district, which is under the threat of state takeover as it wrestles with a $35 million budget gap.


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