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Spokane getting rapid ● Rich Ruth: Tax me ● Unions hold back on 2020

Wednesday, April 10, 2019




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane Transit’s Central City Line wins $53.4 million in federal money, fully funding the project — Twenty years after the idea was first hatched, and more than two years after voters signaled approval for the project, the federal government has allocated $53.4 million for Spokane’s first bus rapid transit line. Now fully funded, the streetcar-like, fixed-route, zero-emission bus is scheduled to begin running through the city’s core in 2021, connecting Browne’s Addition with Spokane Community College on a 6-mile loop. The federal grant also will purchase 10 low-emission electric buses for the Spokane Transit Authority.

► From KUOW — Everett commits to 100 percent clean energy by 2045 — The city of Everett plans to phase out fossil fuels over the next 25 years to fight climate change. The Everett City Council last week committed to using 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2045. Everett aims to use only clean energy, with measures including electric vehicles and green buildings.

► From KING 5 — Graham adds 18 new firefighters to cut down on response time, injuries — Eighteen new firefighters will soon be responding to emergency calls in the South Sound thanks to a levy Graham voters approved in 2018.




► From the AP — Boeing orders and deliveries tumble as Max jet is grounded — Boeing failed to win any orders for its 737 Max airliner in March as scrutiny of the plane increased following a second deadly crash in less than five months. Deliveries of finished Max jets also tumbled, to 11 from 26 in February. That was not surprising — Boeing suspended deliveries in mid-March after regulators around the world ordered the plane grounded.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing shareholder files class-action lawsuit, alleges plane maker concealed 737 Max safety risks — A Boeing shareholder has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of covering up safety problems with its 737 Max, the commercial jet at the center of two crashes that killed 346 people.




► From Crosscut — I’m rich. I should pay more taxes in Washington. (by Ruth Lipscomb) — In just the past two weeks, I’ve been in Olympia twice, meeting with legislators and testifying in committees in support of closing the tax break on capital gains. I know it might seem strange — someone driving from Bellevue to Olympia to ask their lawmakers to tax them, but this is about more than our upside-down tax code. Because in addition to placing a disproportionate burden on working families, it also prevents us from being able to fund our priorities that lead to thriving communities. Talking about taxes is tough, and if you’re feeling nervous at this point, that’s understandable. But stick with me, because unless you’re among some of the wealthiest 0.4% of Washingtonians, you wouldn’t pay the capital-gains tax.

► In today’s Olympian — With funding questions unresolved, Olympia schools prepare for cuts — With weeks to go in the legislative session and no clear answers on school funding, Olympia School District is telling its principals to plan on having 29 fewer teachers across the district next year. District officials say the deficit is a result of state funding changes the Legislature enacted because of the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling. New restrictions on levy dollars cut its levy collection in half.

► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver Public Schools may face $17 million deficit — Vancouver Public Schools’ projected budget deficit keeps growing, with the district now announcing it could be facing $17 million in cuts for the coming school year.

► From Crosscut — Could this plan tame Washington’s wildfires — and pay for it, too? — A new proposal at the state Capitol would provide a dedicated funding stream for wildfire prevention and firefighting.




► In today’s Washington Post — Inside the White House’s growing panic to contain the border crisis — The president blamed others for spiking immigration numbers, but his housecleaning at the Department of Homeland Security shows a realization that he is facing an existential political threat.

► From Politico — White House eyeing former head of anti-immigration group for DHS job — Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which pushes for lower levels of immigration, is being considered as an option to lead the agency, sources said.

► From Politico — GOP senators try to undermine Kushner’s immigration plan — A group of Senate Republicans is moving to slash legal immigration, a plan designed to undercut a proposal by White House adviser Jared Kushner to boost the number of migrant workers admitted into the country.




► From Politico — Burned in 2016, unions hold back endorsements — Organized labor is still traumatized after the 2016 Democratic primary, when several unions endorsed Hillary Clinton early on, only to see the decision backfire when portions of their membership bolted for Bernie Sanders. This year, they’re determined not to make the same mistake. Even as Democratic contenders are well into the process of courting high-ranking and local labor officials, union leaders plan to delay their endorsements as they take the temperature of members on the ground in an attempt to avoid the top-down approach that caused so much heartburn. The candidates will face one of their first hurdles Wednesday when nine of them speak at a conference of the North America’s Building Trades Unions.

► From Huffington Post — Bernie Sanders introduces new Medicare For All bill, welcoming war with insurance industry — This new iteration looks a lot like the previous one, which the independent Vermont senator introduced in the fall of 2017. It envisions a government insurance plan that would pay for all medical services with almost no out-of-pocket expenses, making it more comprehensive than either traditional Medicare or employer policies.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — McMorris Rodgers plays both sides too much, even for the president (by Shawn Vestal) — It wasn’t a Cabinet post awaiting McMorris Rodgers on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, at Trump Tower, as we now know. What she arrived to find – according to “The Hill to Die On” by a pair of Politico journalists – was “a folder of media clippings at the ready, detailing various times McMorris Rodgers had spoken out against him.” In other words, McMorris Rodgers – who has been criticized often, including in this column, as being far too deferential and accepting of the various appalling and alarming aspects of Trumpism – actually paid a high political price for what negative remarks she has made as she walks the tightrope between criticizing and supporting Trump.

► From Politico — Mexico on track to pass labor reform required in USMCA — Celeste Drake, trade policy specialist for the AFL-CIO, said Mexico’s latest draft bill “is an improvement and meets a key criteria of ensuring workers can vote on their collective bargaining agreements.”

► From The Hill — Pro-trade groups enlist another ex-Dem lawmaker to push for Trump’s NAFTA replacement — Former Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) has joined Farmers for Free Trade, a group aiming to secure passage of Trump‘s new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.

► In today’s Washington Post — If Trump has his way, this major federal agency is on the way out — The White House is moving to do what no president has accomplished since World War II: eliminate a major federal agency. If the Trump administration succeeds at dismantling the Office of Personnel Management, the closure could be a blueprint for shuttering other departments as it tries to shrink government.

► From Reuters — Trump says he will not release his tax returns — Trump on Wednesday held steady in his refusal to publicly release his tax returns, despite mounting pressure in Congress that is likely to spur a legal battle for the documents to be disclosed.

EDITOR’S NOTE — What’s in there that’s he so afraid of?




► From Axios — More than 30 media companies have unionized in the past 2 years — Dozens of media companies have unionized over the past 2 years in an effort to weather the turbulent economic environment for the content industry. Meanwhile, Hollywood writers are fight waging war with talent agents who, writers claim, are taking an unfair cut of their profits.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Need a raise? Better benefits? Respect at work? 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 Hartford Business — Stop & Shop offers $75K buyouts to end labor fight — The Massachusetts-based Stop & Shop says it’s improved a “final offer” to resolve a three-month stalemate with its unionized employees, offering workers higher wages and $75,000 buyout packages to tenured staff.

► From The Triton — AFSCME to strike at University of California due to violations or worker rights — Local 3299 will strike on April 10 (today), protesting violations of worker rights by the UC system. This is the union’s fourth strike since May 2018. AFSCME has been in contract negotiations with the UC system for two years. AFSCME filed a complaint with the Public Employee Relations Board in March alleging worker intimidation and attempts to prevent employees from striking.

► In today’s Chicago Tribune — Pain all around as CSO musicians’ strike continues — When the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra voted Monday night to reject management’s “last, best and final offer” to settle their ongoing strike, they did so “overwhelmingly,” says CSO bassist Stephen Lester, chair of the musicians’ negotiating committee.

► From NPR — Facing escalating workplace violence, hospital employees have had enough — Across the U.S., many doctors, nurses and other health care workers have remained silent about what is being called an epidemic of violence against them. The violent outbursts come from patients and patients’ families. And for years, it has been considered part of the job.




► From Variety — ‘Anthem’ voice actor on unionization, struggles of creation — Sarah Elmaleh, the voice of “Gone Home’s” protagonist, a voice in so many other games — most recently Bioware’s “Anthem,” said she was “extremely saddened” to hear about the struggles that took place behind the scenes in the creation of “Anthem.” … “I’m happy to see that (the gaming industry is) moving in a closer, more like closely knitted direction,” she said. “I’ve been really excited to see the SAG-AFTRA union organizers working closely with the Game Workers Unite folks and being really involved in supporting developers as they try to figure out how to kind of harness their leverage and advocate for themselves to increase better working conditions. SAG-AFTRA can’t organize developers — that’s on them to do — but we’re available and we’re supportive and we can provide our advice.”

“This is a moment for change,” said AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler. “It won’t come from CEOs. It won’t come from corporate boards. And, it won’t come from any one person. Change will happen when you gain leverage by joining together in a strong union. And, it will happen when you use your collective voice to bargain for a fair share of the wealth you create every day.”


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!