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Fund for Ironworkers’ families ● Schools reassess cuts ● Gig contractors

Tuesday, April 30, 2019




► In today’s Seattle Times — Investigation into fatal crane collapse in Seattle now spread to 5 companies — The state investigation into Saturday’s fatal crane collapse in South Lake Union was expanded to include a fifth company on Monday as city officials sought to explain why one of Seattle’s busiest streets remained opened to traffic as the crane was being dismantled. Two people in cars on Mercer Street were killed when the tower crane collapsed as it was being dismantled. Two ironworkers who were working on the crane at Google’s new campus were also killed.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Ironworkers Local 86 has set up a fund to assist the families of Andrew Yoder and Travis Corbet, the two union members killed in the crane collapse. Donations can be made at Ironworkers USA Credit Union. Call 206-835-0150 or 1-877-769-4766 or make a donation online here.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Radioactive waste tunnel at Hanford stabilized after fears of a possible ‘catastrophic’ collapse — Work to fill the tunnel with concrete-like grout began in early October and was completed at the end of last week. Local government officials are relieved.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Providence’s cuts to sick leave would affect patient care (letter) — Providence is attempting to eliminate our sick benefit and leave for thousands of front-line health care workers without the high quality health care we rely on to not only take care of our own health but our families health also… Providence Regional Medical Center Everett needs to provide the same care to its workers that we provide for our patients and community.

► In today’s Kitsap Sun — CHI Franciscan hospitals required to pay debt relief as part of lawsuit settlement — CHI Franciscan will be responsible for as much as $25 million in patient debt relief, restitution and fees as part of the settlement of a lawsuit brought by the state over CHI’s charity care practices.




► From KNKX — Affirmative action opponents file referendum to overturn I-1000 — Backers of the repeal effort will  have until July 27 to collect 129,811 signatures to qualify for the November 2019 ballot. If they succeed, the implementation of I-1000, a measure designed to restore affirmative action in Washington, would be delayed pending the outcome of the November election.

► In today’s Seattle Times — State universities may consider race and gender in admissions, hiring — and so might the City of Seattle — For years, the University of Washington lost top job candidates and turned down stellar students, administrators say, because it couldn’t consider race or gender in hiring or admissions decisions. Those professors and students were snatched up by top colleges that didn’t have to follow the same rules: Stanford. Yale. MIT. Other states’ flagship universities. Now, with the Legislature’s passage of I-1000, the rules may be changing.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Affirmative action initiative likely to spur local discussions about race, gender in employment and recruiting — I-1000 is sure to cause policymakers in several local public institutions to re-evaluate their recruitment practices, some of which were upended in 1998 when voters approved an initiative making Washington one of eight states across the country that barred the practice of potential preferential treatment based on race, gender or nationality.

► From KNKX — Seattle Public Schools says it will not have to cut librarians, other school staff — Now that lawmakers have passed a new state budget, the Seattle school district, which has been facing a $40 million deficit, said it will no longer have to cut librarians, assistant principals and other school-based positions. The projected cuts to schools had totaled about 90 full-time positions.

► In today’s Columbian — Legislature budget boosts education — Budget-strapped school districts in Clark County on Monday said they’d need more time to suss out how the Legislature’s late-adopted operating budget will affect their finances. But one thing seems certain: There will be a lot more money available for education.

MORE coverage of local school districts assessing budget in the Olympian, Peninsula Daily News, Spokesman-Review, and the Yakima H-R.

► In today’s Columbian — Legislature makes deadline, secures $35M for I-5 Bridge

► In today’s Seattle Times — Eight ways state lawmakers addressed housing affordability (by Rep. Guy Palumbo) –Now that the session is over, it is clear the Legislature stepped up in a big way. On a bipartisan basis, we tackled this problem from multiple angles. We made structural changes to state-level housing policies, invested major state funds into housing, and provided new funding tools for cities and counties.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Facing sharp questions, Boeing CEO refuses to admit flaws in 737 MAX design — In a tense and steely news conference, his first since two deadly crashes of 737 MAX airplanes, Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg faced sharp questioning but refused to admit flaws in the design of the airplane’s systems. “We have gone back and confirmed again, as we do the safety analysis, the engineering analysis, that we followed exactly the steps in our design and certification processes that consistently produce safe airplanes,” he said. “It was designed per our standards. It was certified per our standards.” … He took questions for less than 15 minutes. Finally, after parrying a question about whether he had thought about resigning and a last question about blame for MCAS, Muilenburg walked out grim-faced. As he strode briskly from the room, many reporters had not been called upon. One of those shouted after him: “346 people died. Can you answer some questions?”

► In today’s Washington Post — Boeing says safety alert in 737 MAX didn’t work in all planes — Boeing’s 737 MAX fleet was supposed to have a standard cockpit alert that would warn pilots when sensors outside the plane were feeding in incongruous data, a problem that contributed to crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 passengers and crew members. But in fact, that safety alert only worked in aircraft with an optional feature, the manufacturer said on Monday.

► From Bloomberg — Boeing says it didn’t intentionally deactivate alert on 737 MAX




► In today’s Seattle Times — Labor Dept. says workers at a gig company are contractors — The department said people finding work through a particular unnamed company were contractors, not employees, meaning that the company does not have to pay them the federal minimum wage or overtime, or pay a share of Social Security taxes. Industry officials estimate that requiring gig companies to classify their workers as employees would raise their labor costs by 20 to 30 percent.

► In today’s Washington Post — Medicare-for-all advocates get their first hearing on Capitol Hill — The House Rules Committee on Tuesday morning opened the first hearing in Congress on Medicare-for-all — the idea pushed by progressive Democrats running for president to convert the U.S. health-care system to a government-financed model that would cover everyone.

EDITOR’S NOTE — For those who say universal health care is too expensive…

► In the NY Times — Profitable giants like Amazon pay $0 in corporate taxes. Some voters are sick of it. — Colin Robertson wonders why he pays federal taxes on the $18,000 a year he makes cleaning carpets, while the tech giant Amazon got a tax rebate… For decades, profitable companies have been able to avoid corporate taxes. But the list of those paying zero roughly doubled last year as a result of provisions in President Trump’s 2017 tax bill that expanded corporate tax breaks and reduced the tax rate on corporate income.

► In today’s NY Times — Asylum seekers face new restraints under latest Trump orders — Trump ordered new restrictions on asylum seekers at the Mexican border — including application fees and work permit restraints — and directed that cases in the already clogged immigration courts be settled within 180 days. In doing so, he took another step to reshape asylum law, which is determined by Congress, from the White House.

► In today’s Washington Post — Lie No. 10,000 is really a whopper (editorial) — As President Trump zoomed past a lowly personal milestone — his 10,000th false or misleading statement in his 27-month-old presidency, according to The Post Fact Checker — he let fly a series of whoppers on a subject that logic would suggest he’d be better off leaving unremarked: family separation. The president, whose own administration imposed and then rescinded a systematic policy of wrenching migrant children from their parents, with no protocol in place to reunite them, now poses as a paragon of compassion that ended cruel laws in place before he took office. This is false.

► From Reuters — Mexico president urges U.S. to ratify new NAFTA after labor bill passes — Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday urged U.S. lawmakers to ratify a revamped North American trade pact a day after the Mexican Senate paved the way by passing a bill to strengthen the rights of trade unions.

► In today’s Wall St. Journal — Trump’s new NAFTA faces mounting resistance in Democratic House — Trump’s push to revamp North America’s trade rules is hitting a roadblock in Washington as Democrats and labor groups demand changes, dimming its chances of passage before next year’s presidential election.

► From Politico — Trump lashes out against Firefighters Union hours after Biden endorsement — President Donald Trump lashed out against the International Association of Fire Fighters on Twitter Monday morning, claiming the organization will unfairly “always support Democrats.”

► From The Onion — Trump resigns from Presidents Local 150 in protest of unions




► From In These Times — Honoring the workers killed on the job — Dangerous work reflects social inequities, so it’s not surprising that 67 percent of Latinx workers killed on the job nationally were immigrants, according to a 2017 AFL-CIO report. Outsourcing also compromises workplace safety, according to Kevin Riley, director of research and evaluation at UCLA’s Labor Occupational Safety and Health program. He says larger employers—from manufacturers to hospitals—are subcontracting more hazardous tasks like chemical spill cleanup to smaller firms.

ALSO at The Stand — Work safety is fundamental to labor’s mission (by April Sims)

► From Labor Notes — Tennessee governor leads anti-union captive audience meeting at VW — The lines stopped at Tennessee’s Volkswagen factory as workers were forced to attend an all-plant captive audience meeting with the state’s Republican governor, Bill Lee. A recording of the governor’s speech, obtained by Labor Notes, reveals a raucous meeting in which the governor tried to praise workers while encouraging them to vote against the union. The plant’s auto workers responded with boos and clapping, reflecting a divided audience.

► In the NY Post — Amazon warehouse workers are getting fired by robots — Amazon workers can be sacked by robot production line masters if they don’t work fast enough picking and packing orders for the e-commerce giant. Amazon’s automated system tracks every second of its worker’s days — warnings for under-performance are auto-generated when too much time has been spent “off task.”




► From Mother Jones — They worked in sweltering heat for Exxon, Shell, and Walmart. They didn’t get paid a dime. — A nationally renowned drug rehab program in Texas and Louisiana has sent patients struggling with addiction to work for free for some of the biggest companies in America, likely in violation of federal labor law. The Cenikor Foundation has dispatched tens of thousands of patients to work without pay at more than 300 for-profit companies over the years. In the name of rehabilitation, patients have moved boxes in a sweltering warehouse for Walmart, built an oil platform for Shell and worked at an Exxon refinery along the Mississippi River. “It’s like the closest thing to slavery,” said Logan Tullier, a former Cenikor participant who worked 10 hours per day at oil refineries, laying steel rebar in 115-degree heat. “We were making them all the money.”


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

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