Wednesday, May 1, 2019
► From KNKX — Seattle to mark May Day with 20th annual march for immigrant rights — May 1 is celebrated around the world as International Workers’ Day. But in the Seattle area, the celebrations have long emphasized immigrant workers in particular. This is the 20th straight year that local activists will mark May Day with a march for immigrant rights, according to organizers with the Seattle group El Comite. The event, which begins in Judkins Park at 1 p.m., has drawn hundreds of people in past years.
► In today’s Seattle Times — North Bend ironworker killed in crane collapse was family man who took pride in job, country — Andrew Yoder, who joined the Seattle-based Iron Workers Local 86 in 2008 and worked his way up from tying rebar to raising and dismantling construction cranes, was one of four people killed Saturday afternoon when a tower crane collapsed onto Mercer Street in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. Yoder, of North Bend, and Travis Corbet, a newlywed ironworker from Oregon, were killed as they worked to dismantle the crane. Alan Justad, a longtime City of Seattle employee and the father of three grown daughters, and Sarah Wong, a 19-year-old college student from Southern California, were crushed inside separate cars when a section of the crane plummeted to the street… Yoder’s family and wide circle of friends are heartbroken by his death but are committed to supporting his wife, Andrea, and ensuring their two young sons, ages 5 and 3, grow up knowing how much their father loved them.
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.
► From KUOW — Construction most dangerous industry in Washington state, data says — The fatal crane crash in Seattle came just days after the state was honoring Worker Memorial Day to remember those who died while on the job… In 2017, 15 people died in the construction industry in the state from slips and falls, being struck by equipment, and other reasons. Nine of those fatalities were from being struck by construction equipment.
ALSO at The Stand — Work safety is fundamental to labor’s mission (by April Sims)
► From WFSE — Despite violence, workers remain dedicated — Monday marked the annual Workers’ Memorial at Western State Hospital (WSH). Workers and community came together in the spring sun to share stories, grieve, and commit to a safer future. A field of flags represented the 1,090 reported assaults in 2018.
► In today’s Skagit Valley News — Groups to hold forum on oil refinery safety — Environmental and labor groups will hold a public forum on oil refinery safety at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2. The presentation at the Burlington Community Center, 1011 Greenleaf Ave., will be hosted by United Steelworkers, the BlueGreen Alliance, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and Evergreen Islands.
ALSO at The Stand — Join refinery safety advocates at events in Seattle, Burlington — The first forum is TODAY from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Davis Wright Tremaine, 920 5th Avenue, Suite 3300.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Lawmakers made 11th-hour changes to school-levy policy, but who benefits? — Apart from some clear beneficiaries — such as Seattle Public Schools — it’s unclear which other districts stand to gain from the change. At first blush, it appeared that some districts in more affluent areas still retain a significant advantage, with Seattle being able to collect more than $1,000 more per student than Yakima.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Remember, any such levy is subject to voter approval. Legislators didn’t raise these taxes they created some flexibility in the limits they impose on local school districts when they go to local voters to ask for revenue.
ALSO at The Stand — What passed and what didn’t — A brief summary of how things turned out on items that appeared in the Washington State Labor Council’s pre-session 2019 Shared Prosperity Agenda.
► From The Guardian — Rep. Matt Shea and his ally urged crowd to prepare for civil unrest — The Spokane Valley Republican legislator and several associates regaled an audience with conspiracy theories, separatist visions and exhortations for listeners to arm themselves ahead of a looming civil war, at a gathering at a remote religious compound in the north-east of the state last year… Shea’s speech flirted with themes of civil war, but mostly focused on the idea of separating eastern Washington out into a separate political entity, with the view of having “an entire geographic area repent.” He began by proposing “a simple idea that may make you cringe a little at first. And that idea is that liberty must be kept by force.”
► In the U.S. News & World Report — Congress holds first ‘Medicare for All’ hearing — Congress on Tuesday held its first-ever hearing on “Medicare for All” legislation that was filled with emotional testimony from single-payer advocates as well as heavy skepticism from Republicans about upending the current health care system. The House Rules Committee heard six hours of testimony on the Medicare for All Act of 2019, a proposal introduced by Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Debbie Dingell that would eliminate private insurance companies and have all Americans on a government-run plan.
► In today’s Washington Examiner — Democrats resist vote on Trump USMCA deal despite Mexico’s labor reforms — Democratic leaders resisted calls from Trump to allow Congress to vote on his U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade, despite Mexico’s passage this week of labor reforms they’d had long demanded as part of the deal. The Democrats said they were still concerned about whether that Mexico would live up to its promises, indicating a vote on the trade deal may still be a ways off.
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump and Democrats prepared for a fight — but a truce broke out instead — In a freewheeling discussion initially scheduled to talk about the nation’s roads and bridges, President Trump and top Democrats ignored any notion that the White House and Congress were locked in an escalating power struggle over investigations into the president that could lead to impeachment proceedings. Instead, Trump and a dozen senior Democrats merrily debated infrastructure — a topic that has surfaced so often during Trump’s presidency that “Infrastructure Week” has become a running joke in Washington. The two sides agreed to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure package — although an official White House statement pointedly did not include that figure — and agreed to meet again in three weeks to continue the bipartisan bonhomie.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Trump, Dems agree infrastructure crumbling, but lack of details leave local officials uncertain
► From The Hill — McConnell: Changes to tax law to fund infrastructure a ‘non-starter’
EDITOR’S NOTE — Translation: Big profitable corporations, many of which pay ZERO taxes thanks to our tax law (like our own Amazon and Alaska Airlines), will not have to pay anything to improve the nation’s infrastructure that they use to transport their goods and products.
► In today’s Washington Post — Burgeoning court backlog of more than 850,000 cases undercuts Trump immigration agenda — Looming over the Trump administration’s struggle to curb illegal immigration is a challenge that no amount of razor wire, troops or steel fencing can fix. The U.S. immigration court system is facing a backlog of 850,000 cases, and it has fewer than 450 judges nationwide to handle them. New asylum applications and other claims are piling up, creating long delays that Central American families arriving in record numbers know will allow them to remain in the United States for years while they wait.
► From Politico — Mueller complained to Barr about Russia report memo — Special counsel Robert Mueller wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr last month complaining that a four-page memo Barr wrote characterizing Mueller’s findings “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the Russia investigation.
► In today’s Washington Post — At Trump golf course, undocumented employees said they were sometimes told to work extra hours without pay — Allegations that workers were routinely shortchanged on their pay at President Trump’s suburban country club are now the subject of an inquiry by the New York attorney general, whose investigators have interviewed more than two dozen former employees.
► From Politico — Democrats’ emoluments lawsuit against Trump can go forward, judge says — The lawsuit over foreign payments is likely to face an appeal, and could wind up before the Supreme Court.
► From Roll Call — $15 an hour ‘living wage’ for interns in district offices and Capitol Hill introduced in House — Forty House lawmakers are calling for a “living wage” for House interns, and an expansion of where funds set aside to pay interns can be used — including in district offices. The proposal was introduced last week by Washington Democrat, Rep. Adam Smith. It would permanently authorize funding to pay interns an allowance, and it would permit offices to use intern compensation funds to pay them in district offices.
► From the AP — May Day 2019: Workers demand higher wages, rights, respect — Higher salaries, better working conditions, maternity leave, minimum wage and an end to discrimination against temporary or foreign workers: These were among the concerns as hundreds of thousands of union members and labor activists rallied around the world to mark May Day.
► From the AFL-CIO — Marriott should tell the truth about sexual harassment — Marriott International, the biggest hotel chain in the world, is hiding the truth about the dangers its workers face. UNITE HERE members are demanding that the company comes clean. In 2018, working people at Marriott went on strike and won greater sexual harassment protections. For those protections to fully work, the company has to tell the truth about the pervasiveness of harassment at its hotels. But it refuses to do so.
► In the Post and Courier — In anti-union South Carolina, May 1 teacher protest could make history — Thousands of educators have planned one of the largest teacher protests in South Carolina history Wednesday in the state capital. Teachers who have never participated in public protests have grown increasingly bold, frustrated by stagnant wages and a fractious debate over a 2019 education overhaul bill that stalled out in the Senate last week.
► From CBS — Uber and Lyft drivers plan 24-hour strike to protest pay — Uber and Lyft drivers in eight U.S. cities plan to stop taking rides for the ridesharing services on Wednesday, May 8 as part of a protest to demand better pay and working conditions. The planned work stoppage comes as Uber is preparing for an initial public offering that could value the company at upwards of $100 billion.
EDITOR’S NOTE — As Working Washington points out, if you catch a ride through Uber or Lyft on May 8, you’re crossing a picket a line.
► From the AP — Girls outscore boys on tech, engineering, even without class — Though less likely to study in a formal technology or engineering course, America’s girls are showing more mastery of those subjects than their boy classmates, according to newly released national education data.
► In today’s Washington Post — ‘The right has a greater appreciation of labor’s role than we do’ (by Thomas Edsall) — Can Democrats figure out how to get unions back into the equation in 2020? The problem in building support for a resurgent labor movement is that many liberals and Democrats do not appear to recognize the crucial role that unions continue to play not only in diminishing the effects of inequality, but in voter mobilization and campaign finance… What too many on the left of the political spectrum also ignore (or fail to understand) is that labor unions are inextricably intertwined with the economic condition of women and minorities — and, for that matter, of white men. In other words, Democrats make a fundamental mistake if they engage in the politics of subtraction, downgrading the priority of battered but pivotal institutions like the labor movement. They would be wise to commit to the politics of addition instead — amplifying the power of labor to lift up the most loyal Democratic constituencies.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.