Tuesday, May 7, 2019
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Astria Health files for bankruptcy — Astria Health, including several affiliated companies, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it said in a news release Monday morning. The organization, which operates three hospitals and several clinics, said that the company it contracted with to manage its billing, claims processing and collections did not process a large amount of accounts receivable, which caused a major shortfall in its cash flow.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Questions about Astria Health’s bankruptcy filing and what it means for you? — The company says the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process allows all three Astria Health hospitals and all Astria Health Centers to continue to operate as usual. There is no plan to close facilities. In its news release, the company said “employee jobs and wages will not be impacted.” In a memo to employees, obtained by the Yakima Herald-Republic, Astria says that benefits, including employees’ 401(k) will not be affected. The memo states that “no layoffs are anticipated.”
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Up to 45 teachers could get pink slips in Edmonds district — Faced with a projected $17.7 million budget hole for the next school year, the Edmonds School Board will consider a cost-cutting plan in which some teachers, assistant principals, and paraeducators could lose their jobs at the end of this school year.
► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver Public Schools seeks community input on budget cuts — The school district has scaled back its proposed budget cuts in light of new state money, but the 23,000-student district still expects an $8 million deficit.
► In the NW Labor Press — Statewide teacher strike in Oregon set for May 8 — The #RedForEd teacher strike wave that began in West Virginia last year is coming to Oregon May 8 in the form of a one-day walkout by teachers around the state to demand better school funding. Over 20,000 teachers are expected to take part in the work stoppages, and they’ll be joined by students, parents, and other supporters in four mass rallies in Portland, Salem, Eugene, and Medford.
► In the NW Labor Press — New Seasons Market paid a union-buster a third of a million dollars — In a federally mandated public disclosure, the grocer reported it paid $325,855 to Cruz & Associates, a union-avoidance consultancy based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., “to persuade employees … not to exercise … the right to organize and bargain collectively.” Support for the union campaign flat-lined after the company brought in the anti-union consultants.
► From KUOW — Boeing says no flaws in 737 Max. Former engineer points to several. — Boeing continues to maintain there was no flaw in the design of the 737 Max. But a former Boeing engineer who is meeting with federal investigators this week said he can point to several flaws in the automated system known as MCAS. The crashes of two Max planes have left deep concerns about what happened inside Boeing and inside the Federal Aviation Administration during approval of the jet’s design.
► In today’s Seattle Times — As the 737 MAX crisis drags on, Boeing’s CEO faces questions about his own future — Just months ago Aviation Week named him Person of the Year, styling him “The Transformer” for his impact on Boeing and the industry. Today, Dennis Muilenburg’s company is reeling not only from two fatal crashes of its most important aircraft, but also from suspicions that safety may have suffered in the push to get the MAX to market… Under Muilenburg, Boeing has intensified efforts to boost “shareholder value” by turning out more more airplanes even as it has wrung more costs from its supply chain and its workforce. Those efforts have paid off — Boeing’s share price has more than tripled under Muilenburg. But some critics wonder whether the drive to please Wall Street has not only strained Boeing’s production systems, but also fundamentally altered its culture, resulting in what veteran aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia has characterized as a “deprioritization and perhaps under-resourcing of engineering.”
ALSO at The Stand — Tell Boeing CEO to reinstate wrongly fired S.C. inspectors
► From Crosscut — Free college is coming for WA families making under $50K — The expansive higher-education plan the Legislature approved last month will make college tuition free for families making up to 55 percent of the state’s median family income, or up to $50,400 for a family of four. The plan will do so by creating a dedicated account for college and workforce-education investments, paid for by an increase in taxes on certain professional service businesses, as well as on high-tech companies.
► From The Hill — Fight over Trump’s new NAFTA hits key stretch — Outside groups are boosting efforts to encourage lawmakers to pass Trump’s revised North American trade deal ahead of a critical stretch this summer. Getting approval for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has been a top priority for K Street, and publicly those groups are expressing optimism… The Pass USMCA Coalition has ex-Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Gary Locke, the former Democratic governor of Washington and a onetime ambassador to China, as honorary co-chairmen.
ALSO at The Stand — Tell Congress: No new NAFTA until it’s fixed
Tell your members of Congress: No new NAFTA until it’s fixed! Make the call and sign the petition. Also, for any unions that are interested, the Washington Fair Trade Coalition is happy to come do a short presentation on the new agreement and get everyone up to speed. Contact WFTC’s Hillary Haden for more information.
► In today’s NY Times — Trump advisers accuse China of reneging on trade commitments — Trump, angry that China is retreating from its commitments just as the sides appeared to be nearing a deal and confident the American economy can handle a continuation of the trade war, will increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday morning, his top advisers said.
► In today’s Wall Street Journal — Trump administration issues rule to allow 30,000 additional seasonal worker visas — The Trump administration moved ahead Monday to allow an additional 30,000 seasonal workers to return to the U.S. this summer, a higher-than-expected number that reflects internal tensions in the White House’s approach to legal immigration. A rule to issue the extra visas, known as H-2Bs, to foreign workers who have held them in the past was announced. To get the visas, businesses will have to show they would suffer irreparable harm without the extra workers and that their workers were cleared for the visas in one of the past three fiscal years.
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump would have been charged with obstruction were he not president, hundreds of former federal prosecutors assert — “Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice,” wrote more than 370 former federal prosecutors who worked in Republican and Democratic administrations.
► In today’s NY Times — Democrats threaten to hold Barr in contempt as White House guards tax returns — The Trump administration ruled out turning over President Trump’s tax returns to the House on Monday and girded for a looming contempt of Congress resolution against Attorney General William Barr.
► In today’s NY Times — Sorry, Mr. Mnuchin. Congress has a right to see Trump’s tax returns. (editorial) — Just as the law is clear on this matter, so too is Supreme Court precedent.
► From GamesIndustry.biz — Riot Games employees hold walkout over forced arbitration — The walkout, seemingly one of the first of its kind to occur in the games industry, is being held in response to the company’s policy of forced arbitration that has been a part of employee contracts at the company in the past. This came to a head recently when Riot insisted two of five current gender discrimination lawsuits against the company (occurring in the wake of a Kotaku report exposing a culture of sexism at the League of Legends studio) be moved to arbitration, saying the women had waived the right to sue when they were hired.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.