Thursday, May 16, 2019
► In today’s Seattle Times — Washington ranked nation’s best state by U.S. News & World Report — The Evergreen State just claimed the top spot in the 2019 “Best States” ranking from U.S. News & World Report. More than 70 metrics and thousands of data points go into the rankings, which are meant to show how well each of the 50 states serve their residents.
EDITOR’S NOTE — But just in case we tire of having a great state…
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Wisconsin’s Scott Walker urges Washington conservatives to prepare now for a Republican majority — Former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker urged conservatives to be prepared if Washington state ever flips from blue to red during a speech to business leaders and elected officials Tuesday in Spokane. Walker said the state could be at a tipping point, just like Wisconsin, where he passed a controversial bill that dramatically decreased public unions’ ability to collectively bargain… After the union law passed in Wisconsin, a report found teacher pay decreased, more teachers had left the field, and there were fewer experienced teachers.
ALSO at The Stand — Spokane community decries think tank for bringing Walker to town
► From KNKX — Washington’s 100% clean electricity law touted as nation’s strongest — but how will it work? — “I think the idea that by 2030 we will be carbon neutral in our electricity is on a timeline very aggressive compared to the other four states that have 100 percent clean energy,” said Daniel Schwartz, the director of the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute. He says there also are social justice provisions in the law that incentivize high labor standards for jobs in the field.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Long term care costs are about to get a little less painful — Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law Monday pioneering a first-in-the-nation effort to lessen the financial blow of long-term care costs for thousands of residents. It creates a new program, funded by workers through a payroll deduction, that will provide eligible recipients with a maximum lifetime benefit of $36,500 — money they can spend on expenses from in-home care to getting a wheelchair ramp constructed at their house.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Sen. Doug Ericksen should break his Cambodia deal or step down (editorial) — On the heels of a narrow re-election last fall, state Sen. Doug Ericksen blew through a gauntlet of warnings in March to ink a $500,000-a-year consulting contract with the Kingdom of Cambodia. Despite his apparent ability to shrug off criticism from so many quarters, he should end his relationship with the controversial nation or step down from the Senate… As a state senator elected to serve Washington through 2022, Ericksen owes his constituency better than an unacceptable alignment with a reprehensible regime. He chose this path, and he should choose to end it.
► In the Seattle Times — State lawmakers move to address housing affordability and homelessness — They passed bills intended to reduce evictions and require landlords to give longer notice to tenants being told to move. Legislators approved proposals to make it easier for developers to build condominiums, and for cities to site tiny-house communities and encourage more density.
► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma Public Schools announces more layoffs — The district announced Wednesday that it will lay off 31 people due to a budget deficit in the 2019-20 school year. Nine administrative staff, nine certificated staff and 13 classified staff received layoff notifications this week. One teacher is included in the certificated staff.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Teachers start receiving pink slips in Edmonds district — Board directors voted 3–2 to approve the layoffs, which total 25.2 full-time equivalent teacher positions — down from the 45 that was initially reported.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane lays off 10 dispatchers as it considers joining new emergency communications center — The city of Spokane gave layoff notices to more than half of its fire dispatchers Tuesday after many of the fire departments it provides services for said they would switch to a new emergency communications center.
► From Bloomberg — Boeing’s oversight of 737 Max drew rebuke of FAA unions in 2017 — Three unions representing aviation safety inspectors said in a sharply worded report months before the Boeing Co.’s 737 Max was approved for use that the planemaker was given too much authority to oversee itself and that the new jet had safety flaws.
► In today’s Seattle Times — How much was pilot error a factor in Boeing 737 MAX crashes? — “Pilots trained in the United States would have successfully been able to handle” the emergencies on both jets, said Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), ranking GOP member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Graves was repeating the main points in a report written by two pilots at a major U.S. airline that pointed to pilot error as “the most consequential factor” in both crashes. Their report was commissioned and paid for by institutional investors with large holdings in Boeing stock. That case for pilot error as the major cause of the crashes seems close to a surrogate for what Boeing has only hinted at, and may be a key part of the manufacturer’s legal defense in liability lawsuits.
► In today’s Washington Post — After two faulty Boeing jets crash, the Trump administration blames foreign pilots (by Dana Milbank) — The Trump administration’s top aviation official, goaded by some Republican lawmakers, informed the world Wednesday that the problem isn’t that Boeing put a faulty aircraft into the skies, nor that the FAA’s lax oversight kept it flying. The trouble, they argued, comes from lousy foreign pilots — particularly the ones on Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesia’s Lion Air who died struggling to pull the Max jets from death plunges. “I’m trying to be respectful because they’re deceased,” Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) said of the doomed crews. But, “do we not have concerns not only with the training of pilots in other nations, but the reliability of their logs?” … Yep. Nothing makes foreigners want to buy Boeing jets like a little jingoism.
► From Vox — Democrats have an ambitious plan to save American labor unions — The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), introduced earlier this month, would push back on a series of Republican-backed laws that have cropped up in more than two dozen states in the past decade. These so-called right-to-work laws let unionized workers skip out on paying union dues if they don’t want to. The new bill would also allow workers to sue employers who illegally interfere with unionizing efforts, instead of forcing them to take all their complaints to the NLRB, an independent federal agency that enforces collective bargaining laws. The new bill would also let the board hit employers with fines if they break the law. These are just two key provisions in the bill, but they’re enough to shift significant power from businesses to employees. If passed, it would mark the biggest change to U.S. labor laws since Congress gave American workers the right to unionize back in 1935.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told members of Congress earlier this month that the public shift in favor of unions and taking back power from corporations is real: “Something is happening in America. Workers are embracing collective action with a fervor I haven’t seen in a generation. It is time for our laws to catch up.”
ALSO at The Stand — State’s Democrats in Congress aim to shore up union rights (May 3, 2019) — Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith joined colleagues in the Senate and House to introduce the PRO Act.
► From the People’s World — Infrastructure push starts, but hits roadblock: dollars — The U.S. needs $2 trillion to bring its crumbling roads, creaky railroads, aging airports, 100-year-old water pipes, and crowded subways up to snuff. It needs $2.5 trillion more to get ahead of the game and build projects to handle people, business, and growth in the 21st century, studies calculate. But whether it will get the cash, much of it from the federal government, and spend it, is largely up to one man: Donald Trump… “We need a major infusion by the federal government to do a massive infrastructure rebuild and build out,” which would also produce tens of thousands of well-paying construction jobs, said Sean McGarvey, the president of North America’s Building Trades Unions.
EDITOR’S NOTE — But apparently, there’s plenty of money for this…
► From Politico — Trump readies up to $20B more in aid to rescue farmers from trade war — The Trump administration could make as much as $20 billion available to farmers in a second round of assistance designed to help offset losses from China’s latest retaliatory tariffs. The second installment of trade aid is being modeled after the one last year. USDA pledged up to $12 billion in assistance for 2018 production, mostly in the form of direct payments to farmers stung by retaliatory duties, as well as commodity purchases.
► From Politico — Trump’s new NAFTA back from the dead — Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team were upbeat about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as they left a meeting with Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s top trade official, saying he finally seemed to take heed of their demands to modify the trade deal after weeks of the two sides mostly talking past each other.
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump prepares to unveil broad immigration plan but shows no signs of tempering hard-line rhetoric — Trump will throw his support behind a plan developed with his son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, to move U.S. immigration toward a “merit-based system” that prioritizes high-skilled workers over those with family already in the country.
► From Bloomberg Law — Top labor official to exit after White House probe — DOL Chief of Staff Nicholas Geale is leaving after a White House investigation into complaints about mistreating staff and misleading Trump administration personnel.
► In today’s Washington Post — Inside Facebook, the second-class workers who do the hardest job are waging a quiet battle — The thousands of people who do the bulk of Facebook’s work keeping the site free of suicides, massacres and other graphic posts are not Facebook employees. As contractors employed by outsourcing firms, these content moderators don’t get Facebook’s cushy six-month maternity leave, aren’t allowed to invite friends or family to the company cafeteria, and earn a starting wage that is 14 percent of the median Facebook salary. But for the past seven months, roughly a dozen moderators in the United States have been spearheading a quiet campaign inside the social media giant to air their grievances about unsatisfactory working conditions and their status as second-class citizens.
EDITOR’S NOTE — If quiet internal campaigns don’t win you respect on the job, get a union! 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 the Guardian — New York aims to fight climate change by creating green union jobs — An innovative new labor-environmentalist effort in New York – to build offshore wind turbines to power up to 6m homes – is a sharp departure from all traditional feuding and shows that these two groups can work together to advance renewable energy and reduce dependence on carbon-based energy.
► From NBC News — As stores replace cashier jobs with self-checkout, what happens to employees? — There are more than 3 million cashier jobs in the United States, but 50,000 of those jobs have gone offline in the last five years. It’s a trend that’s expected to continue, leaving some concerned.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.