Wednesday, May 22, 2019
► In today’s News Tribune — Human error, safety oversights caused 2017 Amtrak derailment that killed 3 near DuPont — An Amtrak train derailment near DuPont that killed three and injured dozens happened because the engineer lost track of where he was on the route and was going more than twice the speed limit when he hit a curve, the NTSB announced Tuesday. The agency also blamed Sound Transit for not sufficiently mitigating the danger of the sharp bend, Amtrak for not better training the engineer, state Department of Transportation for not ensuring the route was safe before green-lighting a passenger train and the Federal Railroad Administration for using rail cars beneath regulatory standards.
► In today’s Seattle Times — NTSB ‘amazed at the amount of failure’ by agencies in fatal 2017 Amtrak derailment south of Tacoma — “We have five or six or seven different organizations that all say safety is their primary responsibility, and yet nobody seems to be responsible,” said NTSB vice president Bruce Landsberg. “And it just flows all the way throughout the entire operation here, from the very top management down to the lower levels.”
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Thousands of Hanford workers tested for drugs and alcohol. Some failed, and more testing is planned. — All available workers with access to Hanford’s $17 billion vitrification plant were tested for drugs and alcohol last week as part of a contractor-led focus on the issue… An increase in positive, randomly conducted test results for drug and alcohol use in recent months prompted the widespread testing last week, a Bechtel spokesman said. The company would only say that some workers failed the tests. Those cases are being handled based on the policy of their employers and disciplinary action could include losing their jobs.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Good news for job-seekers: This Tri-Cities industry has more workers than it’s ever had. — Thanks in part to hiring for the refueling and maintenance outage at the Energy Northwest nuclear plant near Richland, the construction industry added 900 jobs in April, pushing construction-related employment to 10,100.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing supplier to add at least 75 jobs at new composite-materials plant in Marysville — Boston-based Web Industries, which supplies carbon-fiber composite-plastic materials to the aerospace industry in customized configurations, will build a new plant in Marysville, mainly to supply Boeing’s 777X operation.
► From KUOW — Federal judge orders Seattle police to fix union contract — U.S. District Judge James Robart said in a ruling filed Tuesday that the department is partly out of compliance with an agreement to reduce the use of force. He said a police union contract that the city OKed last fall undermines the agreement and must be changed.
► From the AP — State budgets get signature, warning from governor — Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday signed the state’s capital, operating, and transportation budgets, officially designating funds — and tax increases — to pay for state programs for the next two years. Along with existing programs, the budgets fund expanded college grants for low and middle-income students, an expansion of the state’s mental health system, and the first phase of hybridizing the state’s ferry system. But Inslee also called out a looming funding challenge for state: Fixing culverts — large pipes that allow streams to flow under roadways, but can prevent salmon from reaching their spawning grounds. A federal court case means the state has to fix hundreds of culverts around the state, at a cost some estimates have put as high as $3.5 billion. Many of the culverts must be fixed by 2030.
► From KNKX — ‘Deceptive solution’ or bridge fuel? Fight over half-built LNG project continues in Tacoma. — Puget Sound Energy CEO Kimberly Harris wasn’t surprised to receive a call from Gov. Jay Inslee the afternoon of May 8. But she was surprised to hear what he had to say. “We thought we were getting a thank-you call from the governor,” Wappler said. “We weren’t. We were getting a flip-flop.” The call preceded an unexpected about-face from Inslee, regarding his stance on liquefied natural gas. The governor withdrew his support for a long-debated LNG project currently under construction at the Port of Tacoma, as well as a methanol plant in Kalama that was once proposed for Tacoma.
ALSO at The Stand — Inslee chooses climate optics over balance (by WSLC President Larry Brown)
► From HuffPost — Trump threatens to blow up infrastructure talks — Trump on Tuesday made an already difficult task even more challenging for lawmakers by calling on Congress to ratify his Mexico-Canada trade deal before passing any bipartisan infrastructure bill. The demand effectively decreases the already slim odds that a package overhauling the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and waterways ― an issue Trump vowed to tackle during the 2016 presidential election ― will make it to the president’s desk this Congress.
ALSO at The Stand — America needs action on nation’s infrastructure, not more talk (by Thomas Donohoe and Richard Trumka)
► From Labor 411 — Ford got $750 million from Trump tax cuts. Now it’s laying off 7,000 while paying its CEO $18 million. — So far, it appears that the tax cuts are doing a great job of lining the pockets of executives and shareholders while leaving those who produce the wealth, i.e., the workers, out on the street.
► In today’s Washington Post — Confidential draft IRS memo says tax returns must be given to Congress unless president invokes executive privilege — The memo contradicts the Trump administration’s justification for denying lawmakers’ request for his tax returns, exposing fissures in the executive branch.
► From HuffPost — Trump’s golf costs: $102 million and counting, with taxpayers picking up the tab — Trump promised never to golf. Instead, he’s spent more than twice as many days golfing as Obama at the same point, costing taxpayers over three times as much.
► From Bloomberg — Southwest Airlines mechanics ratify deal after six years of talks — Southwest Airlines mechanics (Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association) approved a new contract that provides pay increases and a retroactive bonus, closing out more than six years of negotiations that included a lawsuit and an alleged worker slowdown.
► From Bloomberg — McDonald’s workers want OSHA to investigate pattern of violence — Every 36 hours on average, American local news outlets deliver a new report on violence at a McDonald’s. A group of employees in Chicago say workers bear the brunt of such incidents — enough to constitute a pattern of regular on-the-job violence they want the company to address across the U.S. In a complaint filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Monday, the workers at one location described being threatened with guns, attacked with hot coffee and having to dodge food thrown by a disturbed customer.
► From the People’s World — Connecticut joins $15 minimum wage states parade — By overwhelming votes in both houses of the legislature, Connecticut became the fourth state this year to join the parade of those raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Adding it to the others – New Jersey, Illinois, and Maryland – plus 16 other states and 40 cities means 30.6% of minimum wage workers in the U.S. will now have higher minimums than the federal level of $7.25 hourly.
► From Insider NJ — NJ labor leader John Costa chosen to serve as ATU international president — With the untimely and tragic passing of ATU International President Larry Hanley, the ATU General Executive Board has chosen International Vice President John Costa to serve as ATU International President until the next ATU Convention set for September 2019.
► In the Buffalo News — Women’s hockey players form union, say they are prepared to sit out year — Women’s hockey players have formed a union, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, their next step following an announcement by more than 200 players that they will not compete in North America next season. The goal is to develop a “sustainable league that will showcase their talent,” the union said.
► From the NW Labor Pres — How inclusive movements build power (by Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain) — Since the formation of our nation, divisions of identity groups have pitted one group of workers against another. Whether it has been the color of one’s skin, the country or origin, the god one chooses, treating women as second class citizens, or one’s sexuality – division among the working class is a means to build power and a way to advance an agenda that hasn’t been in the best interest of the majority of Americans. We have to realize that these divisions are used as a smoke screen to divert the attention of the electorate… Our union movement must be constantly evolving to meet the needs of our diverse membership. Not only must we develop trainings, but we must incorporate these lessons into our summits, conferences, conventions, and ourselves. It is our job to take on any and all issues that impact workers. We build power for our worker’s movement when we recognize and embrace our diversity. It is our strength not our weakness.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.