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So many jobs ● So many bills ● Not enough pantyhose

Tuesday, May 28, 2019




► In the Seattle Times — With Seattle’s entry-level workforce in high demand, employers struggle to keep up — Today in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, employers that rely on entry-level workers have around 24,000 unfilled positions, according a monthly estimate by the state Employment Security Department. All this hot demand has been good news for low-skill workers, a group that missed out on the region’s tech-fueled economic boom… While efforts to expand the local workforce are helping, they miss the more fundamental problem in the Seattle-area job market: Even with recent wage hikes, this place is simply too expensive for entry-level workers.

► In the Spokesman-Review — Partnership to build electric car on West Plains could be economic powerhouse for region — When Mullen Technologies announced plans to assemble the Qiantu K50 electric sports car on the West Plains, it brought promise of more than 860 jobs within seven years. Those plans – paired with the company’s ambitions to manufacture a midpremium SUV and lightweight, lithium-ion batteries – could bring what some see as a widespread economic impact to the area on par or greater than Amazon’s $181 million fulfillment center now under construction.

► In today’s Seattle Times — After surviving a gunman’s bullet, quick-thinking Metro driver Eric Stark is eager to get back on the road — Stark said he’s leaning mainly on family and friends, who include chaplains, police and firefighters, for emotional healing. Bus and train operators at Metro report an average 90 assaults per year, ranging from being spit on to head wounds. Any assault against a working transit or ferry employee is a felony under Washington state law. The Amalgamated Transit Union views on-the-job attacks as a national epidemic.

► In the Seattle Times — Safety paramount as rail expands in Washington — Federal investigators detailed a shocking series of failures that contributed to the fatal 2017 crash of an Amtrak train in DuPont. This is appalling and unacceptable. It’s also a wake-up call for Washingtonians as the state expands its historic rail-building spree.

► In the News Tribune — Plenty of blame to go around in Amtrak crash (editorial)

► In the Seattle Times — Pay immigration detainees a fair wage (editorial) — For more than a decade, the only for-profit detention center operating in Washington state has taken advantage of its captive population by paying them prison-inmate wages to help operate the facility. The GEO Group, a Florida-based private prison company, is defending itself in a lawsuit over this reprehensible practice.




► In the Spokesman-Review — So many bills, so little time and space to report them — Although the 2019 session adjourned nearly a month ago, it took until last Tuesday to finish the work of the Legislature, which involves the governor signing or vetoing bills lawmakers passed.

EDITOR’S NOTE — As always, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO will publish its annual Legislative Report, which describes what happened on working families issues and includes a voting record for each state legislator. A printed copy of that report — which will be available at the end of May — will be mailed to all WSLC-affiliated unions. Affiliates can also order extra copies of the WSLC Legislative Report for their executive boards, shop stewards, or member activists.

► In the Seattle Times — After ‘dire predictions’ of budget shortfalls, how many Washington school districts laid off teachers? — Months after school districts in Washington lobbied for a financial lifeline, the painful budget cuts and staff layoffs they anticipated largely have not come to pass. Much of the relief comes from last-minute agreements during this year’s legislative session to boost the state’s spending on special education and to relax limits on how much districts can collect from local property-tax levies starting in 2021. But drops in enrollment, costly salary hikes and fewer retirements — all factors outside of the control of lawmakers — did prompt layoffs in districts such as Edmonds, Evergreen and Tacoma.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Is another levy the best option for strapped Spokane Public Schools?

► In the Seattle Times — What this year’s state tax reforms say about investing in healthy communities (by Misha Werschkul) — Special-interest groups are responding to the budget Washington state lawmakers recently passed, and their rhetoric sounds like the same thing we hear any time anyone proposes making long-overdue changes to our state tax code. They’re busy spinning yarns about how the sky is falling, but the truth is that this budget will improve our tax code and strengthen our communities.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Guy Palumbo quits state Senate to become lobbyist for Amazon — Palumbo’s moderate tilt and open support for charter schools riled the party’s progressives who are looking forward to a change.

► In the Seattle Times — Fueling ships with LNG — the cleanest fuel available today — makes sense (by Mark Tabbutt) — We were surprised when Gov. Jay Inslee suddenly announced his personal — as opposed to official — opposition to the Tacoma LNG facility, contradicting his five-year support for our project. Inslee believes we should wait for science to develop a cleaner non-fossil fuel. If the worldwide shipping industry had adopted Inslee’s logic one hundred years ago, ships around the world would still be burning coal.

ALSO at The Stand — With flip-flop, Gov. Inslee chooses climate optics over balance




► MUST-READ from Bloomberg — Mulvaney tightens grip on Labor chief after Trump allies grumble — Trump‘s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, has seized power over the Labor Department’s rulemaking process out of frustration with the pace of deregulation under Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. This has led to an acceleration of previously languishing rules on overtime pay, job training, and workplace safety that businesses have sought during the first two years of Trump’s administration. The White House intervention also signals more contentious regulations—such as rules to bolster union oversight or restrict workers from taking medical leave—could now be in the pipeline at a department that appears less likely to embody its secretary’s risk-averse style for the reminder of Trump’s presidency.

► From The Hill — Pro-trade group targets Democratic leadership in push for new NAFTA — While the White House’s relationship with House Democrats has now created a barrier to any bipartisan agreements, passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was never a guarantee. So outside groups supporting the agreement are stepping up their efforts. A pro-trade group, Trade Works for America, launched a six-figure buy of television and digital ads on Tuesday in the districts of House Democratic leadership, including Pelosi’s. It’s part of a multimillion-dollar, nationwide strategy by the group to educate voters about the benefits of USMCA.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This outside group, Trade Works for America, was created by Republicans and is funded by the pharmaceutical industry, oil and gas, the automotive and agricultural sectors, and traditional GOP donors.

ALSO at The Stand — AFL-CIO opposes NAFTA 2.0 in its current form

► In today’s NY Times — Trump administration hardens its attack on climate science — Trump has rolled back environmental regulations, pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, brushed aside dire predictions about the effects of climate change, and turned the term “global warming” into a punch line rather than a prognosis. Now, after two years spent unraveling the policies of his predecessors, Trump and his political appointees are launching a new assault.

► From the Washington Post — The Health 202: There’s just one female physician in Congress. We talked to her.Some of your fellow Democrats want to transition the country to a Medicare-for-all system. Do you agree? — “I worked in the system, I’ve been a patient in the system. I see some of the deficits with Medicare – there still is a ‘donut hole,’ and you still need to have insurance on top of Medicare. We still don’t have a pay-for mechanism. We also don’t necessarily have the luxury of time to roll out. Look at with what happened with Obamacare. It took five years to roll out, it took another five years for the public to accept it. Because people are really happy for the most part with the [Affordable Care Act], I believe there is an opportunity to just keep it and make it better and not blow up the whole system in order to do it. We have no guarantee Medicare-for-all will work better and cost less, we really just don’t know that.”

► In the Seattle Times — ‘Big Don’ Benton goes to D.C., shakes up Selective Service and makes a play for White House chief of staff — A few months after Trump appointed him director of the Selective Service System in 2017, Don Benton decreed a new dress code for the often-overlooked federal agency. The “headquarters order” required women who met with the public or other agencies to wear pantyhose, along with closed-toe shoes, knee-length skirts or pantsuits and “a conservative top.” Men were to wear sport coats or suits and ties with dress shoes. The pantyhose directive landed with a thud and Benton backed off the requirement a couple of weeks later.




► From Newsweek — Employee wages grew by just 84 cents per hour last year — Median CEO pay increased $1.1 million last year, while private-sector worker wages increased just 84 cents an hour.  A survey by executive compensation consulting firm Equilar showed that the median boss was offered compensation of $18.6 million in 2018, an increase of 6.3 percent from 2017. Worker pay increased less. The 84 cents an hour raise for private sector-employees was a 3.2 percent rise. Elon Musk, who received $2.3 billion in 2018, received the most compensation year. His pay package was the “biggest ever,” according to The New York Times, which cited unnamed compensation experts.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Didn’t get a decent raise last year? Get a union! Union wages on average are more than 22 percent higher than nonunion wages. 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!

► In today’s NY Times — Google’s shadow work force: Temps who outnumber full-time employees — High-tech companies have long promoted the idea that they are egalitarian, idyllic workplaces. And Google, perhaps more than any other, has represented that image, with a reputation for enviable salaries and benefits and lavish perks. But the company’s increasing reliance on temps and contractors has some Google employees wondering if management is undermining its carefully crafted culture. As of March, Google worked with roughly 121,000 temps and contractors around the world, compared with 102,000 full-time employees, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times.




► In the NY Times — Crazy is as crazy does (by Maureen Dowd) — Just as Trump once wore out contractors, bankers, lawyers and businesspeople in New York with his combative, insulting and wayward ways, now he’s wearing out the political crowd, as he tries to beat everybody here into submission with his daily, even hourly, onslaught of outrage piled upon outrage. Journalists must not become inured to Trump’s outlandish, transgressive behavior. Mitch McConnell, Barr and almost everyone else in the G.O.P. have made themselves numb to his abhorrent actions because of self-interest. But for those who are concerned about the scarring of the American psyche, it’s exhausting to find the vocabulary to keep explaining, over and over, how beyond the pale and out of the norm the 45th president is… It’s wearing, not letting this petulant man wear us all out.


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

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!