Tuesday, June 4, 2019
► In today’s News Tribune — St. Joseph nurses to consider tentative labor agreement — Nurses represented by Washington State Nurses Association will learn the details Tuesday of a tentative labor agreement with CHI Franciscan’s St. Joseph Medical Center. The talks held Friday — as WSNA nurses and their supporters rallied outside — lasted 14 hours.
► In the News Tribune — St. Joseph nurses rally as contract talks continue — Nurses with CHI Franciscan St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma held a labor rally Friday at the downtown Holiday Inn Express to support their representatives. Contract negotiations have been ongoing for nine months. The nurses are calling for improvements to address staffing levels, workplace violence and recruitment/retention.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Frye security staff form union, joining unionization push at other museums across the country — There’s a new union in town — the Art Workers Union (AWU), a small, independent bargaining unit formed by and for security guards at the Frye Art Museum. The AWU joins its fellow workers in arts and cultural institutions across the country, particularly in New York, who have been pushing for unionization in recent months.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Harry’s Fresh Food to close Oregon plant, lay off employees — The company will move to Everett and shut its Portland factory in August. Officials say 195 employees will lose their jobs.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Save Washington’s Jobs Corps centers, where the next generation of firefighters are trained (editorial) — Washington is primed for a bad wildfire season. The state has already responded to more than 275 small fires, a pace that is weeks ahead of average for this time of year. The last thing anyone wanted to hear, then, was news that the Trump administration wants to gut a federal program that trains the next generation of firefighters… Perhaps the state could become the “partner” that the Trump administration wants to operate the CCC facilities.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Washington state health insurers propose lowest rate increase in Affordable Care Act era — Health insurers have proposed an average rate increase of less than 1% for the individual market after three years of double-digit rate increases in premiums. The proposed lowering of average rates to 0.96% is attributed to the stability of Washington’s individual market and should help people buying health insurance through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Exchange.
► In the Skagit Valley Herald — State working to update oil refinery safety rules — For the first time since 1992, the state is revising safety rules that aim to prevent fires, explosions and releases of toxic chemicals at the state’s five oil refineries. Representatives from labor and environmental groups say stronger safety rules will better protect workers and the communities and environment near refineries. Community members filled a room at the Burlington Senior Center on May 2 to learn about the rules update. The meeting was hosted by United Steelworkers Local 12-591, BlueGreen Alliance, a labor/environmental group, and environmental groups Evergreen Islands and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. USW Local 12-591 President George Welch said at the meeting that 16 of its union members have died in incidents since 1955.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich challenges Gov. Jay Inslee over new immigration law — Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says he won’t follow a new state law that forbids local officials from helping federal agents enforce some immigration laws and said Gov. Jay Inslee, who signed the law last month, should be “arrested for obstruction of justice.” The sponsor of the law, which passed the Legislature on a mostly partisan vote, said Knezovich seems to be misinterpreting the law. Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island) added one recent case he cites as a reason why the law is dangerous has nothing to do with it.
► In the Seattle Times — Climate change is one of the hottest issues. So why isn’t it working for Jay Inslee? (by Danny Westneat) — Polls continue to be released in which Inslee lacks the support of even one respondent. Is it Jay? Or is it maybe … climate change. “It’s climate change,” says UW political-science professor Mark Smith. He said Inslee’s problem can be summed up by a line the “yellow vest” protesters used about a carbon tax this year in France: “You’re worried about the end of the world, we’re worried about the end of the month.”
► In today’s News Tribune — Washington has the best economy in the nation, survey says — Pat yourselves on the back, Washingtonians, you’ve got the strongest economy in the nation, according to a recent survey conducted by financial assistance website WalletHub. In a survey of all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., the Evergreen State’s economy ranked No. 1 overall, surpassing Utah, Massachusetts, California and Colorado, respectively.
► MUST-READ in today’s NY Times — Trump’s war on workers’ rights (editorial) — President Trump ran for office as a champion of American workers and a friend of labor unions, but his administration has systematically favored employers at the expense of workers. In recent months, the administration has moved to tighten qualifications for who must be paid the minimum wage and who must be paid overtime. It is asking the Supreme Court to rule that companies can fire workers on the basis of sexual orientation. The number of workplace safety inspectors employed by OSHA has fallen to the lowest level in the agency’s half-century of operation. And as the administration has pulled back from protecting the rights, safety and economic welfare of workers, it has sought to undermine state regulators and to prevent workers from protecting their own interest through collective bargaining… The Trump administration’s broader pattern of actions and inaction is sending a clear message to American workers: You’re on your own.
► From HuffPost — A court blocked Trump’s bid to weaken unions. The White House found another way. — Trump suffered a major legal setback last August in his effort to deconstruct the administrative state when a federal judge struck down key portions of three executive orders aimed at weakening federal unions and making it easier to fire government employees. But since then, the administration has been achieving the same goals through a different avenue ― the bargaining table. And they’ve done it with an assist from presidential appointees whose job is to referee labor disputes within the federal government.
► From The Hill — Supreme Court rejects Trump request to fast track decision on DACA case — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Trump administration’s request to fast track a decision on whether it will hear a case over the president’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
ALSO at The Stand — Congress to vote on Dream and Promise Act — All Democrats from Washington state support protections for Dreamers and TPS immigrants. Will any GOP members?
► From The Hill — White House starts clock on approval for new NAFTA — The White House formally notified Congress last Thursday that it is starting the approval process for Trump’s NAFTA revision, triggering a showdown with congressional Democrats over Trump’s signature trade agreement.
ALSO at The Stand — Tell Congress: No new NAFTA until it’s fixed
► In today’s Washington Post — GOP lawmakers discuss vote to block Trump’s new tariffs on Mexico, in what would be a dramatic act of defiance — Congressional Republicans have begun discussing whether they may have to vote to block President Trump’s planned new tariffs on Mexico, potentially igniting a second standoff this year over Trump’s use of executive powers to circumvent Congress.
► From the New Democratic Coalition — New Democrat Coalition statement on Trump’s tariff announcement — NDC Chair Derek Kilmer, NDC Vice-Chair for Policy Suzan DelBene, and NDC Trade Task Force Co-Chairs Ron Kind, Rick Larsen, Greg Meeks, and Lizzie Fletcher released a statement in response to Trump’s threat to impose a blanket tariff on all Mexican imports:
“There is bipartisan agreement that President Trump has abused trade authorities granted to him by Congress. His announcement last week that he intends to unilaterally tax goods from Mexico starting June 10 is the latest example of this abuse. These tariffs will hurt U.S. consumers and businesses and jeopardize the prospects of updating NAFTA. This action should be rescinded immediately.”
► From AFSCME — Union momentum grows: 20,000 Nevada state employees to gain collective bargaining rights –Public service workers across the country lauded the passage of Nevada Senate Bill 135, which expands collective bargaining rights to over 20,000 Nevada state employees – the largest statewide expansion of collective bargaining rights in 16 years. The bill, expected to be signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak, comes at a time when unions are experiencing the highest level of public support in more than a decade.
► From HuffPost — Connecticut passes most generous paid family leave law in the U.S. — Connecticut is poised to become the seventh state in the U.S. to provide paid time off to new parents and caregivers, adding further fuel to paid family leave as an issue in the 2020 elections.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.