Friday, July 12, 2019
► In the News Tribune — St. Joseph nurses to vote next week on possible strike — St. Joseph Medical Center nurses in Tacoma, represented by the Washington State Nurses Association, announced Tuesday that they are gearing up for a strike authorization vote next week. The voting days are scheduled for Monday (July 15) and Tuesday (July 16). Ahead of that, a bargaining session is scheduled for Friday (July 12). “I hope that administration is hearing the nurses and come to mediation on July 12 to settle a fair contract that will recruit and retain nurses and address our patient safety concerns,” said Janet Stewart, a registered nurse and union co-chair with the Washington State Nurses Association, which represents nurses at St. Joseph’s.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Third group of Providence workers pickets for a new contract — Slow-moving negotiations in a year-long contract dispute between Providence Regional Medical Center and some of its employees prompted some union members to begin picketing the hospital’s sidewalks. The technicians and professionals (UFCW 21) employed by Providence are seeking wage increases and to retain sick leave benefits in negotiations that have been ongoing since contracts began to expire in March 2018.
► In the Seattle Times — Crosscut/KCTS management opts not to recognize staffers’ union effort — After workers from nonprofit online news site Crosscut and local PBS affiliate KCTS 9 petitioned for recognition as a bargaining unit under the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild, management declined to voluntarily recognize them as a union. Leadership from parent organization Cascade Public Media was notified of the efforts Monday morning after a card vote last Tuesday showed almost 90 percent support for a union, Crosscut staff reporter David Kroman said.
► From Crosscut — Workers on front lines of homeless crisis could get guaranteed wage hikes — Staff turnover among social service providers is rampant — consistently hovering about 50% a year for many of Seattle’s nonprofit organizations. As a result, employees say the struggle to fill vacancies never ends, institutional memory evaporates and the carefully fostered relationships with clients are lost. Workers blame a large part of that turnover on the poor pay, consistently less than $40,000 a year… A Seattle City Council committee voted unanimously to tie service provider wages to inflation, teeing up the issue for likely approval by the full council.
ALSO at The Stand — Union makes a difference at legal services, advocacy nonprofits
► In the (Longview) Daily News — WestRock moves supply chain to Atlanta, cutting 16 positions at Longview paper mill — Sixteen management positions were cut from the former KapStone pulp and paper mill this month as the local plant began its “integration” with its new owner.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing leader at Renton 737 MAX plant retires — After less than a year in charge in Renton, the Boeing vice president who runs the assembly plant there and manages the 737 MAX program is retiring. A factory operations expert, Eric Lindblad was brought in to fix manufacturing and supply chain issues but leaves as the jet program is engulfed by a safety crisis that has raised doubts about Boeing’s design.
► From Crosscut — WA leaders to feds: Don’t underestimate the danger of Hanford waste — A U.S. Department of Energy plan to reclassify much of the high-level radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, near Richland, Benton County, is being met with resistance in the U.S. House of Representatives. In June, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-9th) introduced an amendment to the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that would forbid the Department of Energy from reclassifying an undetermined amount of Hanford’s 56 million gallons of high-level radioactive wastes into less dangerous “low-activity” wastes without treating it — unless it received permission from Washington’s governor. The full U.S. House might vote on the amendment later this week
► BREAKING from the Washington Post — Acosta resigns as labor secretary amid intense scrutiny of his handling of Epstein case — Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned Friday amid intense scrutiny of his role as a U.S. attorney a decade ago in a deal with Jeffrey Epstein that allowed the financier to plead guilty to lesser offenses in a sex-trafficking case. The 2008 plea deal in Florida came under renewed scrutiny in light of Epstein’s indictment Monday on more child sex trafficking charges in New York. Acosta faced pressure to step down from top Democrats, including numerous presidential candidates who criticized the deal as excessively lenient and said Acosta had been irreparably damaged by it.
► From Politico — DeVos sued over student loan forgiveness program that denies 99 percent of applicants — One of the nation’s largest teachers unions (AFT) filed suit Thursday against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, accusing her agency of mismanaging a major program intended to provide student loan forgiveness to public service workers. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which was passed by Congress in 2007, was designed to allow student loan borrowers who work in public service jobs to have their loans discharged after they make 10 years of payments. But relatively few borrowers have been able to obtain the benefit in recent years, as the Education Department has rejected roughly 99 percent of applications. That’s left tens of thousands of frustrated borrowers with student loans they thought would be forgiven after they worked a decade on the job.
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump retreats on adding citizenship question to 2020 Census — Trump on Thursday backed down from his controversial push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, effectively conceding defeat in a battle he had revived just last week and promised to continue despite a recent string of legal defeats.
► From CNN — ICE to begin nationwide immigration raids Sunday — US Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to begin the previously postponed raids across the country Sunday to arrest thousands of migrant families who already have court orders to be removed, according to a U.S. official. The effort comes weeks after Trump had tweeted ICE’s plans to conduct the raids, then delayed the operation after additional details became public. Adamant on doubling down on illegal immigration, Trump has repeatedly tweeted about an impending operation, a striking move given that operations are not announced ahead of time. The New York Times first reported on the raids, saying they are expected to take place in at least 10 cities, will occur “over multiple days” and will include “collateral” deportations in which “authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.”
► From Slog — How to prepare for ICE raids in Washington state
► From HuffPost — Obamacare had another bad day in court. That’s pretty alarming. — A legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act went before a panel of three federal judges on Tuesday and got a credulous, sympathetic-sounding hearing from the two judges who were appointed by Republicans. Yes, it’s happening again.
► In today’s NY Times — The new plot against Obamacare (by Paul Krugman) — There are, I’d say, two main implications of what we’re seeing here. The first is that right-wing partisanship has already corrupted much of the judiciary. At this point it’s clear that there are many judges who will rule in favor of whatever the G.O.P. wants, no matter how weak the legal arguments. The second is that even though Obamacare is now part of the fabric of American life, even though many of the beneficiaries are Republican voters — think about those numbers for Kentucky and West Virginia — Trump and his party are as determined as ever to destroy it.
► From Forbes — Trump to sign union pension plan fix by December predicts Ways & Means chair, but lead GOPer not so sure — The legislation has the support of the AFL-CIO.”This fix is urgently needed. Hundreds of thousands of working people spent a lifetime earning a secure retirement, only to see that future hang by a thread. Pensions are a promise—it’s time for Congress to take action and keep that promise.” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler.
► In the LA Times — A strong endorsement of the $15 minimum wage (by Michael Hiltzik) — The Congressional Budget Office, that nonpartisan arbiter of the impacts of federal legislation, reports that raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would increase the wages of 27 million Americans and lift 1.3 million out of poverty as of 2025. The CBO also says that the change might cost jobs for 1.3 million workers, though that’s the squishiest part of the agency’s analysis. Overall, the CBO says, “For most low-wage workers, earnings and family income would increase, which would lift some families out of poverty.”
► From the Pacific Standard — Union membership boosts political knowledge — By this point, we’re all aware of how quickly and easily political misinformation can spread. Whether it comes from a concerned friend or a Russian bot, fake news can easily infest your social media feeds, and perhaps influence your vote. The only way for a population to survive this plague is to be better informed. New research identifies one way to accomplish that goal: increasing union membership.
► In the LA Times — Uber and Lyft try to blunt a court ruling that their drivers are employees (by Maichael Holtzik) — The question underlying the court decision and AB 5 may be the paramount issue confronting the working class in America today: the trend toward eviscerating workplace rights by classifying workers as independent contractors. Such classification — misclassification, labor advocates assert — deprives workers of such traditional workplace rights as wage and hour safeguards, compensation for on-the-job injuries, health and retirement benefits, and the right of collective bargaining (that is, unionization).
► Many, many “Yesterdays” ago, the original Fab Four — Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal and Gilgamesh — led what was surely civilization’s first rock band. The Entire Staff of The Stand is pleased to share their story, as told by They Might be Giants. Enjoy.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.