Wednesday, July 17, 2019
► From the Seattle P-I — New Washington state overtime rule: Relief for stressed, underpaid workers? — A proposed revision to Washington’s overtime rules, unchanged since Gerald Ford was president, is a needed catch up for workers dealing with eroding pay and job stress, backers told a Department of Labor and Industries hearing Tuesday. “It would give us a little bit of time and a little bit of money,” said Elizabeth Kwan, a research scientist. The hearing was a surprise hit, with 40 witnesses signed up and more waiting on top of that.
Larry Brown, head of the Washington State Labor Council, noted that workers have put in “longer and longer and longer hours — sometimes for free,” adding: “This rule is an important tool for rebuilding Washington’s middle class…. Time is money. Employers shouldn’t get both.”
ALSO at The Stand — Attend public hearings to support restoring overtime pay — The next hearing is happening this morning in Bellingham at the Four Points by Sheraton Bellingham Hotel & Conference Center, 714 Lakeway Dr. L&I’s overview begins at 9 a.m. and public comment begins at 10 a.m.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Suddenly the liberal dream of an income tax is tantalizingly real (by David Westneat) — Somehow taxing wealth has been a quest of liberals around here since at least the Great Depression. But something — the courts, the state constitution, the voters, big money — has always gotten firmly in the way. Until Monday. When a state court of appeals shocked even the lawyers in the case by ruling that Seattle can likely have an income tax of sorts after all.
► In today’s Olympian — Washington drivers might be charged by the mile to make up for lagging gas-tax revenue — Washington state would move toward replacing the gas tax with a pay-per-mile system under a proposal the state Transportation Commission is expected to vote on late this year.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — With budget cuts in place, Alaska announces its ferry plans for Bellingham this winter — Despite significant budget cuts, the Alaska ferry plans to offer regular service out of Bellingham this winter. The Alaska Marine Highway System release a proposed operating plan for this winter. The MV Matanuska, a smaller vessel that the M/V Columbia, which has been a regular part of the run, will sail out of Bellingham. The decision was an acceptable result for Bellingham and that it “certainly could have been much worse,” said Rob Fix, executive director at the Port of Bellingham.
PREVIOUSLY at The Stand — Rally in Bellingham to save Alaska jobs, ferry service (March 8, 2019)
Here’s the KING 5 coverage from that March rally:
► In the Chinook Observer — Frustrations surface in Pacific Transit labor contract standoff — Pacific Transit and its drivers have been without a contract since the end of December. Neither side is divulging details. But negotiations are happening in a background of strong emotions and some distrust between labor and management. ATU affiliate head David Claus-Sharwark expressed frustration with the status of negotiations.
► From Crosscut — After fatal police shooting at detention center, Tacoma city leaders face criticism from within — A city commission argues that the Northwest Detention Center ‘endangers lives’ of staff, law enforcement, community members and detainees.
THE PRESIDENT IS A RACIST
► In today’s Washington Post — A divided House votes for resolution condemning Trump’s racist remarks — The imagery of the 240-187 vote was stark: A diverse Democratic caucus cast the president’s words as an affront to millions of Americans and descendants of immigrants, while Republican lawmakers — the vast majority of them white men — stood with Trump against a resolution that rejected his “racist comments that have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler, and Dan Newhouse all voted “no” on condemning Trump’s remarks, while all of the state’s Democratic delegation votes “yes.” Rep. Newhouse sent a statement to the Yakima Herald-Republic that didn’t criticize Trump’s comments at all, and in fact, defended him as “not a racist.” Herrera Beutler told The Columbian that she disagreed with Trump’s tweets, but stopped short of identifying the comments as racist.
Trump’s tweets attacking these minority congresswomen are so clearly racist, they are spelled out in federal discrimination law…
► From HuffPost — Federal law says ‘go back to where you came from’ counts as discrimination — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cites the phrase Trump recently used against four congresswomen as workplace harassment.
► In today’s NY Times — Trump sets the 2020 tone — With three days of attacks on four liberal, minority first-term congresswomen, Trump and the Republicans have sent the clearest signal yet that their approach to 2020 will be a racially divisive reprise of the strategy that helped Trump narrowly capture the White House in 2016.
► The good news from today’s Washington Post — Trump’s racist comments can be used against him in court as judges cite them to block policies (by Fred Barbas) — Trump’s latest racist remarks, like many of his comments before them, can and will be used against him in court. And if his losing record on immigration cases is any guide, they will be used effectively. In conjunction with other factors, they could help persuade judges to block policies he claims are crucial to his agenda, particularly on immigration, on the grounds of racial or ethnic animus.
► In today’s NY Times — Trump’s new top labor official is expected to advance an anti-labor agenda — Congressional Republicans, members of their staffs and conservative activists regularly flew first class to Saipan, an island just north of Guam in the Pacific Ocean. They slept at the beachfront Hyatt Regency, and dined on fresh Japanese cuisine. The junkets in the late 1990s were organized by Patrick Pizzella. The Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the United States, had hired him to ensure that Congress did not impose federal minimum wage and immigration laws in a place where some workers earned less than $1 an hour. Pizzella, a genial lobbyist and government official who has spent years advocating the interests of businesses, is set to become the top Trump administration official protecting workers’ rights when he takes over as acting labor secretary this week.
Pizzella’s appointment is far more consequential than those of the many acting secretaries who have served in Trump’s patchwork cabinet. The man he succeeds, Alexander Acosta, spent two years battling other White House officials who demanded that he push through a sweeping anti-union agenda and coordinate his actions with the president’s political team. Pizzella is expected to be a significantly more cooperative partner in those efforts, according to administration and industry officials.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The mission of the Labor Department: “To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.”
► In today’s Washington Post — Appeals court stymies union challenge to civil service restrictions — A federal appeals court on Tuesday dealt a blow to labor unions representing federal workers in their battle with the Trump administration over get-tough workplace rules. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reverses a ruling last year that struck down key provisions in three executive orders signed by Trump that rolled back civil service protections, making it easier to fire employees and weaken their union representation.
► From CNN — ‘Prime Day’ is a prime time for collective action (By AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler) — This week, millions of consumers flocked to Amazon looking for a deal on Prime Day, which brought in more than $3.9 billion for the retail giant last year. Maybe you were one of those shoppers. But, as you await the delivery of the trendiest tech or basic household items you bought for a bargain, remember that it takes hundreds of thousands of workers to turn your simple click of the button into a package at your door at breathtaking speed. And far too often, these workers say they are being treated terribly and denied basic rights on the job. That’s why workers in Shakopee, Minnesota, took a stand and walked out on Monday. These workers aren’t asking for the moon. They’re demanding a safe and reliable working environment, the chance to advance in their career and the opportunity to organize and advocate for a better life.
► From Salon — Prime Day labor protests mar Amazon’s annual sale event — Activists, unions, warehouse workers, and tech workers across the country are speaking out against the company during Prime Day(s). On Monday, hundreds of protesters gathered at Madison Square Park and walked down to the street to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Manhattan home. CNET reported that protesters’ creative signage included “Stop Amazon-enabled surveillance of immigrant communities” and “Alexa, why is Amazon enabling ICE?!?”
► From The Guardian — Whole Foods workers say conditions deteriorated after Amazon takeover — Since being bought by Amazon two years ago, employees at Whole Foods say their working conditions have declined markedly amid pressure to push Amazon Prime deals and memberships, plus widespread understaffing, increased workloads and labor budget cuts.
► MUST-READ in the NY Times — To make it to the moon, women have to escape Earth’s gender bias (by Mary Robinette Kowal) — As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, NASA has started Artemis, a program that aims “to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024, including the first woman and the next man.” Although both astronauts have enormous challenges ahead, the first woman will face added hurdles simply because everything in space carries the legacy of Apollo. It was designed by men, for men. Not deliberately for men, perhaps, but women were not allowed in the astronaut program until the late 1970s, and none flew until Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, in 1983. By this point, the space program was built around male bodies. If we do not acknowledge the gender bias of the early space program, it becomes difficult to move past it.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
► From the AFL-CIO — Working families must be together, and free — Amid immigration raids, we reaffirm this statement from the AFL-CIO Executive Council. America’s unions will continue to fight for all working people. The labor movement is taking steps to ensure that members of our communities and our unions know their rights and know that we will all stand together in the face of these attacks. Be safe out there.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.