Thursday, September 26, 2019
► From OPB — Kaiser Permanente reaches agreement with unions to avoid strike — The healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente announced Wednesday that it reached an agreement with its employee unions after nearly five months of bargaining and threats of strikes. The four-year collective bargaining agreement will cover 85,000 employees in 11 local unions, including 8,300 employees in Oregon and southwest Washington.
ALSO at The Stand — Kaiser, union coalition reach tentative deal
► From the Stranger — “We’ve reached a breaking point:” Hundreds of residents strike for 15 minutes across Seattle — Organizers with University of Washington Housestaff Association (UWHA) estimate that 450 residents participated in a 15-minute “unity break” outside hospitals across Seattle, including Harborview, UW Medical Center, the VA, and Seattle Children’s. At noon on Wednesday over 100 of those residents gathered across the street from UW Medical Center in their scrubs and white coats, snacking on sandwiches and holding picket signs high in the air. The doctors walked off the job—briefly, and during lunch—in protest of an “unacceptable” contract the university proposed during bargaining, which has stretched on for months. UW residents, who say they’re the lowest paid in the country when you account for the cost of living, are asking for better wages, child care, housing stipends, time off, and transportation programs.
— WA State AFL-CIO (@WAAFLCIO) September 25, 2019
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane teachers pack school board meeting to express frustration over effects of budget cuts — Spokane Public Schools board members got an earful Wednesday night from the head of the local teachers union, who said teachers are frustrated with large class sizes and tight staffing in several key areas.
► From the AP — Oregon, Washington to begin building I-5 bridge by 2025 — Federal highway officials have endorsed an accelerated timeline proposed by Oregon and Washington transportation officials that sets the two states on a fast track toward construction on a new Interstate 5 bridge by 2025.
► In the Baker City Herald — Oregon initiative aims to fight automation, save grocery jobs — A potential Oregon ballot initiative, if approved, would slow the roll of automation — starting at grocery store checkout lines. The Oregon AFL-CIO, which represents the state’s unions, has submitted a measure for approval that would limit the number of self-checkout machines in stores to two.
ALSO at The Stand — Stop using self-checkout machines at QFC, elsewhere (by April Hurst)
► In today’s NY Times — Boeing underestimated cockpit chaos on 737 Max, NTSB says — The National Transportation Safety Board released the results of a monthslong review of potential lapses in the design and approval of Boeing’s 737 Max on Thursday, faulting the company for making erroneous assumptions during the development of the jet and calling for broader changes in the way airplanes are certified. The agency said Boeing had underestimated the effect that a failure of new automated software in the aircraft could have on the environment in the cockpit.
► In today’s Washington Post — FAA leadership disputes watchdog’s finding that 737 Max inspectors were underqualified, denies misleading Congress — Under questioning from lawmakers Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration’s second-in-command strongly disputed the conclusions of an internal government watchdog that safety inspectors who worked on training requirements for Boeing’s 737 Max were underqualified. Deputy FAA Administrator Daniel K. Elwell also rejected the watchdog’s finding that his agency had misled Congress over the issue, saying that was “not what happened.”
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Work remains for Boeing, FAA on public trust (editorial) — While the Trump administration has made a crusade of deregulation, viewing it as taking the shackles off all manner of industry to foster the creation of “JOBS, JOBS, JOBS,” this kind of lax oversight by the FAA of the aerospace industry — and the airline industry, for that matter — has been building for decades and ultimately spells disaster for all involved. As it obviously already has.
► In today’s Olympian — State increases projected revenues to $51.4 billion through mid-2021 — An updated forecast shows Washington state is expected to see a net increase in revenues of nearly $447 million through mid-2021. The numbers released at a Wednesday meeting of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council showed total revenues are now projected at more than $51.4 billion for the current two-year state budget cycle, which started in July. The state is projected to have $3.1 billion in total reserves at the end of the current biennium.
► In today’s Washington Post — Whistleblower claimed Trump abused his office and that White House officials tried to cover it up — The whistleblower complaint at the heart of the burgeoning controversy over Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president claims not only that the president misused his office for personal gain and endangered national security but that unidentified White House officials tried to hide that conduct.
► From The Hill — READ: The declassified (portion of) the whistleblower complaint
► In today’s Washington Post — 5 key takeaways and allegations from the Trump whistleblower complaint — 1) The White House allegedly tried to bury the Trump-Zelensky call. 2) Trump allegedly dangled a meeting with Zelensky as a reward. 3) Two ambassadors allegedly worked to contain the potential damage. 4) Republicans immediately attacked the credibility of the whistleblower, but the whistleblower’s characterization of the July 25 Trump-Zelensky call, which the GOP were not party to, is spot-on. 5) Many people around Trump are apparently troubled, and some are allegedly assisting in a cover-up.
► In today’s Washington Post — Fact checker: Trump’s false claims about Hunter Biden’s China dealings — Trump earns Four Pinocchios.
EDITOR’S NOTE — So, to sum up: Trump appears to have trusted the veracity of a Fox News-fueled conspiracy about Biden’s son, misused his office to try to confirm that “fake news” and use it to his personal political advantage, and it may lead to his impeachment. Truly, you reap what you sow.
► In today’s NY Times — White House sends impeachment talking points to Democrats, then tries to recall them — They include: 1) “This case just shows another example of… Democrats in Congress damaging our national security“, 2) “The transcript clearly shows there was no quid pro quo“, and 3) “The real scandal is that leaks triggered a media frenzy.”
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Rep. Dan Newhouse’s statement on impeachment inquiry — The 4th CD Republican’s statement from yesterday: “House Democrats and Nancy Pelosi have devolved the People’s House into little more than a constant media spectacle. Their continued attacks on our nation’s presidency weaken our democracy and threaten our national security. (Check!) I read the transcript President Trump released today of his phone call with President Zelensky. It does not contain a ‘quid-pro-quo’ deal with Ukraine. (Check!) Congress should be legislating on behalf of the American people, not continuing endless investigations and reckless impeachment inquiries fueled by media frenzy.” (Check!)
► From Truthout — Trump Labor Department’s new overtime pay rule leaves behind millions of workers — “While the administration may be trumpeting this rule as a good thing for workers, that is a ruse,” said Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute. “In reality, the rule leaves behind millions of workers who would have received overtime protections under the much stronger rule, published in 2016, that Trump administration abandoned.”
ALSO at The Stand — Comment period ends; final Washington state rule coming in Dec. — Under L&I’s proposal, seven years from now, anyone making less than about $80,000 per year, regardless of whether they are classified as hourly or salaried employees, would get time-and-a-half pay beyond 40 hours per week. That would restore overtime pay eligibility to an estimated 250,000 employees in Washington.
► From Government Employee — Labor groups, lawmakers vow to fight Trump’s ‘all-out assault’ on unions, federal employees’ rights — Democratic lawmakers and hundreds of federal workers rallied just steps from the U.S. Capitol Tuesday to protest what they see as an “all-out assault” on unions and employee rights.
► In today’s Washington Post — Impeachment inquiry threatens to overtake Capitol, upend trade and spending talks — House Democrats’ new impeachment inquiry threatens to overtake Capitol Hill and chill legislating on other fronts, deepening partisan divisions and mistrust between lawmakers and administration officials who have already struggled to secure deals on spending and trade.
► From Reuters — In Michigan steel towns, tariffs meant to revive industry cost jobs — Some steelworkers who cheered U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel last year are now being laid off, an unintended consequence of his America First policy as United States Steel Corp reacts to sagging demand from automakers reeling from higher steel prices.
► In today’s Detroit Free-Press — GM-UAW talks advance toward final phase, but break off for evening — The UAW told members Wednesday, on day 10 of the union’s nationwide strike against General Motors, that talks had advanced, but negotiators then went home for the night.
► In today’s Detroit News — GM, UAW battle over worker pay from temps to CEO — Pay is a top issue for the 46,000 hourly UAW members on strike against the Detroit automaker, a national walkout that marked its 10th day on Wednesday. UAW leaders say they are at the bargaining table to fight for fair wages and workers’ share of profits after GM posted $27.5 billion in net income over the last four years. A common complaint is that GM has the money to give its employees more considering Barra’s total compensation package in 2018: $21.87 million — roughly 240 times the $90,000 average pay of hourly employees.
ALSO at The Stand — Sign open letter of support for UAW strikers — THANK YOU to the hundreds of folks in the Pacific Northwest who have signed this letter of solidarity with GM strikers. If you haven’t signed yet, it’s not too late!
► From The Hill — GM health care strike fiasco is symptom of broken system (by MCS Industries CEO Richard Master) — From one boss to another, I encourage General Motors to drop its strong-arm tactics in these negotiations, including the boneheaded decision last week to cut off health care benefits to striking workers. Health care benefits should not be used as leverage against workers who only want to take care of their families and have their small slice of the American Dream.
► From Vice — GM fired five Mexican workers for aiding the U.S. auto strike — Factory workers at a GM plant in central Mexico lost their jobs after refusing to work overtime in solidarity with striking GM employees in the U.S.
► In the WSJ — Cost of employer-provided health coverage passes $20,000 a year — The average total cost of employer-provided health coverage passed $20,000 for a family plan this year, according to a new survey, a landmark that will likely resonate politically as health care has become an early focus of the presidential campaign. Annual premiums rose 5% to hit $20,576 for an employer-provided family plan in 2019, according to the yearly poll of employers by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. On average, employers bore 71% of that cost, while employees paid the rest.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.