Thursday, January 18, 2024
► From TVW — Business and labor bills to watch in 2024 — From easing environmental rule compliance costs to extending unemployment benefits to workers on strike, we’ve got an overview of the business and labor bills to watch this year. Association of Washington Business President Kris Johnson and Washington State Labor Council President April Sims weigh in on their respective legislative priorities for 2024.
► From the Seattle Times — WA districts facing steep enrollment declines consider closing schools — Overall, public school enrollment across Washington has climbed by about 2,000 students this year, a 0.2% increase from last year. But many districts in the Puget Sound region continue to record student numbers that are well below the enrollment they enjoyed before the pandemic, which has resulted in dire financial binds.
► From KING — Group of school boards, unions urges Washington lawmakers to make changes to education funding — In the short term, they asked lawmakers to put 44% of the supplemental budget toward education; in the long term, they asked legislators to stand up a task force to overhaul the current education funding model.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Proposed law would lower Washington school bond election threshold to 55% — During the 2023 election cycle in Washington, 20 school bond measures went on ballots in local elections. Of them, only two met the 60% threshold of votes needed to pass. Another six failed bonds pulled in at least 55% of the vote. Eight more that failed were supported by at least 50% of voters.
► From the WA State Standard — Strip club workplace standards debate revived in WA Legislature — Dancers want protections in line with Oregon and other states but they’re backing away for now from proposals to allow liquor sales in clubs.
► From the News Tribune — Recent study ranked WA state among best in the nation for working parents. Here’s why. — If you live in Washington state and have a family, or are planning to start a family sometime soon, you might be happy to know that the Evergreen State was ranked the fifth-best state for working parents in a new study.
► From the Seattle Times — Lunar New Year could become a recognized holiday in WA
► From Crosscut — Five new maps proposed for Central Washington redistricting — A group of advocates sued the state for dividing Latino voters between Pasco and Yakima. Now the court will draw a line before the fall elections.
► From the NW Labor Press — WSU grad students win agreement just hours into strike — Within hours of walking out on strike Jan. 17, student workers at Washington State University-Vancouver — and at WSU campuses across the state — reached a tentative agreement for a first contract. If ratified, the agreement would raise wages 39%. WSU employs about 1,800 student workers, who in November 2022 formed the WSU Coalition of Academic Student Employees (WSU-CASE), an affiliate of United Auto Workers Local 4121. The union covers student workers at all of WSU’s Washington campuses, including the main campus in Pullman and the satellite campus in Vancouver.
From The STAND — WSU ASEs strike, quickly win tentative agreement — The agreement includes major pay increases, more affordable healthcare, and longer parental leave. WSU-CASE members’ ratification vote will take place Jan. 19-25.
► From the Seattle Times — WA suit to block Kroger-Albertsons merger gets cheers, raised eyebrows — A lawsuit by Washington state to block a proposed $25 billion merger between grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons is getting some qualified kudos from legal experts and lots (and lots) of love from Washington grocery shoppers. The suit, filed Monday in King County Superior Court, is the first state or federal attempt to halt the acquisition of Albertsons, which owns Safeway and Haggen, by Kroger, which owns QFC and Fred Meyer. Mark Sindelar, who lives near Redmond, said:
“Years back, we had Safeway, Albertsons, QFC and Fred Meyer. This merger will give us Kroger, Kroger, Kroger, or Kroger.”
► From Reuters — India’s Akasa Air says ‘confident’ about Boeing, orders 150 MAX jets — India’s Akasa Air said on Thursday it has ordered 150 Boeing 737 MAX narrowbody planes, showcasing its confidence in the troubled planemaker as the budget carrier seeks to fly to more destinations at home and abroad.
► From the Seattle Times — Boeing 737 MAX 9 still without a timeline to return to the sky — After five days of inspections and 40 evaluations, Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 remains grounded — without a clear timeline to take off. The FAA said Wednesday it had begun reviewing data from the first round of inspections on the grounded 737 MAX 9 planes.
► From the Washington Post — Government shutdown could stall Boeing MAX 9 investigation — The chair of the National Transportation Safety Board told lawmakers Wednesday that the investigation into what caused part of an Alaska Airlines’ plane to fly off in midflight, leaving a gaping hole in the jetliner’s fuselage, could be stalled in the event of a government shutdown.
► From the AFL-CIO — AFL-CIO praises Biden administration for protecting workers’ rights — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler on the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement of enhanced procedures to hold exploitative employers accountable: “Every worker, regardless of immigration status, deserves a safe and fair workplace free from exploitation. This announcement supports our efforts to ensure that immigrant workers who take action to help enforce our labor laws will be protected from retaliation.”
From The STAND (Jan. 17) — Register now for 2024 Labor and Immigration Summit on March 23
► From the Washington Post — Another government shutdown deadline is nearly here. Here’s what to know. — Congress is lurching up against another deadline to prevent a government shutdown, with lawmakers set to vote on a short-term federal funding bill — the third in four months — by the end of the week. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have reached a $1.66 trillion to finance the government for the 2024 fiscal year, but Congress has run out of time to pass that complex proposal before federal funding expires at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
► From the Washington Post — Supreme Court divided over whether to curb power of federal agencies — A divided Supreme Court debated whether and how to curtail the power of federal agencies Wednesday, with liberals urging the court to defer to the judgment of government experts, and conservatives saying judges should not systematically favor government regulators over private companies, industry or individuals in litigation.
► From the People’s World — Biden’s Acting Labor Secretary Su critiques corporate greed — At the AFL-CIO’s Martin Luther King commemorative conference, Su said one aim of President Biden’s pro-union, pro-worker agenda is to combat the corporate greed that particularly has oppressed workers of color:
“Dr. King preached that we cannot have racial justice without economic justice and we cannot have economic justice without racial justice. He dared us to imagine a world in which both exist.”
► From the Nevada Independent — ‘There needs to be a deadline’: Culinary leader mulls stalled contract talks — The head of Culinary Workers Union Local 226 said he expects to see hospitality worker picket lines in front of as many as 20 Strip and downtown casinos on the weekend before Las Vegas begins to host festivities surrounding Super Bowl LVIII.
► From The Hill — Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh says college athletes should unionize. What would that look like? — Discussions on college sports unions are not new, but with the rise of name, image and likeness (NIL) deals and revenue-sharing for athletes, some think it is only a matter of time before at least some student-athletes organize.
► From The Guardian — Google boss warns staff to expect further job cuts this year — Sundar Pichai’s memo acknowledges redundancies would come on top of round of layoffs reported last week.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.