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More C&S BS | WA Cares outside WA | Biden vs. student debt

Thursday, February 22, 2024




► From the Seattle Times — Inside Kroger-Albertson’s would-be merger: ‘Do we have to say that we won’t close stores?’ — When Kroger and Albertsons promised to preserve competition under their proposed merger by selling 413 stores, including 104 in Washington, some wondered whether the buyer would be required to keep those stores open. Apparently, so did the buyer, C&S Wholesale Grocers. That’s according to new filings in Washington state’s Jan. 16 lawsuit to stop the $25 billion merger of Kroger, which owns QFC and Fred Meyer, and Albertsons, which owns Safeway. “Do we have to say that we won’t close stores?” Bob Palmer, outgoing CEO of New Hampshire-based C&S Wholesale, asked last year about plans to buy the 413 locations, according to newly unredacted passages in the state’s suit.

► From KXLY — Faculty members at WSU are calling for new president, leadership —  A group of over 200 faculty members at Washington State University are calling for new leadership, including a new president. The group cites a nearly 16% decline in enrollment at the Pullman campus during president Kirk Schulz’s tenure.




► From the Seattle Times — Boeing ousts 737 MAX chief in shake-up as blowout fallout mounts — Boeing has ousted the leader of the 737 MAX program at its Renton plant and reshuffled its leadership team at the Commercial Airplanes division, effective immediately. Ed Clark, vice president of the MAX program and general manager at the Renton facility, will leave the company. He’s being replaced by Katie Ringgold, the current vice president 737 delivery operations.




► From the Seattle Times — WA Cares, if it survives, could benefit people who retire elsewhere — State legislators are advancing a proposal that would let Washingtonians access benefits through the state’s new long-term care insurance program, WA Cares Fund, even if they left the state for a new job or to retire. But the proposals are moving forward as WA Cares faces questions over its survival. Am initiative to the Legislature would make optional a requirement that most Washington workers pay into the program.

► From the WA State Standard — How WA lawmakers are looking to improve K-12 special education — House lawmakers this week advanced three proposals meant to increase special education funding and make it easier for parents of children with disabilities to hold schools accountable for failing to provide adequate services. The bills come as lawmakers again look to increase the percentage of a district’s population that can receive extra dollars for special education services.

► From KNKX — Legislators throw a life ring to Washington’s ‘other’ ferries — Increased state aid for Guemes Island ferry replacement and a new Kitsap hydrofoil ferry comes with a catch: voters must reject climate act repeal initiative.

► From Crosscut — Gas prices too high? WA residents may get $200 back for utilities — The Legislature considers offering rebates to middle- and low-income households to offset fuel costs blamed on the new cap-and-invest program.




AFT Local 1521 member Jessica Saint-Paul introduces President Biden at Wednesday’s press conference.

► From the AP — Biden says too many Americans are saddled with school debt as he cancels federal loans for 153,000President Joe Biden said Wednesday that while a college degree was still a ticket to a better life, that ticket is often too expensive, as he announced he was canceling federal student loans for nearly 153,000 borrowers.

► From the AP — Applications for jobless benefits fall again as labor market powers on — The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits fell to its lowest level in five weeks, even as more high-profile companies announce layoffs.

► From Roll Call — Tall order for lawmakers to finish spending bills next week — Portions of federal government will start to shut down March 1 unless Congress acts. Critical final decisions about spending bills’ contents or the process for getting them across the finish line haven’t yet been made, however, and lawmakers are still on recess until next week.

► From NPR — Red states that have resisted Medicaid expansion are feeling pressure to give up — Just 10 states have not expanded Medicaid – mostly in the South, where Republicans dominate state legislatures. But a decade after the Affordable Care Act made the option available, Medicaid expansion is becoming harder to resist.




► From the Washington Post — Major strikes in 2023 set 20-year record, Labor Department says — American workers led 33 major strikes in 2023, the most in more than two decades, the DOL reported Wednesday, as a booming labor market fueled a strong year of activity for unions. In total, 458,900 workers participated in major strikes, defined as involving 1,000 or more workers, according to the DOL. That’s more than three times the number of workers as in 2022, according to the agency’s data, which excludes a lot of strikes at smaller workplaces.

► From the (Madison) Capitol Times — Michigan revoked its anti-union laws; Wisconsin should too (editorial) — If Wisconsin Democrats can capitalize like Michigan Democrats did, Act 10 and Wisconsin’s anti-worker right-to-work law will be consigned to the dustbin of history.

► From NPR — After his wife died, he joined nurses to push for new staffing rules in hospitals — “I without a doubt believe 100 percent Ann would still be here today if they had staffing levels, mandatory staffing levels, especially in ICU,” says Tim Lillard says.

► From Vice — ‘Summer was scary’: Amazon fined for not giving workers enough shade, water — The California OSHA issued three citations against Amazon for exposing its workers to dangerous heat conditions over the summer, including not reminding them to take breaks and forcing them to shelter in the shade underneath a plane, according to a new report released Wednesday. The agency has also ordered the company to pay a total of $14,625 in fines.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Enforcement of basic labor standards like these is why Amazon is currently arguing in court that the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that enforces laws protecting workers’ right to unionize, is unconstitutional. This company thinks it’s above the law.

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