by Mary Wirta, representative to King County Democratic Central Committee
The KCDCC had a very informative presentation on April 23rd, 2013 at its regular monthly meeting by a panel made up of Mr. Magdaleno (“Leno”) M. Rose-Avila, Director of the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs; Carlos Padilla, Co-founder and Student Director of the Washington Dream Act Coalition; and Dave Parsons, President of UAW Local 4121(University of Washington Academic Student Employees).
Mr. Leno Rose-Avila told the audience that Latinos feel that the US. Senator Rubio is insulting Latinos & immigrants, but Democrats seem to have pulled their support from the immigration reform so they need to be clear in their intentions. Last year Washington State Latinos went to other states & brought the Latinos out to vote for Democrats. Right now there is an emphasis on beefing up the borders. The effort to pass an immigration bill will be difficult and there may need to be a compromise, but it seems as though there will need to be a beefing up of the border first. It takes $500 to get a green card when immigrants are eligible. This is a hardship and cuts back on the number of family members that can be brought in. He is spreading the word among Latinos and Congresspersons in DC that Latinos no longer wish to be in the “back of the bus” and NOW IS THE TIME to pass the bill. He stated that even the 4 Republicans in the gang of 8 are in favor of a comprehensive immigration bill. He encouraged all of us to call Reichert and our Democratic friends and tell them to vote for the bill.
Carlos Padilla is a Dreamer who is going to the University of Washington and living with his Dad and siblings. He and most Dreamers can’t get degrees unless they have added funding to help with tuition and expenses. Dreamers who aren’t afraid are getting out the Vote and have their eye trained on possible jobs they are training for. Their Dream never dies. He says they support and are encouraging people to call their State Legislators to support the Washington State Dream Act so they can receive the money they need to pay tuition, books, medical and food, and complete their degrees. The students are also supporting the passage of the US Dream Act in the US Senate now so they will have a pathway to Citizenship within 5 years. His goals are a degree in Political Science and then to spend time in the US Air Force. He reminded us that Latinos are Democratic friendly.
Lastly David Parson said that his Union speaks for the University of Washington Academic Student Employees(Teaching & Research Assistants) as well as Auto Workers. Labor has been pushing for Immigration Reform . The basic principles immigrants in research fields need are equal rights & protections in the workplace; collective bargaining; prevailing wage standards; a progressive agenda for temporary workers or a high Tech pipeline to citizenship for international students( a clear and well defined path to citizenship); family reunification; more input from Pasera, Casa, and Dacha(a student organization); a new City of Seattle cabinet post for International Residents, immigrant, and refugee affairs; and retain Seattle/King County as a Sanctuary City/County that does not hold people without documentation for non-criminal acts for ICE. He said that after al,l we need to realize that we have a shortage of scientists and persons in the STEM fields and that the immigrants are the basis of the future of research in Washington.
Subsequent information has come out about H-1B Visas since then. People at the meeting agreed with most of the views of the panel, but some US citizens in Washington State in the STEM fields had a question about the last statement above regarding a shortage of scientists in the US. since they had personally known of many of their colleagues with Bachelors and PhDs in Science in their own fields not being able to find work for years at a time. Some had even trained under Nobel Prize Winners. Some left their fields entirely out of frustration or desperation. On April 24th the Washington Post came out with an Article by Jia Lynn Yang about as study by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute that questioned the shortage of scientists in the STEM fields entitled Study: There may not be a shortage of American STEM graduates after all _. In this article it stated that “The EPI study found that the United States has more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations”. And “Only half of the students graduating from college with a STEM degree are hired into a STEM job”. Yet the recent proposal from Congress proposes to increase the STEM workers who are not US Citizens by 200-300%.
Then within 10 days, on May 5th, in the Sunday Edition of the Seattle Times Kyung M Song and Janet I. Tu wrote an article entitled Do visas for skilled foreigners shut out U.S. Tech Workers? In this article it states that a gentleman graduated in IT within the last few years with a 3.52 grade point average and it took him more than 9 months to find a Part Time (not Full time) job in his field. Elsewhere It also states “But companies do not have to advertise the job or recruit Americans first.” A graph shows that Microsoft and Amazon have increased their employment of those with H-1B Visas by 1/3 since 2008. The article also relates a situation where a former Microsoft Product Manager was cut from the payroll by a supervisor who was here on a Visa and then a staffing company offered her a 3 month contract doing the same job for ½ her previous salary.
To make the situation worse we have also been training less Americans in STEM fields for 20 years due to lessening of Higher Ed funding. The “Out of the US” students bring in the highest tuition money, vs “Out of State” or “In State” students (who a few years ago paid 3X less). “Out of US” students have appealed to Washington State Universities as this helps make up some of their deficits. Most of these students have their tuition paid by their home country’s government, but few of them return to their original country. If funding is cut deeper for Higher Ed and State Universities will there be enough spots for US students?
To further complicate job hiring, another situation that has been going on for quite a long time is that the Biotech field funding(NIH &NSF) for Research Grants for Teaching & Research Assistants and PhDs has been cut back repeatedly since 1980. Most of these jobs hire graduates for 1-3 year projects only. Further cuts have been proposed this year by the US Congress. This has repeatedly reduced the number of jobs available in Biological Science already. This has therefore effectively been a worsening “recession” in these fields over the last 30 years. In 2009 only 23% of graduates in Biology(not medical), Physical Sciences, and Math have jobs in their field of major one year after graduation.(1-fig. D)
A question therefore arises. If Funding of Research Grants in STEM occupation jobs and University Funding is lessened; American Citizens are not even notified of jobs available;, and the jobs are not offered to American Citizens first; what American student will want to go into STEM studies and incur increasingly stiff tuition indebtedness? How many will be able to or want to pay for additional higher Differential Tuition costs for STEM training if there is a 50% chance there will not be a job for them when they graduate so they can repay their Student Loans?? Further what happens to their specific skills if they are out of a job in their field for 5 years or more? These studies show on the average 33-50% of US Engineers, IT Graduates, Mathematicians, Biologists, Physicists, and Chemists who are STEM field graduates do not find a job when they graduate in their field.
- Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market: Salzman, H; Kuehn,D; Lowell, B.L.: Economic Policy Institute, April 24, 2013
Whereas language means a lot, and Max Richtman of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare’s use of “Earned Benefits” is a better expression for those of us interested in sharing for the good of us all. All taxpayers have in fact paid for those benefits. Also, even Ronald Reagan publicly explained that costs of those Earned Benefits are not part of the annual federal deficit or the national debt;
And whereas use of the Republican-flavored word “Entitlements” can create the impression of a give-away, which is not accurate;
And whereas conservative Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia recently advocated eliminating voting rights laws, calling them “racial entitlements;” Republican Congressmen love to call Social Security and Medicare “Entitlements,” making them sound like unearned presents rather than earned benefits,
Be it resolved that as much as possible the term “Earned Benefits” be used instead of the word “Entitlements” for Medicare and Social Security.
Adopted unanimously by the 48th LD on April 17, 2013.
WHEREAS the current COLA already undercounts the higher inflation that seniors experience because they spend a disproportionate amount of their income on health care; and
WHEREAS the chained CPI will result in a yearly 0.3% reduction compared to the current inadequate COLA increase, resulting in a Social Security benefit reduction of about $130 per year, increasing to a 9.2% reduction (almost $1,400/year) by age 95; and
WHEREAS not only will over 56 million Social Security beneficiaries be affected, but also over 8 million SSI beneficiaries, over 2 million military retirees, over 3 million VA beneficiaries and over 2 million federal retirees; and
WHEREAS the impact will be greatest on those who draw benefits at earlier ages (e.g. military and disabled) and who live the longest, typically women who have outlived their other sources of income, depleted their assets, and rely on their benefits as their only lifeline to financial stability; and
WHEREAS generations coming of age in an extended recession will have reduced lifetime earnings as a result, are facing unprecedented levels of student loan debt, and are highly unlikely to ever have defined benefits pensions, and will therefore be even more dependent than current retirees on adequate funding of Social Security and realistic COLA calculations; and
WHEREAS Social Security can be made solvent for at least 75 years, and benefits increased, by the simple expedient of scrapping the FICA cap; and
WHEREAS chained CPI and other austerity policies would remove massive amounts of discretionary income from the 99%-exactly the wrong thing to do when we are still in the middle of a jobs crisis; and
WHEREAS two-thirds of respondents over 50 (Democrats, Republicans and Independents) say they’re less likely to support anyone who backs Obama’s proposal to implement the chained CPI, which will result in severe negative repercussions for our party in 2014 and 2016 should this be implemented.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 48th Legislative District Democrats call on our U.S. Representatives and Senators to refuse to pass a budget that includes cuts to Social Security and other benefits by implementing chained CPI ;and
THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 48th Legislative District Democrats send copies of this resolution to the members of our U.S. Senate and House Delegations.
Adopted unanimously by the 48th Legislative District Democrats, King County, in Bellevue, Washington on April 17, 2013.
Resolution to Censure Sen. Rodney Tom
Senator Rodney Tom, the senator from the 48th Legislative District, was nominated by the Democratic Party in 2010 and elected as a Democrat by the voters of that District; and
the Charter of the State Democratic Party provides that “Those elected as Democrats have the obligation to support the principles of the Democratic Party”; and
Senator Tom has now chosen to caucus with the Senate Republicans, throwing majority control to that party and elevating himself to a position he is calling “Coalition Majority Leader”; and
Senator Tom instigated this unprecedented coup and turned his back on sincere offers of shared leadership with the Democratic caucus, thereby thwarting the will of the State’s voters who elected a Democratic majority to the Washington State Senate; and
Senator Tom received substantial material campaign help from the Democratic Party, including volunteers, access to VoteBuilder and over $70,000 in cash and in-kind donations, leading to his election as a Democrat in 2010,
Now, Therefore, Be it Resolved
that the King County Democratic Party formally censures Senator Rodney Tom of the 48th Legislative District for this behavior that has betrayed both his constituents and the statewide electorate, and has harmed every Democratic senator by denying leadership positions to some, hindering the ability of the Democratic caucus to pass legislation consistent with Democratic values, and limiting the ability of the Governor and Legislature to adopt a budget reflecting those values; and
Be it Further Resolved
that the Democratic Party should withhold from Senator Tom access to all Democratic funds, volunteers and VoteBuilder, since the purpose of such Party support is to elect Democrats who will support the Democratic leadership in passing Democrat-sponsored legislation; and
Be it Finally Resolved
that we urge all friends and associates of the Democratic Party to similarly withhold their support, both monetary and non-monetary, from Senator Tom.
Adopted by KCDCC on 1/22/2013.
The 48th Legislative District Democrats’ reorganization meeting for the 2013-2014 term will convene on Wednesday, January 9, 2013, at 7:00 PM. The meeting location is Studio B of the Northwest Arts Center, 9825 NE 24th St, Bellevue.
1. Reorganization – Election of officers for 2013-2014 term.
2. Final officers’ reports from the 2011-2012 term.
3. New business:
- Bylaws amendment regarding eligibility requirements for officers
- Resolution regarding Senator Tom
- Other new business, if any
4. Good of the Order
At this meeting, only PCOs elected in August 2012 are eligible to vote on the election of officers, and on the bylaws amendment. All other 48th District Democrat members in good standing (hint: pay your dues!), as well as PCOs, are eligible to vote on other business.
An amendment to the bylaws will be proposed at the January 9 meeting. The proposed amendment, which requires a two-thirds vote, reads as follows:
MOVED: That the Bylaws for the 48th District Democrats be amended as follows:
In ARTICLE VII Section 1, strike all text and replace with “Only members in good standing are eligible to be elected as officers.”
In ARTICLE VII Section 2, Insert the word “elected” before “officers” in the first sentence.
The effect of the first part of this amendment is to open eligibility for elected office to all members in good standing, removing the restriction that certain offices must be filled by Elected or Appointed PCOs. This amendment, if approved, would not affect the January 9 election of officers, which is required to happen at the start of the reorganization meeting. The amendment would affect future elections. The effect of the second part of the amendment is solely to clarify an ambiguous sentence.
If you would like to review the current bylaws in advance of the meeting, they may be found athttp://48thdems.org/bylaws/. The amendment affects Article VII. For reference, the term “member in good standing” is defined in Article III Section 4.
In light of recent events affecting the State Senate, the current Executive Board has received proposals for resolutions for consideration at the meeting. An ad hoc resolutions committee is reviewing and reconciling these proposed resolutions, and plans to present a combined resolution for discussion and adoption at the meeting.
Although not recommended, members may also propose resolutions from the floor by an ordinary motion. The proposer of such a resolution would be well-advised to bring printed copies in sufficient quantity to facilitate its consideration and discussion during the meeting.
We hope you will bear with us as we conduct our business in accordance with our governance policies, which may include the need for confidential handling of specific issues.
— John Elsbree, 48th LD Chair