The Stand

Worker Memorial Day, state debt limits, furloughs…

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The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. Make this electronic “clip service” your first stop of the morning to get O.P.P. news and opinion. (Other People’s Press.) These links are functional on the date of posting, but sometimes expire.


State Legislature news:

►  At wslc.org — Legislators urged to reject job-killing cut in debt limit — WSLC President Jeff Johnson and WSBCTC Executive Secretary Dave Johnson have urged state lawmakers to reject SSJR 8215, a constitutional amendment to lower the state’s debt limit. “Over the next 20 years, SSB 8215 will cut $10 billion in capital projects. That translates to the loss of at least 150,000 jobs,” write the unrelated Johnsons. “The recession is deep and recovery is slow. Our families, neighbors and friends are struggling to survive and desperate to get back to work. We urge you to protect our state’s ability to create jobs by rejecting SSJR 8215.”

►  From AP — State House gets amendment to limit state’s debt — The Senate has quickly passed a constitutional amendment that would limit the state’s debt, a measure that has delayed passage of the $3 billion construction budget. House lawmakers gathered for meetings, but most will head home while negotiators try to hammer out agreements with the Senate.

►  In today’s Olympian — “No” to more furloughs — state employees are doing their share (editorial) — The State Senate should back off its ill-conceived plan to force high-wage state employees to take additional furlough days. The plan may violate the labor agreement signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire and approved by a vote of union members. State employees are shouldering their share of pain, through higher insurance premiums, wage reductions through unpaid furloughs, and tackling increased workload with fewer state employees.

►  In today’s Olympian — Two budgets will take some work — House and Senate budget writers are at loggerheads on several items, and a bipartisan Senate proposal to cut public-school teachers’ pay by 3% is among the thorniest problems.

►  In The Stranger — Did Olympia just throw Metro under the bus? — Their two-thirds requirement made allegedly-moderate Republican Jane Hague the decisive swing vote, and now Hague has swung, leaving an expensive and iffy ballot referendum as the last remaining chance to avert a Metro disaster.

►  In the (Everett) Herald — Public pensions: A system that works for all — There are more than 300,000 public employees — including teachers, firefighters, police, social workers and natural resource and parks employees — contributing to pension plans and 130,000 retirees. All told, one out of every 14 Washington residents are in our public pension systems. The typical benefit is $18,182 a year. Our public pension system works. Opponents of public services portray these pensions as too “robust.” What these pensions provide is a modest middle-class bulwark for retirees, and a quiet but crucial stimulus for jobs in our economy. That’s not robust, that is simply the way it should be.

►  In today’s Wenatchee World — State’s longest-serving employee loved his job — Tony Eldred, 77, stepped out of public service with Department of Fish and Wildlife in January, just shy of 60 years after he landed his first summer job with the state. He was honored as the longest-serving state employee of all time — serving 53 years, not including summer jobs and a two-year stint in the Navy.


Local news:

►  At wslc.org — Worker Memorial Day commemorations TODAY — Every year, we commemorate April 28 as Worker Memorial Day, a day to mourn those who died due to injuries or illnesses sustained on the job, and a day to rededicate ourselves to the fight to improve workplace safety and avoid these preventable tragedies.  Commemorations are scheduled today (Thursday, April 28) in Bellingham, Tacoma/Lakewood and Tumwater.

►  In today’s Spokesman-Review — Verner seeks rule change to overlook lowest bidder on contracts — Spokane Mayor Mary Verner has shifted her position on new rules allowing the city to overlook the lowest bidder for city contracts when companies have poor records following the law. She opted not to sign the ordinance, which was approved on a 5-2 vote. Instead, she is pushing for an amendment that would reduce the number of contracts affected. Some labor leaders say they are open to her request, but point to recent prevailing-wage violations by a firm working on city projects.

►  In today’s Spokesman-Review — District class sizes will get bigger — The Spokane school board voted 4-1 Wednesday to temporarily raise class sizes by up to three students. The move will result in the elimination of about 90 full-time teaching positions and a savings of $5 million.

►  In today’s Wenatchee World — Wenatchee schools see $1.7M loss — Cuts include reducing classified staff — employees who don’t have teaching credentials and are not administrators. The district is working with the staff and union reps on whether those cuts mean fewer hours, layoffs or job attrition.


Boeing news:

►  At HeraldNet.com — Boeing Machinists: Labor complaint good for Charleston workers — Leaders for the local Machinists union say the NLRB complaint against Boeing is a good thing for the company’s workers in Charleston. Says IAM District 751 President Tom Wroblewski: “Should they ever decide to form a union again, the Charleston workers could do it knowing that Boeing couldn’t retaliate against them for seeking better pay, benefits and working conditions.”

►  From AP — Boeing CEO points to “workmanship,” not design, on Southwest jet mishap — Jim McNerney says that signs did not point to a problem affecting large numbers of 737s. Federal investigators found problems with riveting work done when the plane was built 15 years ago.

►  In today’s Seattle Times — 2011 delivery target for 787 can be met, McNerney says — Boeing’s senior leadership shrugged off the serious buildup of rework on the 787 Dreamliners already built as “nothing new” and already accounted for in the company’s latest delivery plan.


National news:

►  In today’s Washington Post — Corporations lobbying for tax holiday on overseas money — As Washington politicians grapple with how to lower the federal deficit, a coalition of major companies and business groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and technology giants Apple, Google and Microsoft — are pushing for a one-time tax holiday on overseas profits. The idea is to encourage U.S.-based corporations to bring back, or “repatriate,” up to $1 trillion now stashed in overseas tax havens by sharply reducing corporate income tax rates on that money from 35% to perhaps 5%. Backers argue that the move would create thousands of jobs and other investments; the lure for politicians is additional tax revenue that the government won’t collect if the money remains abroad. Opponents, including many unions, say the effort is a de facto giveaway for multinational corporations that rewards tax-dodging while having little positive economic impact. They say the same tax-holiday idea was tried in 2004 with little apparent benefit to regular Americans.

►  In today’s NY Times — Most states seen raising unemployment taxes on businesses — As persistently high unemployment has drained the funds that are used to pay benefits, more than two-thirds of the states expect to raise taxes on businesses this year to replenish them. Unemployment taxes remain low by historical standards: states have effectively cut the unemployment tax rate on businesses by 64% since the unemployment program began collecting taxes from employers in 1938.

►  At Huffington Post — Unemployment benefits: As other states cut back, Oregon gives more — People laid off through no fault of their own are eligible for up to 99 weeks of aid in 25 states. But last month, Oregon lawmakers gave the long-term unemployed an additional six weeks of benefits. That means that in Oregon, where the unemployment rate stands tall at 10%, so-called “99ers” — people who’ve burned through all 99 weeks without finding work — can now theoretically become “105ers.”

►  In today’s Tri-City Herald — Locke in South Korea to get OK for trade pact — In what’s likely to be one of his final acts as the U.S. commerce secretary, Gary Locke opened a three-day visit to Seoul on Wednesday, part of his campaign to win approval for a long-stalled trade pact with South Korea

►  At Huffington Post — Judge denies NFL owners’ request to put her ruling on hold — The judge who lifted the lockout dealt another blow to owners, denying their request to suspend her ruling pending appeal.

►  Today in The Onion — Trump unable to produce certificate proving he’s not a festering pile of s—

 

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