Olympia’s hostage situation, CWA AT&T, Roach risk…
► In Saturday’s Olympian — Budget deal said to be 2 minutes from agreement– The state Senate managed to pass two of three “reform” bills demanded by a Republican-led coalition on Saturday, and a budget deal is now said to be just “two minutes” from agreement. But lawmakers still must race if they want to finish by midnight Tuesday and avoid going into a second special session for the fourth time in a decade. The Senate passed Sen. Hobbs school health plan consolidation bill on a 29-17 vote and the Sen. Kastama’s four-year budgeting bill, 30-16. Sen. Zarelli’s controversial pension bill to end early-retirement incentives, the third GOP-sought “reform” bill, lacked 25 votes and he asked to delay action until Monday.
► In the Seattle Times — Lawmakers can create jobs with worthwhile projects (editorial) — The state capital construction budget finding new life in Olympia promises a healthy infusion of new jobs, a boost for local economies and a welcome investment in public infrastructure across Washington. The revised plan to sell $1 billion in general-obligation bonds converts to perhaps 22,000 jobs in construction and related employment. Focused spending for necessary public improvements that help revive employment and local economies. That is good public policy.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Seattle Times joins newspapers around the state in supporting the Jobs Bonds. The Spokesman-Review wrote that it “should be a high priority,” The (Everett) Herald called it a “smart plan for now and the future,” and The (Tacoma) News Tribune said it is “ingenuous job creation in hard times.”
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Transit funding stays parked in Olympia — With the special session in its final hours, it’s clear cities, counties and bus agencies won’t be getting a lifeline for new transportation funding they wanted from state lawmakers. A bill allowing them to pursue an array of money-raising options, including a gas tax and motor vehicle excise tax, is parked in the state Senate and not expected to budge before the extra session ends Tuesday.
► From AP — Senator on federal disability wants to cut benefits in Washington — Republican Sen. Joseph Zarelli gets $601 a month from the federal government, indicating that he is considered 40% disabled. He has been receiving the tax-free stipend for years. Zarelli said the disability payments he gets are far different from the benefits provided in the state programs he’s targeting for cuts, in part because he suffered his injury on the job. He said the people in the state system were making poor lifestyle choices.
► At AFL-CIO Now — BCTD President Mark Ayers has died — Mark Ayers, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department and an AFL-CIO vice president, passed away Sunday morning. Prior to his election in 2007, Ayers served as the director of the Construction and Maintenance Department of the Electrical Workers. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was “deeply saddened” by the death, saying he joins Ayers’ family in “commemorating this extraordinary leader and friend.”
► From AP — Dave Whaley, veteran union leader in Idaho, dies– Dave Whaley, who ascended from the floor of a Lewiston sawmill to become the president of the Idaho AFL-CIO, died at his home in Boise on Wednesday from pancreatic cancer. He was 54.
► At IAM 751′s blog — Hytek management refuses offer of mediation — Management at Hytek Finishes has rejected an offer from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to help resolve increasingly contentious contract talks with the Machinists Union. The union’s chief negotiator said he was surprised and disappointed.
ALSO at The Stand — Machinists picket to support Kytek workers in Kent (Mar. 21)
► In the Seattle Times — Derek Kilmer thus far the lone Democrat in 6th CD race — The 38-year-old Port Angeles native cleared the field and got the endorsement of most of his potential competitors — and even Dicks himself.
► In the Seattle Times — In new E. Washington legislative district, Latino candidates scarce — Pablo Gonzalez, a 21-year-old CWU student, is so far the only declared Latino candidate in the newly created 15th LD, where Latinos are the majority.
► From AP — In Midwest, GOP shrinks from union battles — Some Republicans fear triggering a huge rebellion among opposition labor unions and sending a surge of sympathetic voters to the polls in November to vote Democratic.
► In today’s NY Times — Federal funds to train the jobless are drying up — Across the country, work force centers that assist the unemployed are being asked to do more with less as federal funds dwindle for job training and related services. In Seattle, for example, the region’s seven centers provided training for less than 5% of the 120,000 people who came in last year seeking to burnish their skills.
► Today from AP — Contracts expire for many at AT&T; talks continue — About 40,000 AT&T landline workers are staying on the job this week without a contract, CWA says. The workers’ contracts expired over the weekend, raising the possibility of a strike. But the union and AT&T Inc. said that they’ll keep working on a new deal.
► In the NY Times — In executive pay, a rich game of thrones — Is any CEO worth $1 million a day? That’s roughly $42,000 an hour. Or $700 a minute. Or $12 a second.
► In the Seattle Times — Amazon warehouse jobs push workers to physical limit — Amazon.com strives to be increasingly efficient to ship customers’ orders as quickly as possible from its fulfillment centers around the world. Some warehouse employees say the relentless drive to boost production wears them down and costs them their jobs.
► In today’s NY Times — The gullible center? (Paul Krugman column) — Why are “centrists” falling for fiscal flimflam and joining the cult of Paul Ryan?
► In the News Tribune — Allowing Sen. Pam Roach back into caucus is costly risk (Peter Callaghan column) — Based on an investigation that found a level of abuse that would shock even the most-jaded, Sen. Pam Roach’s own Republican caucus banned her from attending its closed-door meetings. It was the Senate’s intent that lifting these sanctions is “to be contingent upon the completion of a plan for counseling or training that is submitted by Senator Roach …”
No such plan has been submitted, no such plan has been completed. In fact, Roach has remained unrepentant. But we now find there was another way for Roach to escape at least some of the sanctions, one not detailed in her letter of reprimand. All she had to do was be the 25th vote needed for Republicans to take control of the Senate.
That’s why attorney Mike Hoover’s threatened lawsuit is so explosive — and potentially lucrative. It wasn’t prepared because the Senate created a hostile workplace. It’s explosive because the Senate knowingly RE-created one for cynical reasons that likely won’t be easy to explain to a jury. Given that, the requested amount of $1.75 million might not be enough.
► Related story from AP — GOP staffer seeks $1.75 million settlement over Pam Roach decision
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