► In the Federal Way Mirror — Social Security reform: Kucinich, coalition say ‘scrap the cap’ — An April 12 forum at Highline Community College promoted the lifting or outright removal of the cap on earnings taxed for Social Security. (People who make more $106,800 per year pay no Social Security taxes on that additional income.) Doing so, proponents say, will increase benefits and strengthen Social Security by trillions of dollars. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich delivered a fiery pitch for Social Security reform at Thursday’s forum.
► Once more, with feeling…
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing’s key Wichita supplier hit hard by tornado — Spirit AeroSystems, which supplies 737 fuselages and nose-and-cockpit sections for all widebody Boeing jets, suffered a “direct hit” from a powerful tornado that destroyed walls on the east side of the sprawling Wichita plant and ripped away large sections of roof. No one at the plant was injured, but the company has suspended operations at least until Wednesday.
► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — Russian engineers, once turned back, now flowing again to Boeing– SPEEA has long been unhappy about the Moscow center, where some 1,500 mostly contract employees have designed many pieces of Boeing airplanes, including on the 787, for pay that’s approximately one-third to one-fifth of U.S. rates. The union is especially rankled by the large batches of temporary Russian engineers it says Boeing has cycled through its Puget Sound-area offices in recent years, typically around 200 at any given time, each staying two to three months.
► In today’s Seattle Times — McKenna misstates rise in health care costs — Citing an old report from a right-wing blog, gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna says state spending on health care for employees rose 10.5% in the most recent year. That’s not true. Costs of the program rose 1.2% in fiscal year 2011, and this year they’re expected to increase by less than 1%.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Some Washington state liquor workers are already leaving jobs — That early exodus could force some state stores to close ahead of schedule, as the Washington State Liquor Control Board struggles to find enough temporary workers to keep all of its 166 locations open.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — State should stay on task in reviewing tax breaks (editorial) — Washington can be proud of its process. How fruitful those labors will be going forward rides on legislator willingness to address past mistakes, or myopia, by rallying to a two-thirds majority, a hurdle not envisioned when tax preference review was enacted just six years ago.
► From Bloomberg — Obama certifies Colombia trade plan, clearing trade pact– President Barack Obama certified Colombia’s labor protection efforts, allowing both sides to put the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement into effect May 15. “We regret that the administration has placed commercial interests above the interests of workers and their trade unions,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. The labor federation had sought to have the trade deal delayed until Colombia took what the AFL-CIO called “sustained, meaningful and measurable action to change the culture of violence.”
ALSO today at The Stand — Colombia trade pact ‘puts commercial interests over workers’
► In The Hill — Business, labor groups gird for union election rule — A joint resolution for congressional disapproval would block the regulation aimed at speeding up the union election process. A Senate Republican leadership aide says a vote on the measure was expected sometime over the next two weeks.
► In The Hill — Judge rules against NLRB poster rule — A federal judge ruled Friday that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) exceeded its authority when it required employers to post notices explaining workers’ rights to form a union.
► At TPM — Senate to vote on ‘Buffett rule’ — The Senate will vote on legislation that enshrines the principle that no one who makes more than $1 million a year should pay a lower effective tax rate than an average, middle-class American. The bill is set to fail, on a party-line vote, thanks to a Republican filibuster — and thus illustrate to voters where the two parties’ priorities truly lie.
► From AP — Twinkies maker Hostess gives unions ‘final offer’– The company wants the Teamsters and bakers’ unions to accept reduced pension benefits and changes in work rules to lower costs. It wants to outsource some delivery work. If the unions reject the offer, the company threatens to push ahead with efforts in bankruptcy court to throw out the unions’ contracts, which could lead to a strike.
► At Politico — Labor tensions mark Wisconsin recall– Yet with less than two months until Election Day, the recall has turned into something more than just a war on Gov. Scott Walker. It’s a debate within the Democratic coalition over exactly what the party’s message is going to be and how central a role labor issues ought to play.
► In today’s NY Times — Keeping a promise to home care aides (editorial) — President Obama must ensure that new rules about minimum wages and overtime pay are not watered down.
► At NYTimes.com — Tax face-off: Romney vs. me (by Timothy Egan) — This year, I did my 1040 and its attendant nightmare forms while comparing my family’s financial documents with those of Willard M. Romney’s. He paid 13.9% in taxes on income of $21.7 million for 2010 and about the same rate for the not fully completed 2011 returns. I’m going to pay double Romney’s rate on a mere fraction of his income. But you won’t get any class-war envy from me about a man worth upward of $250 million paying the same rate as someone earning, say, $55,000 a year. Nope. There’s a larger point here than the inequality one, compelling though it is.
Remember: The tax return is a blueprint for how to earn and spend money. It encourages us to do some things and discourages us from doing others. So, taking my cue from the social engineers who’ve manipulated the code, I’m looking to follow Romney’s example next year: work less, stash money overseas, certainly don’t pay for junior year in college. And, of course, complain about my burden.
► At Salon.com — Romney mum on labor leaks — The GOP candidate has not fired an adviser who allegedly received leaked docs from a member of the NLRB.
► In the Spokesman-Review — McMorris Rodgers could balance GOP ticket — Washington state Republicans insist she would be a great choice to be Mitt Romney’s running mate. But in last week’s other gender-issue skirmish, a question of Romney’s support for fair pay provisions of the Ledbetter law, Democrats were quick to note that McMorris Rodgers voted against that law.
► At Politico — Romney: Mothers on welfare needs jobs to have ‘the dignity of work’ — Mitt Romney and his campaign have been on the offensive for days, attacking Democrats for not respecting motherhood as work. But the attacks don’t gibe with comments Romney made just three months ago on the campaign trail.
► At LEOFF-member.com — An Exposé: The War on Workers in Washington – It Works! — Over the past 5 years, state employees have been laid-off, furloughed without pay, seen their out-of-pocket costs for healthcare skyrocket and generally been publicly flogged, over and over. And now, in the 2012 session, pension “reform” took center stage, when a few “Roadkill” Democrats joined Republicans to force 31 days of special session in order to prevent new state employees from retiring “early” after 30 years of work without suffering huge benefit losses, to force an unworkable 4 year budget process, and to take step toward making teachers accept shittier health care insurance. Pretty good investment by the sugar daddies for the Washington Policy Center and the Washington Roundtable, wouldn’t you say?
EDITOR’S NOTE — This posting at a Washington firefighter’s new blog is actually the third in a series. It’s a must-read for people interested in legislative issues and the concerns of public safety and other state employees. Check it out at LEOFF-member.com.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. These links are functional at the date of posting, but sometimes expire.
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