Bellingham wants to work, WFSE grievance, Inslee surges…
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Bellingham Council moves toward public vote on coal terminal– The City Council has taken a tentative step toward a non-binding citizen advisory vote to gauge public opinion on the shipment of coal by rail through the city. About 75 labor union members gathered in front of City Hall to express their support for the jobs they hope Gateway Pacific can deliver. Mark Lowry, president of the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council, said union members had been concerned about a resolution before the council that called for Gateway Pacific to undergo a sweeping “programmatic environmental impact statement.” Lowry sees that as a new level of regulatory scrutiny that could force SSA Marine to abandon the project, while discouraging other industries from proposing their own job-creating projects.
► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Harrison Medical Center to outsource portions of its records unit– A decision to outsource work at Harrison Medical Center soon will result in the elimination of jobs for 16 people. All of the workers in the affected positions are represented by UFCW Local 21.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Bias against black workers possible in light-rail project, report says — Eight African-American laborers may have experienced discrimination on a Sound Transit contractor’s tunnel job site, and black workers in general were disproportionately dropped from work crews there, according to a report by the agency.
► In today’s Olympian — WFSE files grievance over health benefits account– Washington’s largest state employee union has filed a labor- contract grievance against the state, asking for a $17.7 million refund from a health-benefits account. The account had a surplus from which the Legislature removed about $118 million to help balance the budget this year. WFSE Executive Director Greg Devereux said the surplus was from an account that holds comingled funds — some paid in by state workers, who share 15% of the cost of health insurance. The rest was by taxpayers, and a rebate could mean $200 per unionized worker, he said.
► From KOMO TV — DOT chief: Deteriorating roads may lead to more freak accidents– Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond said road crews built much of I-5 in the 1960s, and more than 50 years of heavy use has taken its toll. Hammond said the agency doesn’t have the staff or cash to fix everything that’s falling apart, and the statewide to-do list just keeps getting bigger.
► From AP — $20,000 in-state tuition may not be far off in Washington — Washington tuition rates are rising at such a rapid clip that the cost of attending a top public university in the state is projected to surpass $20,000 per year for in-state students before the end of this decade.
► In today’s Olympian — We must find a way to make college education more affordable– Most experts blame the recession, but state funding for higher education in Washington has been declining for a decade. Education leaders must make it their top priority to figure out how higher education can become less expensive and more accessible.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — DelBene is the pragmatic choice in the 1st CD (editorial) — From a competent, diverse field of Democratic candidates and one Independent, Democrat Suzan DelBene emerges as the clear, pragmatic choice. DelBene blends private and public-sector experience with a record of leadership. Highlighting the menace of hyper-partisanship, DelBene is focused on the fundamentals, including bolstering the state’s transportation infrastructure and finding a strategic and humane way to settle the war in Afghanistan.
► At PubliCola — Inslee leaps out in front in new Elway poll — After trailing all year (or edging up to dead even), Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee has gone up by seven points. Elway attributes McKenna’s bad showing to a collapse among Independent voters.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Hmmm. Let’s see. What happened since the June poll that could account for independents suddenly souring on McKenna? How about… THIS!
► In today’s Washington Post — How SuperPACs are saving Romney — Republican-aligned super PACs and other outside conservative groups have spent more than $144 million on general election ads in swing presidential states, a huge outlay of cash that has allowed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to not only combat but exceed heavy early ad spending by President Obama.
► A related story at AFL-CIO Now — Super-rich have hidden at least $21 trillion in offshore accounts — Instead of investing in the economy and creating jobs, the global elite super rich (the .001%) stashed their assets in offshore tax havens. Mitt Romney has offshore accounts in Australia, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
YOUR CONGRESS IN ACTION
► At Huffington Post — Republican jobs bill won’t create jobs, economists say — The GOP jobs package, which currently includes 32 bills, represents Republicans’ hallmark legislative accomplishment over the past two years. In the months ahead of the election, they will lean on it as proof of two things: that they are not the do-nothing obstructionists that Democrats paint them as, and that they are working hard to address the 8.2% unemployment rate. But there’s a problem with their jobs bills: They don’t create jobs.
► In today’s Washington Post — GOP senators face risks over tax-cut proposal — Senate Republicans will press this week to extend tax cuts for affluent families scheduled to expire Jan. 1, but the same Republican tax plan would allow a series of tax cuts for the working poor and the middle class to end next year.
► In today’s Washington Post — Debt fight cost at least $1.3 billion — Last summer’s fierce political debate over raising the federal debt limit cost taxpayers more than $1 billion in extra borrowing costs, including hundreds of hours in overtime for federal employees responsible for avoiding default.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Workers Stand for America, 2nd Bill of Rights — On Aug. 11, thousands of American workers will come together in Philadelphia in the first major action of the Workers Stand for America campaign, the centerpiece of which is America’s Second Bill of Rights:
- Full employment and a living wage.
- Full participation in the political process.
- A voice at work.
- A quality education for all.
- A secure and healthy future.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Hyatt boycott aims to end worker abuse — Hyatt “systematically abuses housekeepers and other hotel workers,” said UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm Monday in announcing a worldwide boycott of the hotel chain. A wide range of groups, including the AFL-CIO, NFL Players Association, Interfaith Worker Justice, Pride At Work and several civil rights and women’s groups, are backing the boycott.
► From AP — How Apple’s phantom taxes hide billions in profit — Tax experts say the company can eliminate some $10.5 billion in tax obligations, although that could tarnish its reputation. Instead, the company is lobbying to change U.S. law so that it can erase its liabilities in a less conspicuous fashion.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Amazon offers tuition benefit aimed at lowest-paid employees — The employee perk comes after newspapers detailed harsh conditions at Amazon’s U.S. warehouses, leading labor activists to target the company with public protests.
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