Restored rights, Congress kills jobs, trickle down…
Monday, August 6, 2012
► In today’s Olympian — Bargaining rights restored for some state workers– About 122 workers in the state’s new Consolidated Technology Services agency are getting their collective bargaining rights restored on Sept. 1 after a recent settlement of claims brought by the Washington Federation of State Employees. The agreement means job security for tech workers like Jeff Paulsen, a 28-year veteran of state government who belongs to the federation Local 443 and is on the union’s bargaining team. “This is restoring us back into the status that we had before as state employees,” Paulsen said Friday, adding that he had been worried about his job because his exempt “at-will” status meant he could be fired “for any reason or no reason.”
► In Sunday’s Olympian — DOC must keep momentum on right path (editorial) — The DOC met its financial targets by trimming $300 million from its budget, including a 20% reduction in work force and the closure of facilities in Spokane, Yakima and McNeil Island. It has reduced the average daily cost per inmate from $102 to $92. Squeezing those 1,000 displaced inmates into the remaining 12 prisons has reduced staffing and operational costs, but it has created new challenges. Inmates used to be separated by certain criteria – the lifers went to Walla Walla, for example. Today there is a mix of violent and nonviolent inmates at every prison, placing new demands on fewer staff.
► In Sunday’s (Everett) Herald — Questions surround cost, design of new ferries — Rep. Norma Smith (R-Clinton) is raising questions about the design, durability and cost of operating the state’s newest ferries between Coupeville and Port Townsend.
► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — The business of parks is leisure (Danny Westneat column) — The Legislature, in ordering the park system to run more like a business, misses the point of the founding of the parks system starting with the founding of Yellowstone in the late 1800s, which is to shield a few of the country’s wild places from capitalism.
► In the News Tribune — A year after opening, Tacoma City Grocer still picketed by unions — and some aren’t sure why — On opening day this past September, about two dozen people from a union, informing shoppers that the store was non-union. At the time, most people believed the picket line would last a few weeks or months. Almost a year later, picketers remain.
► In the News Tribune — Room gets crowded in union disputes(by Bill Virgin) — It can get crowded around the bargaining table in a labor dispute. Each side will likely bring multiple negotiators, and they may have lawyers and accountants tagging along. There might be a mediator in the room. Then you need to find some space for other unions, other businesses, media, politicians, customers. …
► At Politico — Unions scramble to help Democratic governors — Democrats are playing defense in eight gubernatorial races this fall, compared with just three relatively safe Republican seats up for grabs. That means unions, desperate to ward off legislation that would hamstring their collective bargaining power, are being forced to spend time and money in some unlikely places.
► In The Hill — AFL-CIO super-PAC gets behind Reid in Romney tax fight — Workers’ Voice will release an online petition on Monday that union and non-union workers can sign that will support Reid and call on Romney to disclose additional tax records.
► At Huffington Post — Romney: Federal Reserve should avoid stimulus– Mitt Romney says the Federal Reserve shouldn’t use new stimulus measures to boost the still-sluggish economy.
EDITOR’S NOTE — “We can’t afford to have our economy boosted at this critical time in our campaign,” the Republican presidential candidate didn’t say. “How about we wait until after the election? Makes more sense to me. And by the way, these higher gas prices are just fine for now, too.”
► From AP — Obama embraces health care law after Supreme Court ruling — President Barack Obama, emboldened by the Supreme Court’s affirmation of his health care overhaul, is now embracing the law while campaigning for re-election, just as Republican rival Mitt Romney steps back from it.
► In Sunday’s NY Times — Massachusetts takes on health costs (editorial) — Massachusetts will be the first state to try to cap overall health care spending, both private and public, so that it will grow no faster than the state economy.
► In today’s NY Times — Fearing an impasse in Congress, industry cuts spending — A rising number of manufacturers are canceling new investments and putting off new hires because they fear paralysis in Washington will force hundreds of billions in tax increases and budget cuts in January, undermining economic growth in the coming months. The worries come amid broader fears that the economy is losing momentum — the annual rate of economic growth in the second quarter fell to 1.5 percent from 2 percent in the first quarter, and 4.1 percent in the last quarter of 2011.
► In today’s Washington Post — Federal government pushes back on sequestration panic — The government last week pushed back against contractors on how they should brace for a nearly $1 trillion cut in federal spending, arguing that mass layoff notices are unnecessary and that warnings of contract terminations are overblown.
► In The Hill — House GOP waiting on Postal Service drop-dead date to move on reform bill — The House has left Washington without passing a fix to the Postal Service, and Republicans now say they are not likely to bring the issue to the floor until after November’s elections.
► In Sunday’s NY Times — In pursuit of Nissan, a jobs strategy for the tech industry? — Executives have long said America can’t compete in building electronic devices. But the migration of carmaking from Japan is a case study in the most unlikely of transformations.
► From the Center for American Progress — Once Upon a Trickle Down: The Rise and Fall of Supply-Side Economics
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