SPEEA mulls, debt deal develops, healthy human rights…
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — SPEEA leaders defer vote on Boeing contract offer — Boeing engineers and technical workers will have to wait a little longer to weigh in on a contract offer from the company. That also means Boeing won’t know until mid-February whether workers will strike. Last week, SPEEA negotiators recommended that members turn down the company’s “best-and-final” contract proposal. But the 22,950 engineers and technical workers have been waiting to hear from their 105 council members, who are elected to represent the union in the workplace. On Tuesday, council members put off making a recommendation until Jan. 31.
► In today’s Washington Post — Worker turnover is poised to pick up, adding urgency to employers’ focus on retention — Human resource experts say that highly skilled workers are increasingly willing to abandon the safety net of their current jobs in search of new employment opportunities. This expected uptick in voluntary turnover, which some employers are seeing already and which experts predict will accelerate in 2013, adds increased urgency to a problem that many employers had already identified as critical: They are struggling to retain their most talented workers.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Hey, Boeing. Offering true retirement security via a defined-benefit pension is not just a liability on a balance sheet. It is a critical employee-retention program that has helped make Boeing an unqualified success for many years. Taking it away has consequences beyond risking a strike — at a horrible time. It also makes it harder to recruit and retain the qualified engineers you already say you can’t find enough of. The bean counters on your side of the bargaining table can’t quantify that, but maybe some of your broader-minded executives and board members might reassess the You’re-Lucky-to-Even-Have-a-Job bargaining posture, take a deep breath, and realize we aren’t in 2009 anymore. Highly skilled workers have options.
► From Bloomberg — Boeing CEO’s job may be on the line in 787 probe — The stakes are high for Jim McNerney, 63. His job may depend on whether and how soon he can resolve questions about the Dreamliner’s safety and win government approval for airlines to start flying the plane again. The crisis is the biggest predicament McNerney has faced in his career.
► In The Hill — Sen. Rockefeller: Hearings on 787 malfunctions likely — Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said that the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee would likely look into the 787′s problems, even if the airplane is eventually cleared to return to flight by the FAA.
► At nextgov.com — A 2006 battery fire destroyed 787 supplier’s facility — An explosion in a lithium battery under development for use in the 787 resulted in a fire that destroyed the Tucson, Ariz., facility of manufacturer Securaplane in 2006. Following that incident, an employee filed a whistleblower lawsuit with the Labor Department alleging the company had produced an unsafe battery. Labor dismissed the suit on procedural grounds.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — State spends millions more than others on ferries — Washington State Ferries has spent millions of dollars more on its six newest ferries in part because of a state law that requires the vessels be built by a Washington company, a state audit concluded.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This audit fails to include any kind of cost-benefit analysis of the advantages of having ferries built locally by local businesses and local workers who inject that money into our local economy. All of that related income and multiplier job effects are not measured or even considered in the audit. More on this in next week’s WSLC Legislative Update. Until then, consider this: If the state was going to buy a plane, would it seek a bid from Airbus and buy it from them if it was cheaper?
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Rep. Morris seeks license fee revenue for new ferry — Under current law, private businesses that offer vehicle tab renewal processing can add a $5 service charge, and the businesses get to keep that money. Under Rep. Jeff Morris’s bill county auditors would also tack on a $5 fee and forward that money to the state, the added revenue could amount to $15.6 million per biennium for the state’s Capital Vessel Replacement account.
► In today’s NY Times — Many Medicaid patients could face higher fees under a proposed federal policy — Millions of low-income people could be required to pay more for health care under a proposed federal policy that would give states more freedom to impose co-payments and other charges on Medicaid patients.
► From AP — State senators to hear workers’ compensation bills — The GOP-led state Senate Commerce and Labor Committee will consider five bills Wednesday (at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 2) that are intended to save businesses money by changing workers’ compensation rules. “These bills all have the same things in common. They cut benefits for injured workers and are sponsored exclusively by the new Senate coalition,” said a spokesman for the Washington State Labor Council. Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett), chair of the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee, said he was leery of revisiting workers’ compensation rules so soon after enacting major reforms to the system that appear to be saving the state money: “Tinkering around with worker compensation at this time doesn’t make a whole of sense.”
ALSO at The Stand — GOP+2 = Open season on injured workers
► In today’s News Tribune — Require licenses for subsidized day-care providers? — Sen. Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood) vaulted to leadership of the Human Services committee as part of a GOP-led takeover of the Senate. Now he has proposed a requirement that family-and-friend providers must get a license after a year. His proposal faces opposition from many child-care workers and their union, SEIU Local 925.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Senate scales back plans to investigate Roach leak — The GOP+2 coalition controlling the Senate authorized the secretary of the Senate to investigate the matter in consultation with private counsel. But Senate Democrats sent out an email on Tuesday saying Tom would conduct the investigation by himself.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Sen. Erickson wants to prevent repeat of Pflug appointment — Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) has introduced legislation that would bar governors from appointing lawmakers to salaried board positions during the candidate filing period.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Maybe next he’ll tackle “Zarelli Resignations,” where incumbents wait until the last possible second of the filing period to announce their resignations but tip off their chosen successors.
► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Navy extends hiring freeze beyond shipyard — The Navy is facing a financial double whammy. A 9% cut across 2,500 defense programs if Congress can’t reach a debt-reduction deal. (Despite the developments below, it still hasn’t.) A second threat is a “continuing resolution.” Congress failed to pass a 2013 defense appropriations bill so the Navy is receiving funds at 2012 levels and spending them at a 2013 rate, expecting its budget request to be enacted.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Fall start planned for 660-foot skyscraper in downtown Seattle — After a five-year wait, developers say they will break ground this fall on a 660-foot downtown office tower that would be the tallest building erected in Seattle in more than 20 years. At 660 feet, Fifth and Columbia would be 55 feet taller than the Space Needle. Only Columbia Center, 1201 Third Avenue, Two Union Square and the Seattle Municipal Tower are taller.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — CH2M Hill changing its subcontractor policies — The DOE Hanford contractor announced Tuesday that more than half of subcontract workers may become employees of CH2M Hill. In addition, more work will be opened for bids from companies not on a list of 11 preselected subcontractors. Under the previous policy, subcontract employees who worked longterm alongside CH2M Hill staff cost more because of overhead markup and payments to subcontractors.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — New contract brings Bellingham firefighters closer to unifying with Fire District 8 — By next month the chief of the Bellingham Fire Department will be the chief of Whatcom County Fire District 8, under a new agreement between the two agencies.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima County signs contract with 5th labor unit — County commissioners approved a two-year agreement dating back to the start of 2012 with 25 to 30 clerical and dispatch employees in the sheriff’s office (Teamsters Local 760).
► In the Wenatchee World — Eyman apologizes to Wenatchee leaders — A week after accusing Wenatchee officials of being arrogant and disrespectful to citizens, Tim Eyman has publicly apologized for being disrespectful and uncivil.
► In today’s Washington Post — Obama ‘will not oppose’ House GOP plan to suspend debt limit until May — House Republicans are advancing a novel plan to suspend enforcement of the debt limit through May 18, a move that would lift the threat of a government default and relieve the air of crisis that has surrounded their budget battle with President Obama. The measure is set for a vote today in the House.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Republicans move in the right direction on debt ceiling but avoid important issues — The willingness of House Republicans to postpone the debt ceiling fight is a welcome development. It is a minor concession to pressure from working family advocates. And it suggests that House Republicans are slowly coming to the realization that they do not have as much leverage as they thought they had to pursue policies that voters overwhelmingly reject — and that, in fact, voters overwhelmingly rejected in the past election. But House Republicans have not sworn off hostage-taking. Far from it. They will even revive the threat to cause a government default in three months and they will be back in three months with more hostage demands.
► At Politco — Patty Murray to House GOP: End your ‘hostage taking’ — Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray said Wednesday that she is fully committed to moving a budget resolution through the Senate this year and called on House Republicans to end their “hostage-taking” and engage with her in writing a deficit reduction deal that can become law.
► At TPM — Reid to McConnell: Make a deal or Dems will change filibuster rules ourselves — Says the Senate Majority Leader: “I hope that within the next 24 to 36 hours, we can get something that we agree on. If not we’re going to move forward on what I think needs to be done. The caucus will support me on that.”
► In today’s Washington Post — Post Office losing out on federal contracts, reports find — A report from the USPS inspector general said that since 2001, private companies like FedEx and UPS had consistently captured 98% of the revenue from long-term shipping contracts with the government because the financially troubled Postal Service did not have a sales staff or a strategy to focus on the federal sector until 2009.
► In the Johnstown (Pa.) T-D– Pennsylvania Republicans push ‘right-to-work’ bills — With the recent success of Right to Work legislation in the labor union hotbed of Michigan, a group of Republican lawmakers, flanked by supporters from the business community, said Tuesday that the time is right to enact Right to Work legislation in Pennsylvania.
► In The Nation — Labor campaign pushes health care as a human right, not a business — As most American progressives know, nearly every industrialized country in the world has a government-funded health care program — except the U.S. Not as many of us know, however, that in nearly all of those countries, organized labor was a central player in fighting for and defending those systems. Many activists are looking to Vermont as an example to follow. The Green Mountain State saw a successful campaign for single-payer that began in 2008. The fight was led by labor — not by a traditional union, but by the Vermont Workers Center, a community-based worker rights organization, who assembled a broad coalition including many unions that successfully pushed single-payer legislation around a “health care is a human right” framework.
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