ACT on workers’ comp, whack-a-benefit, austerity ain’t workin’…
Thursday, January 31, 2013
► From AP — State Senate delays vote on workers’ compensation — The Senate passed its first bills of the session, but put off a vote on a set of controversial measures intended to save businesses money by changing workers’ compensation rules. Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler said the five bills dealing with workers’ compensation will likely come to the floor soon. Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam), a centrist, said he would have voted against all the bills had they come up Wednesday, but could envision revising that stance.
TAKE A STAND! More than 1,200 emails have already been sent to lawmakers urging against these bills cutting benefits for injured workers and their families. Click here to send yours! These proposals do NOTHING to improve workplace safety, they just weaken this critical safety net for injured workers.
► From AP — Lawmakers weigh sub-minimum “training wage” for new employees — SB 5275, heard in the Senate labor committee on Wednesday, would establish a special training certificate for employers with fewer than 50 employees. It would allow them to pay new employees 75% of the minimum wage during a training period to last no longer than 680 hours.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Because we all remember a few months ago when candidates were campaigning on the platform that they’d go to Olympia and fight for lower wages.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Electoral vote scheme deserves to go nowhere (editorial) — A proposal by Spokane Valley Republican Rep. Matt Shea that Washington change the way 10 of its 12 electoral votes are split will likely go nowhere, and deservedly so.
► From AP — Dozens interested in state pot consultant job — Dozens of people turned out Wednesday — in flannel and suits, ponytails and hemp necklaces — to find out more about becoming Washington state’s official marijuana consultant.
EDITOR’S NOTE — I love this state.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — SPEEA council to decide on strike vote — Strike authorization likely will be on the ballot for Boeing Co. engineers and technical workers following a union council meeting Thursday, but it’s anybody’s guess how the 22,950 union members will vote.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing bonus bonanza due for SPEEA, Machinists — In the midst of Boeing’s 787 crisis, employees got good news Wednesday of big bonus payouts next month. The company’s white-collar-worker incentive plan will pay out roughly a 6% annual bonus. Machinists will get a bonus of 3.1% of their gross pay during the final six months of 2013.
► In today’s Seattle Times — 787 trouble overshadows Boeing’s strong year — Boeing’s total revenue for 2012 jumped 19% year-over-year to a record of nearly $82 billion, with $49 billion coming from the commercial-airplane unit. It reported a net profit for 2012 of $3.9 billion. Profit from operations was $6.4 billion, with the lion’s share — $4.7 billion — coming from the commercial-airplane unit.
► From KING 5 — Boeing has idea to fix 787 battery — KING 5 News has learned that Boeing has a serious idea in the works to deal with the problem of 787 battery fires in the future: better containment and better venting.
► From AP — ANA says 787 groundings have cost it $15 million — All Nippon Airways’ CFO said the airline was focused on investigating the cause of the 787 battery problems, and it was not yet in damage negotiations with Boeing.
► In the Wenatchee World — Mayor Kuntz says union benefits are ‘out of whack’ — Mayor Frank Kuntz says he would like to rein in union medical benefits and pay increases that he called “out of whack” with private sector benefits. Negotiating new employee contracts will be a top priority this year for the city, he says.
► In the Tri-City Herald — Team shows young fan the ropes — Saturday night, 8-year-old Evan Pratt got his wish of being on the ice at a hockey game as he was asked to be part of a Wishing Star Foundation presentation at the Tri-City Americans game against the Portland Winterhawks. Evan and the Wishing Star Tri-Cities chapter accepted a check for $1,716 donated by the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council. When the HAMTC workers found out Evan was a hockey fan, they also passed the hat to buy the little guy a Tri-City Americans jersey, complete with his name on the back.
► In today’s Columbian — Herrera Beutler, other lawmakers ask for ‘full study’ of CRC — She and three other House Republicans called for a full study of the economic impacts of Columbia River Crossing, citing “continued concerns” with the $3.5 billion megaproject.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Despite Everett postal cuts, next-day service may survive — The Postal Service says people in Northwest Washington are likely to keep getting next-day delivery of first-class mail even though the USPS is cutting jobs and making other changes at an Everett processing center. A lawmaker who pushed to keep the Everett mail center open isn’t so sure about that.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Billboard, radio campaign launched to stop human trafficking — Seattle and King County officials asked for the public’s help in ending the trafficking of people, including many juveniles, for sex and labor.
► In today’s Columbian — Consultant recommends merger for Washougal, Camas fire departments — Of the three options available, implementing a long-term partnership between the Washougal and Camas fire departments would likely save the cities money, according to a consultant’s report.
► In The Guardian — Immigration reform: A pathway to citizenship means prosperity for all (by Ana Avendano) — In today’s immigration debate, some suggest that we take the easy road and “split the difference” among proposals for reform from lawmakers — to choose political expediency and legalize immigrants without offering any chance for them to earn citizenship. That’s wrong. That’s the road to an America of permanent second-class workers, and it’s a violation of our basic values. All men and women are created equal, regardless of where they were born. Something absolutely must be done to address the crisis facing more than 11 million immigrants who call this country home. And America’s labor movement believes that lawmakers need to make a road map to citizenship a priority.
► In the Seattle Times — A local push to change laws on immigration — Local immigrants told their stories at a news conference Monday sponsored by OneAmerica, the state’s largest immigrant advocacy group, at the same time a group of U.S. senators unveiled the framework for legislation to overhaul those laws.
► In today’s Washington Post — Obama offers rough timetable for immigration overhaul — President Obama said that he wants Congress to pass an overhaul of immigration law in the first half of the year, suggesting that if lawmakers cannot produce a detailed plan within a few months, he would probably intervene with his own legislation.
► In today’s NY Times — An economic nudge for immigration overhaul — For now the population of illegal immigrants in the U.S. shows little sign of growth. With the scale of the problem stabilizing for the moment, or even shrinking, some experts say, there is more room for political compromise than the last time around.
► And Jon Stewart weighs in… a MUST-SEE!
► In today’s NY Times — Federal rule limits aid to families who can’t afford employers’ health coverage — The Obama administration adopted a strict definition of affordable health insurance on Wednesday that will deny federal financial assistance to millions of Americans with modest incomes who cannot afford family coverage offered by employers. In deciding whether an employer’s health plan is affordable, the IRS said it would look at the cost of coverage only for an individual employee, not for a family. Family coverage might be prohibitively expensive, but federal subsidies would not be available to help buy insurance for children in the family.
► In today’s NY Times — Political power needs to be used (editorial) — Senate Democrats could have the wind at their backs, if only they would act with resolve instead of fear.
► In The Hill — Unions to Obama: Replace LaHood with transportation funding defender — Transportation unions are urging President Obama to appoint a staunch defender of federal road and transit funding to replace outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
► At Huffington Post — Charter schools that start bad stay bad, Stanford report finds — When it comes to charter schools, the bad ones stay bad and the good ones stay good, according to a report on charter school growth released by an influential group of Stanford University scholars on Wednesday.
► At Politico — Jobs Council fades to black – The panel of CEOs, labor leaders and economists Obama tapped in 2011 to stimulate job creation in the United States is shutting down.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Mission accomplished!
► In today’s Washington Post — Economy shrinks as federal spending cuts trump private sector growth — The American economy shrank at the end of last year for the first time since the recession ended, according to new government data, as deep cuts in federal spending torpedoed what otherwise looked to be a modest recovery. Consumers did their part, spending more and opening their wallets for bigger-ticket items such as automobiles. Companies invested in new equipment and software. Housing continued to climb. But those gains were overshadowed by the massive decline in government spending. The biggest threat to the recovery now appears to be Washington, with lawmakers gearing up for another round of debates over spending cuts and raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
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