► In today’s Seattle Times — Republicans say State Senate is operating ‘just fine’ — The GOP-led coalition in the Senate declared victory after passing five noncontroversial bills on Wednesday with near unanimous votes. None of the bills dealt with job growth, education or creating a sustainable budget. Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray (D-Seattle) said Republicans will get a big fight on bills aimed at revamping the state workers’ compensation system. Those are expected to come up for a vote next week.
TAKE A STAND! More than 1,400 emails have already been sent to lawmakers urging against these bills cutting benefits for injured workers and their families. CLICK HERE to send yours! (and then share this link with your co-workers, friends and family.) These proposals do NOTHING to improve workplace safety, they just weaken this critical safety net for injured workers.
► At PubliCola — Washington state ranked most regressive in the country — A new report on state tax systems by the Washington D.C.-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that Washington state had the most regressive tax system in the country. Combining state and local property taxes as well as sales and excise taxes, the data shows a greater disparity in tax rates in Washington state than anywhere else. In our state, middle-income families pay up to four times as high a share of their income as the wealthiest families, and low-income families pay as high as six times as much in taxes.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — For Medicaid expansion (editorial) — The Affordable Care Act is titanic, a complex, far-reaching mandate that will reshape health care delivery in the United States. The promise of enhanced access and preventive care was the force that through Congress drove the Affordable Care Act’s passage. Now the parts fall together, and the Washington Legislature must act to secure Medicaid expansion.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Medicaid expansion: Do the math (by Lance Dickey) — Helping families and small businesses buy health insurance, and maximizing coverage through Medicaid expansion, will keep more Washington residents and employees healthy.
► In the Yakima H-R — Holes discovered in bridge east of White Pass — Traffic will be restricted on this section of U.S. Highway 12 until at least Saturday as road crews repair the holes and engineers begin assessing the long-term viability of the bridge, which dates to 1936.
ALSO at The Stand — A united push for transportation — The labor, business and environmental communities are working together to encourage Washington state lawmakers to develop and approve a funding package this legislative session that will “make a significant down payment on the $50 billion need” in our state’s deteriorating transportation system.
► In today’s Seattle Times — SPEEA will seek members’ OK to call a strike at Boeing — The leadership council for the union representing Boeing’s white-collar employees decided by 71 to 1 late Thursday to ask its 23,000 members for authorization to call a strike, officials said. Members will also vote on Boeing’s contract offer, which the union’s negotiating team has recommended they reject. Ballots will be mailed out on Tuesday, the union said, and the votes will be tallied on Feb. 19.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — SPEEA council urges members to reject Boeing’s ‘final offer’ — If authorized by members, union negotiators predicted that the soonest they would call for a strike would be early March, after members receive incentive pay for 2012 and after medical benefits kick in for the month.
► From Bloomberg — 787 investigation could take months — The U.S. probe into battery incidents may drag on for months, leaving murky at best the pathway for the company’s most advanced plane to return to the skies.
► In the PS Business Journal — 787 woes could cost Boeing hundreds of millions — Wall Street analysts and others have floated many numbers, from an estimated $350 million in direct expenses to a possible $5 billion write-off as a result of the 787 grounding. Boeing has declined to release any numbers of its own or comment on those being suggested, leaving people wondering how much to worry.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford union contract to expire without extension in place — Hanford contractors have refused to extend the collective bargaining agreement with the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council, said Dave Molnaa, HAMTC president. The agreement, which covers about 2,600 workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation, expires Saturday. The last collective bargaining agreement ended March 31, but it has been extended three times. Negotiations on a new agreement began more than a year ago, and little progress has been made with some contractors, Molnaa said.
► In today’s Columbian — WaferTech site subject of speculation — With rumors flying in one direction and then another, the question looms as to whether Camas will see an expansion by WaferTech, one of Clark County’s biggest employers. A WaferTech expansion would be “a game changer,” said Camas’s mayor, adding that it would involve a “multibillion” dollar project and at least 1,000 more jobs.
► At AFL-CIO Now — 157,000 new jobs, but unemployment rate moves to 7.9% — The 157,000 jobs created reflect 35 straight months of positive job growth but also show the pace of job growth is not quick enough to make a significant dent in the jobless rate. It also demonstrates the need for Congress to focus on investment in programs and policies that focus on job creation, especially manufacturing and infrastructure jobs, as opposed to the austerity/deficit reduction hysteria that’s prevalent on Capitol Hill.
► In today’s NY Times — UFCW agrees to ease Walmart picketing — The nation’s largest union of retail and grocery workers has formally pledged not to try to unionize Walmart workers, even though it helped coordinate picketing, protests and scattered strikes about wages and working conditions at the retailer last fall. The United Food and Commercial Workers made the pledge this week to avert likely charges from regulators that it engaged in weeks of illegal picketing at Walmart stores last fall.
► At AFL-CIO Now — New poll: America’s workers soundly reject Social Security benefit cuts — A new poll from the National Academy of Social Insurance, highlights working people’s opposition to benefit cuts, including the “chained” CPI, which reduces the cost-of-living adjustment. A large majority, 64%, thought the COLA should be increased to better protect seniors and other beneficiaries from inflation and rising prices of food, utilities and other necessities.
► From Bloomberg — Democrats press on immigration as Obama courts businesses — Returning to a tactic used in last year’s fiscal fight, administration officials held a conference call with executives of some of the nation’s largest companies to lay out President Barack Obama’s proposals and to enlist corporate backing.
► At Huffington Post — Immigration reform: Guest worker program considered part of the deal — As lawmakers on Capitol Hill try to hammer out a comprehensive immigration package, business and labor groups are trying to settle what’s historically been a contentious piece of the overall puzzle: what the nation’s foreign guest worker programs should look like.
► In the Washington Post — Labor agency short of board members — Although small, the Federal Labor Relations Authority is important to federal employees. It handles federal union representation disputes, unfair labor practice complaints and conflicts between agencies and labor organizations. But it is stymied. The three-member panel has only one. It lacks a quorum, so the authority cannot issue decisions.
► In today’s NY Times — Right flight (by Timothy Egan) — The pyramid of political dissemination is still in place: from Drudge, to Rush, to Fox, to GOP politicians in green rooms, trickling down to all the lesser Drudges and Rushes in the wacko-sphere. The good news is that these people are talking mostly to themselves, from inside the much-ridiculed bubble that burst in spectacular fashion last November, while fewer and fewer voters are listening to them.
► Get your skinny ties out of the back of the closet… The Specials are coming to Seattle! Tickets go on sale at noon today for their March 27 show at the Showbox SoDo. And you just KNOW the entire staff of The Stand will be there…
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m.
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