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Boeing-NLRB, DOC cuts, firefighters’ money…

The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. Make this electronic “clip service” your first stop of the morning to get O.P.P. news and opinion. (Other People’s Press.) These links are functional on the date of posting, but sometimes expire.

Boeing news:

►  MUST-READ in today’s Washington Post — The answer to Boeing’s labor dispute (Steven Pearlstein column) — The “right” for workers to strike without undue coercion from the company is hard to square with the “right” of the company to protect itself from the consequences of production disruptions. Both “rights” have ample support in the case law. The answer is to be found not in the case law but in the clear and unambiguous words of the National Labor Relations Act and the history behind it. In passing the act, Congress sought to restrain corporate power and tilt the economic playing field in favor of workers. The idea was to outlaw union-avoidance strategies that, while economically rational for any one firm, would be economically harmful for the nation as a whole if widely adopted. Today, we may find all that quaintly — or menacingly — socialistic, but it is still the law of the land, one that the NLRB has a duty to enforce. If Boeing or the Chamber of Commerce or the South Carolina political establishment want to change or repeal the law, it is certainly within their rights to try. After 75 years, it would be a useful debate for the country to have again. But given the further consolidation of corporate power and two decades of stagnant wages, I’m not sure they’ll like how it turns out.

►  At — FACT CHECK — Several news outlets have erroneously reported in recent days that the NLRB has ordered the Boeing Co. to close its operations in South Carolina. In fact, the complaint issued on April 20 does not seek to have the South Carolina facility closed. It seeks to halt the transfer of a specific piece of production work due to allegations that the transfer was unlawfully motivated. The complaint explicitly states that Boeing may place work where it likes, including at its South Carolina facility, as long as the decision is not made for discriminatory reasons.

► At — New York Times vs. Seattle Times on NLRB Boeing complaint — The East Coast Times’ editorial board is of the mind that Boeing, in taking its production elsewhere, was illegally retaliating against the IAM for previous strikes — a charge that was likely true even if a member of the company brass hadn’t admitted so on the record. The local Times thinks the union (and the NLRB) needs to grow up and act like “grown-ups.” The paper writes that it’s only because the Boeing executive spoke off the cuff about wanting to avoid a strike that the production move is even an issue — also likely true, although that’s Boeing’s screw-up to own. Interesting that an out-of-state newspaper is leaning more toward Washington workers’ rights than the one that more of the workers in question likely read.

►  In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing beats expectations for Q1 earnings — The Boeing Co. reported $586 million in first quarter profit Wednesday, topping analysts’ estimates.


State Legislature news:

►  In today’s News Tribune — DOC cuts put safety at risk (column by IBT 117’s Tracey Thompson) — Both the House and Senate budgets propose to release prisoners early and eliminate hundreds of positions in our adult prisons. These cuts would be on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars already cut from the DOC budget over the past several years, including the full closure of three adult prisons. A study released last week found Washington’s recidivism rate – the rate at which released prisoners re-offend – increased by more than 30% from 2004 to 2007. If we continue to cut programs, release offenders early, close prisons and eliminate correctional officer positions, we will see rising crime rates, overcrowded prisons, little or no offender programming and inadequate staffing.

►  At Publicola — Three bills to watch in special session — Legislation to lower the state’s debt limit, to ban seniority-based layoff provisions in teachers’ union contracts and to allow lump-sum buyouts in workers’ compensation (all opposed by labor) are all considered dealbreaker issues for the GOP.

►  In today’s (Everett) Herald — Monroe teachers to receive layoff notices — As the school district awaits the state budget, it gives layoff notices to the teachers who occupy the equivalent of 14.5 positions.

Today’s Republican Chicanery roundup:

►  In today’s NY Times — House Republicans face voter anger over budget — In central Florida, a congressional town meeting erupted into near chaos as attendees accused a Republican lawmaker of trying to dismantle Medicare while providing tax cuts to corporations and affluent Americans. After 10 days of trying to sell constituents on their plan to cut Medicare, House Republicans in multiple districts appear to be increasingly on the defensive, facing worried and angry questions from voters.

Also see yesterday’s posting — State’s Republicans ignore public will on Medicare — If Congressional Republicans, including Washington’s own Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dave Reichert, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and “Doc” Hastings, were listening to the American public, they wouldn’t be pushing so hard to turn Medicare over to Big Insurance through a voucher program and slash Medicaid for seniors, children and people with disabilities. A new Washington Post/ABC poll shows that more than three-fourths (78%) of Americans do not want Medicare cut to reduce the national debt, including 65% who are strongly opposed. This compares with just 21% who favor cutting the program. Read more.

►  In The Hill — More Town Hall heckling for Ryan — Attendees at Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) town hall meeting on Tuesday heaped more scorn on the powerful congressman for backing an extension for the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. Protesters chanted “Ryan stop lying!”

►  In today’s NY Times — The Republican threat to voting (editorial) — Less than a year before the 2012 voting begins, GOP lawmakers across the country are rewriting voting laws to make it much harder for the young, the poor and African-Americans — groups that typically vote Democratic — to cast a ballot.

Local news:

►  In today’s Columbian — Local business owners share concerns with Herrera Beutler

EDITOR’S NOTE: Read with amusement as the freshman Republican tries to steer the conversation toward “Obamacare” and excessive taxes/regulations, but small business owner after small business owner says, “Actually, we did OK this year.” Their biggest concern? Rising gas prices.

►  In today’s (Everett) Herald — Monroe City Council stands by vote to allow Walmart — The council upheld with a 5-1 vote its previous decision that allows for the store to be built at the N. Kelsey territory.

►  In today’s Kitsap Sun — Bremerton Ambulance workers turn down union — On a 23-25 vote, the workers have rejected union representation with the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics/SEIU.

►  In today’s (Everett) Herald — Everett port loads first log ship in 4 years — It has provided some longshoremen (ILWU Local 32) with welcome but potentially dangerous work.

Election news:

►  At Politico — Firefighters’ union money goes local — As newly elected Republican state legislatures aggressively push a slew of anti-union measures, the International Association of Fire Fighters is freezing its federal political spending and shifting all resources toward its beleaguered state and local colleagues. “With the survival of our union and the ability to preserve and protect the rights, wages, and benefits our members deserve in jeopardy in the states, we have re-evaluated how to get the best results from our political dollars,” IAFF President Harold A. Schaitberger says.

►  At Salon — The labor movement finally takes a stand (by David Sirota) — Citing both “extremist” Republicans and the refusal of Democrats to “stand up and fight for us,” IAFF’s Harold Schaitberger said the resources now denied to federal candidates would be spent in states, where local Democrats have been more willing to defend labor.

►  In today’s Washington Post — Latino, Asian voters largely sat out 2010 election, report finds — A record 14.7 million Latino voters sat out the 2010 midterm elections, according to a new report that shows the nation’s fastest-growing minorities are largely failing to exercise their right to vote. Along with Asian voters, who appear similarly disengaged, the absence of so many Latino voters at the polls means the political influence of these minority groups will fall short of their demographic strength.

►  In today’s NY Times — Chamber lobbyist fires warning shot over donation disclosure plan — The top lobbyist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce takes aim at the president over an as-yet unannounced plan to force government contractors to disclose their political giving, saying the Chamber “is not going to tolerate” White House attempts to silence opponents by disclosing their political spending.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to America! It is now officially a place where corporations (the biggest of which are multi-national corporations) tell our President what they will and won’t tolerate when it comes to disclosing how much money they are spending to influence our elections.

Other national news:

►  At Huffington Post —Labor affiliate seeks to organize the unemployed — Working America, the AFL-CIO’s community organizing affiliate, is coordinating with state labor groups to hold meetings of the unemployed in five U.S. cities (Portland, Albuquerque, Denver, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis), in hopes of connecting the jobless with helpful resources and involving them in local politics.

►  At Huffington Post — The wageless recovery (by Robert Reich) — Wall Street is doing wonderfully well right now, in contrast to most Americans. Corporate profits for the first quarter of the year are way up. That’s largely because corporate payrolls are down because big companies have been shifting much of their work abroad where business is booming. Corporations are simultaneously finding ways to cut the pay of their remaining U.S. workers — not just threatening job losses if they don’t agree to the cuts, but also automating the work or sending it to non-union states. America’s jobless recovery is becoming a wageless recovery. That puts the odds of another recession greater than the risk of inflation. Wall Street and its representatives in Washington don’t understand — or don’t want to.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!