► In today’s News Tribune — Employers ‘hit jackpot’ with workers’ comp reform, leader says — This legislative session, business did “extraordinarily well,” said State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson, especially in an overhaul of workers’ compensation. “They hit the jackpot there,” said Johnson, whose group fought tooth-and-nail against the idea of letting workers settle their injury claims for some faster cash. “The dollars lost by workers are gained by business. I suppose if I were them I’d be dancing in the street.”
► In today’s Olympian — State’s retirees may fight for COLAs — About 109,000 retired state employees and teachers scheduled to lose automatic cost-of-living increases in their pensions July 1 might not sit back and watch them go. Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a pension-reform bill into law this month hoping to cut the liability in the state’s older Plan 1 systems that are not fully funded. The move is estimated to save the state about $400 million in pension contributions this biennium. It is expected to reduce future costs for employers by $7 billion over 25 years, getting rid of more than half of the liability. But that might not be the end of it. The Retired Public Employees Council has consulted attorneys on whether the state has a contractual obligation to keep paying the COLAs.
► In The Olympian — Workplace changes await state employees — State employees already expect changes in their paychecks after July 1. Many are in for changes in their workplaces, too, after lawmakers shifted the course of state government and opened the door to more “outsourcing” to the private sector.
► In The Olympian — State agencies restructure despite labor pains — A major state-agency restructuring that’s in the works after July 15 is setting off alarms for organized labor. But Gov. Chris Gregoire’s aides say it gives government a chance to run more efficiently and save $18 million.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Questions surround state cuts to school salaries — Lawmakers slashed $179 million from the sum of money sent to school districts to cover the state’s share of wages for school employees. Budget writers calculated this amounts to a 1.9% cut in pay for teachers and staff and 3% for administrators. There’s a hitch. The Legislature can’t impose across-the-board reductions in pay. That responsibility rests with elected school boards in each of the 295 districts in Washington. And they may not want to do so.
► At Crosscut — State’s tax-break brawlers can take fight outside — After the legislature’s grueling session of damaging budget cuts, the courts may be the place to continue the fight to end tax giveaways to businesses.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Roadkill Caucus largely gets its way in Olympia (Jerry Cornfield column) — In Washington, the minority party ruled on the most important matters. Frequently in the regular and special sessions, conservatives hunkered down on one side of a potent issue and liberals dug in on the other. Neither alliance could succeed unless it coalesced with those in the Roadkill Caucus.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again, conservative Democrats who empower minority Republicans by voting with them on the most contentious issues are described as “moderates.”
► At SeatlePI.com — Poll: Inslee well-liked, not a shoe-in for governor — Rep. Jay Inslee has an impressive 56% approval rating with his constituents, but nearly half say they’re not sure they would vote for him if he runs for governor.
CORPORATE MEDIA DISCONNECT:
► In the PS Business Journal — Payday! Local CEOs ring up bigger bonuses — The largest raise, percentage-wise, for the CEO of a Washington state company was the 617% pay hike for Russell Horowitz of Marchex, a Seattle online marketing company. Dollar-wise, the biggest raise was the $9.6 million extra paid to Howard Schultz of coffee giant Starbucks Corp., bringing his total pay to $21.7 million. (Also see, Here’s what Washington CEOs are getting paid.)
► In the News Tribune — Public payrolls due for post-recession correction (editorial) — Businesses, which typically have a less unionized workforce than local governments, have been able to more easily adjust salaries to fit market conditions (read: cut pay).
EDITOR’S NOTE: With corporate profits at record levels, with CEO pay locally and nationally going through the roof, and as our state lawmakers approve an all-cuts budget amid more and more business tax “relief” in the form of lower unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation taxes, the News Tribune focuses on criticizing middle-class public employees (like Pierce Transit workers who average $57,000/year and Pierce County workers who average less than $62,000/year). The News Tribune thinks it’s not fair that unionized public workers haven’t had their pay cut as fast as non-union workers. This — newspapers actively pitting working-class people against each other while turning a blind eye to government deference to multinational corporations and the investor class — is why we need news outlets like The Stand.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Gregoire to court aerospace companies in Paris — The governor has a tall order at hand: Keep the aerospace companies that Washington has, attract ones it doesn’t and snag more work for companies in the state. Gregoire will bring several of the state’s aerospace suppliers with her as well as representatives of Boeing’s unions.
► At FlightGlobal.com — Boeing appoints ‘cost czar’ for new airplanes — Terry Beezhold will have direct purview over reducing the cost for new products, a move that brings the development of a new commercial aircraft program one step closer.
► In today’s Columbian — Federal grant means more firefighters — Clark County Fire & Rescue and East County Fire & Rescue are expected to see dramatic boosts in their firefighter ranks in the next few years, thanks to a federal grant that awarded them each around $1 million, officials said.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Marysville Fire Dept. takes budget hit — The district made its first major round of cuts in April, including layoffs. Lost were three firefighters, four staffers and $590,000 in operations and capital spending. The chief has since promised the ranks there won’t be any more layoffs this year.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Monroe Walmart decision appealed in court — A new group has filed an appeal in Snohomish County Superior Court. The appeal seeks to reverse the City Council’s decision to allow Walmart to build at the N. Kelsey Street territory.
► In today’s NY Times — The numbers are grim (editorial) — The grim numbers tell an unavoidable truth: The economy is not growing nearly fast enough to dent unemployment. Unfortunately, no one in Washington is pushing policies to promote stronger growth now. Republican lawmakers offer a jobs plan that prescribes more of the same “fixes” that Republicans always recommend no matter the problem: mainly high-end tax cuts, deregulation, more domestic oil drilling and federal spending cuts. The White House has offered sounder ideas, including job retraining, plans to boost educational achievement and tax increases to help cover needed spending. But its economic team is mainly focused on negotiations to raise the debt limit, presumably parrying Republican demands for deep spending cuts that could weaken the economy further while still reaching an agreement on the necessary increase.
► In the NY Times — Against learned helplessness (Paul Krugman column) — Despite persistently high unemployment in the Western world, on both sides of the Atlantic, a consensus has emerged among movers and shakers that nothing can or should be done about jobs. Inventing reasons not to put the unemployed back to work is neither wise nor responsible. It is, instead, a grotesque abdication of responsibility.
► In Sunday’s NY Times — A crackdown on employing illegal workers — Obama administration officials are sharpening their crackdown on the hiring of illegal immigrants by focusing increasingly tough criminal charges on employers while moving away from criminal arrests of the workers themselves.
► In today’s NY Times – Walmart pressed to disclose how global suppliers treat workers — The New York City pension funds, which own a small percentage of shares in the company, plan to ask the company to require vendors to publish annual reports detailing working conditions in their factories.
► At TPM — Wisconsin board to certify recalls against three more Republicans — Wisconsin’s elections board is today poised to certify recalls against three Republican state senators, as the battle continues over Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation.
► In the NY Times — Rep. Paul Ryan’s dubious sales pitch (editorial) — Rep. Paul Ryan is rebutting critics of his plan to turn Medicare into a “premium support” program, pointing to two existing programs that he says prove his approach would be better for beneficiaries. Don’t believe it.
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 each morning! These links are functional on the date of posting, but sometimes expire.