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Boeing-NLRB politics, McKenna’s busy day, contract in Kalama…



►  In today’s (Everett) Herald — Obama calls for settlement in N.L.R.B. case against Boeing — Obama said he wouldn’t interfere in the case brought by the NLRB, an independent federal agency, but added, “What I think defies common sense would be a notion that we would be shutting down a plant or laying off workers because labor and management can’t come to a sensible agreement.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Boeing rejected a settlement offer by the Machinists union earlier this month and instead launched a major public-relations offensive against the NLRB itself. CEO Jim McNerney wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the NLRB wants to create a world that “would effectively prevent all companies from placing new plants in right-to-work states if they have existing plants in unionized states.” Labor law experts disagree, pointing out that the legal issue — that Boeing illegally moved production in retaliation for strikes — would be identical if Boeing had transferred the work to the moon. Boeing’s lead attorney says he expects the company will lose its case, but he’s determined to fight it through the federal courts anyway. All this begs the question, is Boeing deliberately refusing to settle this complaint for political reasons? After all, its CEO is actively engaged in ideological hyperbole about right-to-work states, a deliberate political red herring designed by Republicans to create animosity in the South toward the president. Discuss.




►  In today’s NY Times — Appeals Court rules against challenge of Obama’s health care law — The Obama administration prevailed Wednesday in the first appellate review of the 2010 health care law as a three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that it was constitutional for Congress to require that Americans buy health insurance. The opinion was the first not to break down strictly along seemingly partisan lines. In the 2-to-1 ruling, a judge appointed by a Republican president joined one named by a Democrat to write the majority opinion.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Apparently, there’s no comment today from State Attorney General Rob McKenna, who continues to devote precious state resources to this political legal effort against health care reforms. But McKenna did take time from his busy schedule enforcing state laws to punch out on the AG office timeclock and criticize an opponent in what will apparently be a 17-month campaign for governor…




►  In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee’s pension idea rejected as risky by McKenna — When Democrat Jay Inslee rolled out his job-themed 2012 gubernatorial campaign this week, he offered one specific job-creation proposal that drew applause from supporters: investing a portion of state pension funds in local startup companies… McKenna says, “Investing pension funds in risky startup companies puts taxpayer and state employee money at risk.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — The headline you see here is how it originally read at The Seattle Times website this morning, but at around 8:45 a.m., it was changed to “State board wary of Inslee’s pension idea.” Hmmm.

►  In today’s Spokesman-Review — State gets stimulus; $98 million for unemployment benefits — The federal government is giving Washington nearly $98 million to help with unemployment insurance costs because of changes the state made to its system. U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Gov. Chris Gregoire said Wednesday modernization efforts approved by the Legislature over the past two years made the state eligible for the money from the Recovery Act.

►  At — Students make 11th hour protest of 20% tuition hike — University of Washington regents are expected to approve a tuition increase for undergraduates of at least 20 percent Thursday, but not before students get their say.

►  In today’s Kitsap Sun — Ferry fare increase expected to total more than 5% — Ferry riders face a hodgepodge of fare increases that, combined, would add more than 5% to most ticket prices. A gloomy revenue forecast this month led to smaller ridership expectations and a projection that WSF would fall $4 million short of its target of $310 million in ticket revenue. The proposal would make up $1.3 million of the deficit.




►  In today’s Daily News — Emerald Kalama Chemical workers ratify contract –In what ICWU 747-C officials called a “very close” vote, the company avoids a walkout as employees ratify a new 3-year contract includes a 2% annual pay increase and holds the line on workers’ healthcare benefits package, which requires employees to pay 25% of insurance premiums. Continuing the existing level of company support for health care was a major victory for the union, because the company initially proposed a sharp cutback.

►  From AP — Report: American Airlines pits Airbus vs. Boeing for huge jet order — The airline is in talks to purchase at least 250 aircraft in a deal valued at about $15 billion. Sources say American wants to replace more than a third of its entire fleet. Such a large order would represent a potential windfall for both aircraft makers and would provide an extra psychological boost for Europe’s Airbus if it can crack American’s all-Boeing fleet of 620 planes.

►  In today’s Peninsula Daily News — Inmate pair worked together in attempt to escape from prison — An inmate serving 45 years for first-degree murder at Clallam Bay Corrections Center was shot to death by a guard as he tried to escape on a forklift while a cohort held a guard hostage Wednesday morning.




►  At The Hill — Ignoring liberal Dems, Obama endorses longer payroll tax holiday through 2012 — President Obama reiterated his push to extend an existing payroll tax – a move denounced by those who fear the reduction in revenues will undermine Social Security. “I think that it makes perfect sense for us to take a look at, can we extend the payroll tax, for example, an additional year,” Obama said.  His remarks ignore the warnings that cutting the payroll tax will drain Social Security coffers and threaten seniors’ benefits.

►  At AFL-CIO Now — Philadelphia paid sick leave bill vetoed — Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has vetoed a paid sick leave bill passed by the City Council that would have made Philadelphia the third city in the nation guaranteeing workers paid sick leave. (Similar legislation is being considered by the Seattle City Council.)

►  In today’s NY Times — Bill to aid farm workers’ union vetoed in California — A generation ago, Jerry Brown, then the governor, helped shape legislation that gave agriculture workers the right to unionize through a secret ballot system. But late Tuesday night, that same Brown, the governor again, vetoed a bill that would have made it significantly easier for those workers to unionize.




►  In today’s Washington Post — GOP, Dems plot strategies that will hinder budget agreement — As President Obama made the case Wednesday for moving swiftly to approve a deficit-reduction deal that includes tax increases, lawmakers in both parties plotted strategies that could make it difficult to find common ground.

►  In today’s NY Times — Mine owners kept fake safety books, investigators say — Federal investigators say that Massey Energy, the owner of the West Virginia mine where 29 men were killed in an explosion last year, misled government inspectors by keeping accounts of hazardous conditions out of official record books where inspectors would see them.

►  At Politico — Stephen Colbert’s running PAC shtick creates sticky mess — As part of his effort to highlight — and parody — the impact of a 2010 Supreme Court decision opening new avenues for corporate money in elections, the satirist plans to testify Thursday in front of the FEC about a very real legal request he filed that would allow his planned Colbert Super PAC to push the envelope on corporate political spending. If Colbert gets his way before the FEC, it could blur the lines between political money and media to an unprecedented extent. For instance, it might enable Fox News pundit-politicians such as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee to use the network’s resources to boost their own political committees.

►  In today’s Washington Post — The Supreme Court’s continuing defense of the powerful (E.J. Dionne column) — The U.S. Supreme Court now sees its central task as comforting the already comfortable and afflicting those already afflicted. If you are a large corporation or a political candidate backed by lots of private money, be assured that the court’s conservative majority will be there for you, solicitous of your needs and ready to swat away those pesky little people who dare to contest your power.




►  In today’s NY Times — Public workers strike in Britain over pensions — Hundreds of thousands of teachers and public-sector workers across Britain walked off their jobs on Thursday to protest the government’s proposed changes to their pension plans. Union officials warned that this could be the beginning of a wave of strikes this summer and fall over pensions and public-sector budget cuts.

►  From AP — Following strike and riots, Greece passes austerity measure to get bailout funds — Greece bought itself time to deal with its crippling debt crisis Thursday after lawmakers passed the second and final austerity bill. The austerity measures, which slap taxes even on the lowest paid, have sparked repeated strikes and demonstrations.


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