► REMINDER at The Stand — Rally TODAY in Seattle for new U.S. trade policy — Advocates for fair trade policies that respect international labor and environmental standards will rally TODAY (Wednesday, June 29) from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Seattle’s Federal Courthouse Plaza, 700 Stewart St.
► In today’s NY Times — White House, Congress clear trade hurdle — The White House struck a deal with House Republicans Tuesday to reinstate benefits for workers who lose jobs to foreign competition, addressing a major obstacle to consideration of three free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Haggling over the modest and obscure benefits program (Trade Adjustment Assistance) (Wait… “obscure?!”) had tied up the trade pacts for months, pitting Democrats concerned about the impact of competition on American workers against Republicans eager to increase foreign trade but loath to increase federal spending on another aid program.
► In today’s LA Times — GOP threatens to stall trade pacts with South Korea, other nations –Conservatives oppose the addition of a provision renewing so-called Trade Adjustment Assistance, a job-training program they consider to be an example of big government. But the trade agreements’ backing by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce could sway Republican lawmakers.
► From Bloomberg — South Korean trade unions protest against U.S. free-trade pact –South Korean labor unions, students and farmers opposed to the planned free trade agreement with the U.S. rallied in central Seoul today, blocking traffic for more than hour. As many as 5,000 demonstrators who had planned to march to President Lee Myung Bak’s official residence were turned back by police.
► In today’s Olympian — Consolidation of state services creates streamlining, savings (editorial) — Over the objection of the state’s largest employee union, state officials are about to enter a new era of agency consolidation in hopes of delivering services more efficiently and saving $18 million in the process. State managers have finally gotten serious about contracting out some state services… We understand the union’s hesitancy. But prudent taxpayers want to ensure their dollars are being spent wisely and efficiently.
EDITOR’S NOTE — That is also what the Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28 is advocating for. It is in the taxpayers’ best interests for state employees to have the ability to compete with private sector contractors for their jobs. This legislation took that away. It also took away the requirement that contracting out must save the state money. This bill certainly made contracting out easier, but there is every reason to believe it won’t save the state any money and will, instead, simply replace good family-wage public employee jobs with lower-paying private jobs while introducing a new and significant cost: private profit.
► In today’s News Tribune — High court hears education debate –State Supreme Court justices peppered attorneys with questions about the state’s obligation to pay for public school education during a hearing Tuesday. At issue is a Superior Court judge’s ruling that the state was violating the state constitution by not fully paying for basic education.
► In today’s Olympian — Reed to retire; lineup of successors begins –The Republican Secretary of State has announced that he won’t seek a fourth term next year, opening the floodgates for other candidates. Sen. Jim Kastama (“Roadkill D”-Puyallup) was first to say he is running. Republican Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman will announce Thursday if she’ll run. Other Democrats considering a bid: Rep. Zack Hudgins (D-Tukwila) and Kathleen Drew.
► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Three candidates emerge to replace Sen. Rockefeller — Poulsbo City Councilman Ed Stern and longtime Democratic Party officer James Sommerhauser applied to replace Rockefeller, joining state Rep. Christine Rolfes of Bainbridge.
► At TheOlympian.com — Gregoire chief of staff Jay Manning retiring — Jay Manning just put out word in an email to state cabinet-agency leaders: He is quitting next month as Gov. Chris Gregoire’s chief of staff to pursue other opportunities.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Many hands expedited Caterpillar’s Spokane pick (editorial) — Caterpillar’s new $37 million distribution center is a catch, and not just for the jobs it will create during construction and operation of the center, and potential future expansion. A big new building with a Caterpillar logo visible from I-90 is an affirmation of the business climate in Spokane County and Washington from a Fortune 100 company. If the cooperation and coordination demonstrated by this effort is adopted as a new best-practices model for future economic development efforts, there will be more Cats in the bag.
REPUBLICAN ATTACK ON UNIONS
► From AP — After heated debate, Wisconsin law takes effect today — The law requires almost all public employees on all levels of government _ from teachers to librarians to state Capitol janitors _ to contribute more to their health care and pensions. The changes amount to an average 8 percent pay cut. The bill also strips them of almost all their collective bargaining rights, allowing them to negotiate only on wages.
► In today’s NY Times — Push to repeal Ohio law on public workers gains ground — An effort in Ohio to repeal a law reducing the power of public workers to bargain collectively moved forward this week, with the group leading the effort saying it had enough signatures to put it on the ballot and could deliver them to the state on Wednesday.
► In today’s Washington Post — Top Democrats reject new plan to cut Medicare spending — Leading congressional Democrats immediately recoiled Tuesday from a new proposal by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to cut $600 billion in Medicare spending over the next decade by raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 and assessing higher premiums on wealthier seniors.
► At Politico — Medicaid cuts could come from Democrats — Defenders of Medicaid have been fighting hard against Republican proposals to cut the program, but they’re just waking up to the threat of one proposed by the Obama administration. It’s an idea to change the way federal matching funds work and save money in the process — and it would probably do it by shifting costs to the states. If that happens, Medicaid advocates fear, the states will just pass on the cuts to providers and, ultimately, the patients.
► In today’s NY Times — A union plan for financing construction — The AFL-CIO said it would announce on Wednesday that it intends to work with pension fund managers to ensure that at least $10 billion in union pension money is made available in the next five years to finance infrastructure projects. “America’s construction workers need work and want to work,” Mr. Trumka will say, according to his prepared remarks, noting that unemployment is 16% in the industry. “Never in modern times has so much construction work needed to be done.”
► In today’s Washington Post — Manufacturing advocates: White House is no jobs factory — At the start of his reelection campaign, President Barack Obama is pushing a blueprint to resurrect manufacturing years from now instead of policies that could quickly galvanize hiring, industry advocates say.
► In today’s LA Times — DREAM Act addressed in Senate hearing — The act is mired in the national debate over how to deal with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in this country. The debate itself is embroiled in a political battle to capture the Latino vote, the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.
► In today’s LA Times — Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes farmworkers’ union organizing bill — Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have allowed the United Farm Workers union to bargain for employees without holding an election — by simply collecting signatures from a majority of workers on cards saying they wanted representation.
► In today’s Washington Post — The real causes of the economic crisis? They’re history (Phil Angelides column) — They say that winners get to write history. Three years after the meltdown of our financial markets, it’s clear who is winning and who is losing. Wall Street — arms outstretched in triumph — is racing toward the finish-line tape while millions of American families are struggling to stay on their feet. With victory seemingly in hand, the historical rewrite is in full swing.
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.