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Interpreters win, four initiatives, Hanford layoffs…



►  In the Olympian — Interpreters get union contract — Washington is one of 14 states that pay medical interpreters to help Medicaid clients with limited English skills talk with their doctors. Now, it might be the only state with interpreters who are protected by a union contract. Last week, about 1,600 independent contractor interpreters – who are represented by the Washington Federation of State Employees – ratified a contract with the state. It assures them pay of $30 per hour and creates a system for allotting work that cuts out a middle man.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Want a contract? Organize a union!

►  From AP — As tax incentive expires, film industry warns state it may lose out — Washington is boldly going where few states have gone before: It is ending incentives for the film industry. An arms race among states in recent years led almost all to offer various benefits to lure production studios. Up until the start of July, Washington was offering a 30% rebate off the amount of money spent in the state – but lawmakers declined to extend the program.

►  In today’s Seattle Times — Ex-prison chief says he resigned because of affair with subordinate — Former state prisons Director Eldon Vail said he resigned suddenly Friday after learning that a video apparently documenting his affair with a subordinate might be made public. Vail said he heard rumors about a shaky, handheld video that appears to show him and a woman leaving a motel near Olympia in separate cars.




►  In today’s Seattle Times — Four initiatives appear likely to meet Friday signature deadline — They are I-1130 to prohibit keeping egg-laying hens in small cages; I-1183 (Costco) would close state liquor stores and allow private stores to sell liquor; I-1125 (Eyman/Freeman) would require the Legislature, not the state Transportation Commission, to set tolls and add restrictions on toll revenue; I-1163 (SEIU) would require background checks and training for long-term-care workers and providers.

►  In the Seattle Times — Brian Sonntag will not run for Governor — State Auditor Brian Sonntag will not run for governor in 2012, saying his current job is still “a good fit.” Democratic U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee and Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna both said last month they’re running for governor. Sonntag said that at this point he’s not endorsing anyone.




►  In the P.S. Business Journal — Boeing ramps up production, suppliers put on tighter leash — As Boeing prepares for the biggest production speedup in its history, the plane maker is scrutinizing the preparedness of its suppliers as never before. The changes come after three years of difficulties in bringing the 787 Dreamliner to market, and with an ambitious plan under way to boost jetliner production by 50 percent in three years.




►  In today’s Tri-City Herald — 55 Hanford employees volunteer for layoffs — Mission Support Alliance has approved voluntary layoff applications for 55 workers, the Hanford contractor announced Tuesday. They’re among as many as 1,775 Hanford workers expected to lose their jobs during the fiscal year that ends Sept. 29, largely because of restructuring of work forces as federal economic stimulus spending ends.

►  In the Spokesman-Review — As rates rise, so does workers’ pay — Wages for Avista Corp.’s rank-and-file workers grew by an average of 2.5 to 3% this year. Nearly 1,500 people work for the Spokane-based utility, which provides electricity and natural gas to customers in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.




►  In today’s NY Times — Another blow to farmworkers (editorial) — In California, once a national model of farmworker organizing and progressive labor laws, things have fallen far since the heyday of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. Conditions in the fields and camps are as bad as ever, but the union is adrift and torn by a squalid battle over the movement’s future. In that bleak context, farmworkers need a stronger voice and new opportunities to defend their rights. It was disappointing last week to see the death of a bill that would have made it easier for farmworkers to unionize.

►  At AFL-CIO Now — Judge blocks anti-union law in Idaho — The Idaho and the Southwest Idaho Building and Construction Trades Councils filed suit against the law that would have banned unions from subsidizing workers’ wages to help union contractors win bids, a practice known as job targeting and permitted by the National Labor Relations Act. Last week in Boise, a federal judge blocked the new state law that was due to go into effect that day, saying that it conflicted with federal labor law.

►  In today’s NY Times — Big business leave deficit to politicians — If you want to understand why cutting the deficit is so hard, you can’t do much better than to look at the Business Roundtable. Rhetoric aside, it consistently lobbies for a higher deficit. The roundtable defends corporate tax loopholes and even argues for new ones. Labor groups have at least been willing to push for some tax increases. Today’s business groups struggle to come up with any specific deficit plan.

►  In the LA Times — Learning to be a union activist — Amid efforts to limit the power of unions nationwide, labor activists try to galvanize members and recruit new blood by holding one-day Troublemakers School sessions that are part pep rally, part instruction.


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