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Trade & TAA, unemployment, Social Security…



►  From Reuters — U.S. trade bills advance, but clash clouds future — U.S. trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama cleared initial hurdles in Congress on Thursday, but a party-line clash over a program to help workers displaced by trade threatened future action. The Senate Finance Committee backed all three agreements, but panel Republicans unanimously opposed the Korea pact because of the fight over Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). Republicans object to a White House plan to include TAA in the implementing bill for the South Korea agreement on grounds the job training program is too costly and ineffective.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington state workers and businesses disproportionately benefit from the TAA program. As Republican leaders in Congress try to kill the program, where does Washington’s delegation stand? They won’t say.

Until they do… keep contacting your U.S. Representative and Senators to urge them to oppose these job-killing FTAs and to support reauthorization of a robust TAA program to help the workers victimized by existing U.S. trade policies.




►  At IAM 751’s blog — Skilled workers are Washington’s aerospace advantage — The skills and experience of Washington state’s aerospace workers are going to be the key weapon as the state prepares to do battle to ensure that the next generation of Boeing aircraft is built here. “No other state in the nation or place in the world has the concentration of aerospace talent that we have here,” said Machinists District Lodge 751 President Tom Wroblewski. “For generations, we’ve invented processes and pioneered techniques. We’ve got the kinds of skills that can take decades to develop.” (Click on the image to see a WSLC-produced video on the subject.)

►  In today’s Seattle Times — Latest orders leave Boeing trailing badly in sales race — The European manufacturer has 640 net firm orders booked so far this year, while Boeing is lagging badly at 171. Gulf Air’s cancellation of an order for eight 787s reduces the total Dreamliner order tally to 827 jets. At the end of 2008, Boeing had 910 orders for the Dreamliner.




►  In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford contractor plans to cut 210 jobs — Washington Closure Hanford and its prime subcontractor will cut up to 210 jobs in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 under a work force restructuring plan approved by the Department of Energy.

►  In The Stranger — Your Metro bus is caught in partisan crossfire — Few insiders expect a temporary two-year $20 annual car-tab fee to muster even five of nine council votes, let alone the six (two-thirds majority) required by the Legislature this year. Instead, the council is widely anticipated to bump the decision to the November ballot, which requires only five council votes and a simple majority at the polls.




►  In today’s Olympian — Initiatives get names in time for today’s deadline — Backers of three proposals – dealing with transportation tolls (Eyman/Freeman), training for home care workers (SEIU), and liquor privatization (Costco) – have appointments to bring in signatures for counting at the state elections offices in Olympia. A long-shot effort to legalize marijuana (Funyuns) also has scheduled a turn-in, but organizers say it’s looking unlikely that they’ll have enough signatures by today.

►  In today’s Spokesman-Review — Secretary of Corrections named — Bernie Warner spent less than a week as Washington’s acting Secretary of Corrections. After he was named to that position last Friday, Gov. Chris Gregoire took the “acting” out of the title and named him the permanent replacement for Eldon Vail.




►  From AP — Unemployment rose to 9.2% as hiring stalls — Hiring slowed to a near-standstill last month. Employers added only 18,000 net jobs in June, the fewest jobs in nine months. The latest report offered stark evidence that the recovery will be painfully slow.

►  In The Hill — Top Obama adviser says unemployment won’t be key in 2012 — President Obama’s senior political adviser David Plouffe said Wednesday that people won’t vote in 2012 based on the unemployment rate. He better hope so. It’s looking more and more like Obama will have to do something no president has done since Franklin Roosevelt: Win reelection with unemployment around 8%.

►  At AFL-CIO Now — House Republican transportation bill kills half a million jobs — In an astounding display of economic shortsightedness, House Republicans want to cut transportation and transit infrastructure funding so deeply that it would cost half a million jobs next year alone and send the nation’s highways, bridges and transit systems into even deeper disrepair.




►  At AFL-CIO Now — Trumka: Social Security cuts should not be on the table — AFL-CIO president: “Social Security, our nation’s most  effective anti-poverty program, has not contributed one dime to the deficit and should not be part of any deficit-related trade-offs. The AFL-CIO continues to oppose any cuts in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, including any cuts in cost of living adjustments. The best solution to our deficit problem is to create good jobs that will rebuild our economy.  That should be our first priority.”

►  In today’s NY Times — Democrats oppose talk of cuts to Social Security — Congressional Democrats, who have thrived for decades as guardians of Social Security, said Thursday that they were not ready to surrender that role to help President Obama get a deal on federal spending and the debt limit.

►  At TPM — Democrats support Social Security benefit cut – by calling it something else — That’s how key negotiators have decided to treat one policy proposal, popular in Washington, that would simultaneously raise tax revenues and reduce Social Security benefits. The idea is to peg federal Cost of Living Adjustments to a new, stingier measure of inflation.

►  In today’s NY Times — Still “far apart” on debt, 2 sides will seek broader cuts — Though the president and Congressional leaders did not close wide gaps on the issues of spending cuts or new tax revenues, officials briefed on the talks said, they emerged with a consensus to aim for the biggest possible deal — one resulting in up to $4 trillion in savings — and a recognition of the dire consequences of not acting before Aug. 2, when the government will lose its authority to borrow.

►  In today’s NY Times — Negotiating on the knife’s edge (editorial) — Every fresh report of “progress” on the debt-ceiling talks produces new reasons to feel profoundly uneasy. The talks were misbegotten from the beginning, made necessary only by the irresponsible refusal of Republicans to pay the nation’s bills unless they got everything their way on government spending and taxes.

►  In today’s NY Times — What Obama wants (Paul Krugman column) — Obama’s people will no doubt argue that their fellow party members should trust him, that whatever deal emerges was the best he could get. But it’s hard to see why a president who has gone out of his way to echo Republican rhetoric and endorse false conservative views deserves that kind of trust.

►  And a related story from Reuters — Union campaign spending off sharply in 2011 — Donations to federal political candidates by labor unions are down sharply this year, an an ominous sign for the Democratic Party heading into next year’s elections. Reported contributions by unions’ political committees — traditionally bastions of support for Democrats — were down 40% for the first quarter of 2011 compared with two years earlier, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance. This year’s decline in donations is more likely due to disenchantment with politicians including President Barack Obama and the stunted U.S. economic recovery.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Ya think?




►  At AFL-CIO Now — Workers pack Republican hearing on NLRB rule — The workers filled the room, including many sitting on the front row in union tee shirts. Their presence bolstered the Democrats on the committee who shot back at the critics of working men and women.

►  At — Union workers replaced with prison labor in Wisconsin — While Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) law dismantling collective bargaining rights has harmed teachers, nurses, and other civil servants, it’s helping a different group in Wisconsinites — inmates. Prisoners are now taking up jobs that used to be held by unionized workers in some parts of the state.


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.

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!