IT’S THE QUALITY OF LIFE, STUPID
► In today’s Seattle Times — State poll shows voters glum about future — Washington state voters are more worried about the future than ever. A statewide poll released Thursday by Stuart Elway shows their mood at its lowest ebb since he started the survey back in 1991.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Even people fortunate enough to have jobs are glum because employers are exploiting economic insecurity to demand wage and benefit cuts, and politicians are attacking the pillars of retirement security (Social Security and Medicare). The end result: the prospect of working until we die seems more and more real. Meanwhile, politicians of both parties continue to pander to the Tea Party and Tim Eyman, strangling public services and making things worse. Is it any wonder we’re ‘glum?’
► From AP — Poll: 87% disapprove of Congress — Americans are plenty angry at Congress in the aftermath of the debt crisis and Republicans could pay the greatest price, a new Associated Press-GfK poll suggests. The poll finds the tea party has lost support, Republican House Speaker John Boehner is increasingly unpopular and people are warming to the idea of not just cutting spending but also raising taxes — anathema to the GOP — just as both parties prepare for another struggle with deficit reduction.
AFL-CIO SPEAKS OUT
► In The Hill — Labor chief: Obama needs to focus on job growth, not cutting the deficit — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Washington’s obsession with the national deficit could lead to a second recession. The White House needs to consider substantial measures to fix the lagging job market and not fall into a Republican-laid trap of focusing solely on paring down the nation’s debt, he said.
► At TPM — Trumka to Dems: Walk away from bad Supercommittee!™ deal — Trumka said Democrats should be prepared to walk away from a bad deficit deal even if the consequence is a far-reaching penalty that would likely cost a huge number of jobs. “They shouldn’t agree to anything that’s a bad deal,” Trumka said. He warned Democrats against voting for any Supercommittee! ™ plan that cuts Social Security and lets wealthy Americans off the hook by not raising their taxes.
►At Politico — AFL-CIO head: Labor to ditch Democrats — Going forward, Trumka said, the labor movement will build up its own political structures and organizations rather than contribute to and depend on the Democratic Party’s political operation.
► In today’s Chicago Sun-Times — Trumka: Obama needs to do more on jobs than “little nibbly things” — “If he puts all his emphasis and focus on job creation,” it is one “picture,” Trumka said. “And if he continues to do little nibbly things around the end that aren’t going to make a difference and aren’t going to solve a problem, that will give …another picture.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — Retailers, hotels, restaurants boost job openings in state — Job vacancies in April reached their highest level in three years, with retailers, hotels and restaurants fueling the growth, according to a new state report. Even with the unemployment rate at 9% in April, job vacancies were staying open longer. Experts point to multiple reasons: Openings for registered nurses and software developers — two job categories with high vacancies — require specialized knowledge that most unemployed workers don’t have. In addition, many of the job openings offer low wages. Past surveys have found that one-quarter to nearly half the open jobs pay less than $10 an hour — which for some jobless workers is less than they’re receiving in unemployment benefits
EDITOR’S NOTE — Lemme guess, GOP. Your solution is… cut unemployment benefits!
► In today’s Olympian — Providence to lay off 100 — Set to close in the next 30 to 90 days are a 29-bed skilled nursing facility at Providence Centralia Hospital and outpatient chemical dependency treatment centers in Hoquiam, Shelton and Centralia. The cuts will result in about 100 layoffs after 115 people agreed to leave voluntarily.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Sacred Heart nurses not due overtime pay — The Washington Court of Appeals has ruled that registered nurses at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center are not entitled to overtime pay when their duties prevent them from taking their contract-provided 15-minute daily breaks.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Rick Steves donating $1 million in ‘Bush tax cuts’ to Edmonds arts center — “Over the last decade, my tax burden has decreased even as public funding for important local programs and institutions has been decimated — a trend I find alarming,” said the TV travel host and publisher. He is encouraging other people who are financially well off to make similar donations.
► From AP — Gregoire has been vacationing for three weeks in Idaho — A spokesman says Lt. Gov. Brad Owen is available to address any issues that may arise while Gregoire is gone. (Whew!)
► At Publicola — Rep. Liias blasts Sen. Hobbs for ‘special interest’ fundraiser — The WSLC got its hands on an invite to a Hobbs fundraiser and — given the list of corporate lobbyist sponsors, including reps from the BIAW, Phillip Morris, Wal-Mart, Eli Lilly — the labor council is dubbing it a “LobbyPalooza.” Hobbs’ Roadkill Caucus had a similar lobbyist-friendly fundraiser in the runup to the 2010 legislative session. One of Hobbs’ opponents, state Rep. Marko Liias (D-Edmonds), sent out a fundraising letter criticizing the “special-interest” fundraiser. Responds Hobbs spokesman Jim Kainber: “Sen. Hobbs is taking a page from President Obama’s playbook. He’s reaching out to business so he engage in a conversation about how to support creating jobs.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — As The Stand noted yesterday, Kainber’s latest email to the state’s registered lobbyists urged them to “engage in a conversation” with their checkbooks… generously.
SPEEA’S SPIRIT NEGOTIATIONS
► In today’s NY Times — Free-trade agreements stuck on Obama-Republican impasse — That Republicans and the president cannot even agree on the status of these trade agreements reflects just how toxic and divisive their relationship is, anchored largely in fiscal policy disagreements. The two sides have fought endlessly over the last year about the complexion of the bills and how and when they will be brought to the floors of each chamber.
► In today’s Wash. Post — What USPS can’t win from union, it hopes to get from Congress — Even as the USPS is negotiating with its unions, it has unveiled a proposal to have Congress eliminate no-layoff provisions in postal union contracts. If it is successful, it would set a new stage in labor relations that would send shivers through labor organizations far removed from the post office.
► In The Hill — Flight attendants campaign at airports for ‘clean’ FAA bill — Union members are distributing information about the recent partial shutdown of the FAA, which they say was caused by House Republicans to make it harder for transportation workers to unionize.
► In today’s NY Times — Effort to ease fears of deportation program draws anger — A task force set up by the Obama administration to ease political tensions over a deportation program has held the last of four public hearings, which instead served largely to galvanize vocal protests against the policy.
► In today’s LA Times — Northrop Grunman to cut 500 aerospace jobs — Northrop is offering buyouts but plans layoffs if fewer than 500 people volunteer to leave before Oct. 28. The aerospace industry has been downsizing in anticipation of a smaller Pentagon budget.
► At AFL-CIO Now — NLRB says workers need to know their rights, biz world flips out — The NLRB issued a new and simple rule today. It says employers must display an 11 by 17 inch poster informing workers of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, where they usually post notices to let workers know their rights. The National Federation of Independent Business responded by calling the proposal an “unprecedented overreach of its authority… a punitive new rule…a new low… a trap for millions of businesses.” It’s just a poster.
► In today’s NY Times — New rules seen as aid to efforts to unionize — Noting that many workers are unaware of these rights, the board said the new regulations are aimed at making it easier for workers to exercise their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, which sets rules for unionization efforts.
► In The Hill — Verizon strike has bigger lessons for U.S. economy (column by CWA President Larry Cohen) — The unity of our members and the widespread public support for workers really speak to the general state of working families in the US. This includes stagnating real wages in recent years, the collapse of employer based health care, declining retirement security and the export of good jobs to low wage contractors and offshore. The root cause of much of this decline is the collapse of bargaining rights in the U.S. in both the public and private sectors.
We need to restore workers’ rights in a meaningful way so that we all can negotiate and engage our employers in a meaningful way. Human resource leaders at major U.S. based employers should be ashamed of looking to cut costs at every turn, then collaborating with multi-billion dollar political machines to fight every political attempt to restore balance through public policy.
EDITOR’S NOTE — See the reaction to the poster rule above.
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.