► This morning at Columbian.com — Longshore workers rally at downtown railroad tracks — Dozens of workers from a local longshore union rallied on BNSF tracks in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday morning. The group is protesting a new grain terminal at the Port of Longview managed by EGT. “This is the latest in a very long line of actions that longshore men are taking to stand up to a foreign company that’s trying to get a foothold in Washington and undermine the grain industry,” ILWU spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said on the scene Wednesday. Dozens of workers were standing on the tracks Wednesday morning blocking a BNSF train headed north. The group was being monitored by several BNSF Police vehicles, including one K9 unit.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Also see: EGT escalates dispute at Port of Longview
► In today’s Seattle Times — Liberal groups push Sen. Murray to avoid social program cuts — As the Supercommittee!™ Sen. Patty Murray co-chairs gears up for its first hearing Thursday, progressive advocates are fretting over just how much zeal she will show in defending Social Security, Medicare and other safety-net programs. Liberal activists seeking to pressure Murray have been parsing her words and actions for clues — and finding little solace in her steadfast refusal to declare specific cuts in benefits or higher costs for beneficiaries off-limits.
► At The Hill — Supercommittee!™ chiefs have not met — ever — For Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the job of leading a congressional search for $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next three months is tough enough. But that task is further complicated by a little-known oddity: The two Capitol Hill veterans have never met each other.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Bellingham teachers ratify contract; school starts today — Teachers agreed to a 3-year contract with the school district after voting to go on strike Aug. 31, the day the previous contract expired. The one-day strike happened Friday, Sept. 2; a tentative contract agreement was reached that evening. School starts today, a day late because of the strike.
► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma teachers, district resume talks after break — Talks to reach a tentative agreement between the Tacoma Education Ass’n and the school district resume. The TEA contract with the district expired Aug. 31. TEA members on that day failed to gather enough votes to authorize a strike, and school started on time Thursday.
► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Central Kitsap teachers vote to approve contract –The union last week voted down a previous agreement, which would have increased class sizes from K through 6. The new agreement increases class sizes from K through 3, but leaves class sizes the same in grades 4 through 6.
► At KING5.com — Archives show struggle of organized labor in Northwest (TV report) — At the University of Washington’s Allen Library, the Washington State Labor Archives documents the struggle of the labor movement in the Northwest.
EDITOR’S NOTE — For more information about the Labor Archives, and how you can support them, click here.
► Today’s tale of private-sector efficiency, from AP — State will delay fines against tolling contractor — A Texas-based contractor that has failed to meet deadlines as it sets up tolling systems on the 520 and Tacoma Narrows bridges will avoid paying millions of dollars in fines because state officials say they do not want to further delay installing the projects.
► In the News Tribune — For all they do, labor unions could be called volunteer unions, too (Kathleen Merryman column) — Giving hours of volunteer service to others is a way of life here, and union members are part of that in ways as large as a house and as small as an eight-ounce jar of Jif peanut butter.
► At Teamster.org — Hoffa: Corporate-funded conservative politicians out to destroy middle class — “We didn’t start this war – the right wing did,” says Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “My comments on Labor Day in Detroit echo the anger and frustration of American workers who are under attack by corporate-funded politicians who want to destroy the middle class. We’re tired of seeing good-paying jobs shipped overseas. This fight is about the economy, it’s about jobs, and it’s about rebuilding America. As I said yesterday in Detroit, we all have to vote in order to take these anti-worker politicians out of office.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Come see Hoffa speak Friday in Puyallup in support of local Fred Meyer warehouse workers struggling to maintain affordable health care.
► In today’s NY Times — Families feel sharp edge of state budget cuts — In many states, restrictions are being placed on programs like unemployment benefits and cash assistance, leaving a growing number of low-income families in worse financial trouble. By 2009, about 2.4 million more children’s families lived below the poverty line than in 2000, an increase of 18%, according to a recent analysis of Census Bureau data.
► In today’s Washington Post — Many in U.S. slip from middle class, study finds — Nearly one in three Americans who grew up middle-class has slipped down the income ladder as an adult, according to a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Some economists point to growing income inequality and widely stagnating wages as evidence that the American Dream is slipping out of reach for many people.
► In today’s NY Times — White House to propose plan to help USPS — The Obama administration will seek to save the deficit-plagued Postal Service from an embarrassing default by proposing to give it an extra three months to make a $5.5 billion payment due on Sept. 30 to finance retirees’ future health coverage.
► In The Nation — A top Democrat actually gets it: Biden makes a stand with organized labor — Joe Biden, a Democrat who does not “tolerate” or “have regard for” labor unions but actually believes in them, delivered the single most powerful speech by of the top Democrats who showed up for this week’s Labor Day rallies, parades and picnics. “The battles labor won over the years not only raised the standards of labor but for everyone,” declared Biden, as thousands of union members cheered. “The other side has declared war on labor’s house and it’s about time we stand up. Understand it for what it is…. They’re reopening fights we thought we settled fifty years ago.” What distinguished Biden’s speech from the others by prominent partisans was that there was nothing timid about it. This was a rip-roaring populist pronouncement.
AMERICA WANTS TO WORK
► From Reuters — Obama to propose $300 billion jobs package, reports indicate — President Barack Obama, facing waning confidence among Americans in his economic stewardship, plans some $300 billion in tax cuts, spending on infrastructure, and aid to state and local governments as part of a job-creating package, reports indicate. The price tag of the proposed package, to be announced by Obama in a nationally televised speech to Congress on Thursday, would be offset by other cuts that the president would outline.
► In The Hill — Democrats fear it’s too late — Democrats and liberal policy experts contend that Obama missed his chance to turn the economy around by November 2012, but still want him to call on Congress to move an aggressive new jobs plan — even if it has little chance of passing.
► At TPM — McConnell: Obama jobs plan will be ‘same failed approach’ — Says the Senate Minority Leader: “They’ll represent more of the same failed approach that’s only made things worse over the past few years, and resulted in even fewer jobs than when he started,” dismissing the economic consensus that Obama’s stimulus prevented a deeper recession than the one the country experienced.
EDITOR’S NOTE — And speaking of the same failed approach…
► In today’s NY Times — Mitt Romney lays out his jobs plan — He wants to repeal Obama’s health care law, cut the corporate tax rate and reduce taxes on middle-class savings and investment.
► In today’s NY Times — Old tax relief seen as anchor in Obama plan — Extending the payroll tax reduction is not the president’s first policy choice, but it may have the best chance of getting G.O.P. support.
► At Truth-Out.org — Goodbye to all that: Reflections of a GOP operative who left the cult (by Mike Lofgren, who just retired after 28 years as a Republican Congressional staffer on both the House and Senate Budget Committees) — I left because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country’s future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them. And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest. Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and “shareholder value,” the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too. Hence the intensification of the GOP’s decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers. Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one.
And If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshipping colleagues aren’t after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté. They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be “forced” to make “hard choices” — and that doesn’t mean repealing tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked.
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.