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EGT dispute escalates, health costs, Big Speech…



Update from — Work is at a standstill at the ports in Seattle and Everett as a labor dispute that started Thursday morning in Longview turned violent.

► Breaking news from AP — Longshoremen storm Port over labor dispute — Hundreds of Longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview early Thursday, overpowered and held security guards, damaged railroad cars, and dumped grain that is the center of a labor dispute, said Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha. Six guards were held hostage for a couple of hours after 500 or more Longshoremen broke down gates about 4:30 a.m. and smashed windows in the guard shack, he said. No one was hurt, and nobody has been arrested. Most of the protesters returned to their union hall after cutting brake lines and spilling grain from car at the EGT terminal, Duscha said.

Click to see the (Longview) Daily News photo gallery

► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — 400 union workers protest EGT-bound train, clash with police — About 400 union longshoremen blocked a train for about four hours Wednesday outside the new EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview, but the train passed through Wednesday evening after the protesters were confronted by about 50 officers in riot gear. Nineteen union protesters were arrested and cited for second-degree trespassing. Three were arrested when a scuffle broke out with police, and 16 more were arrested when they refused to leave the tracks when the train started up again, Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said. “It was a very, very ugly situation,” Nelson said, adding that he fears the conflict could escalate.

► In today’s Columbian — Longshore workers rally at downtown railroad tracks — A dispute over labor at a grain terminal at the Port of Longview spilled into Vancouver Wednesday as more than 200 members of an area longshore union rallied on train tracks downtown.

EDITOR’S NOTE — For background information on this dispute, see: EGT escalates dispute at Port of Longview




► At — Washington a bottom-dweller in support for higher education — Amidst the Great Recession — with newly elected conservative regimes in key statehouses —  collective average change for states was a 6.1% decrease in funding for colleges and universities. But a new report finds that the five states with the greatest cuts were: New Hampshire (48%), Arizona (24%), California (23%), Washington (23%), and Colorado (21%).

► At — State: Regence delayed benefits, took money from non-customers — State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has accused Regence BlueShield of a series of major failures affecting thousands of consumers.




► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Bitter, protracted battle between mental-health agency, union ends — A bitter, two-year struggle between Kitsap Mental Health Services and SEIU 1199NW, which used to represent its workers, has ended after the union did not appeal a recent NLRB ruling that sided with the employer.



► In today’s Seattle Times — Wages stagnate while health insurance takes bigger bite — American workers, whose wages stagnated over the past decade, also saw their health insurance degrade even as it gobbled up a growing share of their paychecks, two new studies being published Thursday indicate.

► In today’s LA Times — Health costs rise while insurance coverage fell, studies show — The changes have left nearly half the working-age population without enough protection from illness. Altogether, 44% of American adults were either uninsured or underinsured last year, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

► In today’s NY Times — From a summer focused on debt, Congress now pivots to jobs — With debt off their plate for the moment, members of Congress, informed by the anxieties they encountered among voters back home, have returned from their recess and immediately snapped into battle over how to quell the problem of 14 million unemployed Americans.

► At The Hill — Business lobbyists see opening for tax holiday — Business groups and lobbyists have made little headway pushing the $1 trillion tax holiday so far this year, but remain adamant that a temporary tax break on foreign earnings would help create jobs and jolt the U.S. economy back to life.

► At TPM — At GOP debate, Rick Perry refuses to rule out ending Social Security — Perry stood by his oft-repeated claims that the popular government retirement program is a Ponzi Scheme and a “failure.”




► In today’s Washington Post — Obama again turns to the Big Speech — Barack Obama has been here before — politically endangered, doubts mounting about his leadership, and a growing sense that, for all his promise, he has lost his way. As he has done before — whether to salvage a candidacy or revive a policy — Obama will resort to a device that has been successful for him in the past: the Big Speech.

► In The Hill — Democrats urge Obama: Don’t try to woo Republicans with jobs speech — With Obama poised to address a joint session of Congress on Thursday — and GOP leaders hammering his plan even before it’s released — some Democrats say the president should target his message toward voters, rather than wasting time trying to sell it to entrenched critics in Washington.

► At Huffington Post — Which Republican lawmakers are skipping Obama’s speech — Despite buzz that Congress might ring in a new era of bipartisanship by choosing “prom night” seating for the speech — crossing aisle to sit with members of the other party — some Republicans plan to boycott the speech altogether.




► At TPM — Can Supercommittee! pass its first — and by far, its easiest — test? — The deficit Super Committee will hold its first public hearing Thursday morning, to adopt its rules of self-governance and to hear testimony from CBO Director Doug Elmendorf on the origins, future, and consequences of the nation’s debt.

► In today’s Washington Post — Federal workers eye Supercommittee! — However you slice the numbers, federal agencies will take a hit. And when agencies take a hit, it’s the federal workforce that feels the pain more than anyone. When budgets are cut, measures to cap or cut the workforce, including layoffs, aren’t far behind.

► In today’s NY Times — Job program for the Supercommittee! (editorial) — Adding jobs to the committee’s mandate has already been rejected by the Republicans who run the House. They refuse to veer from their single-minded goal of cutting spending, blind to any plan that might improve the economy, because that might improve President Obama’s re-election chances. Democrats are right to present the public with the kind of contrast that Obama would do well to emulate. The best way to reduce the deficit is to do everything possible to increase employment.




► In today’s NY Times — Rising fears of recession — If history is a guide, the odds that the American economy is falling into a double-dip recession have risen sharply in recent weeks and may even have reached 50%. Economies have a strong self-reinforcing nature. When people are optimistic, they spend, which begets hiring and then more spending. When people are anxious, they pull back, which leads to a cycle of hiring freezes and further anxiety that often lasts for months.

The United States appears to have entered some version of the vicious cycle. Most ominously, job growth has slowed to a pace that typically signals the start of a recession. Over the last 50 years, every time that job growth has been as meager as it has been over the last four months, the economy has been headed toward recession, in a recession or in the immediate aftermath of one.


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