Hanford, Swedish, Stimson layoffs; Longview cops; scab teachers…

Today’s news links:



► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hundreds learn they will lose jobs at Hanford — Two weeks before the end of the fiscal year at Hanford, hundreds of workers learned Monday that their names are on the list for previously announced layoffs. Combined, the job cuts among Hanford cleanup contractors this fiscal year appear to total 1,825, most of them this month. Those totals do not include Hanford layoffs in fiscal 2012, which include job cuts planned as early as mid-October. In a worst-case scenario, cuts throughout fiscal 2012 would cost more than 1,000 more jobs. Most of the Hanford layoffs are linked to the end of federal economic stimulus money.

► Today from the Issaquah Press — Swedish announces job cuts, could reassign employees to Issaquah — Swedish Medical Center could cut 300 positions, 3% of its workforce, although the nonprofit hospital’s chief executive said some people facing a pink slip could be reassigned to the system’s Issaquah hospital. The positions under scrutiny include union and nonunion jobs — as well as vacant positions — across the organization.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Stimson Lumber to close Arden mill — About 67 people work at the mill, which produces siding, decking and other products out of cedar, fir and pine. The mill could close permanently as soon as Nov. 11.




► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Deputies make two more arrests over ILWU grain protests — Two more longshore union members were arrested Sunday for allegedly blocking a train Sept. 7 bound for the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview, union officials said. About 30 people have been arrested and cited for trespassing in connection with the train blocking. ILWU Local 21 President Dan Coffman said the “made-for-TV” arrests are a waste of taxpayer dollars because law enforcement ignored the longshoremen’s offer of peaceful surrender.

Also see — Here’s why the Longshore workers are so angry (Sept. 8)




► In today’s News Tribune — Teacher talks continue — Striking Tacoma teachers pedaled around the city on a “bike strike” Monday, while a Pierce County judge threatened to authorize hiring replacement workers in an effort to end a standoff that has closed schools for a sixth day as of this morning. Meanwhile, bargaining teams for both sides met with a state mediator at noon Monday; sessions continued past 10 p.m. Teachers and the school district have been in disagreement over three main issues: Contract language governing transfers and reassignments, class size and pay.

► From AP — Judge could allow replacement teachers to be hired — Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff says he’s considering giving Washington state’s third-largest school district the option to hire replacement teachers for those on the picket line.




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — County council approves new contract with its largest employee union — A divided Snohomish County Council approved a new contract Monday with Washington State Council of County and City Employees, AFSCME, which union represents nearly 1,400 of the county’s approximately 2,500 workers. The agreement passed 3-2, despite controversy over a one-time $460 payment that some county leaders called a contract signing bonus. Others called the payment compensation for rising medical costs.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Leverage may be behind refusal of first 747-8 freighter — Analyst Scott Hamilton says that Cargolux’s delivery holdup has to do Qatar Airway’s recently acquired 35% stake in the company: “Qatar’s CEO Akbar Al-Baker views the Cargolux compensation as essentially setting a benchmark for his (compensation for late) 787s at Qatar.”

► In today’s Columbian — Zarelli eyes proactive approach to budget woes — The Republican state senator wants to convene a Supercommittee!™ (but doesn’t want to call it a Supercommittee!™)




► At AFL-CIO Now — Obama proposes ‘Buffett Rule’ to pay for jobs — President Obama today outlined a proposal to add $1.5 trillion in new tax revenue to pay for his proposed American Jobs Act to put Americans back to work. He said lawmakers need to focus first and foremost on creating jobs and challenged Congress to do so.

► In today’s NY Times — Obama draws new hard line on long-term debt reduction — President Obama did not just propose but insisted that any long-term debt-reduction plan must not shave future Medicare benefits without also raising taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers and corporations. He uncharacteristically backed up that stand with a veto threat, setting up a politically charged choice for anti-tax Republicans — protect the most affluent or compromise to attack deficits.

► At TPM — Polls suggest voters supportive of Obama’s jobs pivot — The jobs plan the President has touted is on solid ground in the polls: Gallup showed that a 45% plurality of Americans support it, as did a 43% plurality in a recent CNN/ORC survey. Within that jobs plan there are popular individual proposals — a CBS/New York Times poll showed majorities supported all the components tested.

► At Politico — Moderate Democrats duck, cover on tax hikes — Centrist Democrats, a dwindling breed on Capitol Hill, were quickly faced with another rough choice once Obama went public with his plans: Reject their president or back what Republicans are already calling the largest tax increase in the nation’s history.

EDITOR’S NOTE — May their breed continue to dwindle.

► In today’s NY Times — Obama proposes $320 billion in Medicare, Medicaid cuts over 10 years — Obama proposed higher premiums and deductibles for many Medicare beneficiaries and lower Medicare payments to teaching hospitals and rural hospitals. He would start charging co-payments to frail homebound older people who receive home health services. And he would reduce the growth of federal payments to states for treating low-income people under Medicaid.

► At Politico — Obama’s deficit plan has help for USPS — Obama proposed several reforms to the Postal Service, including restructuring retiree health benefits, refunding the agency $6.9 billion that it overpaid to the federal retirement program, letting the Postal Service sell nonpostal products, increasing postage rates and dropping a day of delivery — likely Saturday.

EDITOR’S NOTE — But a solution to USPS troubles is at hand without making things worse by cutting services (like Saturday delivery). Click here to find out what it is and how you can support it by participating in a National Day of Action on Tuesday, Sept. 27.




► In today’s Washington Post — Unions join to fight cuts to federal workforce — A coalition of 22 labor organizations is pledging to fight “irresponsible cuts” to the federal workforce if proposed by the supercommittee on deficit reduction. The Federal Workers Alliance says it represents more than 300,000 federal employees who, along with the rest of the workforce, face “a very uncertain future,” because of the mandate of the Supercommittee!™

► In today’s NY Times — Worry about a new wave of layoffs — With headlines like the 30,000 layoffs planned at Bank of America and the U.S. Postal Service asking Congress to cut 120,000 workers, it is perhaps not surprising that workers’ concerns about job security are near the peak they reached during the last recession, according to a recent Gallup survey.

► In today’s LA Times — Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons reach tentative deal with union — On Monday, negotiators for the grocers and the UFCW reached a tentative deal, averting a strike that would have sent more than 54,000 workers across Southern California off the job. Details were not made public, pending ratification of the contract by union members, who are expected to vote on it Friday and Saturday.

► At AFL-CIO Now — 23,000 California nurses to strike for better patient care — Nearly 23,000 registered nurses (California Nurses Association/National Nurses Unite) will hold a one-day strike Thursday at 34 Northern and Central California hospitals. They are speaking out for their patients and against cuts in health care or retiree coverage for nurses and other hospital employees.

► From Reuters — GM labor deal heads toward vote — About 48,500 GM workers at U.S. factories will begin considering the details of a proposed 4-year contract that represents the first labor deal for the automaker since its 2009 bailout.

► At Politico — The end of the middle class? (by Robert Borosage) — Both sides fail to address the scope of our challenge. Republicans seem to believe that simply rolling back Obama’s reforms and returning to former President George W. Bush’s economy will set us straight. The president offers more extensive reforms, but he, too, basically seems to assume that by giving the economy another boost, we can start putting people to work and generate sustainable growth. Ironically, Americans get it even if Washington doesn’t. Large majorities want schools, Social Security and Medicare protected; they want to hike taxes on the rich and invest in areas vital to our future. They are souring on the endless wars and want the resources and young men and women brought home. And they want health care costs brought under control.




► In today’s NY Times — Our hidden government benefits (by Suzanne Mettler) — A 2008 poll of 1,400 Americans  found that when people were asked whether they had “ever used a government social program,” 57% said they had not. Respondents were then asked whether they had availed themselves of any of 21 different federal policies, including Social Security, unemployment insurance, the home-mortgage-interest deduction and student loans. It turned out that 94% of those who had denied using programs had benefited from at least one; the average respondent had used four.

Until political leaders reveal government benefits for what they are by talking openly about them, we cannot have an honest discussion about spending, taxes or deficits. The threat to democracy today is not the size of government but rather the hidden form that so much of its growth has taken. If those who assume government has never helped them could see how it has, it might help defuse our polarized political climate and reinvigorate informed citizenship.


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.

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