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‘Give 3%,’ SCS strike ends, inmate apple pickers…



► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — Companies enjoying tax breaks should ‘give three’ percent back (Danny Westneat column) — The union said: You’re asking us for another 3% cut in health benefits. How about convening a meeting of corporations to ask them to give up 3% of their tax breaks? It strikes me as a fantastic idea. Give three. That’s not much, right? It turns out it could add up to $450 million in new revenue. Asking the business heads to pitch in during a crisis, even a tiny bit, seems never to have occurred to Gov. Gregoire. “I don’t collectively bargain with business,” she said, when asked about the union’s idea. Well, why not? You could appeal to their better natures, hold some sort of CEO summit in Olympia and say: “We all live and profit together. We’re asking 3 percent from others. How about you?”

► In today’s Olympian — Program saves state millions, but more can be done (editorial) — Since the Legislature passed a law in 2009 to restrict the use of brand-name drugs, generic drug use has increased in the Medicaid program from 68% to 82%. It means the state stands to save as much as $56 million a year. And there’s still room for more savings.

EDITOR’S NOTE — SB 5892, the 2009 bill sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Kent) that enabled these savings, was opposed by PhRMA, Amgen and other big drug company lobbyists. Consequently, not one single House Republican and just 4 of 18 GOP state senators voted for the bill. But strong Democratic majorities passed it 53-43 in the House and 29-15 in the Senate. SB 5892’s resulting $56 million a year in savings is DOUBLE the projected savings of raising all state employees’ contributions from 15% to 25% of health premiums, a long-sought Republican priority. Just another example of The Party of The 1% putting the interests of big corporations ahead of the people.




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Unions at Kimberly-Clark reach deal with potential buyer, but face many lost jobs — Union members at the Kimberly-Clark plant in Everett have reached a 5-year agreement with potential buyer Atlas Holdings LLC that would secure jobs for about 300. The company now employs about 750, so if a deal were to go through, many would lose their jobs. The agreement would require employees to reapply through a process that has yet to be established.

► In today’s News Tribune — SCS Refrigerated strike ends as bargaining resumes; no new talks at Pierce Co. CHC — Contract talks are due to restart today between Teamsters Local 117 and SCS Refrigerated Services after the union called off a weeklong strike Sunday night and resumed bargaining. Forty-one union members, 15 at the SCS warehouse in Tacoma and 26 in Algona, were idled last week. Meanwhile, at Pierce County’s Community Health Care, no new talks are scheduled in a dispute that erupted into a two-day work stoppage in August.

► In today’s Seattle Times — 105 inmates picking apples in Grant County — More than 100 inmates from a minimum-security work camp near Forks began picking apples at an orchard in Grant County on Monday morning — the latest response by the state to an SOS from growers desperate to get this year’s harvest picked before the first hard freeze.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Aside from the obvious fact that this country desperately needs to reform its immigration policies and start treating farmworkers with the dignity all workers deserve, has it occurred to anyone that utilizing prison labor for exported products may violate international trade agreements? If it doesn’t, considering the big deal the United States made out of imported Chinese goods made by prison labor, shouldn’t it be illegal? Of course, the point may soon be moot. With the latest round of proposed state budget cuts, these “low-risk” offenders are all about to get their Get Out of Jail Free cards anyway.

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Everett postal facility may close — The USPS plans to hold a public meeting Nov. 10 to talk about a proposal to shut down a mail processing facility in Everett. The closure would likely mean Everett-area mail customers could no longer expect next-day delivery in Western Washington.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — City now projecting layoffs to balance 2012 budget — Gregoire’s latest proposed cuts would erase most of the money needed to fill six police vacancies, plus require the city to proceed with about a dozen layoffs.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane mayor’s budget spares jobs — Mayor Mary Verner’s 2012 budget included no layoffs, though some jobs will be held open.

► In today’s Columbian — Yacolt, employees still without pact — Four months after Yacolt’s four town employees joined Teamsters Local 58, the union and the town have yet to hash out the financial terms of the employees’ contracts.




► From AP — Liquor privatization measure leading — A UW survey found that about 48% said they planned to vote yes on I-1183, which would end state-run liquor sales and allow private businesses to sell it in stores. About 41% said they opposed it, the rest undecided. The results on Tim Eyman’s anti-tolling I-1125 are less clear, with about a quarter of all people still undecided. About 37% plan to vote yes, while 38% plan to vote no.

► At — Washington Poll: McKenna leads Inslee — 43.9% said they would vote for McKenna; 38.4% for Inslee. That difference is not outside the polls margin of error and is considered by pollsters to not be statistically significant.

► In today’s News Tribune — Port of Tacoma commissioners oppose I-1125




► From UPI — AFL-CIO says debt plan hurts jobs — Trumka said a proposal to reduce the deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years from the majority of Democrats on the panel tasked with reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion in the next decade hurts Obama’s jobs message.

ALSO SEE — AFL-CIO blasts Democrats’ proposed cuts in safety net (Oct. 31)

► At Politico — Social Security appears on Supercommittee!™ agenda — In private conversations, and now in public, the idea of changing the social program as part of a deficit-reduction deal is gaining some traction — a move that has been politically unthinkable for years. “Nothing,” GOP House Speaker John Boehner said, “nothing, would send a more reassuring message to the markets than taking bipartisan steps to fix the structural problems in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the panel’s co-chair, said she was “not going to talk about the details of any package, but I can tell you that everybody on the committee is serious about finding a way forward.” Asked specifically about Social Security, Murray said, “Everything is on the table, and we’ve made no decisions.”

► In The Hill — Supercommittee panelists would take a hit if they fail to get debt deal — While President Obama, House and Senate leaders and politically vulnerable members would suffer the most politically if the Ssupercommittee!™ flops, the dozen members of the panel could also feel the brunt of voter frustration.

EDITOR’S NOTE — That would be nothing compared to the “brunt of voter frustration” panelists and the rest of Congress would feel if they cut Social Security and Medicare benefits as part of this deal.

► In today’s NY Times — Tales from the Supercommittee!™ (editorial) — In an almost naïve gesture of good faith, Democratic Congressional leaders began talking last week about their own version of the grand bargain that goes far beyond the supercommittee’s minimum mandate to avoid the sequester. (Their proposed Medicare and Medicaid cuts) would go too far in reducing programs vital to the nation’s most vulnerable population. Democrats say these cuts would be considered only alongside tax increases. The danger is that Republicans will try to scoop up those proposed cuts while rejecting the increases. In the next 23 days, we will learn whether the six Democrats on the committee will hold out for real balance, and whether even a single Republican will dare to join them.




► At AFL-CIO Now — Unions stand with Occupy movement in Oakland, nationwide — The Alameda Labor Council and California Labor Federation are standing in solidarity with Occupy Oakland’s Nov. 2 Day of Action. In a message to activists, Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Josie Camacho says working families are, “inspired by the spirit of the fight against Wall Street.”

► In today’s Seattle Times — Teach-in comes to Occupy Seattle — The Occupy Seattle demonstrators took some free classes Sunday night and into early Monday, courtesy of half a dozen instructors from North Seattle and Seattle Central community colleges.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Occupy Spokane weighs future

Washington’s Occupy protests on Facebook: Occupy BellinghamOccupy ColvilleOccupy EverettOccupy OlympiaOccupy Seattle (website) — Occupy SpokaneOccupy TacomaOccupy Tri-CitiesOccupy WenatcheeOccupy Yakima




► In today’s Washington Post — Small business’ influence comes under fire — In the past month, several reports show that while small businesses outnumber their larger counterparts, they nevertheless collectively employ fewer people, create fewer jobs and account for less wages than big companies. In response to the data, some analysts have called for government leaders to place less emphasis on small business interests in their efforts to resuscitate the American economy.


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