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Jobs bill percolates, lockouts on rise, Trumka’s dissent…



► In the Olympian — $1 billion plan could put 25,000 people to work— State lawmakers say talks continue on a more than $1 billion public-works package that could potentially put 25,000 people to work, many starting in the summer construction season just months away. A top Republican met Thursday with Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) and said later that the GOP is interested in the concept – though still not committed to any specifics.

ALSO SEE — Labor, business urge: Frontload JOBS! (Jan. 10)

► In the Seattle Times — Departing state economists assesses state’s strengths, weaknesses— Says Arun Raha: Washington needs to “work on our education system. I can’t stress that enough. It pains me when we see we don’t have the resources to be able to provide the same support to the next generation.” Plus, “I don’t think we’re an anti-business state… we have a good record of helping them start up, grow and flourish.

► In the Olympian — Gregoire hopes ‘Lean’ process to make state more efficient— Stafford Creek prison has become something of a model for its Correctional Industries’ use of Lean management concepts used by Boeing and several large health care organizations in Seattle and Tacoma to cut waste and improve products. Gov. Gregoire has touted Lean as a major reform to make government more effective.

► I wonder if they’ll save this much, in today’s Seattle Times — Waiting on predator island: Chronic delays drive up costs — Sex offenders who face civil commitment at McNeil Island routinely postpone their trials for years, driving up costs and wasting state money. In King County, each case can cost up to $450,000.




► In the Daily News — ILWU supporters plead guilty to trespassing during EGT port protest — The seven have been sentenced to community service and fined $200 to $250 per charge. All have also been ordered to pay for damage to the EGT gate. Leal Sundet, ILWU coast committeeman: “The prosecuting attorney has gotten desperate because she has no real evidence for which to prosecute these demonstrators, and she resorted to threats of additional charges in order to wrestle guilty pleas from innocent workers.”

► In the Spokesman-Review — STA cancels planned cut in service — Spokane Transit Authority officials have abandoned plans for a 7% cut in service this year after sales tax collections and passenger numbers increased last year.

► In the Daily News — Foss Maritime expands to complete state ferry contract— The company is adding about nine employees this month at its Rainier shipyard to build a $9.6 million replacement state ferry for Lake Roosevelt in northeastern Washington.




► In today’s NY Times — Line of scrimmage forms over union bill — The city of Indianapolis is in full preen for its moment in the spotlight, its first Super Bowl. But in the Statehouse a partisan fight over union strength has boiled over. “It’s a forum for this to get out beyond the state of Indiana, for the world to know what’s happening to workers here in Indiana,” said Mike Gillespie of Teamsters Local 135. He wore a T-shirt that bore the numerals of the Super Bowl, XLVI , with a slash through them, a message people here interpreted in various ways.

► At AFL-CIO Now —Indiana Republicans can’t seize Democrats’ pay — Republicans trying to ram through a “right to work” for less bill in Indiana cannot seize the pay of Democratic House members who are staying off the floor to filibuster the measure, a judge has ruled.




► In today’s NY Times — More lockouts as companies battle unions — From the Cooper Tire factory in Findlay, Ohio, to a country club in Southern California and sugar beet processing plants in North Dakota, employers are turning to lockouts to press their unionized workers to grant concessions after contract negotiations deadlock. “This is a sign of increased employer militancy,” said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University. “Lockouts were once so rare they were almost unheard of. Now, not only are employers increasingly on the offensive and trying to call the shots in bargaining, but they’re backing that up with action — in the form of lockouts.”

ALSO SEE — USW calls out Cooper Tire’s corporate greed (Jan. 16)

► In today’s Washington Post — Stamp prices go up as postal labor talks hit impasse — First-class postage stamps now cost 45 cents each, a price jump that officials anticipate will generate an additional $888 million in annual revenue. The price hike comes as negotiations between the USPS and two of its labor unions reached an impasse that may require a ruling by an arbitrator.

ALSO SEE — Cutting service won’t save our vital USPS (Jan. 20)

► At Huffington Post — Senate GOP’s next move in nominations fight with Obama — The president’s appointments to two key agencies during the Senate’s year-end break ensures that GOP senators will return to work Monday in an angry and fighting mood.

► In The Hill — Most voters say path to economic top is steeper — The survey found that, as the United States emerges slowly from the current recession, only 21 percent of likely voters believe it is somewhat or much easier now to change economic class.




► In today’s NY Times — Dissent in the Jobs Council (editorial) — Increasingly, Obama’s jobs council’s recommendations have resembled not so much expert advice as a corporate wish list. (AFL-CIO President Richard) Trumka wrote a dissent in which he agreed that the United States has fallen behind other countries in investment in infrastructure, manufacturing, education, job skills and alternative energy. What he rightly objected to was the idea that less regulation, lower corporate tax rates and other demands on the business agenda are the key to restoring competitiveness and creating jobs.

At a time when austerity is in vogue, it is also morally indefensible to not ask for more from corporations. This is just the kind of substantive debate that is needed to help ensure that corporate and partisan interests do not define the problems and dictate the solutions.

ALSO SEE — AFL-CIO President Trumka slams Jobs Council report (Jan. 19)

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