► Today at TheOlympian.com — House Democrats: Cut employee health care, delay school funds– The House Democratic budget is formally on the table: The $30.66 billion supplemental spending plan lops some $81.6 million in local government aid, delays $405 million in funding for K-12 public schools into the 2013-15 biennium, and makes roughly half the cuts to welfare programs that Gov. Gregoire and House Republicans have proposed.
► In Saturday’s Olympian — Republicans offer budget without sales-tax hike— In a plan that has little chance of passing the Democrat-controlled House, Republicans propose balancing the budget by forcing state employees to take two more days off each month without pay.
► At Publicola — House GOP offers budget proposal — It cuts the state contribution to state employee benefits from $850 to $800 a month (the governor proposed lowering it to $825), ends funding for the Basic Health Plan, and reduces health care eligibility for children of undocumented parents, and cuts funding to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program.
► In the Olympian — What’s alive after last week’s cutoff — Consolidating the health insurance system for public school employees across the state didn’t see a floor vote, but Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said last week that it’s not off the table.
ALSO today at The Stand — Many labor supported bills killed at cutoff
► In today’s Seattle Times — Another misguided, costly attempt to take over K-12 health benefits (by Bellevue teacher Danielle Ottesen) — A state takeover has been studied five times (at significant taxpayer cost) in the last 20-plus years. Only once, in a flawed study contracted by the state auditor to an out-of-state firm, were any supposed savings reported, and then only by leaving out costs such as administrative overhead and the need for a reserve fund.
► At Publicola — WEA president responds to Hanauer, trashes McKenna — WEA President Mary Lindquist responds to the controversial email that major Democratic Party donor Nick Hanauer sent to his fellow Democratic donors trashing the party’s position on ed reform and informing his Democratic comrades of his intention to meet with Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.
► CHECK OUT the Washington State Labor Council’s Legislative Tracker™ to get status updates on many of the key bills of concern to the WSLC and its affiliated unions. (If your union would like to add a bill of particular concern to the Tracker™, please contact David Groves at email@example.com.)
► In Monday’s (Everett) Herald — Community Transit cuts start(ed) Monday — Nine eliminated routes, along with reductions in service on all the other routes, will take away 20% of the agency’s service. This comes on the heels of a large cut in June 2010 and a smaller slice last year, for a 37% total reduction in bus service in two years.
► From AP — State investigates cause of BP refinery blaze— The dramatic blaze at Washington’s largest oil refinery on Friday broke out in the crude processing unit at the BP Cherry Point refinery in northwest Washington, sending plumes of black smoke visible for miles. One person suffered a minor injury.
► In the Seattle Times — NLRB’s top lawyer still feels fallout from Boeing, union case — Lafe Solomon found himself in the center of a maelstrom he did not entirely expect and which continues to dog his agency even now — more than two months after Boeing and the Machinists forged new labor peace with a four-year contract extension.
► In today’s LA Times — AFL-CIO chief goes on the offensive — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is trying to harness frustration with Wall Street and concerns about income inequality to build broader support for labor. If he succeeds, he will help pro-union Democrats in the Nov. 6 elections and, perhaps, begin to reverse organized labor’s long decline as a political force.
► From AP — Congress cuts length of jobless benefits to maximum of 73 weeks from 99 — Millions of Americans will continue to receive long-term unemployment benefits under legislation approved Friday in Congress, but the scope of the program is being scaled back to cover fewer people by the end of the year.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Affordable Care Act means premium rebates for consumers — One of the Affordable Care Act’s most important consumer protection provisions requires health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on actual medical care, not wasteful administration, marketing or executive pay and bonuses. Insurers that do not meet the 80% threshold must provide rebates to their customers.
► In today’s LA Times — Surging gas prices threaten to derail economic recovery — Oil prices have crept higher in recent weeks amid a brighter outlook for the U.S. economy and heightened tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.
► In the NY Times — States try to fix quirks in teacher evaluations — Even as New York State finally came to an agreement last week with its teachers’ unions on how to design its new system, places like Tennessee that are already carrying out similar plans are struggling with philosophical and logistical problems.
► In today’s LA Times — Playing a key role in actors’ union merger — Needing a mediator to help build trust and facilitate the delicate negotiations to combine two very different unions, SAG and AFTRA turned to Susan Schurman, a onetime bus driver and union leader turned academic who was the founding president of the AFL-CIO-sponsored National Labor College and was adept at training union officials.
► In today’s NY Times — Immigration and the campaign (editorial) — The Republican presidential candidates have abandoned all principle on the issue. A debate on Wednesday will be a good time to ask them some tough questions.
► At TPM — Politico gaffe becomes organizing tool in Wisconsin recall— A Politico reporter mistook the Wisconsin state flag for the seal of a local union, and cited it as an illustration of Obama’s pro-union bias. The gaffe made the rounds among union officials in the state and now that the laughter’s subsided, they’ve turned it into a membership drive.
► At Salon — America’s last hope: A strong labor movement (by Dorian Warren) — The fate of the labor movement is the fate of American democracy. Without a strong countervailing force like organized labor, corporations and wealthy elites advancing their own interests are able to exert undue influence over the political system, as we’ve seen in every major policy debate of recent years.
Yet the American labor movement is in crisis and is the weakest it’s been in 100 years. That truism has been a progressive mantra since the Clinton administration. However, union density has continued to decline from roughly 16% in 1995 to 11.8% of all workers and just 6.9% of workers in the private sector. Unionized workers in the public sector now make up the majority of the labor movement for the first time in history, which is precisely why — a la Wisconsin and 14 other states — they have been targeted by the right for all out destruction.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. These links are functional at the date of posting, but sometimes expire.