► From AP — State’s lower jobless rate may reduce weeks of aid — The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.2% last month, an improvement that will likely shorten the number of weeks people can receive unemployment benefits from 99 to 73 weeks in April.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Grant offers opportunities for former Snokist workers — About 60 former Snokist workers attended an information session Wednesday to learn about special benefits under a Trade Adjustment Assistance grant obtained for Snokist workers by the Washington State Labor Council. The grant, through the U.S. Department of Labor, provides up to $20,000 per person for education or job training for workers who have lost their jobs to foreign competition. The grant, which is given in services, not cash, also includes money to help workers relocate for a job, as well as subsidized health insurance options. Snokist worked closely with the WSLC to complete the detailed application process and secure the benefits for its approximately 650 unemployed workers.
ALSO at The Stand — TAA helps Washington get back to work
► In today’s Columbian — State backs Vancouver School District in labor dispute — A state agency has dismissed a complaint by a school employees union against its district. But that doesn’t mean the conflict between labor and management is over.
► In today’s Columbian — 28% of Port of Portland workers live in Clark Co.
► At MoneyRates.com — Washington is 2nd ‘Best State to Make a Living’ — Where is the best place to make a living? MoneyRates.com sought to answer this question through a state-by-state look at average income, cost of living, state income tax rate, and unemployment rates, and Washington came in 2nd place.
EDITOR’S NOTE — See, Mr. McKenna? We don’t suck.
► In today’s Olympian — Legislature considers new maneuver for fixing budget— Gov. Chris Gregoire has put forward a third, previously undisclosed alternative with support from state Treasurer Jim McIntire. While legislative leaders have yet to publicly embrace it, no one is rejecting it either. The proposal would keep sales-tax revenue collected on behalf of local governments in the state’s general fund longer. That could free up $238 million for spending elsewhere.
EDITOR’S NOTE — One hopeful note is that The Seattle Times, which has essentially been a tactical newsletter for Republican budget writer Sen. Joe Zarelli this year, calls this new third option an “accounting maneuver” rather than an “accounting gimmick” as its banner headline trumpeted the day Democrats first released their budget proposal to delay school payments by a day. It looks like Zarelli chose not to “release the hounds.” That’s progress!
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Teachers blast Senate bill on health care change — Nearly 1,000 teachers rallied Tuesday evening at Glacier Peak High School to let state lawmakers know how they feel about SB 6442, which aims to put teachers and classified personnel in a state-run pool for health care insurance. It’s still being discussed in the special session.
► At Publicola — “Witness the anger” — Eight local state legislators were at the gym last night — “we wanted them to witness the anger,” said an organizer — and all told the crowd they were all against the legislation. Sen. Steve Hobbs, who supports the bill, was invited, but did not show up. A life-size cutout of Hobbs was hauled out to join the other legislators and the crowd erupted into laughs and boos.
► At Publicola — Does McKenna’s platform contradict GOP budget proposal? — The Republican candidate for governor’s platform calls for “fully funding (the state’s) pension obligations, based on the state actuary’s recommendations.” Republican state senate budget leader Sen. Joe Zarelli (R-Ridgefield) evidently sees it much differently. He says he wants to “skip the (pension) payment for 2013, put that money into play now to help us get through the spending side needs in the budget.”
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — No budget deal, but some lawmakers taking pay (by Jerry Cornfield) — The state Senate didn’t meet a single time in the special session’s first week, yet plenty of senators are getting per diem checks for all seven days. Payouts totaling $15,570 are being made this week to 31 senators; 18 members requested not to be sent money.
► In today’s News Tribune — Legislature’s budget cuts threaten to hurt quality of long-term care (by Craig Levee) — We’re on a fatal trajectory as our society ages. In the interest of my caregivers, residents and patients, I’m among care providers willing to partner with legislators to find a way forward from this point, even if that includes revenue increases that might affect me.
► In today’s Olympian — Court has a chance to affirm meaningful health care reform (editorial) — It is past time for policymakers to ensure the health reform law works. The Supreme Court’s affirmation of the insurance mandate would be a significant step in that direction. It is a modest idea, first proposed by Republicans and based on the principle that healthy consumers need to be in the insurance pool so that companies can fully pay for the care of sick people.
ALSO at the Stand — Affordable Care Act has helped millions in its first 2 years
► In today’s NY Times — Never before (by Linda Greenhouse) — The constitutional challenge to the Affordable Health Care Act is rhetorically powerful but analytically so weak that it dissolves on inspection.
► At Keystone Politics — Can you hear them now? Verizon workers hold day of action — there will be a National Day of Action for 45,000 Verizon workers that are members of Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), each of which are trying to win a fair contract. CWA and IBEW represent 35,000 and 10,000 employees, respectively.
ALSO at The Stand — Support Verizon workers at Thursday actions with information on leafleting in Seattle, Silverdale, Tacoma and Vancouver.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Another bad bill for Arizona working families bites the dust — After public pressure from Arizonans, extreme lawmakers in the House decided to kill a resolution that would have forced a ballot measure to repeal the state’s minimum wage and hurt low-wage workers in the process.
► In today’s NY Times — To cut costs, Postal Service turns to rural stores — The USPS, which has proposed closing 3,700 offices, is setting up services inside small grocery stores as it tries to maintain service while trimming billions of dollars in costs
► In today’s NY Times — FedEx agrees to pay $3 million in bias case — The DOL has reached a $3 million settlement with the ground delivery unit of FedEx to resolve allegations that the company discriminated against 21,635 job seekers in 15 states.
► At Huffington Post — Does labor have any real friends? (by playwright David Macaray) — It’s bad enough when “pro-labor” Democrats blow smoke and give lame excuses, but when an outfit with the acknowledged creds of the Pacifica Foundation suddenly turns on the union, you realize how quickly things can change. And you realize how true that observation is: Working people can’t trust anyone but other working people, and the unions that represent them.
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.