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Tax wealth, Union YES, jobs held hostage, the big squeeze…



► At AFL-CIO Now — Get ready for 99% Spring ‘Tax Wealth, Not Work” actions — This week, some 100,000 activists from unions and community, faith and other progressive groups are in 99% Spring training sessions around the country, learning how to take back the economy from the 1%. Their first big round of actions is set for Tax Day, April 17.

IN WASHINGTON, multiple training sessions are being held around the state. Click here to find a training session near you. In addition, the WA State Alliance for Retired Americans is organizing a Lobby Visit with U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen this Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. Get details. And CWA 7800 is planning a T-Mobile Tax Day action on Monday, April 16 at 4 p.m. at 131 Ave SE & SE 36th St. in Bellevue. Get details. More info on the T-Mobile rally will be posted tomorrow at The Stand.

► At TPM — White House ramps up push for ‘Buffett rule’ — Ahead of a Senate vote next week to put members on record supporting or opposing the so-called “Buffett Rule,” the White House is rolling out a public campaign to tout the notion that people who make more than $1 million a year should pay a bigger share of their income in taxes than middle-class Americans.





► In the Peninsula Daily News — Port Angeles composite facility’s workers vote to join union — Employees at Angeles Composite Technologies Inc. in Port Angeles have voted to join the International Association of Machinists. The decision at an employee meeting last week was overwhelming — 78 employees voted to join the union and six abstained out of 84 eligible employees, said Bob Wilson, director of IAM Lodge W24. (Also see today’s Seattle Times coverage.)

► In the Salem Statesman-Journal– More Oregon workers joining unions— Oregon is one of the top states in the country when it comes to union membership, with more people joining unions here each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union members represent 17.1%  of all workers in Oregon, making it the state with the seventh-highest union participation in the nation. Average union membership in the United States is 11.8%. Oregon’s union membership has been steadily growing during the past five years. In 2006, about 211,000 Oregonians belonged to a union. That number by last year had increased to an estimated 270,000 union members .

EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington is the nation’s 4th most heavily unionized state, with 517,000 union members, representing 19% of the workforce.




► In today’s (Everett) Herald) — Signs of progress but no firm budget deal — Gov. Chris Gregoire and Democratic and Republican lawmakers negotiated for hours Monday in hopes of reaching agreement on a balanced budget and government reforms before time runs out in the special session. It remained unclear late Monday if the marathon talks resulted in a deal lawmakers could approve Tuesday, the last scheduled day of the extra session.

ALSO see budget coverage and from the News Tribune, Spokesman-Review, and AP.

► At — $1.1 billion in projects, jobs hang in the balance — Many are watching as the state’s supplemental operating budget is being held hostage to three “reform”-bill demands from a Republican-led coalition in the state Senate. But another major element is waiting in the wings, too: the supplemental capital budget, dubbed by some as the “Jobs Act.” Together they could pack an economic wallop with about $1.1 billion worth of construction work poised to go in the next 14 months — and project lists tentatively approved by the Senate and House are almost identical.

TAKE A STAND!Tell GOP Senators, Kastama: Stop holding Jobs Bill hostage!

Today’s Letter to the Editor roundup re: Republican Sen. Joseph Zarelli, who gets $601 a month in tax-free federal disability payments, fighting to eliminate state disability programs. (He says that, unlike him, the people in the state system were making poor lifestyle choices.) A Seattle Times reader calls Zarelli “cruel and hypocritical.”  An (Everett) Herald reader cites Zarelli’s “willful ignorance” and another calls him “pompous.” A (Longview) Daily News reader calls out Zarelli’s “true lack of compassion for those who are less fortunate.”




► In today’s Tri-City Herald — More vit plant layoffs coming during 2012— Bechtel National will begin sending out a new round of layoff notices late this month as it cuts another 200 to 300 positions at the Hanford vitrification plant by the end of the year. The layoffs are for nonconstruction workers, after Bechtel sent out layoff notices to 198 construction workers at the end of March, bringing total layoffs of construction workers to about 550 during a five-months period.




► At Huffington Post — Major U.S. corporations squeezing even more money out of employeesS&P 500 companies made an average $420,000 in revenue per employee last year. Yet even though that’s a full ninth more than in 2007, companies remain hesitant to hire new workers. With roughly four unemployed workers for every job opening, many Americans have felt the pressure to worker harder and prove their worth. Those millions of unemployed people have additionally given some employers less of a reason to raise worker wages, economists say.

► In today’s NY Times — Raising the floor on pay — As the nation’s economy slowly recovers and income inequality emerges as a crucial issue in the presidential campaign, lawmakers are facing growing pressure to raise the minimum wage, which was last increased at the federal level to $7.25 an hour in July 2009.

► From AP — Indiana ‘right-to-work’ law challenged by in court by IUOE — Indiana’s new “right to work” law should be struck down because it infringes on unions’ free-speech rights by depriving them of the dues that fund their political speech, attorneys for the Operating Engineers union contend.

► In today’s NY Times — A rockier pathway to work (editorial) — Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the Republican Party want more cuts to job-training programs already stretched beyond capacity.




► In Rolling Stone — Why Obama’s JOBS Act couldn’t suck worse (by Matt Taibbi) — The “Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act” will very nearly legalize fraud in the stock market. In fact, one could say this law is not just a sweeping piece of deregulation that will have an increase in securities fraud as an accidental, ancillary consequence. No, this law actually appears to have been specifically written to encourage fraud in the stock markets.

There’s just no benefit that the JOBS Act brings to an honest startup company. In fact, it puts an honest company at a severe disadvantage, because now it has to compete against other, less scrupulous companies that can simply make their projections up on the backs of envelopes.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The JOBS Act was opposed by the AFL-CIO, but passed Congress easily. Of Washington state’s delegation, only Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Jim McDermott voted against it.


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.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!