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Seattle Times piles on, WSF workers underpaid, ‘Go get a job’…



► In today’s Seattle Times — Governor must drive harder bargain with state employees (editorial) — On Wednesday, the state begins negotiating with unions on contracts to begin July 1, 2013. After four years, it should be clear the economy has permanently reset. State contracts should complete that adjustment.

EDITOR’S NOTE — No mention from the right-wing ideologues on the Times editorial board about the sacrifices imposed on state employees in recent years. No cost-of-living pay raises for several years. In fact, they got 3% pay cuts in the form of unpaid furlough days. No mention of the last concessionary contract, raising their healthcare premiums by 25%. In fact, their share of premiums (15%) is the equivalent of 25% due to big co-payments and deductibles imposed last year. No mention of the layoffs. With the latest budget’s 1,266 jobs cuts, state FTEs are at a decade low despite rising population and rising demands for public services. It’s truly a shame that the state’s biggest newspaper repeatedly insists on piling on with deliberately skewed talking points in order to direct anger at our public servants.




► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Survey shows state ferry workers lag in pay behind peers — A new survey shows most Washington State Ferries workers are paid less than their maritime industry peers. Shipyard employees lag the market by 5.4%, terminal and vessel positions by 6.7%, and administrative staff by 15.7%. The survey includes data from 17 comparable public and private maritime employers on the West Coast.

► In the Kitsap Sun — Ferries will reduce crews on most vessels this summer— The state expects to save at least $1 million a year by trimming boat crews this summer. WSF has operated with more vessel staff than the Coast Guard requires. On March 3, after failing to reach a deal with three unions on new staffing levels, the sides agreed to leave it to the Coast Guard to determine safe and appropriate levels.

► In the Kitsap Sun — Ferry fares rising 3% Tuesday, plus peak surcharge— The cost for Central Sound vehicle crossings — Bainbridge, Kingston and Bremerton — will jump from $12.75 to $16.40 each way, then fall back to $13.15 Oct. 1. It’s the second across-the-board increase in six months.




► In The Olympian — 69 fallen workers honored at Tumwater L&I memorial day— The 69 workers who died from a job-related illness or injury last year who were honored Thursday at the annual Worker Memorial Day. Held at the state Department of Labor and Industries building in Tumwater, it’s a chance to remember the dead, as well as state workers who guide people through worker’s compensation, said Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

► In today’s Seattle Times — May Day marchers to protest outside Wells Fargo downtown — Tuesday’s May Day march through the streets of Seattle will end not at Seattle Center or Westlake as in years past, but at Wells Fargo’s main downtown branch, to protest what organizers say is the bank’s courting of immigrant customers while also offering investments in jails that detain them.

► In the Bellingham Herald — Workers for Western’s dining vendor to hold union vote — Aramark dining services workers at WWU filed Thursday, April 26, for a secret ballot election to organize into the SEIU Local 925. A vote will be scheduled. “A majority of us are joining together to form our union because we love our jobs, and we know we should have a voice in our workplace and a say in the decisions that impact our working conditions, benefits, and the well-being of our families,” said Bobbi Wood, a cook of 22 years at Western.

► In the Bellingham Herald — Intalco needs another BPA deal soon — The Alcoa Intalco Works aluminum smelter west of Ferndale has less than a month remaining on a BPA contract that provides it with the cheap electric power it needs. The 500-employee smelter is one of Whatcom County’s largest employers.




► In today’s Columbia Basin herald — Tax breaks to benefit data centers, food processors— Two of the most important jobs producers in Grant County — data centers and food processors — will benefit from a bill recently passed by the state Legislature. Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign ESB 6635 into law this week.




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Video exchange put McKenna on hot spot (by Jim Camden) — Kendra Obom’s question was fair game, even if (Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob) McKenna didn’t like the forum in which it was asked. Beyond that, suggesting she get a job seems like a gratuitous jab that conjures up hard hats confronting anti-war protesters in the ’60s or Wall Streeters confronting Occupiers last fall. It’s also an incorrect stereotype on McKenna’s part. Obom has a job.




► In today’s Washington Post — Threat from mounting public job losses test Obama’s economic strategy — As the economic recovery has struggled to pick up speed, one of the biggest stumbling blocks has been job losses in state and local governments, which have been on the rise for much of President Obama’s term. Early on, Obama fought for aid that saved hundreds of thousands of these jobs, economists say. Yet a year later, when his economic advisers said another large round of aid was critical for the health of the economy, Obama declined to make it a key part of his agenda.

► In today’s NY Times — The economy downshifts (editorial) — The slow start for the economy in 2012 is too fragile to withstand the kinds of budget cuts that Congressional Republicans are proposing.




► In The Hill — After legislative failure, NLRB critics look to courts to end union election rule — With the rule speeding union elections set to go in effect on Monday, April 30, business lobbyists say that the failed congressional action to overturn the regulation has been only part of a multi-pronged strategy to challenge the NLRB.

► In the Boston Herald — AFL-CIO’s Trumka sees signs of 1912 Lawrence strike today — “We’re still striking for bread and roses,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who’ll give the keynote address at a symposium about the walkout — which got its name because strikers wanted to afford food and small luxuries like flowers.

► In today’s NY Times — Wal-Mart’s U.S. expansion plans complicated by bribery scandal— Wal-Mart has worked hard in recent years to polish its reputation and give elected officials, community groups and shoppers a reason to say yes to their stores, especially as it pushes aggressively into big — and historically hostile — cities. Now, the revelation of a bribery scandal involving the retailer’s Mexican subsidiary is giving critics a new reason to say no.

► From AP — Report: Rebates from health care law will top $1 billion— More than 3 million health insurance policyholders and thousands of employers will share $1.3 billion in rebates this year, thanks to President Barack Obama’s health care law, a nonpartisan research group says.

► In today’s Washington Post — Obama criticized in reversal on farm child-labor rules — The White House move to scrap a plan that would prevent some children from working in dangerous farm jobs drew sharp rebukes Friday from child-welfare advocates who claim the president caved in to election-year pressure from farmers and Republicans.




► At Huffington Post — Killing democracy one vote at a time (by USW President Leo Gerard) — Voter identification laws require citizens to provide specific documents before exercising their franchise. Depending on the state, these include a photo driver’s license, a passport or a permit to carry a concealed handgun. The Brennan Center for Justice and others have calculated that 11 percent of eligible voters do not have government-issued photo identification. That’s 21 million citizens.

In the Halcyon Days of democracy, the unwashed masses were actually urged to vote with slogans like: “If you don’t vote, you don’t count.” Now corporations, 1 percenters and Republicans are working to ensure you don’t vote because they honestly believe you don’t count.


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