Friday, August 3, 2012
► At AFL-CIO Now — AFGE, TSA reach first-ever contract for airport screeners — In 2003, as Transportation Security Administration workers at several airports were readying to vote on joining AFGE, the Bush administration, citing so-called “national security” concerns, terminated the screeners’ collective bargaining rights. Today, after a nearly 10-year battle, AFGE and the TSA have reached their first-ever labor contract that covers the TSA’s 45,000 workers.
► In today’s Washington Post — TSA contract proposal calls for new performance management system, higher clothing allowance — A tentative contract agreement covering 45,000 federal airport screeners calls for a new performance management system, and allows for an increased clothing allowance and a standardized vacation bidding process.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Strike over, rush on to haul off lots of stinky trash — Recycling and yard waste drivers for Waste Management are expected to report back to work Friday after voting to approve a new contract Thursday morning, ending an eight-day strike.
► At SeattleTimes.com — Teamsters credit local mayors for helping end trash strike — Exhausted but happy after their week-long garbage strike against Waste Management, Teamsters Local 117 credited local mayors — especially Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn — for bringing Waste Management back to the bargaining table by vowing to collect fines for missed collections.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Lawmakers need to keep a close eye on workers’ compensation reforms (editorial) — Washington’s system of workers’ compensation may need more reforms, if the promised savings from the 2011 reforms don’t happen. They included an immediate cost-of-living freeze for benefits, the creation of a managed-care network, a subsidized back-to-work program and the offer of one-time payouts as an alternative to disability pensions. In total, the 2011 reforms were supposed to save $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion in the first four years. The system needs those savings to avoid future rate increases on employers and workers. Legislators may well have to revisit the system and reform it even more. If the reforms of 2011 don’t generate the savings promised, they will certainly have to do it.
EDITOR’S NOTE — It’s always so helpful when The Seattle Times editorial board publishes what will be the Association of Washington Business talking points for the next legislative session. But keep in mind what Republican Rob McKenna vows to do if elected governor: privatize workers’ compensation for his insurance company cronies, even though voters said “no” loud and clear in 2010.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Breaking down the state workforce — The average state worker, if such a person existed, would be white, 47, and making $50,304 a year, but would have had no raise in the last three years. She or he — it’s almost a tossup, with 50.6% of state workers being women — would have been working for the state for 12 years, have a full-time position and be in a union.
► From Bloomberg — Boeing wins orders for 93 737s from two Asian carriers— SilkAir, Singapore Air’s regional arm that has an all-Airbus SAS fleet, signed a provisional agreement for 54 737s, including 31 of the in-development MAX 8. A China Southern Airlines Co. unit also ordered 40 737-800s. The two deals have a combined list price of $8.3 billion. Carriers usually get discounts.
YESTERDAY at The Stand — SPEEA seeks contract recognizing members’ role in Boeing success
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Emerald Kalama Chemical unveils lab, adds 12 jobs— The company sealed the deal on a multi-million-dollar expansion that is adding a dozen family-wage jobs at the Port of Kalama. Emerald has hired eight salaried technicians and plans to add four more by the end of the year. The plant has 162 employees and an annual payroll of nearly $12 million.
► At Washington State Wire — Labor groups, teachers’ union launch independent campaigns for legislative candidates — During the last couple weeks of July, big interest groups like the Washington State Labor Council and the Washington Education Association started pumping money into a handful of legislative races that will be affected by the Aug. 7 primary, according to the latest batch of campaign-finance reports.
► At SeattleTimes.com — Darcy Burner flip-flops, goes negative against DelBene — With signs she is falling behind, 1st District U.S. House candidate Darcy Burner has reversed a campaign pledge and gone furiously negative in an attack mailing directed at fellow Democrat Suzan DelBene.
► At TPM — Dems want answers about Romney’s enormous IRA — IRAs are intended to allow workers to put away modest sums of money each year in order to help finance a middle-class retirement. The savings are tax deferred, but there’s a legal limit — now $6,000 — on how much each IRA holder can contribute annually. Now top Democrats want to know how people of Romney’s wealth can end up with 100,000 times that much money in a single IRA, and how much the tax and investment strategies they employ cost the Treasury in revenue every year.
► At AFL-CIO Now — 163,000 jobs created in July, jobless rate ticks up to 8.3% — So far this year, employment growth has averaged 151,000 per month, roughly the same as in 2011. Cuts in public-sector jobs, locally and nationally, have hurt a jobs rebound, with another 9,000 jobs slashed by the government last month.
► In The Hill — Geithner meets with Murray amid fears lawmakers act to stop fiscal cliff — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) Thursday amid increased fears in Washington that Congress might decide not to act to prevent the nation from going over the so-called fiscal cliff. Murray, the Democratic co-chair of the 2011 deficit supercommittee, recently said that Democrats would allow all of the Bush tax rates to expire and then seek to renew lower rates for the middle class, unless Republicans agree to raise taxes on the nation’s highest income earners.
EDITOR’S NOTE — So Sen. Murray and Senate Democrats decide to play a little hardball — like Republicans do continually with their government shutdowns and the like — and the Obama administration seeks to rein in their Democratic colleagues?! The White House should be saying the same thing Murray is. If we’re serious about tackling chronic deficits and underfunding of public services, the top 2% need to step up. Stand strong, Sen. Murray!
► In today’s Washington Post — Pension ‘savings’ in transportation bill may be costly (by Robert Pozen) — The transportation bill that Congress passed this summer is financed, in part, with a budget gimmick: Lawmakers changed the funding rules for corporate pension plans. These changes help the federal budget in the short term by reducing the tax deductions that corporations take for contributing to these plans — thereby reportedly increasing their taxable income. These changes, however, encourage companies to contribute less to pensions, which raises the long-term risk that a governmental insurer will need to step in to pay benefits.
► From AP — United, negotiators for pilots reach tentative labor deal— United Airlines says it has a deal with union negotiators on a new labor contract with its own pilots and those from the former Continental Airlines. The union called it an agreement in principle on economic issues and said some details still needed to be finished. It is subject to approval by governing boards of the two pilot groups and by rank-and-file pilots.
► For no particular reason, “Fox on the Run” by Sweet.
Enjoy, and have a great weekend — brought to you by the Labor Movement.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m.