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Boeing hardball, Hanford layoffs, McKenna-Walker, Mesopotamians…

Friday, August 31, 2012




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing rebuffs SPEEA offer to extend contract — Boeing leaders shot down an offer to extend a labor contract with the union representing its engineers and technical workers, a move that doesn’t bode well for negotiations in the eyes of union leaders. “We thought we’d be able to help the company out, to keep on its trajectory of converting (aircraft) orders to deliveries, to get the 777X going,” said Ray Goforth, executive director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, IFPTE 2001.

► From Bloomberg — Boeing risks labor unrest with engineers contract talks— Bargaining has been contentious before the current accord’s Oct. 6 expiration, according to the union, which alleges in a federal labor complaint that Boeing supervisors had intimidated members. Keeping the engineers on the job is vital for Boeing, since they work alongside machinists and are required to sign off on assembly throughout a jet’s production. A strike would crimp Boeing’s efforts to boost output 60% over four years, work through delays on the 787 and develop new variants such as the 737 Max. “They don’t need a distraction, and they don’t need any sign that they’re not a reliable and predictable supplier,” said Gary Chaison, an industrial relations professor. “The engineers are in a position of having considerable leverage, and negotiations are going to be tough.”

ALSO at The Stand — SPEEA seeks contract recognizing members’ role in Boeing success (by SPEEA’s Negotiations Team)




► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Layoffs at Hanford are less than first planned— CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. will hold its layoffs in September to 200 or fewer Hanford workers, it told workers Thursday. It had planned two layoffs in the fiscal year that ends in September with up to 400 workers total. In the first round, 58 workers lost their jobs through voluntary or involuntary layoffs. But instead of laying off up to about 340 workers to reach as many as 400 job cuts, it will limit the layoffs to a maximum of just half of the 400 in September. It already has notified the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council that the 200 layoffs possible in September will include 95 union workers, including 28 who volunteered for layoffs.

► In today’s News tribune — Pierce Transit drivers vote to ratify new contract — The contract, which must be approved by the Pierce Transit board on Sept. 10, has no cost-of-living pay increases but preserve “step” increases for ATU Local 758 workers in their first few years of employment.

► In today’s PS Business Journal — Six local hospitals reported operating losses for 2011 — Most hospitals across Washington state posted operating gains last year, but a half dozen in the Puget Sound region spent more money on their operations than they took in.




► In today’s Bellingham Herald — State safety agency fines BP in wake of refinery fire — The state Department of Labor & Industries has cited the BP Cherry Point refinery for six safety violations, including one that the agency characterized as a “willful violation,” and is proposing fines totaling $81,500.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Benchmarks for Olympia (editorial) — The 2013 legislative session will determine if the state is serious about making meaningful progress, the kind of progress that may not be visible for years. The windfall for future generations merits the investment.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This editorial does a good, balanced job of describing Corporate Washington’s latest good-news/bad-news analysis of our state’s business climate, correctly citing public education and transportation infrastructure as two of our state’s greatest shortcomings. (Only once does it meander into the familiar territory of complaining about unemployment insurance taxes, asking aloud how can they be lowered “without alienating organized labor?”)

But the biggest questions are ignored: How can our state address its deficiencies in education and transportation without raising additional revenue? And how can our state raise additional revenue — by either eliminating outdated special-interest tax breaks or increasing taxes — when the very corporations complaining about these deficiencies are bankrolling Tim Eyman’s initiatives empowering small minorities of legislators to block any possibility of additional revenue? When the business community is ready for some serious introspection about the negative impact its political choices is having on our state’s business climate, perhaps their legislative wish lists will have greater credibility.




► At PubliCola — McKenna challenges Walker comparison — Says the Republican candidate for governor: “I support collective bargaining rights for our public employees and will continue to support them when elected governor of this state.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — As we pointed out earlier this week, Rob McKenna has deliberately distanced himself from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and embraced collective bargaining rights when speaking to reporters. What’s alarming is that, when challenged by his party’s right wing, he sings a different tune, vowing to change collective bargaining laws. And when he doesn’t realize he’s being recorded, he tells his supporters that public employee unions are “dangerous.” That double-talk on fundamental union rights is legitimately alarming and does indeed recall Scott Walker’s own double-talk where he tells reporters he’s only trying to balance the budget, but was caught privately telling a right-wing financier that his ultimate goal is to “divide and conquer” labor and enact “right-to-work” laws that destroy Wisconsin’s unions. You’ll excuse us, PubliCola, amid unprecedented Republican attacks on union rights nationwide, if organized labor in Washington remains skeptical of Rob McKenna’s public campaign-season assurances that he’s different.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Inslee touts local ties in Rotary talk — In a state where top of the ballot races are born and settled west of the Cascades, former Selah resident and 4th District congressman Jay Inslee says his candidacy for governor would bridge that divide. “I’m someone who wants to unite this state economically,” Inslee said at the Downtown Yakima Rotary Club’s Thursday luncheon.




► In today’s NY Times — Romney reinvents history (editorial) — Mitt Romney wrapped the most important speech of his life, for Thursday night’s session of his convention, around an extraordinary reinvention of history — that his party rallied behind President Obama when he won in 2008, hoping that he would succeed. The truth, rarely heard this week in Tampa, Fla., is that the Republicans charted a course of denial and obstruction from the day Obama was inaugurated, determined to deny him a second term by denying him any achievement, no matter the cost to the economy or American security — even if it meant holding the nation’s credit rating hostage to a narrow partisan agenda.

► At AFL-CIO Now — RNC speech: Romney can’t avoid poor record on working families — Whether it’s proposing to cut back severely on Medicaid, forcing seniors on fixed incomes to pay more out of pocket for their health care or cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, the Romney-Ryan budget doubles down on the failed economic policies that brought on the economic crisis in the first place.

► In today’s NY Times — The Medicare killers (by Paul Krugman) — The Republican Party is now firmly committed to replacing Medicare with what we might call Vouchercare, which would mean higher costs and lower benefits for seniors. Over time, the Republican plan wouldn’t just end Medicare as we know it, it would kill the thing Medicare is supposed to provide: universal access to essential care. The question now is whether voters will understand what’s really going on (which depends to a large extent on whether the news media do their jobs). Paul Ryan and his party are betting that they can bluster their way through this, pretending that they are the real defenders of Medicare even as they work to kill it. Will they get away with it?



► In The Onion — Valiant fact-checkers once again save American political system from descending into corruption — With the entire American populace seeing the truth behind vice presidential nominee’s lies and adjusting its political sympathies accordingly, the noble and selfless band of fact-checkers rode off victoriously into the dark of night.




► In today’s NY Times — Majority of new jobs pay low wages, study finds — While a majority of jobs lost during the downturn were in the middle range of wages, a majority of those added during the recovery have been low paying, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Crystal Sugar shareholders losing lots of money from yearlong lockout — Since American Crystal Sugar’s lockout of 1,300 employees, its production costs have shot up $90 million, a more than a 23% increase.

► In today’s NY Times — Court blocks Texas voter ID law, citing racial impact — A federal court rules that the law would hurt turnout among minority voters and impose “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor” by charging those voters who lack proper documentation fees to obtain election ID cards.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The Republicans who wrote the law responded, “Exactly! And…? What’s your point?”

► At AFL-CIO Now — Labor Day Made in America shopping list




► OK, enough about Labor Day. It is also the dawn of another school year for millions of American children. For their — and your — educational pleasure, the entire staff of The Stand presents a song commemorating what must be civilization’s first rock band: “The Mesopotamians” (by They Might be Giants).

Enjoy, and have a great weekend — brought to you by the Labor Movement.



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