Monday, September 17, 2012
► In Sunday’s Olympian — Deal would give back 3% wage cuts to state workers— Negotiators for Gov. Chris Gregoire and the union that represents state government’s largest group of employees (WFSE) have struck a tentative pay deal that reverses the 3% wage cuts of the past two years. If ratified, the two-year contract starting July 1, 2013, also will hold out the possibility of 1% pay increases in the second year if state revenue rebounds faster than expected. Health benefits for state workers remain unresolved, with talks continuing separately. The federation said a coalition of unions representing about 60,000 workers would continue negotiating over health care.
► For more details, see the WFSE Hotline.
► In Sunday’s Olympian — State, home care workers deserve much better (by Brendan Williams) — In her final months in office, Gov. Chris Gregoire still has the opportunity to leave an important legacy. She can do so in two related ways. First, she can negotiate collective bargaining agreements with state and home care workers that honor dedicated service during years of sacrifice. Second, she can accept a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against cuts to those providing disabilities’ care.
THE WAR ON UNIONS
► In the Milwaukee J-S — Wisconsin judge throws out Walker’s collective bargaining law — Gov. Scott Walker’s law repealing most collective bargaining for local and school employees was struck down by a Dane County judge Friday, yet another dramatic twist in a year and a half saga that likely sets up another showdown in the Supreme Court. The law remains largely in force for state workers, but for city, county and school workers the decision returns the law to its status before Walker signed the legislation in March 2011.
► From AP — Wisconsin AG aims to enforce union law during appeals— The state’s Republican attorney general said he would seek court permission to keep enforcing a state law that effectively ended collective bargaining for public employees while his office appeals a judge’s ruling striking it down.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Affirm R-74 because state has no role in personal choice (editorial) — It’s not appropriate for citizens to vote on basic civil rights, but since the question is on the ballot, we hope Washingtonians will affirm the courageous and compassionate law adopted by the Legislature last spring. Quite simply, there is no government interest in limiting marriage to a man and a woman.
► In today’s Seattle Times — It’s time for Washington voters to approve same-sex marriages (editorial) — Washington voters have been asked to approve a law that celebrates the family values that empower the state and respects religious freedom. They should vigorously approve Referendum 74 and legalize same-sex marriage.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Parties pouring case into race for governor — In this era of multimillion-dollar super PACs and independent spending, money given to the political parties in Washington still plays a critical role in financing gubernatorial races.
► In the Spokesman-Review — Inslee, McKenna propose tax tweaks — Their proposals differ, but neither is revolutionary, experts say, and they may not provide the kind of economic boost the candidates suggest.
► At PubliCola — Today’s loser: State Rep. Mark Hargrove — Republican state Rep. Mark Hargrove, who represents the 47th legislative district, may be best known for explaining his opposition to gay marriage by citing a Jack-in-the-Box commercial in which a man marries bacon, for opposing teachers’ right to bargain, or for signing a ridiculous pledge to never raise taxes, but today, let’s salute Hargrove for his latest accomplishment: Using public resources to finance his reelection campaign.
EDITOR’S NOTE — And lest we forget, this dubious honor that Rep. Hargrove won earlier this year.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Business owner accused of not paying workers’ comp — An employee’s fall from a roof has authorities crashing down on a Lake Stevens business owner. David Rau, 49, has been charged with a felony based on allegations that he didn’t report his employees’ work hours in an effort to avoid paying workers compensation.
► At Politico — Vermont could be first in line for single payer— Vermont is the only state to have set itself on a path to a single-payer health care system, using the national health care law as a jumping-off point. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin argues that his vision is as pragmatic as it is progressive. The efficiencies of a one-payer system will slow health care spending, freeing up dollars for jobs and economic growth, he says.
► In today’s Washington Post — Romney’s health plans would affect seniors’ care, studies find — A growing body of research suggests that his plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid funding would have a direct impact on the health care that seniors receive.
► A related story in The Hill — Voters give Obama the edge on health care — Several recent polls show Obama with an advantage — often a sizeable one — when voters are asked which candidate would do a better job handling healthcare. Obama held that lead even before Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate, which elevated the debate over Ryan’s controversial Medicare plan.
► In today’s NY Times — Chicago teachers’ strike enters 2nd week — The teachers’ strike continues Monday, days after teachers’ union leaders and public schools officials reached a tentative agreement that won only modest support among the union’s members during a weekend meeting.
► In The Hill — Lawmakers concede Postal Service overhaul not likely before Nov. election — House Republicans have acknowledged that one of the reasons for the current delay is that it could be a tough vote for some of their members, especially those from more rural areas.
► At TPM — Tax cuts for the rich do not spur economic growth, study finds — The study by the Congressional Research Service delves into the last 65 years of U.S. tax policy pertaining to high earning Americans — including top marginal rates on income and capital gains taxes — and how it impacts their decision-making. The conclusion: cutting effective taxes on the rich doesn’t boost economic growth, but it does correlate with rising income inequality.
EDITOR’S NOTE — After the study was released, Congressional Republicans immediately failed to announce that they will stop holding the middle-class tax cuts hostage and quickly didn’t approve President Obama’s proposal to allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest Americans. “Hey, we were wrong about this — I can admit that and do the right thing,” GOP House Speaker John Boehner never said in his whole life.
► In today’s NY Times — Republicans vs. veterans’ jobs (editorial) — A jobs bill that would support veterans is being blocked by some wacky maneuvers in the Senate.
► In The Hill — Obama launches WTO suit against China over auto export subsidies — The Obama administration filed a trade case Monday against China, which it says has provided auto and auto parts companies with at least $1 billion in illegal export subsidies.
► In today’s NY Times — Canada auto workers’ chief renews strike threat — If no agreement was signed or close to resolution before the strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Monday, the union may start three simultaneous strikes. Such a step would be unprecedented for the Canadian union, which normally selects just a single company as its strike target.
► In the Seattle Times — How the middle class lost its place in the economy (by Jon Talton) — The biggest driver has been the rise of big business’s control of politics, and as a result gaming policy against the middle class. If this is class warfare, average working Americans didn’t start it. Many don’t even realize it is a conscious enterprise. And if you’re now tempted to flee in anger to the Sports section, understand that today’s inequality is a concern of many conservative thinkers, too. Wall Street power angers the tea party. In his new book, “Who Stole the American Dream,” Hedrick Smith introduces us to many business leaders who are worried about it and the effect on the national interest.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m.