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Anti-union counseling at JBLM, replacing engineers, American loses…

Thursday, October 4, 2012




► At In These Times — PTSD counselors forced to attend anti-union meetings on troubled Army base — In 2010, the military newspaper Stars and Stripes labeled Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a joint Army and Air Force base in Washington state, “the most troubled base in the military” due to its inability to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or address mental health problems.

Now, a Working In These Times investigation has found that workers assigned to help families suffering from the effects of PTSD have been told to close cases on suicidal patients in order to save money, haven’t been paid on time and have been forced to attend anti-union meetings that they claim the contractor, Strategic Resources Inc., has billed to the federal government, in violation of federal law.




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Puget Sound Boeing engineers: Irreplaceable? — As the company’s 22,765 workers at Everett, Renton and other locations in Western Washington pondered the contract offer, they heard repeated inferences from Boeing officials about a shift of engineering and technical work to other locations within the company due to climbing payroll costs in the Puget Sound region.

EDITOR’S NOTE — As we’ve previously noted, threatening to eliminate employees’ jobs and replace them for engaging in protected concerted activity is illegal, and has landed Boeing in hot water before. But what about the continual complaints by Boeing, Microsoft and others that they can’t find enough qualified engineers in the U.S. and want to expand the H-1B visa program? When their engineers ask to be rewarded for their role in making Boeing so profitable, there are suddenly so many qualified engineers available that they can simply be replaced?

► At IAM 751’s blog — Machinists use IAM benefits to help save Boeing money — Boeing is making significant improvements to the way 767s are assembled — thanks to a trio of IAM members who used their union-negotiated benefits to get college training.

► At IAM 751’s blog — Injured Machinist: ‘Great to have you always there’ — A Machinists Union member who lost both legs below the knee in a high-profile accident at Boeing came to a local lodge meeting in September to thank his co-workers and his union for all they’d done for him.

► From AP — Boeing, GE cement order for 85 737s worth $6 billion— The order includes 75 737 MAX 8s and 10 Next-Generation 737-800s. First announced at the Farnborough Airshow in July, the order allows for the purchase of up to 15 extra 737-800s.




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Vote NO on Eyman’s I-1185 (editorial) — Just two years ago, the Herald Editorial Board weighed in affirmatively on another supermajority measure, Tim Eyman’s I-1053. We were wrong. Rather than pressure reforms, Eyman’s supermajority rule has spurred paralysis. Rather than bolster creative solutions to benefit the average taxpayer, the two-thirds’ mandate is now one of the apron strings special interests hide behind to avoid ponying up.

► At PubliCola — Our public school kids deserve better than I-1240 (by Brendan Williams) — I-1240, which would allow charter schools in Washington, is a social science experiment funded by the 1% that the 99% will ultimately pay for, and a distraction from real school funding issues.

► At PubliCola — More bad polling news for Rob McKenna — Romney has slipped to a startlingly anemic 26% support in the Greater Seattle area (36% statewide). Wow. A Romney collapse in the central Puget Sound — which will certainly have some downballot consequences — makes it that much harder for McKenna to get the 40-45% support he needs in the state’s Democratic heartland to emerge victorious statewide.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Gubernatorial debate didn’t offer much to sway undecided voters (by Jerry Cornfield) — Rob McKenna needed to come off as confident, thoughtful and even-tempered. Instead, he spent valuable chunks of his time chiding, chastising and criticizing Jay Inslee in a tone arcing between sarcastic and condescending.

► In the Kitsap Sun — Mail-in voter registration deadline is Oct. 6 — Voters who plan to participate in the Nov. 6 General Election have until Saturday to postmark their registrations.




► In today’s Olympian — Legislative reforms give L&I stability (editorial) — The 2011 reforms included controversial “structured settlements” for workers older than 55. That reform didn’t go far enough for some business interests and has not attracted as many takers as lump-sum payouts have in other states. But taken together, the reforms are now projected to save $1.5 billion over four years, rather than the original $1.2 billion estimate. That will build the reserve by $82 million. For now, it looks as though the Legislature achieved its three goals to keep rates down, build stability into rate levels over the long-term and pump up the agency’s reserves.

► In the (Ellensburg) Daily Record — CWU, labor unions approve agreement— The Central Washington University Board of Trustees approved a labor agreement with classified staff last week. The contracts, which have been ratified by WFSE sand PSE, grant one-time performance pay each year based upon the achievement of university goals.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Sea-Tac jet fuelers threaten strike over safety, worker’s suspension — Workers for Sea-Tac Airport’s largest aircraft-fueling contractor marched with supporters to the company’s office and threatened to strike over the suspension of a co-worker and safety concerns. In a protest largely organized by Working Washington, about 50 marchers called for ASIG, Airline Service International Group, to reinstate fueler Alex Popescu, who said he was suspended three weeks ago over his safety complaints.

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Port, City of Bellingham propose big waterfront land swap — The city and the Port of Bellingham have announced a potential blockbuster real estate swap on the waterfront, a deal that is being touted as a way to speed up both industrial and park development.




► At TPM — Romney shines in Denver, Obama camp says so what— Mitt Romney needed the first presidential debate to go smoothly and without major bumps. Even his harshest critics in the Obama campaign acknowledged after the debate ended here Wednesday night that he hit those marks. But he also exposed himself to new criticisms over his still-vague proposals. President Obama, who spent most of the night on the defensive, still got a few licks in of his own. His campaign said afterwards it didn’t expect Romney’s performance to change much.

► In today’s NY Times — Obama and Romney, in first debate, spar over fixing economy — For all of the anticipation, and with less than five weeks remaining until Election Day, the 90-minute debate unfolded much like a seminar by a business consultant and a college professor. Both men argued that their policies would improve the lives of the middle class, but their discussion often dipped deep into the weeds, and they talked over each other without connecting their ideas to voters.

► In today’s Washington Post — Factchecking the first presidential debate — Romney said, “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut.” His plan would cut $5 trillion over 10 years, but Romney has said he will make his plan “revenue neutral” by eliminating tax loopholes and deductions, although he has not provided any details. The Tax Policy Center has analyzed the specifics of Romney’s plan thus far released and concluded the numbers aren’t there to make it revenue neutral.

► In today’s Washington Post — Romney’s personality shift (by E.J. Dionne) — Romney’s decision to change his tax plan on the fly, rather than to defend it, will provide fodder for further Obama attack lines on how it would affect middle-income voters. And his obvious pivot to a new political persona — or, perhaps more precisely, his reversion to his older, more moderate self — will lead to more questions about who the real Mitt Romney is.

► In today’s NY Times — An unhelpful debate (editorial) — After 90 minutes, voters are left with as many questions for Mitt Romney and President Obama as they had before it started

► In today’s Washington Post — 90 minutes of evasion (editorial) — The candidates spent their first debate sidestepping the hard truths.

► At Huffington Post — Romney’s Big Bird comment statement sparks @FiredBigBird Twitter account — Mitt Romney made one thing abundantly clear during Wednesday night’s debate: He likes firing birds, too.




► From AP — American Airlines loses ruling on union election — A federal appeals court has ruled against American Airlines, which tried to block a union election among nearly 10,000 employees. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned a district court judge’s ruling in American’s favor. The appeals court said Wednesday that the judge didn’t have grounds to invalidate a federal panel’s decision to schedule an election among American’s passenger-service agents to join CWA.

► From AP — Chicago teachers vote to approve 3-year contract — Members of the Chicago Teachers Union overwhelmingly have approved a new three-year contract that includes pay increases and a new evaluation system.

► In today’s NY Times — Undocumented life is a hurdle as many immigrants seek reprieve — Applicants to a new program must prove that they entered the country as children and that they have lived here since 2007, among other requirements; many cannot.


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