Thursday, November 29, 2012
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Dec. 1 Peace Arch event to focus on trade partnership— A rally is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1, to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The event will start at 1 p.m. at Peace Arch Park. The event is being organized by a variety of labor groups. Said Kristen Beifus of the Fair Trade Coalition: “There is nothing that indicates TPP is anything more than a colossal expansion of the problems of NAFTA.”
ALSO at The Stand — Commemorate WTO, join fight for fair TPP on Nov. 20, Dec. 1 (by Lynne Dodson) — Learn more at TPPxBorder.org.
► From AP — No immediate lockout, grain shippers say — The owners had given the ILWU until midnight Wednesday to accept what they describe as their “last, best and final” offer. But a spokesman for the owners said there would be no midnight lockout. Instead, the owners will respond Thursday to comments received from ILWU representatives about the offer.
► At HeraldNet.com — Boeing, SPEEA negotiations inch along — Talks sputtered along Wednesday with discussion over a training program that’s jointly managed. The two sides continue to be at odds over several key contract items including pension, wages and health care costs.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Hanford woes continue (editorial) — Hanford nuclear reservation will get a new top Department of Energy manager as safety, health and construction issues with contractor Bechtel draw more attention.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Gov.-elect Jay Inslee names transition team — Inslee has announced the names of the 34 people who will help him fill key cabinet posts and construct a legislative agenda to undertake when he assumes power in January. Representing labor are Jeff Johnson (WSLC), Larry Brown (IAM & Community and Technical Colleges), Greg Devereux (WFSE), Kelly Fox (IAFF), Mary Lindquist (WEA), and David Rolf (SEIU).
► At TheOlympian.com — Schurke resigning as head of Labor and Industries — Gov. Gregoire’s office announced the decision in a news release that praised Schurke for reforms lowering the costs of the workers’ compensation system and also for instituting Lean management projects to improve efficiency. Her resignation is effective Dec. 31, 2012. An interim replacement will be named.
► At TheOlympian.com — Senate Republicans elect Mark Schoesler as their leader — Sen. Mark Schoesler, a wheat farmer and a 20-year veteran of the Legislature who hails from rural Ritzville, is elected to replace Mike Hewitt.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Senior legislator Morton to retire at end of year — Sen. Bob Morton (R-Kettle Falls), a 22-year veteran of the Legislature, announced he will retire halfway through his term.
► At PubliCola — A win for revenue? — House Democrats are going to break up the Ways and Means committee, going back to the way it used to be three years ago, creating one committee to deal with appropriations and another to deal with finance (that is, where does the money come from?)
► And then there’s this, from Bloomberg — Group: 1 in 5 charter schools not doing well enough to stay open — As many as one in five U.S. charter schools should be shut down because of poor academic performance, according to a group representing states, districts and universities that grant them permission to operate. The call for closing poor performers carries special weight because it comes from an organization funded by charter-school advocates such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
► At TPM — Progressives increasingly confident Obama won’t cave on fiscal cliff deal — An array of liberal and labor groups are currently running pressure campaigns out of longstanding concerns that the White House will cede too much ground in a deficit deal. And while they aren’t planning on disarming anytime soon, several activists told TPM that they’re cautiously optimistic that Democrats are heading into battle with the right goals and the leverage to obtain them.
► In today’s NY Times — Obama tilts debate away from spending cuts — The high-profile public campaign he has been waging in recent days has focused almost entirely on the tax side of the equation, with scant talk about his priorities when it comes to curbing spending.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Lame-duck session of Congress: Myths and Facts — Any deal that Congress makes should be based on facts and not the myths that have sprung up around taxes, the deficit and the earned benefit programs. Here are a few of the key myths and the truth behind them.
► In today’s Washington Post — Mortgage-interest deduction could be on table — As Congress and the White House negotiate the first major rewrite of tax laws in decades, changing the generations-old mortgage-interest deduction — which costs the government roughly $100 billion a year — has gone from far-off possibility to part of the conversation.
► In today’s NY Times — Health care entitlements (editorial) — There is not much room for big cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in the negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff. The best way to rein in those programs’ costs is to speed up and extend provisions in the Affordable Care Act to encourage better and more efficient ways to deliver health care.
► In today’s Seattle Times — It’s over, Grover (editorial) — The era of the rote preclusion of new revenue has passed. The national credit card was run up by two wars and generous tax cuts. Spending sprees have consequences. The country is not only facing fiscal exigencies but also the mindlessness of anti-tax pledges to Grover Norquist is apparent.
► In today’s Washington Post — Democrats could use own Grover (by E.J. Dionne) — The fiscal cliff creates an enormous opportunity to end an era in which it was never, ever permissible to raise taxes. In the pre-Grover days, conservatives believed passionately in pay-as-you-go government. A tough stand by progressives will make it easier for conservatives to return to the path of fiscal responsibility.
► From AP — Factory owner: I didn’t know fire exits needed — The owner of a Bangladesh clothing factory where a fire killed 112 people says he was never informed the facility was required to have an emergency exit, a sign of how far removed the leaders of the nation’s garment industry are from issues of worker safety. (Among the U.S. brands discovered in the rubble: A hooded Mickey Mouse sweatshirt from Disney. Children’s shorts with Wal-Mart’s Faded Glory label. Clothes with hip-hop star Sean Combs’ ENYCE tag.
► In today’s NY Times — Drive to unionize fast-food workers begins — Fast-food workers at several restaurants in New York walked off the job on Thursday, firing the first salvo in what workplace experts say is the biggest effort to unionize fast-food workers ever undertaken in the United States. The effort — backed by community and civil rights groups, religious leaders and a labor union — has engaged 40 full-time organizers in recent months to enlist workers at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell and other fast-food restaurants across the city.
► In today’s NY Times — For United, big problems at biggest airlines — The world’s biggest airline, created after United merged with Continental in 2010, promised an unparalleled global network, with eight major hubs and 5,500 daily flights serving nearly 400 destinations. But two years on, United still grapples with a myriad problems. The result has been hobbled operations, angry passengers and soured relations with employees.
► In today’s (Aberdeen) Daily World — Western lawmakers seek probe of refineries — U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are joining Democratic senators from Oregon and California in asking the Justice Department to do a “refinery-by-refinery probe” into what caused gas prices to shoot past $4 per gallon in May and October.
► In today’s NY Times — Harassment in the workplace (editorial) — The Supreme Court should overturn an appellate court’s narrow, unfair definition of a supervisor.
► From AP — Hostess seeks approval for executive bonuses — Hostess Brands Inc. plans to ask for a judge’s approval Thursday to give its top executives bonuses totaling up to $1.8 million as part of its wind-down plans. The company’s bankruptcy means loss of about 18,000 jobs.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m.