Friday, November 30, 2012
► At Huffington Post — What if we did trade right? (by SPEEA’s Stan Sorscher) –Trade done right would raise living standards America and India. It would improve air quality and public health in China and Indonesia, and would help workers in Colombia improve their lives without the threat of assassination. Trade done right has a simple starting point. Private interests must be in balance with public interests. The voice of civil society must be included in trade agreements. Global institutions representing public interests must be in balance with the global institutions that serve investor interests.
The next big trade agreement, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, could be our last chance to do trade right. TPP is the mother of all free trade agreements, involving 11 countries (so far) around the Pacific Ocean. It has a “docking provision” allowing any country to join, without any significant public political process in America or any other TPP country. As countries dock in, trade done wrong will consolidate as the global norm.
ALSO at The Stand — Commemorate WTO, join fight for fair TPP tonight and tomorrow— Join the AFL-CIO’s Celeste Drake at a Trade Justice Happy Hour to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the WTO protest and talk about the TPP from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Arctic Hotel Polar Bar, 700 3rd Ave. (at Cherry Street) in Seattle. On Saturday, join unionists, environmentalists, trade activists, students and other allies from Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. for cross-border action — “The People’s Round of Negotiations” — at 1 p.m. at Peace Arch Park in Blaine, WA.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing seeks federal mediation in SPEEA contract talks — Boeing is seeking mediation due to the “significant” differences that remain between the jet maker and the union representing 22,765 Puget Sound area engineers and technical workers. SPEEA negotiators are “disappointed the company did not listen to members during the overwhelming rejection of the contract offer,” they said in message to members Thursday. Since Oct. 1, Boeing and SPEEA have remained far apart on key contract issues including wages, pension and health care costs.
► At Slog — Sign the petition asking Boeing to give equal benefits to gay workers — After Boeing execs and union negotiators clashed last week, an employee launched petition asking the company to grant equal pension survivor benefits to married gay employees. The petition has gained more than 500 signatures (now more than 2,400!) since it was launched yesterday — but they’re aiming for 50,000 signatures to show mass public support. If you think that Boeing — which holds a huge workforce in Washington, where gay marriage was legalized this month — should grant equal benefits to gay couples here, then… GO SIGN THE PETITION.
► At SeattlePI.com — Boeing feels the heat over same-sex survivor benefits — Boeing’s stance on pension benefits for same-sex survivor spouses of employees has become an international issue.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — New tool helps aerospace companies find workers — Aerospace and manufacturing companies have an easier way to find skilled Washington workers: an online toolthat matches training-program graduates with companies’ needs.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — CH2M Hill seeks wage, benefit cuts from Hanford union workers — CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. has proposed a wage cut in addition to benefit cuts for Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council workers as organized labor negotiations continue. The wage cut proposed Wednesday is in addition to cuts on other matters the Hanford contractor put on the table 11 months ago and has stuck to in ongoing negotiations.
► In today’s Columbian — Owners at grain terminals set deadline — Operators of six grain export terminals — including United Grain Corp.’s facility at the Port of Vancouver — struck an aggressive tone Thursday in giving union dockworkers until Dec. 8 to accept their “last and final offer.”
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Coal terminal backers make strong showing at Ferndale meeting— Gateway Pacific Terminal supporters showed up early and they showed up in force Thursday at a public meeting scheduled to gather testimony about what issues are worthy of study as regulators decide whether to grant permits for the coal export pier at Cherry Point. Many coal terminal supporters, wearing green “Let’s get to work” shirts, identified themselves as either labor union officials or members of construction and longshore unions expecting to get some of the work if SSA Marine of Seattle builds the $600 million project at a site south of the BP Cherry Point refinery.
► At SeattleTimes.com — Restore postal finances (letter) — State election officials are rightfully concerned about reductions in mail service. The planned closures of five Washington mail-processing centers will occur unless Congress acts and would result in most in-state mail delivery taking a day longer. Add in the proposed ending of Saturday delivery and reduced hours in rural areas and voters will have a narrower window to consider their choices.
► At PubliCola — Legislature should suspend unfunded charter schools initiative (by Brendan Williams) — Rather than create a new educational bureaucracy, the Legislature should follow the Seattle Times’ previous advice: “If you want something that costs the government money, provide a way to pay for it.” I-1240 is a “warm, fuzzy idea that sounds good until the bill arrives” — it should be suspended by a cash-strapped state.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee picks Renton schools chief Mary Alice Heuschel as chief of staff — Inslee called Heuschel the “perfect match for the type of management that we want to bring to the state of Washington.” He pointed specifically to graduation-rate increases and the use of data during Heuschel’s six and a half years leading the 15,000-student district.
► At PubliCola — Small government rhetoric — Despite the Republicans’ small government rhetoric, their new Senate caucus leader, Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-9th) hails from Ritzville, an ag-heavy district in Eastern Washington; agribusiness receives $45 million in tax breaks in Washington every biennium. We were curious what kind of subsidies Schoesler, a farmer, had received himself. According to the Environmental Working Group, which relies on stats from the USDA, Schoesler Farms received $119,638 from the federal government between 1995 and 2011. That’s an average of $7,000 in federal money a year for the small government conservative and his family’s farm.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Lisa Brown to lead WSU-Spokane — In January, Brown will trade her role as Senate majority leader for the job of chancellor of Washington State University-Spokane.
► From AP — Extending jobless benefits creates jobs, CBO report says— Extending the current level of long-term unemployment benefits for another year would add 300,000 jobs to the economy, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office. The analysis released Wednesday from the nonpartisan office estimates that keeping jobless benefits would cost the government $30 billion. But it would also lead to more spending by the unemployed, boosting demand for goods and services and creating new jobs.
► In today’s Washington Post — Obama makes fresh demands on ‘fiscal cliff’ — President Obama offered Republicans a detailed plan Thursday for averting the year-end “fiscal cliff” that calls for $1.6 trillion in new taxes, $50 billion in fresh spending on the economy and an effective end to congressional control over the size of the national debt.
► At TPM — GOP rejects White House opening budget bid
► At TPM — Dems laugh off GOP demand that they make first move on Medicare spending cuts — Unlike the Democrats’ calls for higher taxes on rich Americans, the GOP’s preferred Medicare cuts are deeply unpopular. So they’re trying to cow Democrats into proposing these cuts first to provide them political cover. “We’ve come down with ours. We’re still waiting for theirs. That’s the status of the negotiations,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
► In today’s NY Times — Chamber competes to be heard in fiscal debate — This month’s negotiations over the nation’s debt will be a key test of whether the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can retain its influence and swagger in the capital even after a string of bruising political losses.
EDITOR’S NOTE — We wonder whether the Chamber’s state affiliate, the Association of Washington Business, will struggle to retain its influence and swagger in Olympia after a(nother) string of bruising political losses (McKenna, Dunn, etc.)
► In The Hill — Obama’s latest charm offensive with CEOs pays dividends — After the White House meeting with a group of leading corporate executives, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson, a Romney contributed, praised the White House as “resoundingly reasonable” in its approach to the “fiscal cliff” negotiations.
► In today’s LA Times — Small union is causing big problems for ports — The small band of striking clerical workers have effectively shut down the nation’s busiest shipping complex forced two huge cargo ships to head for other ports Thursday and kept at least three others away, hobbling an economic powerhouse in Southern California. Despite the union’s size — about 800 members of a unit of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — it has managed to flex big muscles. Unlike almost anywhere else in the nation, union loyalty is strong at the country’s ports. Neither the longshoremen nor the truckers are crossing the tiny union’s picket lines.
► In today’s NY Times — Complaints aside, most Americans face lower tax burden than in 1980 — In 2010, the combination of all federal, state and local income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes took a smaller share of most Americans’ income than it took from households 30 years ago. Households earning more than $200,000 benefited from the largest percentage declines in total taxation as a share of income. Middle-income households benefited, too. More than 85% of households with earnings above $25,000 paid less in total taxes than comparable households in 1980.
► From the Business Journals — Palermo union vote several months away — A recent NLRB ruling that Palermo properly followed immigration law in firing 75 workers earlier this year marked a major step in the now six-month labor dispute, but it could still be a few months before workers at the Milwaukee pizza manufacturer get the chance to vote on unionizing.
ALSO at The Stand — Urge Costco to drop Palermo’s
► In today’s NY Times — With day of protests, fast-food workers seek more pay — The biggest wave of job actions in the history of America’s fast-food industry hit New York City on Thursday, which became a day of walkouts and rallies at dozens of Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants. Organizers said 14 of the 17 employees scheduled to work the morning shift at the McDonald’s on Madison Avenue did not — part of what they said were 200 fast-food workers who went on strike in the city.
► In today’s NY Times — A liberal moment (by Timothy Egan) — Still hard to believe, I told a friend the other day while trying to fathom the election results, that pot is legal in my state, gays are free to marry, and a black man who vowed to raise taxes on the rich won a majority of the popular vote for president, back to back — the first time anyone has done that since Franklin Roosevelt’s second election in 1936. And yet only one in four voters identified themselves as “liberal” in national exit polls. Conservatives were 35%, and moderates the plurality, at 41%. What we’re seeing is the advance of progressive political ideas by a majority that spurns an obvious label.
► XTC is another all-time favorite band for the entire staff of The Stand. We never got to see XTC live because lead singer Andy Partridge developed debilitating stage fright early in the band’s career so they couldn’t tour. Another fun fact: Thomas Dolby once auditioned (unsuccessfully) for the band. It was hard for us to choose just one song, but we took a vote and settled on “The Disappointed,” even though the video is nothing special. Enjoy.
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.