Tuesday, December 4, 2012
► In today’s Seattle Times — Federal mediators to assist Boeing, SPEEA in contract talks — Boeing and its engineering union will resume bargaining Tuesday at a hotel in Seattle, with two federal mediators on hand to offer guidance.
► From Reuters — SPEEA trying to halt calls for wildcat Boeing strike –The union that represents Boeing’s engineers said Saturday it is trying to halt efforts by some of its members to call a one-day, unauthorized strike this week against the plane maker to protest the slow progress of labor talks.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Why ya gotta be this way, Boeing? Orders, deliveries and profits are all up, but you insist on squeezing the very engineers and technicians who helped make all that possible (including by saving your ass on the 787 debacle). In this context, offering small wage increases and taking it right back in the form of new out-of-pocket health costs is a slap in the face. All your employees are asking is to share in the success that they helped create. Reward them with a good contract and they will continue to reward you with a superior product and a successful company.
► In today’s Columbian — Oregon business leaders call for new I-5 bridge— Oregon business leaders and Gov. John Kitzhaber on Monday called on the Legislature to approve funding for a new bridge carrying Interstate 5 across the Columbia River. If Oregon and Washington don’t make commitments soon to pay their $450 million shares of the bridge cost, the opportunity for federal money will fade, bridge proponents said at a meeting in Portland of political and business leaders.
► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Retailers learning some hard lessons on hard liquor— Liquor thefts have skyrocketed in Kitsap County and around the state since Initiative 1183 took effect in June, according to area law enforcement officials. Many stores weren’t constructed to “properly secure high-theft items such as spirits,” the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs says. “As a result, we believe significant amounts of spirits are being diverted from legitimate sales and unlawfully making their way into the community. This is resulting in increased access to alcohol by youth under 21 years of age, secondary unlawful sales of spirits, legitimate sales tax collection, and an increasing black market focused on theft and resale of spirits.”
► In today’s Washington Post — Boehner, GOP offer ‘fiscal cliff’ counterproposal — House GOP leaders endorsed a debt-reduction plan Monday that would raise tax collections by $800 billion over the next decade, but they refused to budge on higher tax rates for the wealthy, the central issue dividing Republicans and Democrats. It also calls for slicing $600 billion from federal health programs, in part by increasing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, and saving $200 billion by applying a less generous measure of inflation to all federal programs, including Social Security benefits.
► In The Hill — White House rejects GOP offer as ‘nothing new,’ unbalanced — The White House said the $2.2 trillion offer of spending cuts,
entitlement reforms Social Security and Medicare cuts and $800 billion in new tax revenue “includes nothing new” and was not serious. It also faulted the proposal for lowering tax rates on the wealthy.
► In today’s NY Times — The House makes an ‘offer’ (editorial) — Raising the Medicare eligibility age hurts working-class Americans unable to work to 67, and it is likely to increase health care costs. But when you are simply tossing out random ideas, as Republicans seem to be doing, those kinds of long-term implications don’t matter. Monday’s offer may simply be intended to show the most conservative Republicans that their leaders fought before the compromises to come. For everyone else, they show a party unwilling to approach the bargaining with responsibility.
► At Huffington Post — Progress quietly begins as both sides make opening bids — Buried in the stories and slightly visible behind the public posturing, signs are emerging that a deal is possible.
► In the Seattle Times — Murray stands firm on edge of ‘fiscal cliff’ — Deliberately jumping off the “fiscal cliff” — a reality that appears closer than ever — was an explosive idea when U.S. Sen. Patty Murray first gave it wide currency in July. The Washington Democrat said the strong-arm gambit was borne of disillusionment from last year’s deficit-reduction SuperCommittee™.
► In The Hill — Poll finds majority would blame GOP if deficit talks fail — A survey finds that 53% said they would blame Republicans, while 27% said President Obama and 12% said blame should be equally divided.
► In today’s Washington Post — Boehner tries to call a mulligan (by Ezra Klein) — It is not surprising that Boehner wishes he could go back in time and accept the president’s offer from 2011, or fight for the compromise Bowles outlined before the supercommittee. Those are, from his vantage point today, quite good deals. But elections have consequences, and the consequence of this election is that those offers are no longer on the table.
► In today’s Washington Post — Boehner plays a weak hand (by Eugene Robinson) — Nothing in Obama’s proposal should be a surprise — except, perhaps, that the president has opened this negotiation by demanding what he really wants, rather than what he believes would be convenient for Boehner to deliver.
HEALTH CARE REFORM
► At Huffington Post — Walmart’s new health policy shifts burden to Medicaid, Obamacare — Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, plans to begin denying health insurance to newly hired employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week. Under the policy, slated to take effect in January, Walmart also reserves the right to eliminate health care coverage for certain workers if their average workweek dips below 30 hours — something that happens with regularity and at the direction of company managers. Walmart declined to disclose how many of its roughly 1.4 million U.S. workers are vulnerable to losing medical insurance under its new policy.
► At Huffington Post — Papa John’s Obamacare stance costs company its reputation, study finds — A brand-perception research company tracked the public’s perception of three restaurants following anti-Obamacare comments made by company CEOs. Papa John’s, Applebee’s and Denny’s all suffered a hit in consumer perception. Denny’s score even fell to zero after franchise owner John Metz announced a 5% “Obamacare surcharge” in November.
► In the NY Times (links to Seattle Times) — Corporations get tax deals; states cities to play the price — An investigation examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The cost of the awards is far higher. The New York Times analyzed more than 150,000 awards and created a searchable databaseof incentive spending. A portrait arises of mayors and governors desperate to create jobs, outmatched by multinational corporations and short on tools to fact-check what companies tell them. Many officials said they feared companies would move jobs overseas if they did not get subsidies in the United States. Over the years, corporations have increasingly exploited that fear.
ALSO in the NY Times’ “United States of Subsidies” series — Lines blur as Texas gives industries a bonanza (Part 2) and Michigan town woos Hollywood , but ends up with a bit part (Part 3)
► At AFL-CIO Now — California office workers stand in support of American jobs — Office clerical workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, members of ILWU Local 63, are striking in order to protect America’s jobs that pay well and help drive the economy. Hundreds of clerical workers have been without a contract for more than two years and many face having their jobs outsourced by companies like Maersk. The clerical employees went on strike last Thursday and dock workers have refused to cross the picket line.
► In the Washington Post — AFT proposes ‘bar exam’ for K-12 teachers — The American Federation of Teachers wants to create a rigorous professional exam for K-12 teachers that would serve the same function as the bar exam for lawyers and board certification for doctors.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Locked-out Crystal Sugar workers reject latest contract — For the fourth time, locked-out American Crystal Sugar workers rejected an identical contract offer from the management company. The workers are members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers. American Crystal Sugar workers have gone 16 months without a contract.
► In today’s NY Times — A troubling portrait of domestic work (editorial) — If workplaces were fairer, domestic workers would be protected by minimum-wage and anti-discrimination laws and by unemployment insurance. They would also have things most employees take for granted, like meal breaks. But too many nannies, caregivers and housecleaners have none of these things.
► Tax the Rich: An Animated Fairy Tale — An animated fairy tale, is narrated by Ed Asner, with animation by Mike Konopacki. Written and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers. An 8 minute video about how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m.