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Right-to-work (for less), GOP Senate takeover, Boeing strike prep…

Tuesday, December 11, 2012




► From CBS Detroit — Lawmakers to make ‘historic’ vote on right-to-work legislation — Thousands of people will be at the Michigan state capital on Tuesday morning for what could be a historic day. The lame-duck Republican-controlled legislature is poised to take final action on right-to-work laws in Michigan, a state that was a pillar of the American labor movement and where the United Auto Workers union was founded in 1935. The bills mean Michigan workers would no longer have to pay union fees for negotiating contracts and other services.

UPDATE from AP — Michigan passes public sector ‘right-to-work’ law amid protests — The Republican-majority Michigan legislature gave final approval on Tuesday to “right-to-work” restrictions on public sector unions in a state considered a stronghold of organized labor, as protesters chanted in the gallery and thousands rallied outside.

► In today’s NY Times — Protesters rally over proposed union limits in Michigan — Union members poured into Michigan’s Capitol on Tuesday, chanting and pounding their protests through the echoing halls, as the state’s Republican-led Legislature prepared to give final approval on new limits to unions here in the birthplace of the modern labor movement.

► In today’s Washington Post — ‘Right-to-work’ push guarantees all-out war in Michigan — Top Democrats in the Michigan Congressional delegation just wrapped up their meeting with Gov. Rick Snyder, during which they urged him in no uncertain terms: If you go forward with “right to work” legislation, you’ll be consigning the state to years of discord and division. They urged him to consider vetoing the legislation or postponing it until the next session — or even agreeing to subject it to referendum. Snyder told them he would “seriously” take into account their objections — which they took as a genuine indication of possible willingness, for now, to reconsider.

► Previously, in the Detroit Free Press — A failure of leadership: Gov. Snyder’s about-face on right-to-work betrays voters (editorial) — We trusted Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s judgment. That trust has now been betrayed — for us, and for the hundreds of thousand of independents who voted for Snyder with the conviction that they were electing someone more independent, and more visionary, than partisan apparatchiks like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker or Florida’s Rick Scott.

► In today’s Detroit Free Press — Drinking the Kochs’ Kool Aid (editorial) — The American Legislative Exchange Council is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers to promote a radical right-wing agenda across the country. Michigan’s proposed right-to-work bills mirror the ALEC language practically word-for-word.

► In today’s Detroit Free Press — Obama criticizes rush to pass right-to-work legislation in Michigan — Backed by hundreds of Detroit Diesel employees represented by the UAW, President Barack Obama praised their work ethic and attacked Gov. Rick Snyder’s and Michigan Republicans’ rush to pass right-to-work legislation.

► At AFL-CIO Now — In Michigan, Obama says right-to-work is ‘right to earn less money’ — Says the president, “What they’re talking about is giving you the right to make less money… What we shouldn’t be doing is try to take away your rights to bargain for better wages or working conditions.”

► In today’s NY Times — Taking aim at Michigan’s middle class (editorial) — The decline of the middle class in this country has paralleled that of the labor movement, which has been battered by the relentless efforts of business groups and Republicans to drive down wages, boost corporate profits and inflate executive salaries and bonuses. Now that campaign is on the verge of a devastating victory in Michigan, home of the modern labor movement, which could transform the state’s economy for the worse.




► In today’s Olympian — Pair of Dems join join Republicans to seize control of State Senate — Sen. Rodney Tom, a former Republican turned Democrat from Medina, will serve as majority leader, joining Democratic Sen. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch and all 23 Republicans in what they are calling a Majority Coalition Caucus. The news came as a rebuff to Senate Democrats’ earlier offer to share power by shrinking their majority to one vote on most committees among other concessions. It is far from clear if the two parties — and the Democrat-controlled House — can work well together or if the takeover is a recipe for gridlock.

ALSO today at The Stand — Voters’ values will supersede power politics — WSLC President Jeff Johnson: “The new majority coalition says that they want to put politics aside and bring forth a bipartisan effort on jobs, education and the budget. So the way we will evaluate their work is by the values upon which they base their decisions.”

► More local coverage today from the Associated Press, Bellingham Herald, (Everett) Herald, PubliCola, Seattle Times, (Spokane) Spokesman-Review, and the (Vancouver) Columbian.

► Meanwhile, the state’s Republican-leaning McKenna-endorsing editorial boards have already begun applauding the GOP takeover — results unseen — in today’s (Everett) Herald and (Tacoma) News Tribune.

► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Kilmer makes state-to-federal move official— Derek Kilmer, who has a new job in Congress beginning in January, officially resigned his state Senate seat Monday. Seven Democrats have officially expressed interest in replacing him.




► In the News Tribune — Engineers at Boeing preparing for a strike — The head of Boeing’s engineering union says there’s a “very high chance” a strike could come as soon as February. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace is working on detailed preparations for a strike, including budgeting for a 60-day stoppage, said Ray Goforth, the union’s executive director. Federal mediators suspended talks last week as part of a “cooling-off period” over the holidays. Boeing’s initial offer was rejected by the union’s 23,000 members. Issues include pay and Boeing’s desire to replace the pension with a 401(k) plan for new hires.

► In today’s NY Times — New problems with Boeing 787 revive concerns — After years of delays in producing its much-anticipated 787 aircraft, Boeing seemed in recent months to be turning a corner, streamlining production and increasing the pace of deliveries. But a pair of embarrassing problems last week revived concerns about the reliability of the plane.



► In the PSBJ — Workers go on strike at United Natural Foods — Workers at the United Natural Foods Inc. distribution center in Auburn went on strike Monday night. The workers, represented by Teamsters Local 117, said the company is “mistreating its workers and demonstrating a complete disregard of federal labor law.”

ALSO today at The Stand — Refusal to bargain, 45 ULPs force strike at UNFI in Auburn

► In the Business Journal — Grain terminal talks to resume Tuesday — The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and owners of six Pacific Northwest grain terminals return to federally mediated contract talks Tuesday, hopeful they can reach an amicable solution to a labor dispute that threatens to disrupt a major nationwide avenue for grain exports.

► In the PSBJ — Expensive deal reached to keep Hanjin Shipping in Seattle — Under terms of a contract to come before the port commission Dec. 11, the port will pay Hanjin a one-time $4 million fee upon execution of the contract, add capital improvements of up to $35 million, accept a less-favorable rate structure, and hand over five cranes to Hanjin for $1 each.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane county budget cuts services — Spokane County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved the county’s 2013 budget that cuts about 1% in county services but raises general property tax collections by 1%.

► In the (Longview) Daily News — Vancouver hearing to address Bellingham coal export proposal — A public hearing on a proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point near Bellingham is scheduled Wednesday in Southwest Washington. The hearing will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at Clark College’s Gaiser Student Center at 1933 Fort Vancouver Way.

► In today’s Columbian — Hearing brings coal spotlight to Vancouver — For the first time, face time at the microphone will be determined by luck of the draw. That’s because a first-come, first-served model used at other meetings prompted people to show up hours early to get a coveted speaking slot (or, reportedly, pay stand-ins to wait in line for them).

► In the (Longview) Daily News — SEIU, St. John’s reach agreement — Union laboratory assistants (SEIU 49) and PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center on Saturday reached a contract agreement which includes pay increases and overtime limits and heads off a scheduled picket this week.

► At PubliCola — Karl de Who? In wild meeting, King County Democrats choose new leader — Karl de Jong, a 34th District activist (and an IATSE union stagehand), won in a kooky five-hour Saturday afternoon of nominations and alternative nominations and hats in the ring and hats withdrawn from the ring.




► In today’s NY Times — Obama approves health insurance marketplaces in 6 states, including Washington — The Obama administration gave conditional approval on Monday to health insurance marketplaces being set up by six states led by Democratic governors eager to carry out President Obama’s health care overhaul. The six are Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.

► In today’s NY Times — Obama, with blue-collar backdrop, calls for higher taxes on wealthy — A day after the president and the House speaker, John A. Boehner, held face-to-face budget talks at the White House, Obama took his case again to the American public — a tactic he has used repeatedly to go around reluctant party leaders in Congress.

► At Huffington Post — Hostess workers’ pension money diverted for other uses — The bankrupt baker told The Wall Street Journal that money taken out of workers’ paychecks, intended for their retirement funds, was used for company operations instead. Hostess says it does not know how much money it took.

► At In These Times — Machinists rapidly organizing Ikea warehouses: 3 down, 2 to go — Inspired by the IAM’s 2011 success in organizing an IKEA-owned plant in Danville, Va., IAM has moved swiftly to organize the rest of Ikea’s U.S. warehouses and distribution centers.


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