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Fiscal cliff deal, minimum wage up, longshore lessons…

Wednesday, January 2, 2013




wh-fiscal-cliff-deal► In today’s Washington Post — Congress approves ‘fiscal cliff’ measure — The House voted 257 to 167 to send the measure to Obama for his signature; the vote came less than 24 hours after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation. The bill will indeed shield millions of middle-class taxpayers from tax increases set to take effect this month. But it also will let rates rise on wages and investment profits for households pulling in more than $450,000 a year, marking the first time in more than two decades that a broad tax increase has been approved with GOP support. The measure also will keep benefits flowing to 2 million unemployed workers on the verge of losing their federal checks. And it will delay for two months automatic cuts to the Pentagon and other agencies that had been set to take effect Wednesday.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — AFL-CIO: Fiscal cliff deal a breakthrough’

► In today’s NY Times — A new breed of Republicans resists deal — Just a few years ago, the tax deal pushed through Congress on Tuesday would have been a Republican fiscal fantasy. But most House Republicans votes against it. It was further proof that House Republicans are a new breed, less enamored of tax cuts per se than they are driven to shrink government through steep spending cuts.

► In today’s NY Times — On the left, seeing Obama give away too much, again — The deal seems to reopen a debate within his party about the nature of his leadership and his skills as a negotiator.

► In The Hill — White House: Deal cuts deficits by $737 billion

AFGE-logo► At — AFGE urges Congress to reject pay freeze extension for federal workers — Federal employees already have sacrificed $103 billion over 10 years to deficit reduction $60 billion of which has come directly from freezing salaries in 2011 and 2012. President Obama has delayed until April the already-paltry 0.5% adjustment proposed for 2013, so the actual raise would amount to just 0.25% for the fiscal year. Yet even that tiny increase isn’t harsh enough for Congressman Fitzpatrick.

► At Politico — Enjoy the fiscal cliff debate? Just wait for the debt ceiling — Even as senators breathed a sigh of relief and overwhelmingly passed a historic tax deal to avert the much-feared fiscal cliff early Jan. 1, Congress was already lurching right into the new round of brinksmanship.




tom-new-office► In the Seattle Times — Office changes to occur in Wash. Senate transition — Lt. Gov. Brad Owen says there has been “significant progress” in talks between Senate Democrats and a new Republican-majority caucus that is expected to take control of the Senate next month, and Democrats said Friday that they will be soon be relocating to the Senate side that is used by the minority party.

► From AP — State universities not happy with Gregoire’s tuition plan — Gov. Chris Gregoire’s goal of not raising college tuition over the next two years is not sitting well with the leaders of Washington’s universities, who say the proposal fails to recognize the budget problems they face.

► From AP — Inslee wants fresh look at top jobs — Gov.-elect Jay Inslee has hired an Olympia headhunting firm to conduct a nationwide search to find the best people to lead Washington’s top agencies in his administration.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Declining state dental benefits create issues of access, cost — The state ended its basic dental coverage for Medicaid-eligible adults in January 2011; residents 20 and younger are still covered. Because of this, some former recipients report going to the emergency room when dental pain becomes unbearable.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Privatizing liquor hasn’t brought price down — The average price per liter of hard liquor after taxes statewide in October was $24.06, more than 10% higher than the $21.59 at state liquor stores in October 2011.

► In the Olympian — Eyman readies I-517, adding six months to get signatures — Initiative promoter Tim Eyman’s Initiative 517 would also create a “harassment-free zone” of 25 feet around signature gatherers and make it a misdemeanor crime to intimidate or interfere with signature gathering.




► In the Columbian — New year brings increase in state minimum wage — The wage hike “puts more money in the pockets of low-wage workers who have little choice but to spend it immediately on basic expenses,” said John Burbank, executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute.

► From AP — State minimum wage goes up; gap grows wider between states — On Tuesday, Washington state’s minimum wage automatically increased 15 cents to $9.19 an hour. Many workers around the country won’t be as lucky.

ilwu► Last week from AP — Longshoremen work despite impasse — Longshoremen at grain terminals in Portland and Vancouver, Wash., went to work Thursday under the contract terms they soundly rejected last weekend. The terminal owners implemented the terms of their “last, best and final” offer at 6 a.m. after declaring talks to be at an impasse. The ILWU could have called for a strike. Instead, the employees showed up for work as the union decides its next move.

► Last week in the News Tribune — Split in grain terminal talks — Tacoma union longshore workers worked at Tacoma’s Temco grain terminal Thursday under the provisions of an existing labor agreement despite the imposition of a new set of wages and working conditions by other companies at Northwest export grain elevators. ILWU 23 President Scott Mason said Temco apparently isn’t following the pattern set by those other grain terminal owners.




► In the (Everett) Herald — State has work ahead to keep aerospace jobs — Keeping Washington’s aerospace industry happy is a necessity for government officials in 2013, as the state swears in a new governor. “The challenge for the state of Washington is: How are they going to continue to grow the aerospace industry with the budget woes they’ve got?” said industry analyst Scott Hamilton. More to the point: Can the state retain what it has?

► In the PS Business Journal — Seattle Boeing retention expert sobered by S.C. land purchase — Tayloe Washburn, who just a over year ago was leading the effort to keep Boeing’s 737 Max production in Washington, said Wednesday he considers Boeing’s decision to expand its South Carolina land holding “sobering.”

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing’s 737 MAX tops 1,000 orders with $6 billion deal — An order for 60 aircraft from leasing company Aviation Capital Group pushed the re-engined 737 MAX program over the 1,000 order milestone.




ILWU-Longview► In today’s Washington Post — Lessons from the longshoremen (by Harold Meyerson) — Had the workers walked, the attacks on them would be easy to imagine. Dockworkers are among this country’s best-paid blue-collar workers; many make more than $100,000 a year. They’re sitting ducks for union critics and are objects of wonderment for many Americans who can’t fathom how nonprofessional work can pay so much. The four reasons dockworkers make what they do are, first, there are so few of them; second, they’re highly skilled and productive; third, their work can’t be relocated; and, fourth, they’ve had powerful unions. The lesson of the longshoremen is that workers, no matter how productive, also need power if they — and the nation — are to prosper.


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