Friday, January 11, 2013
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — ‘Little progress’ in Boeing-SPEEA talks; Inslee weighs in — There was “little progress” Thursday in negotiations between the Boeing Co. and SPEEA, according to the union representing 22,950 of its engineers and technical workers. The incoming governor of Washington had a few words to say Thursday about the talks: “I think there was some modestly good smoke signals out of discussions that happened (Wednesday).” Inslee plans to talk to SPEEA soon.
ALSO at The Stand — SPEEA prepares for strike as talks resume
► In today’s PS Business Journal — Why Boeing’s fighting to retire pensions — Boeing’s quest to shrink its pension load has spurred the plane maker to risk a costly strike in coming weeks as it faces down its engineering union. The company proposes to switch new hires to individual investment accounts rather than a defined-benefit pension. Says one aerospace investment analyst: “We think the higher pension expense that has been flowing through the income statement over the last three years due to interest rates is really masking Boeing’s solid operational performance,” adding that the analysts’ consensus per-share performance for Boeing in 2013 — $5 a share — would be $2 higher were it not for pension obligations.
EDITOR’S NOTE — And there you have it. Already experiencing record profits, and sitting on a 4,200-jet backorder and $20 billion in cash on hand, Boeing management has decided it’s willing to risk another shutdown, more delivery delays/penalties and test their customers’ patience, not so they can “remain competitive,” but so they can make even higher profits. Meanwhile, the employees who made this company a success are still busy cleaning up the mess management made trying to outsource in the design, engineering and manufacture of the 787.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Feds say 787 is safe, but will get broad, unusual review — Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta said the review, prompted by a series of electrical incidents including two fires, will cover the design, production and manufacturing of the new airplane, “focusing on the electrical system as the highest priority.”
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Inslee won’t rule out tax hikes — The governor-elect repeated campaign promises to try closing the state’s budget gap through government efficiencies and an improved economy but without new taxes, but he wouldn’t rule out an increase in the gasoline tax as part of a package to pay for transportation projects.
► In today’s Columbian — State leaders touch on coal trains, transportation — Inslee said that the environmental impacts of coal-carrying trains that cross through several of the state’s cities, Vancouver included, must be fully evaluated. Some high profile legislators said during the press briefing that the state’s transportation needs ultimately must take a back seat to the state’s court-mandated need to spend more money on K-12 education.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Inslee chooses Quigley to run state’s social services agency — Gov.-elect Jay Inslee today named Kevin Quigley, a onetime lawmaker and former president of Everett Shipyard, as his secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services. Quigley, 51, of Lake Stevens, will be taking the reins of one of largest, complex and controversy-wracked departments in state government.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee picks five for cabinet — To head the state Department of Employment Security, Inslee picked Dale Peinecke, president of the Everett-based aerospace manufacturing company Giddens Industries. Joel Sacks, currently deputy director of the Employment Security, was named director of the state Department of Labor and Industries. Marcie Frost will become director of the Department of Retirement Systems, where she is currently deputy director. Alfie Alvarado-Ramos was named director of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, where she is currently deputy director.
► At TheNewsTribune.com — Some Democrats expected to take chairmanships in Senate — Republicans have the upper hand in the state Senate, but leaders of both caucuses say they believe some unnamed Democrats will lead committees when the session starts Monday.
► In today’s News Tribune — Union offers Inslee a test of independence he must pass (editorial) — If Inslee complies with the wishes of the Washington State Patrol troopers and sergeants union, wouldn’t workers at other state agencies also expect to be able to pick their own bosses?
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Kennewick Rep. Klippert to propose arming teachers — State Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) plans to introduce a bill during this year’s legislative session to allow teachers and other school employees to carry a weapon at work.
► In today’s Olympian — State needs tax system that’s fair, reliable (by Rep. Chris Reykdal) — Washington, more than any other state, piles a burden of taxation on the very people whose incomes are not keeping pace with economic growth. A solution to this should be a significant bipartisan priority.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Olympian has just started charging non-subscribers for access to their online news content. We are a subscriber, but we know many of you aren’t, so we’ll only link to the newspaper’s exclusive reports.
► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma moves ahead with funding cuts — Tacoma’s roughly 350 firefighters offered concessions meant to help spare the city from cutting fire services by $1 million, IAFF 31 President Ryan Medie said. But city officials rejected the offer and moved forward with planned cuts to the Proctor station and two others this week.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Tidyman’s workers triumph — The former employee-owners of Tidyman’s have won a $29 million judgment against the defunct grocery chain’s insurer. It’s a major victory and could restore at least some lost retirement savings for perhaps as many as 1,000 people who worked for the Spokane-based grocer until it went out of business in 2006.
► From AP — Supervalu to sell Albertsons, 4 other supermarket chains — The nation’s No. 3 traditional supermarket operator said Thursday that the sale of 877 stores to an investor group led by Cerberus Capital Management will also include Acme, Shaw’s and Star Market.
► In today’s NY Times — America’s health disadvantage (editorial) — It is no secret that the United States spends a lot more on health care than any other country yet ranks far behind other advanced nations in keeping its citizens healthy. It is now shockingly clear that poor health is a much broader and deeper problem than past studies have suggested. American men now rank last in life expectancy among the 17 countries and American women ranked next to last. Likely explanations include a large uninsured population and more limited access to primary care, two problems that should be mitigated by the health care reforms that will kick in next year; higher levels of poverty and income inequality in this country; weaker safety net programs; sedentary lifestyles and obesity; higher rates of drug abuse and traffic accidents; and greater use of firearms in acts of violence.
► At Politico — Insurers’ 2014 hikes already taking a toll — Many of the small-business and individual insurance policies are working the health reform law’s 2014 fees into their 2013 bills, contributing to double-digit premium increases for some people. While insurance rates have been going up for years — and not all of the new increases can be pinned to the health law — the hikes will certainly give more fuel to Obamacare critics.
► From the Insurance Commissioner’s office — Two of WA’s largest nonprofit health insurers have $2.2 billion in surplus — Regence BlueShield’s surplus has grown to $1.05 billion. Premera Blue Cross’ surplus is $1.15 billion. So Washington’s top insurance regulator wants to use some of that money to lower costs for consumers.
► In The Hill — Rep. Becerra to Obama, Democratic leaders: Don’t mess with Social Security — Breaking with the White House and other Democratic leaders, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), the head of the House Democratic Caucus, suggested this week that he’ll oppose any budget package that includes Social Security cuts. Both President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have signaled a willingness to support a move to index future Social Security updates to the so-called chained consumer price index (CPI), which would reduce projected benefits over the long term.
ALSO at The Stand — What ‘entitlement reform’ really means
► In today’s NY Times — Why the unemployment rate is so high (by Laura D-Andrea Tyson) — The economic evidence is compelling. The high unemployment rate is the result of weak demand, not structural mismatches. And the longer workers are unemployed, the more their skills, contacts and links to the labor market atrophy, the less likely they are to find a job and the more likely they are to drop out of the labor force. As a result, what is currently a temporary long-term unemployment problem runs the risk of morphing into a permanent and costly increase in the unemployment rate and a permanent and costly decline in the economy’s potential output. That’s what the Federal Reserve is worried about. It’s too bad that more members of Congress don’t share this concern.
► In today’s Washington Post — Defense plans precautionary cutbacks — The Pentagon will impose a freeze on hiring civilians, slash operating costs on military bases and take other immediate steps to trim spending in preparation for the possibility that Congress will fail to reach a deal to avert billions of dollars in additional cuts, defense officials said Thursday.
► From AP — U.S. Chamber: Immigration overhaul is top priority — President Tom Donohue says the U.S. Chamber is joining forces with labor, faith organizations, law enforcement and ethnic groups to push for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Sacramento says “no” to privatizing airport screeners — Saying there is no evidence that replacing the trained TSA airport screeners with a private, for-profit corporate workforce would be safer or more efficient, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors withdrew its request to contract out those operations.
► The entire staff of The Stand is excited about the Freddie Mercury biopic that begins filming this spring starring Sacha Baron Cohen, written by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen), and directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity). In the meantime, here’s the real deal… lip-synching.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m.