SPEEA strike ‘likely,’ Legislature convenes, our economic pickle…

Monday, January 14, 2013




► In Saturday’s (Everett) Herald — SPEEA: Strike, now ‘likely,’ would disrupt 787 probe — Boeing engineers and technical workers could be headed toward a strike even as federal regulators launch an investigation into mechanical issues with the company’s newest jet, the 787 Dreamliner. The company is standing firm on a health-care proposal that requires employees to contribute more toward costs. And Boeing isn’t changing a proposed plan to switch incoming engineers and technical workers to a 401(k) retirement plan rather than enter them into the defined pension plan existing employees have.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — SPEEA trains potential Boeing pickets — Dozens of SPEEA members gathered last week at the union’s hall in Everett to learn how they could play a role if a strike is called. During a strike, SPEEA members will be expected to walk a picket line at one of many Boeing locations around the Puget Sound region, for 16 hours each week, usually in four-hour shifts.

► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — Scrutiny of 787 reflects on regulators, too — Two former safety regulators said the FAA process in initially certifying the 787 also deserves examination, and an industry observer said the inquiry could slow Boeing’s plan to ramp up production of the jet.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Senate legislative coalition to take uncertain control Monday — A coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats promises to take control of the Senate on Monday and usher in an era of bipartisan solutions to the most contentious problems facing the state. In reality, things could be worse than ever… The Republican agenda that (would-be Senate Majority Leader Rodney) Tom talks about tackling includes collective bargaining for teachers, considering whether unemployment benefits are too generous, converting the state employee-pension system into something resembling a 401(k), and cutting spending on programs outside of education to shift more money to schools.

EDITOR’S NOTE — There is nothing “bipartisan” about that agenda and nothing in the 2012 election results that indicate public support for this Republican-Plus-Two agenda.

► At PubliCola — GOP Sen. Becker on state’s Health Benefits Exchange — Is Sen. Tom’s decision to make Becker chair of the Health Care Committee proof that 2012’s blue mandate — Obama, Jay Inslee, Maria Cantwell, Suzan DelBene, Bob Ferguson, pot, gay marriage — will be ignored on issues like Obamacare, which must go through Becker’s committee?

► In the Olympian — Lawmakers must accept Medicaid expansion (editorial) — One item legislators should tackle immediately: accepting the additional Medicaid funding from the federal government provided by Obamacare. Choosing to proceed with a major expansion of Medicaid will save the state $225 million in the 2013-2015 biennium, provide health care coverage to about 1 million uninsured Washingtonians and finally create a health care system out of currently fragmented and oft-competing interests.

► In the Spokesman-Review — Budget remains pressing issue in new legislative session — A new year, a new Legislature, a new administration – and maybe some new ideas to solve some old, familiar problems. That may be the best way to sum up the Washington legislative session that opens at noon Monday and probably gets down to business in earnest sometime Thursday after ceremonial swearings-in, speeches from an outgoing and an incoming governor, inaugural festivities and settling the question of who’s in charge in the state Senate.

► More local legislative session previews in the Bellingham Herald, (Everett) Herald, (Longview) Daily News, Olympian/News Tribune, Peninsula Daily News, Seattle TimesTri-City Herald, (Vancouver) Columbian, and from the AP.

► In today’s News Tribune — No Kilmer successor yet, maybe Thursday — State Senate Democrats will be one short on the first day of session Monday, as officials from Pierce and Kitsap counties have yet to pick a successor to former Sen. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor.

► In the News Tribune — Inslee says he’ll keep prison, patrol chiefs — Inslee will re-appoint Bernie Warner as corrections secretary and John Batiste as chief of the Washington State Patrol — rejecting a call by the state troopers union to oust Batiste.




► At TPM How unions went from border hawks to immigration doves —  Over his long career, SEIU’s Eliseo Medina has witnessed dozens of promising immigration reform efforts, only to see them countered just as often by a restrictionist backlashes — backlashes that sometimes included support from unions. But everything seems to be coming together at the right time in 2013, with a broad coalition of labor, business, religious leaders, Latino groups, and even some prominent Republicans demanding immediate action.

► In Sunday’s NY Times — Obama will seek citizenship push in one fast push — President Obama plans to push Congress to move quickly in the coming months on an ambitious overhaul of the immigration system that would include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, senior officials say.




► At Huffington Post — Middle-class employment problems loom over Obama’s second term — On election night two months ago, President Obama triumphantly pledged to fight for a middle class he’d appealed to relentlessly — and successfully — on the 2012 campaign trail. (But) the administration has said that its top two priorities at the outset of its second term are immigration reform and gun control. Despite an ongoing jobs crisis, creating quality jobs seems to have fallen a few slots on the president’s to-do list.

► At Salon — Will Obama cave on Social Security? — The president has repeatedly touted chained CPI as an aspect of a potential “Grand Bargain” with Republicans to reduce the deficit. On Dec. 30, the president highlighted it both as an example of his willingness to make concessions to the GOP and part of his “pursuit of strengthening Social Security for the long-term.” The same day, Republicans reportedly dropped their insistence on including chained CPI in the scaled-down so-called fiscal cliff deal, signaling they expect it to be part of a larger deficit deal in the next few months. So, it appears, does Obama. Can labor stop them?

ALSO at The Stand — What ‘entitlement reform’ means to you

► In the NY Times — Misguided Social Security ‘reform’ (editorial) — The fact that some policy makers are willing, even eager, to move ahead with changing Social Security’s COLA without having developed a more reliable gauge of inflation experienced by retirees only feeds the impression that they are trying to get away with an unjustified benefit cut.

► At TPM — Obama puts Republicans in a bind over ‘entitlements’ — The White House’s weekend ultimatum that Congress either lift the debt ceiling cleanly or take responsibility for default puts Republicans in a bind over their goal of cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits.

► In Roll Call — Cornyn predicts brokered compromise on filibuster reform — The new No. 2 Republican in the Senate says that if history is any judge, the chamber’s leaders will likely work out a deal and not pull the trigger on the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules with a simple majority vote.

ALSO at The Stand — Momentum grows to ‘Fix Senate Now’

► At AFL-CIO Now — How to easily find union-made tires — The U.S. Department of Transportation has made it very easy to find union-made tires by requiring that each tire carry a code that shows the company and the location of the plant that manufactured the tire.




► In Sunday’s NY Times — Our economic pickle (by Steven Greenhouse) — Federal income tax rates will rise for the wealthiest Americans, and certain tax loopholes might get closed this year. But these developments, and whatever else happens in Washington in the coming debt-ceiling debate, are unlikely to do much to alter one major factor contributing to income inequality: stagnant wages. For millions of workers, wages have flatlined.

Wages have fallen to a record low as a share of America’s gross domestic product. Until 1975, wages nearly always accounted for more than 50% of the nation’s G.D.P., but last year wages fell to a record low of 43.5%. Since 2001, when the wage share was 49%, there has been a steep slide.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m.

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