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Gutting workers’ comp, furloughs, immigration, sun going down…

Friday, February 22, 2013




13-wc-senate-hearing► In today’s News Tribune — Workers’ comp reforms are working — don’t gut them (by Steve Kearns) — I worked for Boeing as a machinist for 27 years — 27 years of using an impact wrench that led to severe carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger issues. I have had 11 surgeries on my hands and arms in the past decade, and I lost my job at Boeing. But because of Washington’s strong workers’ compensation program, I was able to receive excellent medical care, be retrained and get a job as a veterans Drug Court counselor.

In 2011, Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed the most sweeping reforms of the 100-year history of the workers’ comp system. These changes became law less than 18 months ago and stabilized the fund with a projected savings of more than $2 billion. Employers have not seen premiums increase for two straight years. Virtually all the savings have come on the backs of injured workers like me. That’s why I am outraged that Senate Republicans have launched a new line of unprecedented attacks on my rights and benefits.

ALSO at The Stand — Washington’s injured workers lose, 25-24, in GOP Senate

► At — ‘Lying whore:’ Eyman’s anti-Inslee tantrum — Initiative promoter Tim Eyman and Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan sent out a broadside Thursday calling newly elected Gov. Jay Inslee a “lying whore” in perhaps the most vulgar and juvenile bid for attention that Olympia has witnessed in years.

► In the Columbia Basin Herald — Warnick pushes for lower taxes for REC Silicon — HB 1912 would allow a reduced B&O rate for solar panel parts to be extended to 2016. The current rate is set to expire in 2014. The incentive would keep tax rates low for REC Silicon, which announced in January it would eliminate 46 positions at its Moses Lake facility due to reduced solar grade silicon production.




► In today’s Seattle Times — SPEEA polls tech workers on next steps in Boeing contract talks — The white-collar union at Boeing plans to send a survey to its technical workers Friday to learn what they must have to approve a contract. The potential for a strike has been the subject of intense speculation since Tuesday’s rare split vote on Boeing’s “best and final” contract offer to SPEEA’s engineers and technical workers.




GOP-bullies-write-a-letter-sm► In today’s Washington Post — Federal employees worry about paying bills if hit with unpaid furlough days (by Joe Davidson) — Federal furloughs seem more and more likely as a disgusted nation and frustrated workers count down the days until March 1, when across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration kick in. The uncertainly of not knowing what your paycheck is going to look like in a couple of months is a stiff price for federal employees to pay for the inability of Congress to do its job.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Send a Letter to the Editor urging Congress to stop sequestration!

► In today’s Washington Post — White House pushing tax hike, budget cuts to avoid sequestration — The White House is promoting a $1.8 trillion package of spending cuts and tax hikes as the best approach to replace deep reductions in domestic and defense spending set to begin next week — even as Republicans dismiss the proposal as not serious.

Herrera-Beutler► In today’s Columbian — Herrera Beutler will meet with constituents tomorrow — U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Camas) will meet with her constituents over coffee 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at Bill’s Chicken and Steak House, 2200 St. Johns Blvd., in Vancouver, she announced Thursday afternoon.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Last month, Rep. Herrera Beutler was one of 33 House Republicans to vote against extending the nation’s debt limit for the next three months. In other words, she was willing to let the United States default on its obligation to pay the bills she and her fellow member of Congress racked up. If she’s your Congresswoman, maybe you should attend Saturday’s coffee klatch and ask her is she will take a similar hard-line stance now, as Speaker Boehner has threatened, and allow the job-killing sequestration cuts to happen unless Democrats agree to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

► In today’s Washington Post — Military service chiefs warn budget cuts will undermine readiness

► In today’s NY Times — Federal spending cuts threaten delays in air travel

► In the News Tribune — National cuts bad news for Mt. Rainier National Park

► In today’s NY Times — Why taxes have to go up (editorial) — Contrary to Mr. Boehner’s “spending problem” claim, much of the deficit in the next 10 years can be chalked up to chronic revenue shortfalls from the Bush-era tax cuts, which were only partly undone in the fiscal-cliff deal earlier this year. (Wars and a recession also contributed.) It stands to reason that a deficit caused partly by inadequate revenue must be corrected in part by new taxes. And the only way to raise taxes now without harming the recovery is to impose them on high-income filers, for whom a tax increase is unlikely to cut into spending.

► In today’s NY Times — Sequester of fools (by Paul Krugman) — The right policy would be to forget about the whole thing. America doesn’t face a deficit crisis, nor will it face such a crisis anytime soon. Meanwhile, we have a weak economy that is recovering far too slowly from the recession that began in 2007. And, as the vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve recently emphasized, one main reason for the sluggish recovery is that government spending has been far weaker in this business cycle than in the past. We should be spending more, not less, until we’re close to full employment; the sequester is exactly what the doctor didn’t order.




afl-logo► At AFL-CIO Now — AFL-CIO, Chamber announce shared immigration principles — The AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce have been working together to find common ground on comprehensive immigration reform. This morning, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue released this statement on the groups’ shared immigration reform principles.

► From AP — Labor, business leaders reach rare agreement on immigration — Two of the nation’s most powerful interest groups — labor and business, often at loggerheads — have come to a rare agreement on the guiding principles for handling future low-skilled immigrant workers.

► In today’s NY Times — Visas for lower-skilled workers are urged — The statement called for the creation of a government bureau that would use “real-world data about labor markets and demographics” to fashion a guest worker program — an idea that the Chamber had until recently opposed. The statement also described “a new kind of worker visa program that does not keep all workers in a permanent temporary status” — language that seems to imply, at least generally, the possibility of a pathway to legalization or even citizenship for some guest workers.




stranger-theo-chocolate► In The Stranger — Are Theo’s ‘Fair Trade Chocolates’ unfair to Seattle workers? — The dispute stems from a 2010 attempt by Theo workers to unionize. Labor organizers claim Theo management countered with a campaign of hostility, intimidation, and retaliation. “Fair trade should mean fair trade for all workers,” says Brenda Wiest, a union organizer for Teamsters Local 117. “If I’m going to pay $4 for a friggin’ chocolate bar,” Wiest admonishes, “then some of my four bucks should go back to the workers here in Seattle.”

► In today’s Seattle Times — King County judge could rule today on Longshore workers’ arena suit — Friday, a King County judge will hear arguments in a lawsuit brought by local Longshore workers arguing that the environmental review should have been done before a deal was reached.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Estimated cost to finish Hanford cleanup now at $114.8 billion — That’s an increase from the 2012 estimate of $112 billion.




► In today’s NY Times — Governors fall away in GOP opposition to Medicaid expansion — Under pressure from the health care industry and consumer advocates, seven Republican governors are cautiously moving to expand Medicaid, giving an unexpected boost to President Obama’s plan to insure some 30 million more Americans.

► At Bloomberg — The wage earner’s case for the minimum wage (by Michael Kinsley) — Even a conservative who ordinarily doesn’t care much for government regulation of business ought to find the case for a government-mandated minimum wage pretty compelling. In brief: As a conservative, you believe in the dignity of work. And it sends a terrible message about the dignity of work when working full-time doesn’t earn you enough to live a decent life.




► We’re not huge fans of George Michael, but the entire staff of The Stand has to give him props for this excellent cover of one of Elton John’s greatest songs. And for welcoming The Man himself on-stage starting with the second verse (at about 3:00).


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