The Stand

Hytek provoking strike, Oregon steps up, pundits’ false equivalence…

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

 


AEROSPACE

 

IAM751-Hytek-picket► At In These Times — Boeing supply chain workers vote to strike — The contract would be Hytek workers’ first with management; they voted to unionize under the Machinists District 751 in October 2011. The union says that negotiations have centered on healthcare coverage, wages and working conditions. The machinists “operate in toxic and hazardous conditions every day,” said Cummings. “They are underpaid and their medical coverage creates more hardships than it fixes.”

ALSO at The Stand — Machinists at Hytek in Kent reject contract, authorize strike

► In today’s Seattle Times — Machinists vote for strike at Hytek in Kent — The union has offered to hold one more bargaining session with Hytek management before the union sets a date for the strike. The company has yet to respond.

 


STATE GOVERNMENT

 

► In today’s Olympian — Pension proposal draws fire — Groups representing public-sector retirees, teachers and other government employees turned full fire on a proposal Monday that would close the state’s fixed-benefit pensions for employees younger than 45 and put workers into 401(k)-style investment plans. “We see it as just another attack on the middle class,” said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council. He said the bill is not needed because Washington’s pension system is strong — “unlike other states” — and he warned that the proposal “shifts costs to state employees as the state pulls back on its contributions.”

ALSO today at The Stand — Sen. Tom’s pension bill ‘a gratuitous attack’

col-columbia-river-crossing► From AP — Oregon House approves $450M in bonds for Columbia River Crossing — The House’s 45-11 vote sends the measure to the Senate. Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber is a strong supporter of the project and his spokesman said the governor would sign the bill. Oregon will be able to sell bonds only if Washington state comes up with its own $450 million share, the federal government puts up more than $1 billion and the U.S. Coast Guard issues a permit.

► In today’s News Tribune — Local governments seek road-revenue leeway — Local governments wanting more transportation revenue made their case Monday to a state House committee, drawing pointed questions from minority Republicans about raising taxes without voter approval.

► In today’s News Tribune — What’s the hurry to end-run payday loan reforms? (editorial) — Some senators apparently voted for SB 5312 because they were under the impression it would generate revenue in licensing and fees. But the state budget office refutes that, saying it would cost the state more than it would bring in. That point needs to be forcefully made in the House. This legislation is bad for the state and bad for low-income people. If this legislation passes, Gov. Jay Inslee should veto it.

► In today’s Olympian — Refineries don’t need tax exemption (editorial) — Gregoire proposed closing the extracted fuel exemption, a $63 million loophole that amounts to nothing more than a fossil fuel subsidy to the state’s five oil refineries. The Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee should cut this exemption without hesitation.

 


LOCAL

 

WSNA-logo► In today’s News Tribune — Informational picketing set for Thursday at Tacoma General Hospital — The Washington State Nurses Association and its local unit at Tacoma General Hospital have announced a session of informational picketing scheduled for Thursday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. near the MultiCare campus on Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Tacoma. The issues being contended include a defined benefit pension plan and the ability of nurses to voice concerns about their medical insurance.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — The sad irony of hospitals slashing employees’ health benefits (by Brendan Williams)

► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘Green’ strategists now back coal trains — A group of local strategists with “green” reputations have been hired by coal companies to build support for the Longview facility and four other proposed ports in Washington and Oregon. The proposals — which would bring hundreds of union-wage jobs and, at least temporarily, hundreds of millions of tons of coal to the Pacific Northwest — have cheered job-hungry workers but enraged environmentalists who are now hoping to use the debate to highlight the harmful effects of global warming.

► In today’s (Aberdeen) Daily World — Harbor Paper management out, operations curtailed — Harbor Paper in Hoquiam will temporarily curtail operations during a transition period involving a “wholesale management change” at the mill, management of the mill announced Monday afternoon. About 180 people work at the mill.

► In today’s Seattle Times — City starts rescheduling KeyArena for Sonics — Seattle officials are blocking out space for the Sonics to play at KeyArena in the 2013-14 NBA season, now that a legal challenge to the deal for a new arena has been dismissed.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Sodo arena process far from over (editorial) — A judge’s rejection of a lawsuit challenging plans for a new Seattle arena for professional basketball and hockey did not preclude serious scrutiny.

 


SEQUESTRATION

 

obama-portrait► Today’s must-READ story on the sequester, in the Washington Post — The false equivalence pundits are part of the problem (by Greg Sargent) — The argument now is basically that the president is the father who must make his problem children behave. Only this is worse than just a dodge. Lots and lots of people are going to get hurt by the sequester. Anyone who helps deflect blame from Republicans — in the full knowledge that they are the primary obstacle to the compromise we need to prevent serious damage from being done to the country — is unwittingly helping to enable their intransigence.

► In today’s NY Times — The states get the bad news (editorial) — With only a few days to go, the White House released details of widespread government spending cuts and the pain they would inflict on every state.

ALSO at the Stand —How sequestration will affect Washington

► In today’s Seattle Times — How would sequestration budget cuts impact state? — The DOL has yet to announce whether laid-off workers who have exhausted their normal 26 weeks of benefits would lose any of the 37 weeks of additional unemployment, and whether the maximum weekly check of $604 might be reduced.

► In today’s Olympian — Sequester could hurt Olympia airport

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Federal cuts in Whatcom would be felt most at border, airport

► In today’s Washington Post — At shipyard, looming cuts create anger, anxiety — The carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was supposed to arrive at the massive shipyard in Newport News, Va., for a multibillion-dollar overhaul that would take years and provide 21,000 shipyard employees with steady work. But the budget deadlock in Washington prompted the Navy to delay the project. For how long, no one seems to know. Whether layoffs are coming — no one seems to know that, either.

► In The Hill — Poll: Majority says cuts will have major effect on economy, military — Overall, 60% predicted the sequester would have a “major effect” on the economy, with 25% expecting a “minor effect.”

► In The Hill — Dems, GOP tee up rival sequester bills in Senate as deadline nears — The Senate will vote this week on two proposals to stop the cuts, known in Washington as the sequester, but neither version is expected to pass.

 


NATIONAL

 

weight-watchers► In today’s NY Times — Low pay at Weight Watchers stirs protest as stars rake it in — This frustration reflects a growing discontent among low-wage workers, as seen in the recent protests at dozens of Walmarts, at high-end retailers in Chicago and at fast-food restaurants in New York. Low-wage workers have become more assertive out of dismay that while corporate profits have rebounded to record levels since the recession, wages have floundered.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Supreme Court to hear arguments to overturn key part of Voting Rights Act — The same forces behind the nationwide voter suppression effort are looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal Section 5 and arguments begin Wednesday.

► In today’s NY Times — States can cut back on Medicaid payments, administration says — The Obama Administration’s position has broad national implications as it comes as the White House is trying to persuade states to expand Medicaid as part of the new law.

 


TODAY’S MUST-READ

 

protect-our-pensions► In today’s Washington Post — Americans anxious about retirement — Even as the economy slowly improves, the vast majority of Americans remain deeply worried about their ability to achieve a secure retirement, according to a new survey. As aging Americans are increasingly burdened by debt, spiraling health-care costs and diminishing pension coverage, an increasing number of researchers argue that a long era of improved living standards for the elderly is now in jeopardy.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, Medina’s favorite party-flopping multimillionaire legislator is trying to eliminate pensions for Washington’s state employees. Lovely.

 


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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