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Empty budgets, sequester cuts, lockout suits…

Tuesday, March 5, 2013




yhr-school-budgets► In today’s Yakima H-R — Full classrooms, empty budgets — At Garfield Elementary School in Yakima, the two Spanish-language kindergarten classes are filled beyond capacity at 26 students, two more than the district’s negotiated contract calls for. All three fourth-grade classes are at the maximum of 29 students, and other classes are close. Big classes are common in schools throughout the Yakima Valley. Class size is one of many issues on the table this year in Olympia, where legislators are supposed to be fixing the way they fund education.

► In today’s Olympian — Employment Security losing more staff — The agency has had three rounds of cuts in the past year and a half — shrinking worker headcounts from about 2,700 to about 2,000 today. Once the next round is completed, the agency will employ about 1,600 to 1,700 workers.

► In today’s Columbian — Oregon CRC vote puts spotlight on Washington — With an 18-11 vote on Monday, the Oregon Senate moved funding the Columbia River Crossing off the state’s legislative agenda this year. It also moved the spotlight to this side of the Columbia River. “All eyes now kind of focus on Olympia, and what the state of Washington is going to do,” said state Rep. Jim Moeller (D-Vancouver).

► In today’s Seattle Times — Poll finds strong opposition to higher gas tax, car tabs — A new poll showing most voters oppose additional transportation taxes highlights the hurdles lawmakers face when it comes to finding more money for highways and transit.

► In today’s Columbian — Republicans delay transportation package — House Republicans, expected to announce their transportation reform package on Monday, have delayed the proposal’s release because the bills are still being drafted.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Lawmakers apologizes for saying bicyclists pollute — by breathing — State Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) shifted gears Monday morning, apologizing for telling a bike-shop owner last week that bicyclists create carbon pollution, simply by exhaling.




hanford-vit-plant► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Forced cuts may hit hard at Hanford — Hanford will need to cut more than $156 million from its spending between now and the end of the year under forced federal budget cuts, or sequestration, that took effect Friday. The cuts are estimated to affect up to 4,700 of Hanford’s almost 9,000 employees, either with forced time off or, in some cases, layoffs.

► In today’s Kitsap Sun — Sequestration could hit poorest first — Kitsap’s poorest and most vulnerable residents could take the first hits of sequestration, starting with those in public housing.

► In today’s Kitsap Sun — National Parks cut staff, hours, maintenance

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — SkyFest cancelled after sequester

► In today’s Washington Post — Republican goal to cut spending could mean deep cuts in health programs — Anxiety is rising among House Republicans about a strategy of appeasement toward fiscal hard-liners that could require them to embrace not only the sequester but also sharp new cuts to federal health and retirement programs.

► At Politico — GOP centrists balk at Ryan’s Medicare shift — House Republican centrists are furious that GOP leaders are considering abandoning their pledge not to change Medicare retirement benefits for people 55 years and older.

► At Politico — Koch-backed group: Obama’s hyping sequester cuts — A Koch brothers-backed group is airing ads starting Tuesday criticizing President Barack Obama for overhyping the impact of the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts.




ILWU-United-Grain-lockout► In today’s Columbian — United Grain files suit against union official — United Grain Corp., locked in a contract dispute with the ILWU at the Port of Vancouver, has filed a lawsuit against the union official it alleges sabotaged the company’s equipment, accusing him of causing more than $300,000 in damages to the company. An ILWU statement said the company is “publicizing unproven accusations against a single worker in order to cover for its own illegal lockout of an entire work force.”

ALSO at The Stand — Charge: Mitsui-United Grain lockout is illegal

► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing’s Conner says 787 fix can be fast — Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner said Monday the company’s fix for the 787 lithium-ion battery problem can be swiftly implemented and the Dreamliners can be flying again soon if the FAA gives Boeing approval to go ahead.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Longshore workers will appeal Sodo arena ruling — The local longshore workers’ union plans to appeal a judge’s ruling that an agreement to build a sports arena in Sodo did not violate state environmental laws.

► In today’s News Tribune — Pierce Transit seeks input on proposed cuts — Pierce Transit will have the first in a series of nine meetings Wednesday to explain details of a planned 28 percent cut in service starting in late September.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Port commission to select new member today




immigration-rally► At AFL-CIO Now — Momentum grows for immigration reform with pathway to citizenship — More than 160 state and local labor federations and central labor councils have passed resolutions in support of comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for aspiring citizens already in the United States.  The labor organizations that have passed resolutions so far come from 39 different states and represent more than 6 million workers.

► In today’s NY Times — Texans rebut Gov. Rick Perry on expansion of Medicaid — Hundreds of activists and uninsured Texans plan to rally at the steps of the Capitol in Austin on Tuesday, increasing the pressure on Gov. Rick Perry and other Republican leaders to switch their stance against expanding Medicaid.

► In today’s Washington Post — Virginia GOP ignores neediest by obstructing Medicaid expansion (editorial) — Why is Virginia, one of the seven or eight richest states, one of the stingiest in providing health-care coverage for its poorest residents, including the working poor? It currently ranks 48th in per capita spending on Medicaid. Has the state’s flinty tightfistedness become callous indifference?

► In today’s Seattle Times — Battle escalates between Amazon, German labor — The continuing furor raises the question of whether Amazon will be the latest big U.S. company to run afoul of German labor laws, which provide much broader worker rights than in the United States.




► At In These Times — Labor’s turnaround — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and CWA President Larry Cohen, who heads the federation’s organizing committee, said that the goal is not just gaining new members or better contracts, important as they may be. Rather, Cohen said, labor would try to “connect the dots” among causes — such as immigrant rights, worker rights, campaign and voting reform — to build a mass movement for a strong democracy at work and in the public arena.


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