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Strike & lockout updates, Senate attacks sick leave, tale of 2 budgets…

Tuesday, March 12, 2013




oly-st-peter-strike► In today’s Olympian — Hospital workers strike at St. Peter’s — About 300 unionized Providence St. Peter Hospital workers hit the picket line Monday morning, kicking off a five-day strike to call attention to changes to employee health care that the union and its members say is not affordable. A cross-section of workers — dietary, housekeeping and admitting staff — gathered mostly at Ensign Road and Lilly Road, while others stood at hospital entrances, or walked down Ensign Road to Martin Way. They held signs while passing drivers honked in support of the strike. The workers are represented by the SEIU HealthCare 1199NW.

ALSO at The Stand — Providence workers strike over health cuts

► In the Longshore & Shipping News — ILWU supporters rally in downtown Vancouver — Several hundred people rallied Friday morning at Esther Short Park to support the 44 members of the ILWU who are locked out from work at the United Grain export terminal at the Port of Vancouver. The Friday rally brought the union’s message to the heart of downtown, with union officials telling the crowd the fight will go on until a fair contract is reached. “We don’t care how long. We’re going to win this struggle,” said Cager Clabaugh, president of ILWU Local 4.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Highway 99 tunnel: Big buildup for a massive tunnel — The world’s biggest single-bore drill, 57½ feet across, embarks this summer below downtown and is to emerge in fall 2014 in South Lake Union. The $2 billion tunnel is scheduled to open to traffic at the start of 2016, at a yet undetermined toll rate. But before the digging can start, the drill must get here.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — It’s a mixed bag for mass transit in 2012 — A new report reveals that while many transit systems posted large ridership gains, others saw a decline, reflecting the unevenness of the economic recovery. And declines in the state, local and federal tax revenues that support transit systems have forced many of them to cut back service.




paid-sick-leave-capitol► At PubliCola — Republican-dominated Senate squashes Seattle’s paid sick leave ordinance — Over the objections of several Seattle state senators who decried the loss of local control, the state senate voted 29-20 to overrule Seattle’s paid sick leave policy. The bill lets companies that aren’t headquartered in Seattle off the hook for following the ordinance.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Senate passes bill limiting Seattle sick leave law — Democratic Sens. Tracey Eide of Federal Way, Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam, Brian Hatfield of Raymond, and Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens, joined the GOP-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus to support the measure. The bill will now go to the Democrat-run House, where it is unlikely to gain traction. House leaders are instead focused on expanding sick leave.

► From AP — State Senate advances bill to ease minimum wage penalties — The GOP-controlled Senate has passed a measure to make it easier for employers to avoid fines for not paying the minimum wage or overtime. Opponents said the bill would incentivize underpaying workers and would change 100 years of precedent. It passed by a vote of 25-24.

keiser-karen► In today’s News Tribune — Don’t risk middle-class safety, security by slashing safety nets (by Sen. Karen Keiser) — Republicans must end this relentless attack on the middle class. Our Industrial Insurance system is a critical safety net for all employees. No one who goes to work in the morning expects to be seriously injured at work. But it happens thousands of times a year. When it happens in this state, employees need protections for their families when they cannot work, and medical care to recover and get back on the job. Unfortunately, rather than focus on making workplaces safer and reducing injuries, Senate Republicans want to slash the safety net regardless of workplace injuries and deaths.

► In today’s Olympian — Sen. Carrell should remember saying about goose and gander (editorial) — State Sen. Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood) wants to fire Belinda Stewart from her job with the Department of Corrections for violating rules regarding the use of resources. We wonder why Carrell does not issue an equally harsh statement in regard to the numerous findings concerning fellow Republican state Sen. Pam Roach?




WA-health-benefit-exchange► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Health care out of thin air — Inside makeshift quarters, worn industrial carpet runs from cubicle to cubicle. The work spaces have rapidly filled with new employees: Intense software wizards. Middle-aged veterans of health insurance companies and government service agencies. Technical communication experts, hired away from such companies as Microsoft. Project managers, skillful in the execution of complicated timelines. All of them work for a new player on the Olympia scene, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. The Legislature created it to carry out Washington state’s implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Massive RyanAir 737 order for Boeing — Ireland’s Ryanair, Europe’s largest low cost carrier, has agreed to buy 200 Boeing 737NGs at rock bottom pricing estimated at about $9 billion.




murray-patty► At Politico — Patty Murray’s Democratic budget: $1 trillion in new revenue — Sen. Patty Murray’s new budget plan calls for raising tax revenues by nearly $1 trillion while cutting spending by roughly the same amount over the next decade, according to people familiar with the proposal. That 50-50 split between taxes and spending is supposed to be consistent with Obama’s call for a “balanced” approach for deficit reduction, something they argue voters largely support rather than the cuts-only approach backed by Republicans.

ryan-paul► From AP — Paul Ryan’s GOP budget takes aim again at Obamacare, Medicare — House Republicans unveiled their latest budget outline on Tuesday, sticking to their plans to try to repeal so-called Obamacare, cut domestic programs ranging from Medicaid to college grants and require future Medicare patients to bear more of the program’s cost. The point is to prove it’s possible to balance the budget within 10 years by simply cutting spending and avoiding further tax hikes.

► In today’s Washington Post — Paul Ryan’s make-believe budget (by Eugene Robinson) — Ryan and Mitt Romney offered their vision, President Obama offered his, and Americans made their choice. Rather emphatically. Now Ryan is coming back with an ostensibly new and improved version of the framework that voters rejected in November. Judging by the preview he offered Sunday, the new plan is even less grounded in reality than was the old one.




perez-thomas-L► At Mother Jones — A Labor Secretary pick progressives will love — and Republicans will hate — If President Barack Obama nominates Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez to head the Department of Labor, as media reports say he might, the president will be elevating one of the most effective and progressive senior administration officials to his cabinet.

► In today’s US News — Rumored Obama pick for Labor Secretary faces GOP critics — While several business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, declined to comment ahead of any official announcement, labor groups were happy to heap praise on Perez. One critic of the potential pick is Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

► In today’s Washington Post — From a skeptical beginning, Obama has set a global round of trade talks in motion — President Obama is pursuing what are arguably the most aggressive trade talks in a generation, an unexpectedly broad initiative for a politician who has been critical of free-trade agreements.

► From AP — Congress wants role as Obama pushes trade agenda — The Obama administration has embarked on an aggressive trade agenda, but to make it a reality, it may first have to negotiate future trade policy a little closer to home — with Congress.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Like NAFTA, TPP would help corporations, not people


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