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Hanford pink slips, SPEEA vote, tax break clawbacks, Iraq’s cost…

Monday, March 18, 2013




hanford-vit-plant► In today’s Tri-City Herald – Pink slips coming today at Hanford — Hanford workers to be laid off because of budget cuts caused by sequestration should begin being notified Monday. DOE contractors were continuing to work on adjusted budgets late last week, including the number of layoffs that would be required. More union than nonunion employees face job losses because collective bargaining agreements prevent contractors from forcing them to take time off, or furloughs. However, the HAMTC, which represents 15 unions working at Hanford, negotiated a memorandum of understanding with several Hanford contractors that allows HAMTC workers to volunteer for paid and unpaid leave. If enough volunteer, some HAMTC jobs could be saved.

► In today’s News Tribune — Pierce County plans pay increases for 2014 — Pierce County employees could get the first cost-of-living wage increase they’ve had in three years. A Council committee has recommended a contract calling for a cumulative 2.5% wage hike for 23 heavy equipment operators in 2014. It’s the first of eight ratified agreements with the same COLA schedule headed to the council.

► In Sunday’s News Tribune — 200-plus longshore jobs up for grabs in Tacoma — Those jobs, offered by Tacoma’s Longshore Union in conjunction with waterfront employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association, are quietly being opened to the public and waterfront insiders only for the next four days.

► In the Daily News — Longview, firefighters’ union reach agreement — IAFF Local 3375 has negotiated a two-year contract with the city of Longview that provides for wage increases in both years.

tdn-vonrock-rick► In Sunday’s Daily News — Rick Von Rock a fixture at local meetings — The 68-year-old Kelso resident is a fixture in the audience for both the Cowlitz County Commission and Kelso City Council meetings, sometimes being the only member of the public present. He also serves on the Kelso Planning Commission and the county’s Civil Service Commission and Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. And then there are the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Central Labor Council meetings the former union representative at Longview Fibre Paper & Packaging attends. And the local Democratic Party meetings.




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — SPEEA votes to be tallied — Pensions likely will continue to be a contentious issue for the Boeing Co. and its unions regardless of a contract vote today by Puget Sound area technical workers. Ballots will be tallied today as technical workers represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace vote again on a Boeing contract offer they rejected last month. For many, the stumbling point in the offer was the company’s plan to move new union members to a 401(k) retirement plan instead of the defined pension.




► In today’s Olympian — Critical numbers coming for Olympia — The latest forecast of tax collections will be released Wednesday and is the final nugget of data House and Senate budget writers need to finish drawing up their respective two-year spending plans. Collections are expected to be down.

tax-clawbacks► In the Olympian — Fight over tax breaks leaves mills in the middle — In both the Democrat-run House and Republican-leaning Senate, bills have passed unanimously this year either to set a new standard for an existing tax break or to lay out expectations for new ones. The House is taking the stricter position, demanding specific goals for job creation or retention, proof that goals are being met, and an expiration date. And in what House Finance Committee Chairman Reuven Carlyle says is an Evergreen State first, a bill extending a fuel-tax break for lumber and paper mills – mostly on the economically hard-hit Olympic Peninsula – will require a company to repay tax favors if it takes the money then pulls up stakes and leaves the state for China, Brazil or even Idaho.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Fixing crumbling roads isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it (by Steve Mullin) — Fixing our transportation system is about our economy and quality of life. We must take care of the system we have — the roads and bridges we use every day — and finish the projects already under way.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Let voters approve fees to fix local roads, transit (editorial) — The Legislature should give local jurisdictions the option to ask voters for new revenue to make these investments. Over the past two years, Metro officials insist they’ve cut costs, negotiated cost-saving labor agreements, and raised rider fares four times. If they want more money, they should continue those reforms and make a clear case to voters

► Sunday on KING TV’s Inside Politics — WSLC President Jeff Johnson and others discuss legislative proposals to change the state workers’ compensation system.

► In the (Ellensburg) Daily Record — Kittitas County part of farm training bill — The bill would allow established farmers, with large or small operations, to hire up to three interns at one time. The interns would be exempt from minimum wage and unemployment insurance requirements.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Vancouver Republican basking in control of State Senate — After years of serving in the minority party, Republican Sen. Don Benton is taking advantage of now being part of the majority. He’s introduced 59 pieces of legislation this session — more than any other legislator in Olympia.




► In today’s NY Times — A Senate plan alters waiting periods for immigration — The nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants would have to wait a full decade for a green card but could earn citizenship just three years after that, under a provision reportedly being finalized by a bipartisan group of eight senators working to devise an overhaul of immigration law.

► In the Miami Herald — Protecting immigrant farm workers (By Cindy Hahamovitch) — For the second time in 35 years farm employers are holding up comprehensive immigration reform by demanding a bigger and less-regulated guestworker program. The irony is that growers created the program we have now.




► In today’s Washington Post — Furloughs for federal workers still likely in new stopgap budget — By locking in $85 billion in across-the-board cuts known as the sequester until Sept. 30, the plan is unlikely to stop the furloughs of more than a million federal employees — some for as many as 22 days, according to congressional, agency and union officials.

► At The Stand — Awkward choice at the Capitol: Your conscience or your paycheck — The so-called “No Budget, No Pay” law that Congress enacted last month, which stipulates that if the House and Senate do not pass budget resolutions by April 15, members in the chamber that fails will have their pay suspended.

► In today’s NY Times — Taxes or spending? Budget fight in Congress focuses on a distinction — As lawmakers struggle to narrow the government’s deficit, every dollar taken from a grant program counts as a budget cut, while every dollar taken from a tax credit is instead a tax increase.




AFA-no-knives-on-planes-petition► In today’s Washington Post — Airline safety concerns grow louder — March is proving to be a busy month for airline-safety advocates, many of whom appeared in Washington last week to oppose changes they say will cause greater risks for passengers, flight crew and the public in general.

► In today’s NY Times — Obama to nominate Perez for Labor post — President Obama plans to announce Monday that he will nominate Thomas E. Perez, who heads the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, to be the next secretary of labor, a choice that promises to provoke a debate with Republicans about voting rights and discrimination.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Progress for striking McDonald’s workers — Just minutes after Friday’s protest in New York by striking workers, McDonald’s announced that the franchise owner accused of exploiting temporary workers in the country on J-1 visas will be selling his three stores and will no longer be associated with the company.

► At AFL-CIO Now — San Jose minimum wage goes to $10 today — In the largest minimum wage jump in the United States, the city of San Jose will increase the income for the lowest-wage workers to $10 per hour starting Monday. The increase passed with 59% of the vote in November.




iraq-casualties► At Huffington Post — Iraq War cost $800 billion, and what do we have to show for it? — The effort was supposed to be cheap — to require few troops and even less time. Instead, it cost the United States $800 billion at least, thousands of lives and nearly nine grueling years.The toll on the people of Iraq were even greater. A decade of war left chaos and impoverishment, hundreds of thousands of citizens dead and millions more displaced, and a vicious sectarianism that still threatens to rip the country apart at the seams.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile in Afghanistan, 310 U.S. soldiers were killed in 2012, nearly one per day. As U.S. casualties continue in 2013, a total of 2,189 Americans have been killed there since 2001. (See the Washington Post’s Faces of the Fallen to learn about who these soldiers were, including the 53 who were Washington state residents.) Union delegates at the Washington State Labor Council’s 2011 Convention approved a resolution supporting “a significant drawdown of military personnel from Afghanistan… setting a firm end date for total withdrawal as soon as that can be accomplished, but in no event later than the 2014 timeline previously announced by President Obama.”


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