Tuesday, March 26, 2013
► In the Spokesman-Review — Don’t ruin the state’s workers’ compensation system (by Michael J. Walker) — As a practicing workers’ compensation attorney in Spokane for more than 23 years, I have witnessed firsthand the repeated legislative attempts to eviscerate the promise we made to our workers more than 100 years ago. But never have I seen such blatant disregard of worker rights, nor a more obvious attempt to upset the compromises forged between business and labor, than the assault from Senate Republicans this year. We should not stand for it.
► In today’s Daily News — Inslee joins Kitzhaber in call for comprehensive coal study — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber are calling on the Obama Administration to conduct a comprehensive study of five proposed coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest. Under existing regulations, the terminals’ individual environmental effects will be studied, but the governors want their cumulative impacts evaluated. Coal industry supporters say the additional studies are unnecessary.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Four ferry runs cancelled due to missing workers — Four ferry sailings were canceled Monday morning because of worker absences, delaying hundreds of travelers and showing how fragile the nation’s largest marine-highway network has become. “If one person doesn’t show up, we can’t sail,” said David Moseley, head of Washington State Ferries.
► At HeraldNet.com — Teachers target Sen. Hobbs for proposal on hiring — As a controversial bill giving principals greater power to hire and fire teachers creeps along in Olympia, the WEA is targeting a few of its supporters in hopes of changing their minds.
► From AP — State senator expected to receive bone-marrow transplant — Republican State Sen. Mike Carrell, who is fighting a blood condition, was recently released from the hospital and is expected to receive a bone-marrow transplant in the coming weeks.
► At PubliCola — Small apartments and small businesses (2nd item) — Nearly 200 small business owners from all over the state sign and deliver a letter to the governor and to state legislators calling for new state revenue — “whether it’s closing tax loopholes for big corporations .. or other solutions that support the middle class.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing may cut white-collar jobs here, too — Boeing may cut hundreds of white-collar jobs in the Puget Sound region this year in several restructuring and cost-cutting moves. The company is considering moving some engineering support of airline customers from here to Long Beach, Calif. Separately, the jet-maker plans to move some IT support work from the Puget Sound region and from Southern California to St. Louis and Charleston, S.C., with some employees asked to move and up to 10 percent of the group to be laid off. In addition, last Friday a group of defense-side software engineers were laid off in Kent. Boeing also handed out 60-day layoff notices last week to 59 more defense-side employees represented by SPEEA.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing 787 completes test flight to check battery system — A Boeing 787 flew from Paine Field on a two-hour test flight on Monday to see if a redesigned battery system works properly while the plane is in the air. Boeing was to analyze data after the flight but there appeared to be no problems.
► In today’s News Tribune — Operations halt after second worker death at Port of Tacoma — The Port of Tacoma halted all operations Monday morning after another longshore worker died at a port terminal. The worker’s death was the second this month at a Tacoma port terminal. The worker, Dana Gorham, appears to have died of natural causes. After both deaths, longshore union workers walked off the job, closing down port activities. The port is scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. today.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Nurses to picket St. Joseph’s Hospital during contract negotiations — Nurses will rally today from 1 to 5 p.m. in front of the hospital (at the corner of Ellis Street and Squalicum Parkway in Bellingham), carrying signs and giving out information. Says the WSNA: “During difficult contract negotiations, the administration is resisting nurse input on patient care and staffing at the bedside. They have also proposed sweeping changes to sick time that would discourage nurses from staying home when they are sick.”
► In today’s News Tribune — Rep. Kilmer meets with timber officials to devise plan — Congressman Derek Kilmer said he’s meeting with timber industry officials and other interest groups in hopes of coming up with a plan to boost production in Olympic National Forest.
► In today’s News Tribune — Pierce County detention workers rehired with back pay — Pierce County juvenile court officials recently were forced to rehire three laid-off detention officers and give them more than $190,000 in back pay after an arbitrator ruled they’d been wrongfully let go.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hastings urges DOE not to shift Hanford money away from Hanford — Hanford will lose 235 workers to layoffs this month and about 2,500 workers will be forced to take weeks of leave by October because of automatic federal budget cuts, called sequestration. But planning for sequestration did not take into account the reprograming package that has yet to be released.
EDITOR’S NOTE — How’s that sequestration thing working out for your constituents, Rep. Hastings?
► In today’s Washington Post — As sequester furloughs loom, federal workers turn to local union leaders — In the sequester era, union locals are the nexus of anxiety. The national unions, such as the NTEU and AFGE, are waging the public budget battles on Capitol Hill. But it is to the offices of local union leaders that rattled federal workers often turn for information, help and sympathy. Overnight, local union officials have become confidants, financial advisers and social workers.
► In today’s Washington Post — Obama demands Congress ‘finish the job’ on immigration reform — President Obama helped swear in 28 new U.S. citizens at the White House on Monday, hailing them as examples of the nation’s strong immigrant history and demanding that Congress “finish the job” on a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws.
► In today’s National Journal — Why the fight over work visas won’t doom immigration bill — Make no mistake. The immigration bill being crafted by the “Gang of Eight” senators will include foreign work visas despite warnings from both business and labor that their talks over the issue have broken down. Here’s why. The AFL-CIO, for the first time in its history, has signed off on a work-visa program that would allow employers to bring foreign workers into the United States on a temporary basis.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Head of Seattle-based OneAmerica to receive White House award — The White House on Tuesday will honor Rich Stolz, executive director of Seattle-based OneAmerica, with its “Champions of Change” award for his work on immigration. Stolz is among 11 people from across the country who will receive the Cesar Chavez award for embodying the spirit of the late farm worker and civil rights leader “and for advocating and organizing around immigration-related issues,” the White House said.
► From AP — Supreme Court justices raise doubts on California gay marriage case — Two members of the Supreme Court, both viewed as potential swing votes on the right of gay couples to marry, raised doubts about California’s gay marriage ban on Tuesday as they questioned a lawyer defending the ban.
► In the NY Times — Tackling concerns of independent workers — The Freelancers Union, with its oxymoronic name, is a motley collection of workers in the fast-evolving freelance economy — whether lawyers, software developers, graphic artists, accountants, consultants, nannies, writers, editors, Web site designers or sellers on Etsy. Today, the Freelancers Union is one of the nation’s fastest-growing labor organizations, with more than 200,000 members, over half of them in New York State. Sara Horowitz, the union’s executive director who has never lacked audacity, says she expects to expand the organization to one million members within three years. For some perspective, the United Automobile Workers union currently has 380,000 members.
► In today’s NY Times — Companies get strict on health of workers — Employers are increasingly trying to lower health care costs by using incentives to persuade workers to make better lifestyle choices, a new survey shows, but what remains less clear is whether a reward is better than a punishment — or whether the programs work at all.
► From AP — Virginia governor signs bill requiring photo ID to vote — Virginia law will require all voters to have photo IDs beginning next year. Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a bill Tuesday that his fellow Republicans said was a safeguard against voter fraud. Democrats bitterly denounced the legislation as a Jim Crow-era tactic to suppress the votes of the elderly, minorities and the underprivileged.
► From Reuters — Wal-Mart sues UFCW, others for trespassing — Wal-Mart has sued a major grocery workers union and others who have protested at its Florida stores, the latest salvo in its legal fight to stop “disruptive” rallies in and around its stores by groups seeking better pay and working conditions.
► At Huffington Post — Board games: How the collapse of the Senate has crippled the NLRB, damaged lives — Nine years after the Massey buyout, litigation continues to confirm what Barry Kidd and his former colleagues have contended all along — that Massey management discriminated against union members when they staffed their new mine. While many non-union supervisors didn’t see a break in their employment with the ownership change, most of the more than 200 union members were cut loose and not invited back. Federal officials ruled last year, for the second time, that 85 miners are owed backpay as well as reinstatement on the job. But nearly a decade after the layoffs, the Cannelton miners are still waiting to go back to work. In the meantime, the miners’ middle-class lives have been downgraded to something less. “I don’t understand it, how we can keep on going, and the system can keep on beating us,” Kidd said. “It’s just a shame how the people — the working class — can be done like this.”
“You had 200 people making anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 a year, and that was all drawn out of the community,” said Dwight Siemiaczko, a miner who’d put in 20 years at Cannelton. “Families are living on 50 percent or less of what they were previously making. It’s like a shotgun blast to the chest.”
Siemiaczko had planned on building a new home and enjoying retirement with his wife. “It’s ruined me, plain and simple,” he said. “Everything I had planned for later in life has just been taken away.”
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.