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Austerity cuts, 300 amendments, the new Knights of Labor…

Thursday, May 9, 2013




► From AP — Federal spending cuts to lower Washington unemployment checks — The Employment Security Department has announced that beginning on May 19 “emergency unemployment compensation” will be reduced by more than 21% under the so-called sequester. Emergency unemployment compensation is a federally funded program that is available for people who run out of their 26 weeks of state-funded benefits.

hanford-vit-plant► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Budget cuts put Hanford deadlines at risk — Budget cuts and other issues have put about 10 legally binding deadlines at Hanford at risk of not being met, Department of Energy officials said Wednesday during a public budget meeting.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — DOE pushes to prevent vit plant furloughs — Congressional committees have begun considering a Department of Energy request that could prevent furloughs at the Hanford vitrification plant by moving federal money available this fiscal year for environmental cleanup among and within its sites.




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Coal export deal goes on hold — A proposed deal on a Montana coal mine that supporters said would boost Asian exports of the fuel via the West Coast has stalled, according to court documents that show the companies involved are renegotiating terms of the sale.

► From AP — Energy company drops St. Helens coal terminal plan — An energy company has dropped plans for a coal export terminal downstream of Portland along the Columbia River and will look for another site in the Northwest. The decision leaves three other coal export proposals still under consideration in the Northwest: near Bellingham and at Longview in Washington and at Boardman in Oregon.

ALSO at The Stand — Environmental opposition has nothing to do with coal dust (by Mike Elliott)

oly-st-peter-strike► In the P.S. Business Journal — NLRB expected to issue complaint against Providence St. Peter — The NLRB has notified Providence Health & Services that it will issue a complaint over changes to the employee health plan at St. Peter Hospital in Olympia. SEIU HealthCare 1199NW and the hospital have been negotiating a new contract since May 2012. Despite the contract remaining unresolved, the hospital instituted a new health plan for employees at the beginning of 2013. The dispute led to a five-day strike in March.

► In the Wenatchee World — Stamp Out Hunger on Saturday — The U.S. Postal Service and its letter carriers are conducting the 21st annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive on Saturday May 11. To participate, leave a bag of non-perishable food by your mailbox. Your letter carrier will take the food to a local shelter or hunger relief organization.

ALSO at The Stand — Letter Carriers’ national food drive is Saturday




Apr10-immigration-rally-dc► In today’s Washington Post — Senate begin amendment process on immigration bill — The Senate opened formal debate Thursday on a comprehensive immigration reform proposal, launching the grueling process of amending a bill that could represent the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s border control laws in nearly three decades. Thursday is the first of what is expected to be several days of hearings on amendments over the next three weeks. Senators have filed 300 potential changes to the bill.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Senators told immigration bill a boost for Social Security — A new analysis finds the immigration bill would boost Social Security’s coffers by more than $240 billion over the coming decade and add $64 billion in new tax revenues to Medicare. It also would increase the size of the economy by a full percentage point by 2017, and would increase employment.

► In The Hill — Gay rights issue may kill Gang of Eight’s immigration bill — A proposal to expand gay rights is threatening to splinter a fragile, bipartisan agreement on immigration reform and kill a pillar of President Obama’s second-term agenda.

► In The Hill — Tech firms jealously guard worker visas in immigration bill — The tech industry is on guard against amendments to the Senate immigration bill that could chip away at provisions that would help their businesses employ more highly skilled foreign workers.

► At Huffington Post — Heritage: ‘Race, ethnicity’ not part of our immigration recommendations — The Heritage Foundation is working to contain fallout from revelations that Jason Richwine, co-author of their recent immigration study, once called for reduced immigration in part because he believed Hispanics have a “genetic” tendency towards lower intelligence.




► From BBC — Eight dead in Bangladesh garment factory blaze — A fire in a garment factory in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, has killed at least eight people, police say. It came with the issue of industrial safety in Bangladesh under intense scrutiny after the collapse of an eight-story building last month. On Thursday, officials confirmed that at least 912 people had died in that disaster.

► At AFL-CIO Now — NYC council OKs paid sick leave for more than 1 million workers — New York City workers will receive, starting next year, five paid sick days a year to care for themselves or an ill family member under a measure the New York City Council passed (45-3) this afternoon. The vote culminates a four-year effort by a powerful coalition of workers, unions and community groups.

koch-LA-times► In today’s NY Times — An effort to thwart sale of newspapers to Koch — An effort by two conservative billionaires to take over The Los Angeles Times and seven other newspapers is setting off a firestorm of opposition. Public employee unions, the leaders of the State Legislature and liberal advocacy groups are moving to block the sale, denouncing it as a threat to public workers and Democratic Party issues.

► In today’s Washington Post — Senate committee delays Perez nomination hearing again — Senate Democrats on Wednesday accused Republicans of invoking an obscure procedural rule to postpone committee action on President Obama’s nominee for labor secretary.

► At Politico — Wall Street hires Washington, D.C. — The financial industry has long been a draw for former political operatives seeking a bigger paycheck and New York lifestyle. But with the big banks now under constant assault from reformers, regulators and some members of Congress, the flow of top talent from Washington to Wall Street has become a small flood.




Working-America► In today’s Washington Post — Labor wrestles with its future (by Harold Meyerson) — Unions face an existential problem: If they can’t represent more than a sliver of American workers on the job, what is their mission? Are there other ways they can advance workers’ interests even if those workers aren’t their members? To answer those questions, the AFL-CIO has embarked on a radical roll of the dice. “We’re not going to let the employer decide who our members are any longer,” federation president Richard Trumka told me. “We’ll decide.”

The labor movement that emerges from these reforms might resemble a latter-day version of the Knights of Labor, the workers’ organization of the 1880s that was a cross between a union federation, a working-class political vehicle (it championed the eight-hour workday) and a fraternal lodge. With working Americans unable — at least for now — to advance their interests in their workplaces, unions are looking to mobilize workers to wage those fights in other arenas. They don’t know exactly where they’re headed, but they’ve begun to make their turn.


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