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Inslee turns up the heat, H-1B deal ripped, austerity still rules…

Wednesday, May 22, 2013




AP-inslee-transpo-veto► In today’s Columbian — Inslee turns up the heat (editorial) — After the Legislature failed to complete its work earlier this year, Gov. Jay Inslee dispatched several signals indicating he would participate more aggressively in the special session. On Monday, he did precisely that, vetoing $81 million in funding for the Columbia River Crossing not because he doesn’t support the CRC, but because he wants the Legislature to match the $450 million Oregon has committed to the project. Inslee sees “no wisdom in expending (the $81 million) if the state of Washington does not contribute its share of funding necessary to complete the project. We hope his aggressive tactic inspires the Legislature to do its part and match Oregon’s contribution to the CRC.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Washington’s road, transit rate a D+, engineers say — Washington state road and transit systems deserves a D+ grade, and overall infrastructure a C, says a report issued Tuesday by the Seattle chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The ASCE scored the state low because of its tenuous funding systems.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Education spending: Idaho among worst, Washington below average — Idaho remains stuck at the bottom of public education funding, ranking second to last of all states in per-student spending for a third straight year, the U.S. Census Bureau said today. Neighboring Washington ranked 30th.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Is the Catholic Church taking over health care in Washington? (by Danny Westneat) — By the end of this year, half of our state’s medical system will be Catholic-run, as measured by number of hospital beds. That’s the highest share in the nation, and rising fast — up from about 30% just last year. Somehow our godless state has become Ground Zero for faith-based medicine. Why are the leaders in this state — the governor, the Legislature — generally letting religious folks call the shots with our health care? We’d never let the schools be ruled by a church, no matter how well-meaning. With our health care we’re halfway there.




fairchild-tankers► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Fairchild loses bid to host Air Force tankers — Wichita’s McConnell Air Force Base has been selected over Fairchild Air Force Base and two others to be the main operating base for the Air Force’s new KC-46A air refueling tanker. Spokane and the Washington congressional delegation had been working toward bringing new tankers to Fairchild for more than a decade, although the efforts intensified after 2011 when Boeing was chosen to build the KC-46A.

► From AP — Boeing may speed 787, 737 production — CEO Jim McNerney said Boeing has an “upper bias” toward speeding up production of both planes. Higher production doesn’t always mean more jobs. Not only are Boeing’s planes becoming more efficient, its production methods are as well.

► Yesterday at Slog — Protesters disrupting Alaska Airlines shareholder meeting right now — About 100 protesters are inside the Alaska Airlines’ annual shareholder meeting, happening now at Pier 66 in downtown Seattle. Thirty flight attendants, plus at least three airport workers from Los Angeles, are outside the meeting.

ALSO at The Stand — Flight attendants to rally outside Alaska Airlines meeting

► At Slog — Backers pass signature threshold on SeaTac measure to require living wages at airport — Less than two weeks after filing a City of SeaTac initiative that would assure better wages and working conditions for thousands of low-wage SeaTac Airport workers, backers have announced that they have already surpassed the signature threshold.

ALSO at The Stand — SeaTac ‘Good Jobs’ initiative would establish basic standards

► In today’s News Tribune — Four Tacoma teachers get layoff notices; 95 may move — Four Tacoma teachers have received layoff notices from Tacoma Public Schools, and 95 others may be displaced to other jobs and schools around the district. Both school district and union officials say it has been many years since Tacoma issued layoff notices to teachers.

► In today’s Peninsula Daily News — Impasse in talks between police-fire unions, Port Angeles City Hall — Labor contract negotiations have reached an impasse between the city and the unions representing Port Angeles’ firefighters and sworn police officers, with an arbitration hearing with the officers union set for this fall.

► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Former union leaders urges commissioners to retain parks — Kelso resident Rick Von Rock told commissioners during their regular meeting that parks are an important tourism draw and should be kept under county management.




► In today’s NY Times — Immigration overhaul wins panel’s backing in Senate — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws on a bipartisan vote, sending the most significant immigration policy changes in decades to the full Senate, where the debate is expected to begin next month.

trumka-flag► In The Hill — Unions rip Schumer deal on H-1B visas — A deal struck Tuesday to secure Republican support for the Senate immigration bill has set off a war of words between labor unions and the tech industry. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) compromised on a package of tech-friendly amendments by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) after days of back-and-forth negotiations. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the compromise language on Tuesday. The deal was a coup for the tech industry, but AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a blistering statement on Hatch’s amendments Tuesday afternoon, calling them “unambiguous attacks on American workers,” as the federation vowed to fight them on the Senate floor.

► In today’s NY Times — An imperfect immigration bill survives — The bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee has many serious hurdles ahead. It is the most serious and worthy attempt to fix immigration in a generation, but it cannot help reflecting the poisoned politics of today, with its heavy tilt toward needless border enforcement and a deficiency in equal rights.




► In today’s Columbian — Jobless Clark County resident’s aid is cut — An estimated 2,500 Clark County residents received a 21 percent reduction to their federal unemployment benefits over the weekend, demonstrating one more way across-the-board federal spending cuts known as “sequestration” could slow Clark County’s economic growth, a regional economist says.

ALSO at The Stand — Federal cuts are about to hit unemployed

austerity_not-working► From AP — House GOP panel moves on deep cuts — Republicans controlling the House pressed ahead Tuesday with slashing cuts to domestic programs far deeper than the cuts departments like Education, Interior and State are facing under an already painful round of automatic austerity. Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and the Pentagon would be spared under the plan approved by the House Appropriations Committee on a party-line vote, but legislation responsible for federal firefighting efforts and Indian health care would absorb a cut of 18 percent below legislation adopted in March.

► In The Hill — Here comes Sequester, Part 2 — The first sequester, triggered by the 2011 Budget Control Act, required agencies to cut $80 billion equally from across their operations. The government is operating under a continuing resolution set at $1.043 trillion, but the Budget Control Act would set the fiscal 2014 spending level at $967 billion. That would require another cut of about $76 billion across the government.

► In today’s Washington Post — Bernanke to Congress: Seriously, guys, what are you doing? — Ben Bernanke testifies before Congress today for the first time in three months, and the Federal Reserve chairman has a message for lawmakers: You’re the reason the economy isn’t taking off more. The chairman will repeat this plea in today’s testimony: “Congress and the Administration could consider replacing some of the near-term fiscal restraint now in law with policies that reduce the federal deficit more gradually in the near term but more substantially in the longer run.”




bad-apple► At Politico — Tim Cook defends Apple tax policy — Apple CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday vigorously defended his company on Capitol Hill against charges that the tech company stashes billions of dollars overseas to lower its U.S. tax bill. Apple has drawn Washington scrutiny because the company maintains more than $100 billion in cash overseas.

ALSO at The Stand — As it dodges billions in taxes, Apple seeks new tax break

► From AP — Median CEO pay rises to $9.7 million — CEO pay has been going in one direction for the past three years: up. The head of a typical large public company made $9.7 million in 2012, a 6.5% increase from a year earlier.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Did your pay go up 6.5% last year? Tax-dodging Apple CEO Tim Cook’s pay sure did. His pay went up to a whopping $378 million in 2012.

► From AP — On top of big paychecks, companies pile on perks — Last year, the median value of perks received by CEOs of big public companies was nearly $162,000, an increase of more than 9%. Companies paid for their CEOs’ country club memberships, let them use corporate planes for personal travel and gave them health care plans better than their employees, among other perks.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Texas Legislature passes major ‘Buy American’ statute — Thanks to what Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller calls a “historic, robust” bipartisan effort,” the Texas Legislature approved on Monday a “Buy American” provision for water projects that establishes a preference for iron, steel and manufactured goods produced in the United States.

► At Huffington Post — One more scandal? (by Lori Wallach) — What do a zombie, handcuffs, a steamroller and a legislative luge run for job-killing trade agreements all have in common? They’re all apt metaphors of an expired, scandalously anti-democratic procedure called Fast Track. And, gruesomely, the Obama administration and some in Congress are looking to bring Fast Track back from the dead.

► At AFL-CIO Now — New video series: Unions Make the Middle Class




nlrb► At Daily Kos — What Marcus’ story says about America — In 2010, after his Illinois printing company was bought by a private equity firm, Marcus Hedger was illegally fired for his union activities as a shop steward. Last September, the full NLRB — two Democrats and one Republican at the time — unanimously ruled he should be rehired with back pay. What happened? Nothing, except to Marcus. The company appealed the ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and it has been able to avoid reinstating Marcus because his case is on hold over a radical challenge to NLRB board appointments.  Marcus lost his home and is working at a job that pays one-third of what he was earning before. “It was the American Dream.  It was our house and our home — and it was taken away,” says Marcus.

If you haven’t seen it already, watch Marcus’ story and please share:


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