The Stand

Policy can wait, taxi drivers protest, free trade is neither, skills-gap fiction…

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

 


STATE GOVERNMENT

 

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Revenue forecast could break Olympian logjam — Reports due out today will show tax collections rising and demand for costly public services falling, trends which two key senators said Monday should speed up deal making to end the stalemate which has dragged lawmakers into a second special session. (Watch LIVE on TVW — go ahead, we won’t tell anybody! — at 10 a.m. here.)

benton-don-signs-up► In today’s Olympian — State caught in test of political power (editorial) — Some lawmakers insist a government shutdown won’t occur, while others aren’t so sure. Either way, Thurston County businesses and residents lose in this dangerous and unnecessary test of political power. It’s particularly galling that some state senators seem willing to hold the state budget hostage over a few individual bills that aren’t particularly pressing. It’s gratuitous leverage, for example, when Republican Sen. Don Benton continues to block budget progress over his bill to benefit the payday lending industry, which significantly contributed to his re-election campaign. That bill, and the Senate’s other policy measures still on the table can wait until the next regular legislative session. It’s only six months away, after all. Legislators shouldn’t waste time on such bills now, with our state poised to fall over a fiscal cliff in a matter of days.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — WSLC: Take workers’ compensation off the table

PLUS — Why workers’ comp? What’s the emergency? (June 14)

► From AP — Temporary Skagit River bridge expected to open this week — The fix, then a later permanent repair due this fall, will cost nearly $18 million. But when the work’s all done, Washington will be left with exactly what it had before: A functionally obsolete, fracture-critical 58-year-old bridge that could come crashing down the next time it gets smacked hard enough in the right place.

ALSO at The Stand — Coalition: Pass state transportation budget… now! (May 14)

religion-poverty-morality► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Government’s moral test (a must-read editorial) — In a June 14 letter to legislators and Gov. Jay Inslee, Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain and Rabbi Daniel Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai asked the state to pass a budget that embraces human dignity. The centerpiece is the state’s moral responsibility to preserve the safety net for the hungry, the sick and the homeless. It’s a powerful, transcendent message. … The Sartain/Weiner letter merits reflection among believers and non-believers alike. Lost in the special session’s noise over tax breaks and the estate tax is a sober discussion on the moral test of government. After funding K-12, then what?

 


BOEING

 

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing launches 787-10 with five customers — Boeing announced the formal launch of its 787-10 program at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday and says it already has commitments from five customers, including United Airlines. Boeing recently began assembly of the first 787-9 in Everett. That version of the aircraft holds between 250 and 290 passengers, about 40 more than the original Dreamliner, the 787-8. The 787-10, which will seat 300 to 330 passengers, is scheduled to begin assembly in 2017 with its first delivery the following year.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing launches 787-10, punts on where it will be assembled — In a briefing ahead of the launch, a top executive said Boeing hasn’t decided where the jet will be built. “When we’re ready to announce it, we’ll announce it,” said Scott Fancher, Boeing vice president of airplane development.

 


LOCAL

 

st-seattle-taxi-drivers► In today’s Seattle Times — Taxi drivers stage protest parade — A noisy rally of taxi operators and drivers outside City Hall on Monday escalated tensions among three kinds of vehicle services competing to pick people up in Seattle: taxis, for-hire vehicles and ride-sharing companies. Joined by a short parade of taxicab drivers honking in support along Fourth Avenue, about 20 taxicab operators and drivers represented by Teamsters Local 117 said the city’s lack of monitoring of for-profit ride-sharing and for-hire services is unfair to law-abiding taxi drivers.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Seattle, King County must do more to protect taxi drivers (by Tracey A. Thompson of Teamsters Local 117)

► In today’s Oregonian — Judge throws out ruling that gave Port of Portland jobs to electricians instead of longshoremen — U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman issued an order vacating an NLRB decision, which found electricians were entitled to plug, unplug and monitor refrigerated containers. Problems related to the dispute at the Port’s Terminal 6 led to mile-long lines of trucks last summer, causing cargo vessels to bypass Portland.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Study finds state gains in new coal terminals — Building new coal terminals near Bellingham and Longview will have major economic benefits for the entire state, a new study conducted for the Washington Farm Bureau suggests.

 


NATIONAL

 

► At Politico — AFL-CIO wants original deal for undocumented workers — The AFL-CIO is detailing what measures it will and will not support as the Senate continues debating the mammoth legislation. On the approved list: keeping hard-fought labor protections for immigrant workers and making sure the pathway to citizenship is still attainable. And what they’ll fight: enacting additional barriers for undocumented immigrants to become legalized, denying immigrants federal benefits, and tampering with a new guest-worker program it negotiated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

trade-deficit► At Huffington Post — ‘Free trade’ was never really about trade (by Stan Sorcher) — Free trade agreements are bad for millions of people because they are not really about trade. More importantly, they limit the political process so investors are relieved of responsibility for protecting the environment OR recognizing labor rights or human rights, OR dealing with public health OR worrying about prudent financial regulation. The overall result is downward pressure that weakens our political and social values, eroding civil society and public interest in all countries.

► In today’s NY Times — U.S., Europe to start ambitious, but delicate trade talks — European Union leaders and President Obama announced on Monday the start of negotiations for a far-reaching trans-Atlantic trade deal.

► From AP — Supreme Court strikes down Arizona voter ID citizenship law — The Supreme Court announced on Monday it has struck down an Arizona law that required voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship before registering to vote. Seven justices agreed that the Arizona law oversteps the state’s authority by essentially invalidating the federal voter registration form.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The two dissenters? Right-wing justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

► At TPM — Report: 7-Eleven running ‘modern day plantation’ of undocumented workers — Federal officials on Monday seized 7-Eleven franchises in New York and Virginia as part of an investigation into a ring of undocumented workers who were allegedly forced to work slave hours in a “modern day plantation system,” ABC News reported.

► In today’s — Gallup: Only 23% of Americans trust newspapers, TV news — Both are still more popular than big business, organized labor, HMOs and Congress.

proud-to-be-unionEDITOR’S NOTE — That just 20% of Americans say they have “confidence” in unions should surprise no one. Laws guaranteeing the freedom to choose unionization without intimidation or threat from employers have been whittled away and unenforced for so long that Human Rights Watch listed the United States right alongside repressive Third World regimes as a violator of the basic human right of freedom of association: “Legal obstacles tilt the playing field so steeply against workers’ freedom of association that the United States is in violation of international human rights standards for workers.” That’s why unionization rates have dropped to historic lows and that’s why few Americans are exposed to their benefits. Instead, they are exposed to a steady barrage of criticism of organized labor from right-wing politicians and corporate interests that control the commercial media and would like to see the freedom to choose unions eliminated entirely.

The good news: The poll found unions are TWICE as popular as Congress!

 


TODAY’S MUST-READ

 

konpacki_skills-gap-boo-hoo

► In Sunday’s NY Times — Don’t blame the work force (editorial) — There is a durable belief that much of today’s unemployment is rooted in a skills gap, in which good jobs go unfilled for lack of qualified applicants. This is mostly a corporate fiction, based in part on self-interest and a misreading of government data. … What employers describe as talent shortages are often failures to agree on salary. If a business really needed workers, it would pay up. That is not happening, which calls into question the existence of a skills gap as well as the urgency on the part of employers to fill their openings.

Corporate executives have valuable perspectives on the economy, but they also have an interest in promoting the notion of a skills gap. They want schools and, by extension, the government to take on more of the costs of training workers that used to be covered by companies as part of on-the-job employee development. They also want more immigration, both low and high skilled, because immigrants may be willing to work for less than their American counterparts.

 


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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