Monday, July 8, 2013
► In Sunday’s Olympian — No COLA but no cuts for state employees — Pay for most state employees snapped back to 2011 levels on July 1 as a two-year, 3% cut in hours and compensation was allowed to expire. Just as they have for four previous years, most state agency workers will not see cost-of-living pay hikes this month. However, most workers become eligible for 1% pay raises in July 2014 if state revenue recovers enough to trigger a provision in contracts. Also, nearly 17,000 general-government workers — out of roughly 59,000 — become eligible to get step-pay raises of 2.5% this month if they have worked at least six years and are at the top of their pay range.
► AT SEIU775.org — Anticipating age wave, Legislature funds improvements for caregivers — Caregivers, the people who provide daily services for Washington’s most vulnerable, will receive a $1/hour wage increase during the 2013-2015 biennium raising the starting wage to $11/hour, the first raise for caregivers since 2008. A smaller subset of experienced and trained home care workers will qualify for a career wage of $15/hour, closer to a living wage.
► In the Columbian — CRC failure seen as opportunity lost for county — The Port of Vancouver had favored a new bridge to improve freight mobility along a riverfront filled with transportation-dependent companies. Local economic development officials fear that the prospect of continued chronic congestion at the Interstate 5 crossing will deter companies from moving or expanding in Clark County.
► In the Yakima H-R — Partisanship proved costly for all sides in Olympia — Lawmakers spent months locked in a bitter partisan stalemate that threatened to shut down state government. Some fear it portends more gridlock in the future.
► In the Olympian — Small liquor stores get aid from the state — In one of the final votes taken by the Legislature before adjournment, state lawmakers extended a lifeline this year to small liquor stores who had struggled under the new privatization rules, but that change has also opened the door for large retailers to ask for the same break next year.
► From AP — Budget deal gives tax break to Darigold — The budget deal approved last week in Olympia includes a new half-million dollar tax break for Washington state’s largest private company.
► In the Olympian — How did we lose female lawmakers? — It’s not just female leaders that have become scarce in Olympia. Female membership in the Legislature has declined overall. In 2000, almost 41% of Washington state lawmakers were women, while this year women make up 30.6%, the lowest percentage since 1990.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee orders state to update hospital-merger rules — Concerned that hospital mergers and affiliations with religious health care systems might limit options for end-of-life and reproductive care, Gov. Jay Inslee has directed the state to revise the rules for approving changes in hospital ownership and services.
► In Sunday’s Olympian — Don Benton is merely a Senate bully (editorial) — On the surface, this just seems like a typical bullying issue; Benton likes to dish it out, but he can’t take it. But it’s more serious than that. Benton’s actions undermine the public’s faith in good elected officials. How can we expect the public to respect the state Senate, and government in general, when elected officials create and allow a hostile work environment?
► In the Spokesman-Review — Citizens show rare lack of initiative this year — Friday was the deadline to turn in signatures for an initiative to the people and for the first time since 1989, no one turned any in.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Eyman not offering anti-tax initiative this time — The initiative promoter says he didn’t seek signatures for his latest anti-tax measure because the Legislature ran late, but an opponent says Eyman was short of cash.
► In today’s News Tribune — Furloughs set to begin this week at JBLM — More than 10,000 civilian employees at Lewis-McChord are scheduled to start taking one unpaid day off each week for 11 weeks between Monday and Sept. 30. The furloughs are one of the ways the Pentagon is cutting costs because of the forced federal spending reductions known as sequestration.
► In The Hill — Pentagon furloughs begin for more than 650,000 civilian Defense workers — The Pentagon’s 11 weeks of furloughs kick in on Monday, which result in a 20-percent-weekly pay cut through September for 680,000 of the Pentagon’s roughly 800,000 civilian employees.
► From the Center for Investigative Reporting — Settlement brings prevalence of farmworker abuse to light — For about six years as she labored alone in a hen house on an Eastern Washington egg farm, Maria said she was sexually abused repeatedly by her supervisor. As often as twice a week, she told the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, she was forced to perform oral sex. Although the exact scope of sexual violence and harassment against agricultural workers is impossible to pinpoint, an investigation reveals persistent peril for women working in U.S. fields and food processing plants.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Female farm workers and a modern harvest of shame — For lots of reasons, this issue stays at a working-conditions, bureaucratic level. Lots of empowered agencies of the government and courts have looked the other way on criminal proceedings. One has to suspect that is where change would begin.
► In the Bellingham Herald — Whatcom farm workers wonder how immigration reform might affect them — They watch, wait and worry. Will a new law give them a chance to become legal residents? Are they in danger of losing their jobs to a new group of “guest workers” from their native country?
► In the (Everett) Herald — Fix pre-funding mess to save USPS (by Kurt Eckrem) — Throughout the bad economic times, the U.S. Postal Service has done better than most companies, but the pre-funding requirement is sucking the life out of the postal service.
► In Sunday’s (Everett) Herald — Aerospace industry wins and losses in Olympia — There were victories in workforce training and education and certain tax exemptions that benefit maintenance, repair and overhaul companies like Everett’s Aviation Technical Services. But transportation, a key priority for the industry as oft-mentioned by Gov. Jay Inslee, fell by the wayside on the final day of the session last weekend.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — The South is winning: Why the Puget Sound area will keep losing Boeing jobs — Recent reductions in its Puget Sound-area engineering and IT workforce suggest that Boeing isn’t exactly struggling with a shortage of technically qualified workers in Washington. They also suggest that the company is confident it will find qualified workers wherever it needs them, most notably in South Carolina, undercutting the notion that people there are less prepared to do highly technical work. … All this is largely because the South — with its lower wages, cheaper land, non-union workers and state incentives — has single-mindedly pursued manufacturing as the best way to recover from the collapse of its textile industry in the ’70s and ’80s.
► In Sunday’s (Everett) Herald — What does Boeing want? — The threat of a South Carolina exodus by Boeing has kindled out-of-the-box remedies. Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) hopes to make Washington a right-to-work state. Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, offered a pitch-perfect response: “If you want to lower the living standard of working people in this state, that’s one way to do it.” … Gov. Jay Inslee should request a meeting with Boeing CEO Jim McNerney in concert with the state’s legislative leadership. Put it all on the table. What features of the state’s failed transportation plan are critical to ensure the 777X be assembled in Everett? Broker a deal. Pay a price, but not any price. No sleeping.
► In the WSJ — AFL-CIO chief says Obamacare delay is ‘troubling’ — The Obama administration said it would delay enforcing a provision of the new health-care law that requires large employers to provide coverage for workers or pay a penalty in 2014, the biggest revision so far to the federal health-care overhaul. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said labor “fought to ensure employers have a responsibility to provide affordable, comprehensive health benefits to their workers and their families,” and the delay is “troubling” because it removes that incentive for next year.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — More young adults have health insurance, study finds — Fewer young adults are going without health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, which lets young adults remain on their parents’ health plans until they’re 26.
► In today’s News Tribune — Obama must step up his game on health reform (editorial) — There is no way to spin the White House’s retreat on the employer mandate as a good omen for the Affordable Care Act.
► In the NY Times — Paid sick leave laws generate concern, but not much pain — Back in 2007, as a new paid sick leave law — the first in the nation — was about to take effect in San Francisco, Bill Stone was worried. He owns the Atlas Cafe and the new law directed him to provide his 21 employees with one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked, up to nine days a year. “Basically, it’s just going to make it more expensive to operate your business,” Stone told NPR at the time. “Small business is going to have to pass that cost onto their customers.”
Six years later, Stone admits to having been a little alarmist about paid sick leave. “As a small restaurant business, it’s really hard to make money, and when they add another requirement, it makes you nervous,” he said in a recent interview. “But all and all, I actually think it’s a good thing.”
ALSO at The Stand — Tacoma Paid Sick days campaign kicks off
► At AFL-CIO Now — Despite 195,000 new jobs, jobless rate remains at 7.6% — Economists say the growth rate is far too slow to fuel a healthy jobs recovery given the depth of job loss during the recession. The current pace of job growth is enough to absorb new entrants into the market but makes little dent on the jobs deficit.
► From AP — Temporary jobs becoming a permanent fixture in U.S. — From Wal-Mart to GM to PepsiCo, companies are increasingly turning to temps and to a much larger universe of freelancers, contract workers and consultants. Combined, these workers number nearly 17 million people who have only tenuous ties to the companies that pay them — about 12% of everyone with a job.
► In today’s NY Times — Clothiers act to inspect Bangladeshi factories — A mostly European consortium of 70 retailers and apparel brands has agreed to inspect within nine months all Bangladeshi garment factories that supply the companies. Very few American companies have joined the effort. Several said they disliked the plan because it was legally binding.
► At Salon.com — 13 facts about tax-dodging corporations that will blow your mind — #2: Corporate tax rates are near their 60-year low, even though profits are at a 60-year high… #11: Bank of America committed foreclosure fraud, was bailed out by the government, and then paid no taxes on $4.4 billion in profit.
► In the Daily Californian — BART strike ends in 30-day temporary agreement — BART officials and worker unions reached a temporary agreement Thursday night that will extend current contracts for workers for 30 days, signaling the end of a four-day strike.
► At Blue the Nation — If you’re a liberal on social issues, you’re not a liberal (by Jonathan) — How quickly all these nice San Francisco progressives turned into rabid, rock-ribbed Republicans when the employees of BART, or Bay Area Rapid Transit, voted to go on strike. Suddenly they had skin in the game. Suddenly they were being asked to find an alternate route to work. Suddenly they were hearing rumors that BART fares might go up because the workers — the nerve! — wanted cost of living increases and to not lose their pensions. Oh, can you imagine the pearl-clutchery?
When you get down to it, they’re not liberals. Not a one of them. They’re not progressives either. They’re moderate, centrist, middle-of-the-road, don’t-rock-the-boat-as-long-as-I-get-mine Democrats. And they’ll ride BART to and from work, or parties, or bars, or restaurants, or the airport, or wherever they have to go, day in and day out, for years on end. They probably won’t ever even notice or think about the people who drive their trains, who endeavor to keep them safe, who help them when their tickets and Clipper cards don’t work, who wave them through the emergency door when they’re too drunk to find their wallets but they need to get home, who clean up the messes they make, and who make this region function a little bit better by doing crappy, thankless jobs that garner a lot more negative feedback than positive. They won’t think about those people at all.
Until those people ask for just a little bit in return.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.