Monday, August 5, 2013
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Providence, SEIU to take labor dispute before a judge — The National Labor Relations Board has formally accused Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia of violating federal labor laws and set a date for all parties to appear before an administrative judge. The NLRB has backed up SEIU HealthCare 1199NW’s claim that Providence has engaged in unfair labor practices in implementing unilateral changes to employee health plans.
► In the Seattle Times — Longshore union demands jobs loading tunnel dirt — Longshoremen are mulling their options to resist what they consider a take-away of waterfront jobs by the Highway 99 tunnel contractors. Four jobs loading the barges, for two shifts a day, are at stake. Current plans are to employ two operating engineers and two carpenters, instead of the longshoremen who for generations have moved goods across the West Coast docks.
► In today’s Olympian — In race for Senate seat, budget votes inspire inflated, inaccurate claims — Campaign ads in a special election for state Senate in the moderate, suburban 26th District of Pierce and Kitsap counties are competing to portray both candidates as extremists. The claims sometimes get skewed when the ads target Sen. Nathan Schlicher and Rep. Jan Angel on the budget.
► In today’s Seattle Times — House Speaker Frank Chopp flexes muscles on historic PacMed Center — The debate over whether college programs will end up in the PacMed Center provides a rare glimpse into the power wielded by House Speaker Frank Chopp, a veteran politician who eschews the limelight.
► In the Olympian — Is food loophole in ethics rules getting abused? — The Legislature’s ethics arm is looking into a sticky question this fall: How much food paid for by lobbyists is too much free stuff for a Washington lawmaker to accept?
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Charleston won’t hit goal for 787 production — Boeing’s South Carolina facility is running behind projections and won’t make its goal of producing three 787 Dreamliners a month by the end of 2013. In fact, the Everett plant will have to make up the difference in order for the company to reach its overall goal of 10 jetliners a month by year’s end.
► From AP — Will fast-food protests spur higher minimum wage? — These one-day protests, which have taken place in cities across the nation, come amid calls from the White House, some members of Congress and economists to raise the federal minimum wage, which was last increased in 2009. Most of the proposals, though, seek a more modest rise than those urged by fast-food workers.
► From Reuters — DEA unit covers up surveillance used to investigate Americans — A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
► In today’s NY Times — Republicans against reality (by Paul Krugman) — Confronted last week with the responsibilities of governing, Republicans essentially threw a tantrum, then ran off to sulk. What’s happening now is that the G.O.P. is trying to convert Mr. Ryan’s big talk into actual legislation — and is finding, unsurprisingly, that it can’t be done. Yet Republicans aren’t willing to face up to that reality. Instead, they’re just running away.
► From AP — New jobs disproportionately low-pay or part-time (or both) — The 162,000 jobs the economy added in July were a disappointment. The quality of the jobs was even worse. Part-time work accounted for more than 65% of the positions employers added in July. Low-paying retailers, restaurants and bars supplied more than half July’s job gain. Analysts say some employers are offering part-time over full-time work to sidestep the new health care law’s rule that they provide medical coverage for permanent workers.
► In the New Yorker — The Pay is Too Damn Low (by James Surowiecki) — The reason this has become a big political issue is not that the jobs have changed; it’s that the people doing the jobs have. Historically, low-wage work tended to be done either by the young or by women looking for part-time jobs to supplement family income. Now, though, plenty of family breadwinners are stuck in these jobs. That’s because, over the past three decades, the U.S. economy has done a poor job of creating good middle-class jobs; five of the six fastest-growing job categories today pay less than the median wage.
► In today’s NY Times — Health care law raises pressure on public unions — Cities and towns across the country are pushing municipal unions to accept cheaper health benefits in anticipation of a component of the Affordable Care Act that will tax expensive plans starting in 2018. The so-called Cadillac tax was inserted into the Affordable Care Act at the advice of economists who argued that expensive health insurance with the employee bearing little cost made people insensitive to the cost of care. In public employment, though, where benefits are arrived at through bargaining with powerful unions, switching to cheaper plans will not be easy.
► In the LA Times — Labor union ‘raids’ on rise as rivals seek to boost membership, clout — In the face of a steadily declining labor movement, unions are increasingly battling one another, devoting resources to gaining members from rivals rather than focusing on the 88.2% of the workforce that is not unionized.
► In today’s NY Times — In Germany, union culture clashes with Amazon’s labor practices — Even as President Obama spoke about middle-class jobs last week at an Amazon warehouse in Tennessee, Amazon was facing strikes at warehouses in Germany, its second-biggest market. Unions there say the company has imported American-style business practices — in particular, an antipathy to organized labor — that stand at odds with European norms.
► It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come up with a formula to strengthen Social Security, says rocket scientist Rush Holt, who is also a U.S. House member from New Jersey and a candidate for the U.S. Senate. He says we don’t need to raise the retirement age or cut benefits, just lift the cap on the Social Security tax so millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate as working families.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.