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Wage suppressors, road support, GOP vs. Dems, your 1988 pay…

Thursday, September 19, 2013




space-needle► In The Stranger — Face-Plant: The ‘small business’ face of campaign to oppose higher minimum wage — As the co-chair of Common Sense SeaTac, the industry-backed PAC opposing Proposition 1, Scott Ostrander, the general manager of Cedarbrook Lodge, has been all over the media lately. The 117-employee Cedarbrook Lodge is “a very small business,” Ostrander repeats as he argues against the Good Jobs Initiative. But you know who else Ostrander represents? Members of Seattle’s wealthy Wright family — owners of the Space Needle and the adjacent Chihuly museum, not to mention Wright Hotels, which operates 40 hotels in 15 states, including the Seattle Sheraton, the Marriott Waterfront, and Ostrander’s “very small” Cedarbrook Lodge. The Space Needle itself is in the midst of its own ugly labor dispute, resulting in unfair labor practice charges from the National Labor Relations Board — a federal trial started September 17. So that is the true face of SeaTac’s “No on Good Jobs” campaign — Seattle’s Space Needle and the millions of dollars of out-of-state corporate money bound to pour into their PAC.




WSLC-agenda-investing► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Public officials, others voice support for state road work — A simmering debate on a proposed multi-billion dollar transportation funding plan touched down here Wednesday where people urged a panel of lawmakers to settle their differences to make it happen. Speaker after speaker said money is needed to fix roads, bridges and highways and expand bus service. The longer the state goes without making an investment, the worse the situation will become, they said. “The time to act is now,” Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson told the eight Democratic and Republican lawmakers taking part in the forum.

ALSO at The Stand — Citizens to legislators: Keep our state rolling! — The next forums: Monday, Sept. 23 in Wenatchee; Tuesday, Sept. 24 in Yakima; and Thursday, Sept. 26 in Pasco. Also, the Senate has created a new website to submit feedback. Visit and urge them to approve a robust transportation funding package.

► In today’s Olympian — Revenue forecast for state increases by $368 million — The overall gain to the state’s accounts means that most state workers are more likely to qualify for a 1 percent cost-of-living pay adjustment in July 2014. Most contracts for general government workers had a conditional 1 percent raise built in that would be triggered by how much next February’s forecast attributes higher general-fund revenues to increased economic activity.

► At — Pension fund healthy, but don’t blame state employees for abuses of a few — The state actuary says the health of state employees’ pension fund is good. Washington is one of only six states with pensions systems at least 90% funded. Most states — 26 — are funded at less than 70%. The committee also looked at again pushing legislation to reform some of the “retire-rehire”  practices that arose from just a handful of abuses at the local level. WFSE lobbyist Matt Zuvich said state employees, who will see annual pensions of only about $19,000 a year, shouldn’t be tarred by a few bad apples outside state government.

► In today’s News Tribune — WSDOT builds miracle bridge over Skagit — WSDOT’s response to the Skagit River bridge collapse was magnificent. Can WSDOT — and other federal and state agencies — replicate this performance? Are there lessons to be applied to non-emergency projects? Transportation money would be much easier to come by in Washington if citizens knew their tax dollars would always be spent with so much efficiency and success.




tdn-seiu-st-johns► In today’s (Longview) Daoily News — SEIU members protest pay, health care changes at St. John — Members of St. John Medical Center’s biggest union gathered outside the hospital Wednesday to protest a contract proposal that offers a 1% pay raise over two years and would sharply increase their health insurance deductibles. They noted they are being asked to sacrifice even though top PeaceHealth administrators recently received big pay raises.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Pickets gone, but Bertha isn’t moving yet — Workers need a couple days to finish adjustments to the tunnel-boring machine that had been under way before the shutdown, the contractor says.

► From AP — Lufthansa splits big order between Boeing, Airbus — German airline Lufthansa is ordering 34 new jets (777-9X) from Boeing and 25 from European rival Airbus as it updates its long-haul fleet to make it more fuel efficient and lower costs.

► Ay Crosscut — Seattle’s sick leave law: So healthy others want to follow suit (by Nick Licata) — A year after passage of our paid sick and safe leave legislation, Seattle leads the nation in job growth with only two California cities (one of them San Francisco, which also has such a law) with unemployment rates falling more than Seattle’s. The bottom line is this: Paid sick days protect public health, create a healthier workforce, help businesses cut costs and speeds our economy’s recovery.





► In today’s Seattle Times — Immigration reform must include path to citizenship (editorial) — More than 67% of Eastern Washington residents support immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, a new study has found. But you wouldn’t know it from the behavior of their congressional representatives. Neither U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, nor U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings of Pasco –both Republicans who represent Washington east of the Cascades — support a comprehensive approach to fixing the nation’s broken immigration system. Their caucus colleague, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas, doesn’t either. In fact, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert of Auburn is one of a handful of Republicans so far to join with Democrats to consider ways to legalize some of the 11 million people living in the country illegally.

ALSO at The Stand — WSLC commends Reichert for backing pathway to citizenship

► At AFL-CIO Now — House GOP want to end food help for 6 million — House Republicans are set to take the food off the table for millions of low-income people, with huge cuts to the food stamp program, under a bill they are pushing toward a vote this week, likely Thursday or Friday.

► In today’s NY Times — Pressed from his right, Speaker yields on a budget showdown — After three years of cajoling, finessing and occasionally strong-arming his fitful conservative majority, Speaker John A. Boehner waved the white flag on Wednesday, surrendering to demands from his right flank that he tie money to keep the government open after Sept. 30 to stripping President Obama’s health care law of any financing.

► In today’s Columbian — Herrera Beutler backs defunding Obamacare — U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler says she supports a Republican spending plan that eliminates funding for the 2010 health care reforms and maintains the across-the-board federal spending cuts, known as the sequester. But she says she disapproves of threatening to shut down the federal government if the proposal doesn’t become law.

► In today’s NY Times — The march to anarchy  (editorial) — House Republicans hasten a government shutdown later this month and a default with a no-win plan to end health reform.




► At Politico — Liberals take on Wall Street Democrats — and win — Wall Street-bashing Democrats are on a hot streak. In a string of late-summer confrontations between the Democratic Party’s progressive base and its finance-friendly establishment, the party’s populist wing has recorded some of its most significant victories since Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s election last November.

► At AFL-CIO Now — SEC rule on CEO pay helps investors judge compensation factors that affect performance — Corporations will no longer be able to hide how much CEOs are paid compared to the workers who make those companies run, under a rule proposed today by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

► From AP — Labor Department announces equal benefits for gay spouses in every state — Legally married same-sex couples enjoy the same federal rights as other married couples when it comes to pensions, 401(k)s, health plans and other employee benefits, even if they live in states that don’t recognize their union, the Labor Department said Wednesday.




► At AFL-CIO Now — D.C. Council unable to override mayor’s veto of living wage bill — Although the Washington, D.C., Council did not override Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s veto of the ordinance to require big-box retailers to pay workers a living wage of $12.50 an hour, the conversation about raising the minimum wage in D.C. is gaining momentum.




1988-reagan-sly► In today’s NY Times — America’s sinking middle class (by Eduardo Porter) — Last year, the typical American household made $51,017, roughly the same as the typical household made in 1988. The statistic is staggering — hardly what one would expect from one of the richest and most technologically advanced nations on the planet. America has been standing still for a full generation. In key respects, in fact, the standard of living of most Americans has fallen decidedly behind. Just take the cost of medical services. Health care spending per person, adjusted for inflation, has roughly doubled since 1988, to about $8,500 — pushing up health insurance premiums and eating into workers’ wages.

Though the statistics may be startling, the story they tell is, unfortunately, not surprising. It is the story of America’s new normal. In the new normal the share of the nation’s income channeled to corporate profits is higher than at any time since the 1920s, while workers’ share languishes at its lowest since 1965. In the new normal, the real wages of workers on the factory floor are lower than they were in the early ’70s. And the richest 10 percent of Americans get over half of the income America produces.


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