Tuesday, September 24, 2013
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Teachers go on strike; no classes Tuesday at Bellingham Technical College — Bellingham Technical College instructors went on strike Tuesday morning, Sept. 24, forcing the cancellation of classes on what was scheduled to be the first day of the fall term. Negotiations between representatives of BTC and the faculty union, the Bellingham Education Association, had continued late Monday night, but without an agreement the strike was on. BTC planned to notify students by email on the status of classes Tuesday. A statement from the college said there would be no classes during the strike. Negotiations resume Tuesday. The faculty at BTC has not received pay increases since 2008.
► In today’s News Tribune — 4,000 grocery workers to take strike authorization vote on Wednesday — Grocery workers from throughout the region are meeting to authorize a strike against Safeway, Fred Meyer, QFC and Albertsons.
ALSO at The Stand — No progress: Puget Sound-area grocery unions set strike votes — Votes are scheduled today in Bremerton and Lynnwood and tomorrow (Wednesday) in Tacoma.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Bertha finally drilling again — but not far — The slow progress follows a month’s delay caused by a clog in the excavated muck, a dispute with longshore workers who were excluded from the Highway 99 tunnel project, and finally, some repairs and adjustments.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing sends out layoff notices — Boeing on Friday issued layoff notices to 447 employees across the company, 266 of them in Western Washington. The layoffs, to take effect Nov. 22, are part of the wave of cuts Boeing management announced in the spring, when the company said the Puget Sound-area work force would be reduced this year by about 800 machinists and 700 engineering staff. The commercial-jet unit’s layoffs include about 80 production workers (IAM members), about 70 engineers (SPEEA) and about 60 technical staff (SPEEA).
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Will fish you eat factor into Boeing’s 777X decision? — Three months after a dispute over how much fish Washington state residents eat nearly derailed the state budget, a panel of lawmakers revisited the controversial subject Monday in a more peaceful fashion. But that doesn’t mean the fighting is over.
► In today’s NY Times — Senate Democratic leader sets stage for budget showdown — The Senate’s Democratic majority leader, Harry Reid, delivered a broadside this week to advocates of the House plan to tie future government financing to the gutting of President Obama’s health care law, starting the clock on a showdown that could be decided on the eve of the potential government shutdown next Tuesday. “We will not bow to Tea Party anarchists,” Reid said Monday, denouncing what he called “extremist Republicans” and “fanatics.”
► In today’s Olympian — Government shutdown is sheer lunacy (editorial) — After Americans re-elected President Obama a year ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called on fellow Republications to “stop being the stupid party.” Apparently, House Speaker John Boehner and his colleagues didn’t get the memo.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Chaos among House Republicans (editorial) — Reckless tea-party politics among Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives threaten the functions and credibility of the U.S. government.
► In today’s News Tribune — Troops, civilians might not get paid in shutdown — Another budget stalemate in the nation’s capital could result in crimped paychecks for tens of thousands of troops and civilians at Joint Base Lewis-McChord beginning next week unless lawmakers avert a government shutdown.
► In today’s Washington Post — Shutdown would jeopardize paychecks of 800,000 — A government shutdown next week would jeopardize the paychecks of more than 800,000 federal workers who could be told to stay home. More than 2 million other employees who are deemed essential by the government — including the active military — would be entitled to their salaries but might not get paid on time.
► In today’s Washington Post — Everything you need to know about how a government shutdown works — Not all government functions would simply evaporate come Oct. 1 — Social Security checks would still get mailed, and veterans’ hospitals would stay open. But many federal agencies would shut their doors and send their employees home, from the Department of Education to hundreds of national parks.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
► A must-read at Politico — Obamacare: One blow after another — The Obamacare that consumers will finally be able to sign up for next week is a long way from the health plan President Barack Obama first pitched to the nation. Millions of low-income Americans won’t receive coverage. Many workers at small businesses won’t get a choice of insurance plans right away. Large employers won’t need to provide insurance for another year. Far more states than expected won’t run their own insurance marketplaces. And a growing number of workers won’t get to keep their employer-provided coverage. Every branch of the federal government played a role in weakening the law over the past three years, the casualty of a divisive legislative fight, a surprise Supreme Court ruling, a complex implementation and an unrelenting political opposition. The result has been a stark gap between the promise of Obamacare and the reality — one that has fueled a deep vein of skepticism about the law as it enters its most critical phase.
► At CNN.com — Pelosi ‘optimistic’ about fixing some labor worries in Obamacare — House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi acknowledged deep concerns by major unions about Obamacare, but vowed to work on a plan to quell those worries.
► In today’s Washington Post — Obamacare’s real danger is that it will succeed (by Eugene Robinson) — To understand the crisis in Washington, tune out the histrionics and look at the big picture: Republicans are threatening to shut down the federal government — and perhaps even refuse to let the Treasury pay its creditors — in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to keep millions of Americans from getting health insurance. Seriously. That’s what all the yelling and screaming is about. As my grandmother used to say, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry.
► At Think Progress — The middle class does better in states with lots of union members — The middle class brings home a substantially larger share of aggregate earnings in states that have high rates of union membership than in those where fewer workers are organized, an analysis of Census data shows. Amid very high and still increasing income inequality, union density appears to offer some buffer for middle-class Americans.
► At SeattleTimes.com — For most Americans Korean trade deal fails to deliver (by Jon Talton) — The most definitive data yet are available to answer the question as to whether the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement would increase American exports to South Korea. That, after all, is how the deal was sold by the Obama administration to fast-track it through Congress. And the answer, sadly, is no. Imports have risen, exports have declined and the trade deficit responsible for so many job losses keeps widening.
This is highly relevant as the administration pushes for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a far-reaching trade agreement with eight other nations. While there will be winners and losers domestically, it will almost certainly fail to live up to the hype and the losers will be in the majority.
► In the WSJ — Immigration advocates say they’re open to compromise — Some influential immigration advocates said Tuesday that they could live with legislation that offers legal status, but not a designated path to citizenship, for the 11 million people living in the country illegally, suggesting there may be more common ground in the immigration debate than is readily apparent.
► At Salon — How Walmart got government support, despite union pleas — The White House disregarded union pleas not to hold public events promoting Walmart, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers.
► In The Hill — Lobbyists cheer plan to jam Dems by linking debt hike to corporate tax “reform” (our quotation marks) — K Street insiders say the move by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to include corporate tax reform deadlines in a debt-ceiling bill could be the game-changer they need to get legislation moving in Congress.
► A related story at Common Dreams — Add it up: The average American family pays $6,000 a year in subsidies to big business — $6,000. That’s over and above our payments to the big companies for energy and food and housing and health care and all our tech devices. It’s $6,000 that no family would have to pay if we truly lived in a competitive but well-regulated free-market economy. The $6,000 figure is an average, which means that low-income families are paying less. But it also means that families (households) making over $72,000 are paying more than $6,000 to the corporations.
► In today’s NY Times — Struggling, San Jose tests a way to cut benefits — The city that calls itself the capital of Silicon Valley is planning to cut pensions and other benefits to fight its escalating fiscal woes, and other municipalities are watching.
► In today’s NY Times — Union push for IPO forces filing at Chrysler — Chrysler filed for a public stock offering on Monday, acting only under pressure from its second-largest shareholder, a UAW trust set up to provide medical coverage for 115,000 retired autoworkers and their relatives.
► At Huffington Post — Defacing America the Beautiful (by USW President Leo Gerard) — A cult of the selfish relentlessly assails the value of American community. And now, the cult’s cruel campaign of civic meanness is achieving tragic victories. Just last week, for example, it succeeded in getting a bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives that would slash funding for food stamps by $40 billion – taking milk from the mouths of millions of babes in the richest country in the world. Also, it secured passage of a bill in the House that would de-fund the Affordable Care Act, thus denying health care — and in some cases life itself — to millions of uninsured Americans. Denying food to the hungry, chemo to the cancer-stricken? That is not American. That is what ruthless dictators do. That is the stuff of Kim Jong-il. That is not how Americans treat each other.
ALSO at The Stand — House GOP votes to slash food aid for the poor — Washington’s GOP Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dave Reichert and “Doc” Hastings all voted to approve the cuts. (Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler did not vote.) All of Washington’s Democratic representatives voted “no.”
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.