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Grain talks, Needle truther, Wisconsin secrets, Walmart welfare…

Thursday, October 24, 2013




ILWU-United-Grain-lockout► In today’s Columbian — Both sides in labor dispute call negotiations ‘fruitful’ — Union dockworkers and grain-terminal owners in the Northwest, who’ve sparred for more than a year over terms of a new labor contract, said Wednesday that renewed negotiations this week have been fruitful. In a statement issued to The Columbian, a spokeswoman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said the negotiations held on Oct. 21 and 22 “were positive and productive.” A spokesman for the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association said Sargent’s comments are “consistent” with his understanding of how the restarted talks are going.




► At Salon — Defying Koch cash and D.C. gridlock, airport town will vote on a $15 minimum wage — In two weeks, voters in SeaTac, Wash., will vote on establishing the country’s highest minimum wage — by a long shot. At $15 an hour, the proposed wage hike for the airport-anchored town would outpace the federal standard by nearly $8, and echo the demand that’s anchored the past year’s wave of fast food strikes. It’s drawn furious opposition from big business, and from think tanks funded by a shadowy Koch-backed group.


► In The Stranger — Just look behind the curtain — On one corner, you’ve got people. Lots of people. The campaign to pass I-522, the initiative that would mandate labeling most genetically modified (or GMO) food, can point to its parades of supporters. But the No on 522 campaign has a decidedly different kind of backing. For all their TV ads full of amber waves of grain and local farmers, their entire donor list can be counted on your fingers. The top five are the Grocery Manufacturers Association — a conglomerate of food manufacturers — Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Bayer CropScience, and Dow AgroSciences.

ALSO at The Stand — Here’s why the WSLC has endorsed I-522 (by Nicole Grant) — The workers who are most vulnerable to the toxic exposure associated with genetically modified organisms are farm workers. For this reason, the United Farm Workers have taken a strong stance in favor of I-522. They are joined by the Washington State Nurses Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 46, and dozens of other unions, environmental groups and sustainable businesses.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Truth Needle: Anti-Angel ads misstate bill’s effect on mammograms, her role (by Times reporter Andrew Garber) — Ads in the 26th District Senate race claim GOP Rep. Jan Angel sponsored legislation to eliminate or reduce access to mammograms. That’s mostly false.

EDITOR’S NOTE — A must-read takedown of this entire Times article appears in the comments, courtesy of LB Shannon:

I am very sorry but your truth needle needs a truth needle review. It is truly shocking that this story could run as is.

As I understand your logic, the fact she is a “co-sponsor” and not the “sponsor” is the basis for your claim that this is false. Geez, I am speechless at that claim. I am quite sure that just the smallest amount of research would find that Jan Angel is a co-sponsor of many bills she claims to have “sponsored” because that is legislative parlance that any reporter or any observer of Olympia knows to be true. To be a “cosponsor” also requires an official act of signing your name on to the official blue sheet that goes with a bill introduction, and the legislative record shows that to be true. She sponsored this legislation. That is the record, period. That is not deniable.

angel-janBut then to suggest that this bill was not an attempt to eviscerate the state mandates on coverage for mammograms because the ACA and Obamacare has a similar mandate, would require us to believe that Angel and her ALEC and Republican friends, in 2011 were attempting to do everything they could to protect the Affordable Care Act and its consumer protections, and to not believe they were intent on doing everything they could to eviscerate it and to repeal the ACA and all federal actions and mandates. Apparently Andrew, you must have missed the whole 2012 campaign and for that matter the recent government shutdown over funding Obamacare. Oh, and,oops, Angel also signed on to bills to actually repeal state funding for Obamacare. Are you trying to tell us now that she actually supports the ACA and funding Obamacare? Apparently that seems to be the case.

I would also note that Angel is the state chair of the corporate sponsored American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) whose website dedicates substantial efforts to repealing the ACA and all its federal protections and mandates.

Those who want real truths can do what I just did. I went to and looked at the bills for 2011 and read HB 1361, (see the repeal of mammogram coverage in the bill) and I then went to ALEC Watch (just google it) to read their organizational positions on repealing the ACA and Obamacare. I also note on the ALEC website the fact that Jan Angel is state co-chair of ALEC, a fact she readily admits to in her campaign.

I don’t know what the agenda of this story is. But shining a light on the truth is not any part of the agenda for this story, and that is the only truth I gleaned from this article.




► In today’s Seattle Times — State health exchange inundated with calls, plans to double staff — The call center set up to help Washington residents enroll in coverage through the Affordable Care Act has been receiving more than double the calls it anticipated — and those calls are lasting longer than expected. The state plans to hire more workers to help meet the demand.

PSBJ-Mosqueda-Exchange-board► In the P.S. Business Journal — Health Exchange Board: No sugarcoating, we have problems — Members of Washington’s health exchange on Wednesday acknowledged the technical problems that have slowed access to the online insurance marketplace since it launched Oct. 1. But the challenges haven’t been without explanations – the exchange has operated on a timeline that’s much shorter than what’s usual in the private sector, in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act. The Washington state exchange has been called out in the media for its superior design, which made shopping on the state site easier than using the federal exchange. The message was clear: When the exchange site works, it really works. In the meantime, the kinks are still being worked out.

► In today’s NY Times — Health care law fails to lower prices in rural areas — While competition is intense in many populous regions, rural areas and small towns have far fewer carriers offering plans in the law’s online exchanges. Those places, many of them poor, are being asked to choose from some of the highest-priced plans in the 34 states where the federal government is running the health insurance marketplaces, a review by The New York Times has found.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Public option.

mcmorris-rodgers-L► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘Shutdown Cathy’ McMorris Rodgers wants your stories on Obamacare (by Jonathan Martin) — The irony of McMorris Rodgers’ role as Obamacare national demonizer-in-chief is that the Affordable Care Act is working in her home state. Washington chose to embrace the Affordable Care Act, tailor its own website to the local insurance market, and brought in smart people from the tech industry. Since the Oct. 1, launch, more than 100,000 people have enrolled or completed health insurance applications via the state’s website.

► In today’s NY Times — Web sites and grave sites (by Charles M. Blow) — Republicans are pretending that they care about the problems encountered in signing up for a system that many of them are bent on destroying.




bctc-jobs-now► At AFL-CIO Now — There’s only one word we need to be talking about to boost our economy — Deficit. Debt. Debt ceiling. Sequester. Shutdown. Cuts. “Shared” sacrifice. Belt tightening. Benefit cuts. Grand bargain—Republicans and Washington elites throw around a bunch of words when they talk about the economy and what it will take to get the country moving forward. But the one word they need to be talking about — jobs — seems almost absent from the conversation. No wonder things aren’t getting much better.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Patty Murray’s high-stakes assignment: Craft budget peace — Two years ago, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray co-led a special congressional committee to forge a deal with Republicans to shrink the federal deficit. The so-called super committee folded after three months, triggering automatic spending cuts that Murray has since pushed to undo. Now the Washington Democrat has another shot at a bipartisan compromise over the budget.

► In The Hill — Treasury Secretary calls on Congress to replace sequester — Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the sequester has been a drag on the economy, and that it should be replaced with longer-term measures to reduce spending.




boeing-profit► In today’s Seattle Times — Added 787 spending doesn’t slow Boeing profit surge — Boeing’s costs on the 787 program are rising sharply as it smooths kinks in its assembly lines, introduces new models and invests in equipment needed to raise production rates. Boeing’s accounting doesn’t factor the extra 787 spending into its current quarterly profits, however, and the third-quarter earnings blew past expectations and sent the stock soaring.

► In today’s PS Business Journal — Boeing to boost 787 production to 14 monthly by 2020 — Boeing will lift production of its 787 Dreamliner to 12 monthly in 2016, and 14 by 2020 … but very carefully. Boeing’s decision to raise the Dreamliner’s rate deliberately is partly to allow production partners — companies that produce the aircraft’s fuselage, wings and other main assemblies — to expand beyond the initial production-rate goal of 10, McNerney said.




► At AFL-CIO Now — What is the Scott Walker administration wrong about now? — In what amounts to either a stunning misunderstanding about how the judicial system works in the United States or a calculated ploy to try to undermine a legitimate court ruling, labor relations officials in Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) administration in Wisconsin attempted to limit a ruling that rebuffed Walker’s attack on the collective bargaining rights of school district and municipal workers to only two cities.

Scott Walker► At TPM — What’s going on in Wisconsin and why is it so secret? — It’s a topic so hot in Wisconsin, no one involved with it can talk about it. A wide-ranging investigation, a special prosecutor, and the cloak of secrecy. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this week that a former federal prosecutor had been appointed to lead a “John Doe investigation” into state-level issues in Wisconsin, including the 2011 and 2012 recall elections. And this John Doe investigation reportedly grew out of an earlier John Doe probe, which closed in March after snaring six former aides and associates of Gov. Scott Walker (R). But hang on a second. What exactly is a John Doe investigation? For those outside Wisconsin, the term may be unfamiliar, and with good reason. Wisconsin may be the only state that uses them.

EDITOR’S NOTE — And this guy, rumored to be considering a presidential bid, gets invited by the Washington Policy Center, a local right-wing think tank, to come to Seattle and talk about the great job he’s doing governing Wisconsin? Really?

► At Huffington Post — Most Walmart store workers didn’t earn $25,000 last year — As they seek to boost the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, House Democrats joined a group of Walmart employees on Capitol Hill Wednesday to criticize the world’s largest retailer over its pay and scheduling practices, arguing that its low wages steer workers toward public assistance programs.

walmart-full-time► At Salon — Democrats blast Walmart ‘welfare queens’ — A slide from Walmart’s U.S. CEO’s presentation to Goldman Sachs’ retail conference boasts that “Over 475K” U.S. employees earned more than $25,000 last year. Activist workers and members of Congress seized on that statistic at a Wednesday press event, arguing it amounts to an admission that annual pay for the majority of Walmart’s 1.3 million-member U.S. workforce falls below $25,000.

► At — Social Security pumps $2 into U.S. economy for every dollar spent — Just as Food Stamps stimulate the economy by creating about $1.80 of economic activity for every dollar of Food Stamps spent, Social Security pumps up job-generating and business activity by about $2 for every dollar recipients spend.




► From AP — Workers over 50 report difficulties finding jobs — The AP-NORC Center poll found 55 percent of those 50 and older who have sought a job in the past five years characterized their search as difficult, and 43 percent thought employers were concerned about their age. Further, most in the poll reported finding few available jobs (69 percent), few that paid well (63 percent) or that offered adequate benefits (53 percent). About a third were told they were overqualified.


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