Monday, November 4, 2013
► Today from Reuters — Boeing seen in advanced talks to make 777X near Seattle — Under the proposed deal, final assembly of the 777X would be at Boeing’s Everett plant near Seattle. The plane’s expanded wings would be built in the surrounding Puget Sound region, the source said, asking not to be identified because the talks remain confidential. Talks are “in the final stages, but are not done yet,” the source said, adding that the negotiations, which were initiated quietly between Boeing and the International Association of Machinists union around a week ago, were “intense.”
ALSO at The Stand — Washington is the clear choice for the 777X (by David Groves)
► In today’s LA Times — Seattle suburb to vote on $15 minimum wage for airport, hotel workers — If passed, Proposition 1 would bring SeaTac Airport in line with California’s major aviation hubs, which have set pay rates above state and federal minimums. The living wage ordinance at Los Angeles International Airport, for example, guarantees $15.67 an hour for covered workers who do not get health benefits and $10.91 for those who do.
“West Coast airports have been leaders in addressing the issues of low pay and high turnover in our airports,” said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. He argues that low pay “has impacts on the airports themselves in terms of turnover and quality of performance that affect safety and security.”
ALSO at The Stand — Alaska Airlines fighting to keep wages low (Oct. 29) — In bankrolling the “no” campaign, Alaska Airlines is joined by other SeaTac corporate interests that want to maintain low wages in the area, including the car rental companies, the large chain hotels, and the Washington Restaurant Association.
► From AP — State elections have national implications — In the airport city of SeaTac, a campaign backed by labor unions seeks to raise the minimum wage to $15 for many workers. In Whatcom County, an unprecedented amount of outside money is influencing an election that may shape whether the area becomes home to the largest coal shipping terminal on the West Coast. Statewide, voters will decide whether to put labels on genetically modified foods in a campaign that has drawn hefty donations from food industry businesses such as PepsiCo, Monsanto and General Mills.
► In the Seattle Times — Mayor, legislators urge UW to settle labor dispute with language teachers — Five Democratic state legislators and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn are calling on the University of Washington to settle a long-running contract dispute with the university’s International English Language faculty. The 70 faculty members, who are represented by AFT, teach English language skills to international and non-native English speakers who are enrolled in a variety of UW programs, including academic and professional certificate programs. It serves about 3,500 students. The contract negotiations have stalled, and in their letters, lawmakers are pressuring the university to go to mediation.
ALSO at The Stand — UW English Language Faculty struggling to get fair 1st contract (Oct. 22)
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane Police Guild approves contract with city — A tentative labor contract for the Spokane police union appears dead on arrival in City Council chambers because it fails to embrace the recent voter-approved mandate about investigating officer wrongdoing.
► In the (Longview) Daily News — Longview teachers, district stall on contract talks — For now, there’s still no talk of a strike, and the two sides have tentatively scheduled another round of bargaining talks for Nov. 18.
► From AP — Record farm production in 2012 in Washington — Washington is the nation’s top apple producer, growing about 60 percent of the U.S. crop. Washington also leads the nation in sweet cherries, pears, red raspberries and hops.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Mmmm. Hops.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
► At TPM — How insurers are hiding Obamacare benefits from customers — Across the country, insurance companies have sent misleading letters to consumers, trying to lock them into the companies’ own, sometimes more expensive health insurance plans rather than let them shop for insurance and tax credits on the Obamacare marketplaces.
► In today’s NY Times — Under the ACA, millions eligible for free policies — Millions of people could qualify for federal subsidies that will pay the entire monthly cost of some health care plans being offered in the online marketplaces, a surprising figure that has not garnered much attention, in part because the zero-premium plans come with serious trade-offs.
► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — Canceled insurance plans add angst of change — In Washington, most of the 290,000 people covered by insurance plans they purchased on the individual market received letters this fall telling them that their plans are going away. For some who have received the letters, the new plans being offered are more expensive, but for others — especially those who qualify for a federal subsidy to bring down the cost of the premium — their insurance bill will go down.
► In Sunday’s NY Times — Insurance policies not worth keeping (editorial) — This overblown controversy has also obscured the crux of what health care reform is trying to do, which is to guarantee that everyone can buy insurance without being turned away or charged exorbitant rates for pre-existing conditions and that everyone can receive benefits that really protect them against financial or medical disaster, not illusory benefits that prove inadequate when a crisis strikes.
► In the New Republic — The media labeled her an Obamacare victim. Here’s what she really thinks. — “I would jump at it,” she said of her new health insurance options under the ACA. “With my age, things can happen. I don’t want to have bills that could make me bankrupt. I don’t want to lose my house… Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.”
► At Huffington Post — Lessons of Obamacare mess: Public is better (by Robert Kuttner) — there was a much simpler way of achieving this. We could have extended Medicare to everyone. Or if that was politically unthinkable, we could have extended Medicare a few years at a time — first to 60 year olds, then to 55 year olds, then to the young, and so on until everyone was covered.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Could you live off of $25,000/year like most Walmart workers? No, you couldn’t — Last month, Walmart CEO Bill Simon revealed rather cluelessly that the vast majority of Walmart workers, as many as 825,000 in the United States, earn less than $25,000 a year. The sum is so low the average worker for the country’s biggest employer is struggling to make ends meet. By matching its low prices with insultingly low wages, Walmart forces taxpayers to subsidize its workforce through social safety net programs. Making Change at Walmart is running a new series that highlights how some of the retailer’s employees are scraping by on Walmart wages. Read some of their stories, and then take the pledge to stand with Walmart workers on Black Friday this year.
► In today’s NY Times — Senate vote on workplace bias against gays poses test for GOP — A major test of how carefully Republicans can navigate the intraparty politics of sexuality will come on Monday, when the Senate holds a crucial vote on a bill to outlaw workplace discrimination against gay men, lesbians and transgender people.
► From ABC News — Top hospital suspends black lung program after ABC News report — Johns Hopkins Medicine has suspended its black lung program pending a review in response to an ABC News investigation with the Center for Public Integrity that showed how medical opinions from doctors at the prestigious hospital have helped the coal companies thwart efforts by ailing mine workers to receive disability benefits.
► A bus driver is being hailed as a hero for preventing a woman from jumping off a bridge over a Buffalo highway. Darnell Barton stopped his bus over the Scajaquada Expressway when he saw the women standing on the wrong side of the guardrail.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.