Monday, December 2, 2013
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — ‘Narrow pathway’ may lead to deal on big transportation bill — House Transportation Chairwoman Judy Clibborn says signs are pointing toward the Legislature passing a multibillion dollar transportation-tax package. But negotiators still — after almost a year of talks — have not overcome a partisan divide over issues including stormwater treatment, sales taxes collected from transportation projects, and funding for public transit.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Transportation’s last chance (editorial) — The Senate Majority Coalition, a promising experiment in sensible centrism, remains ideologically unyielding just when to yield is to lead. So, hammer out a deal Monday and have the governor call a special session Dec. 15 (there’s zero time in the truncated regular session.) No more deciding whether to decide. Govern.
► From McClatchy — More states raise taxes to pay for transportation — This year, several states have done something that’s become politically impossible in Congress: They raised taxes to pay for transportation improvements.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Many health-exchange plans exclude top hospitals from coverage — Many insurers offering plans through the Washington Healthplanfinder, the exchange marketplace where shoppers can apply for subsidies, are using narrow provider networks. These networks are not the broad, include-all-providers networks that many big employer plans currently enjoy.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Report: Parks system can’t survive without taxpayers — The agency is reeling from deep budget cuts and needs a reliable source of funds because it may never be able to live as lawmakers desire — solely on money collected from park visitors. That’s the conclusion of a nine-page analysis delivered in November.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Six vie for state House seat vacated by McCoy — A small crowd of Democrats is lining up for a chance to fill John McCoy’s seat in the state House, with a decision anticipated next week. Six people are reportedly seeking the job which opened up following McCoy’s Nov. 27 appointment to the state Senate. He’s taking former state Sen. Nick Harper’s place.
► In the News Tribune — In a highly partisan world, non-partisan information is vital (by Peter Callaghan) — If non-partisan legislative staff must now pass a political litmus test, if the committee staff turns over each time partisan control changes, then the Legislature becomes less effective. The glare of politics would blind policymaking. The truth does not lie halfway between two untruths, but without nonpartisan staffers as fact-finders, that is what many legislative debates would become.
► At Salon — Starbucks and McDonald’s targeted for global protests over shady partner — Employees and activists targeted Starbucks and McDonalds with twenty protests last week, coordinating across borders and supply chains in an effort to squeeze corporate giants. Rallies or leafleting actions are planned or took place in cities including Seoul, South Korea; Paris, France; Auckland, New Zealand; and Seattle, where activists targeted both Starbucks corporate headquarters and CEO Howard Schultz’s home.
Starbucks and McDonalds are tied together by the food packaging company Pactiv, which was purchased by a New Zealand company in 2010 and produces cups for both the coffee and fast food corporations. Members of the AWPPW allege that Pactiv is demanding needless wage and benefit cuts from workers who fashion Starbucks cups in Stockton, California. The AWPPW is pushing protests this week along with labor groups including the IWW’s Starbucks Workers Union and the Sindicato de Starbucks Chile, whose members recently went on strike over alleged union-busting.
► In the PS Business Journal — SeaTac workers foresee life changes after voters raise pay — To some airport workers, the nationally watched minimum wage increase that goes into effect Jan. 1 — assuming it withstands legal challenges and a recount — could change everything from weaning their families off the local food bank to being able to afford housing closer to where they work.
EDITOR’S NOTE — But if Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association succeed with their legal challenge, it’s back to the food banks and two-hour commutes for our poverty-wage airport workers.
► In today’s News Tribune — Fear of ‘Cadillac tax’ on health plans forces Tacoma to act — All 3,500 city of Tacoma employees could see their health plans change under a tentative agreement that will go to the City Council this month.
► At Leeham News — Does 777X assembly site matter to airlines? Yes, up to a point — Do they care whether the 777X is built at Everett, Boeing South Carolina or some other site? Emirates, Qatar and Etihad didn’t say, at least publicly. But for some 787 customers, assembly location does matter. We understand from our sources that some customers want their Dreamliners assembled in Everett, not Boeing South Carolina, where by most accounts slow production rates and quality control issues remain a challenge.
► From AP — Missouri calls special session on 777X incentives — Gov. Jay Nixon called a special legislative session to begin Monday in order to approve an economic incentives package of up to $150 million annually that he said must be completed quickly before Boeing decides where to the build the new jet.
► In the PS Business Journal — Aerospace supply exec: Texas best bet outside Washington for 777X — That’s the thinking of JC Hall, chairman of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, who is quick to add that he hopes the plane is built in the Northwest.
► In the Seattle Times — Let’s stop being exclusive with Boeing (by Danny Westneat) — Why not just as aggressively sell those same sweet tax breaks to another (jetmaker)? In the past, politicians and business leaders have been leery to do this. We were at war with Airbus. Well, last year Puget Sound companies sold $200 million of parts to enemy No. 1, Airbus. So there is no foe any longer. No us or them. There’s only leverage. And we don’t have much. Beyond our hundred years of making planes and supply of skilled workers, that is.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Training workers seen as key to aerospace future — In a hangar at Paine Field, three students are fitting wooden ribs onto two struts the size of two-by-fours as they rebuild the wing of a 1930s biplane. Nearby, other Everett Community College students are crammed in the cabin of a tiny single-engine Cessna, examining the instrument panel wiring. That plane, with shag-covered seats, is dwarfed by a massive 747 jet engine a few feet away.
► In the NY Times — Where factory apprenticeship is the latest model from Germany — Experts in government and academia, along with those inside companies like BMW, say apprenticeships are a desperately needed option for younger workers who want decent-paying jobs, or increasingly, any job at all. And without such programs, they maintain, the nascent recovery in American manufacturing will run out of steam for lack of qualified workers. Despite public support for apprenticeships from President Obama, who cited the German model in his last State of the Union address, these positions are becoming harder to find in other states. Since 2008, the number of apprentices has fallen by nearly 40 percent, according to the Center for American Progress study.
► At Salon — Tens of thousands protest, over 100 arrested in Black Friday challenge to Wal-Mart — Organizers say at least 111 people were arrested in eight Black Friday civil disobedience actions against Wal-Mart. Those actions are among 1,500 total protests promised by the union-backed group OUR Walmart, which last year said it mobilized 400-some Wal-Mart employees to strike.
► From AP — 15 Black Friday protesters arrested at Walmart in Bellevue — Fifteen protesters were arrested outside a Wal-Mart store in Bellevue as they called on Black Friday shoppers to consider how the retailer compensates its workers. Authorities said about 100 protesters who gathered outside the store Friday were asked to disperse, and those who remained blocking the street were arrested.
► In today’s NY Times — Wage strikes planned at fast-food outlets on Thursday — Seeking to increase pressure on McDonald’s, Wendy’s and other fast-food restaurants, organizers of a movement demanding a $15-an-hour wage for fast-food workers say they will sponsor one-day strikes in 100 cities on Thursday and protest activities in 100 additional cities.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Yes, those 100 cities will include Seattle and perhaps others around the state on Thursday. Stay tuned for details tomorrow at The Stand!
► In today’s NY Times — Better pay now (by Paul Krugman) — An increase in the minimum wage just might happen, thanks to overwhelming public support. This support doesn’t come just from Democrats or even independents; strong majorities of Republicans (57%) and self-identified conservatives (59%) favor an increase. Raising the minimum wage would help many Americans, and might actually be politically possible. Let’s give it a try.
► At Huffington Post — House only working 8 more days this year — The House is only scheduled to work eight days between now and January 7, when members return for the second session of the 113th Congress. The 2014 calendar for the House shows members will only work only 113 days. That’s down from 2013, when House lawmakers were scheduled to meet for 126 days. The 113th Congress is on pace to be the least productive in modern history.
► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘Fast track’ risky path for Pacific Trade pact (by Jon Talton) — A recent leak, combined with secrecy in the negotiations, has given ammunition to the charge that the real goal of Trans Pacific Partnership is protecting and extending special privileges for giant corporations. We also know that the U.S. Trade Representative is using 700 “cleared advisers,” most from big corporations and powerful industry groups, that have had total access to the negotiations and the draft agreements.
As a result, opposition has gained traction. More than half the members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed letters or otherwise stated that they oppose giving President Obama so-called fast-track authority for TPP. This requires an up-or-down vote in Congress and forbids amendments. Opposition is bipartisan, a rarity in our polarized times.
Fast-track authority is an artifact going back to the Nixon years. It was arguably misused to give influential corporations unfair advantage in the North American Free-Trade Agreement. TPP doesn’t deserve fast track. This far-reaching agreement needs to be vetted by our elected representatives to ensure balance between big corporations and consumers, the economic interests of a few and the public interest.
ALSO at The Stand — Bipartisan opposition to ‘fast track’ on trade (Nov. 21)
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