Tuesday, December 3, 2013
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Deaconess, Valley hospitals face nurses strike — A one-day strike looms Wednesday at Deaconess and Valley hospitals after contract negotiations with nurses and other workers failed. It would be the first strike in Spokane by hospital nurses in decades — perhaps ever. As the 1,100 unionized health care workers prepare to walk out at 6 a.m. Wednesday, hospital administrators say they are ready to keep the hospitals open for the day with teams of temporary replacement workers across all departments, from the emergency rooms to the operating tables to the newborn unit. Agreement on appropriate staffing levels continues to divide the sides.
ALSO at The Stand — Nurses at two Spokane hospitals may strike Dec. 4
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — No deal on transportation package as talks continue — Gov. Jay Inslee and lawmakers from the House and Senate negotiated for four hours Monday in Seattle but did not reach agreement on a multi-billion dollar transportation package. Talks will continue today in Olympia. Representatives of all four caucuses are taking part in the negotiations which have been going on in fits and starts for most of the year.
► In today’s Columbian — Jobless insurance benefit to be extended — Nearly 11,000 jobless workers in Washington state, including 499 in Clark County, may be eligible to claim additional unemployment insurance compensation. That’s because the state’s three-month unemployment rate average worsened in October, prompting a relaunch of federally funded emergency jobless benefits. The relaunch occurs Sunday, extending benefits for nine weeks.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Washington parks system needs better funding (editorial) — Four years ago, the Legislature thought the parks could go it alone with user fees, but it’s been an unsuccessful sojourn. It was wishful thinking to begin with, precipitated by the recession and the painful budget cuts it wrought. … The limit on self-sufficiency has been reached. The state needs to kick in more money.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Premiums for workers’ comp rising 2.7% in state (brief) — Premiums for workers’ compensation insurance next year will increase by an average 2.7 percent, the state Department of Labor and Industries said Monday. It is the first increase in three years.
ALSO at The Stand — L&I proposes modest 2.7% workers’ comp premium increase (Sept. 17)
► In today’s Seattle Times — King County: No more immigration holds for low-level offenders — King County will not honor federal immigration authorities’ requests to hold immigrants who are arrested for low-level crimes, the Metropolitan King County Council decided Monday by a 5-4 vote. Supporters of the new policy said it will build trust between local police and immigrants who don’t report crimes for fear they or a family member will be deported.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This year, the Washington State Labor Council passed a resolution in support of this policy change that was submitted by Casa Latina.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Trumka, Bishop Blair urge Congress to pass immigration reform, urge Obama to stop deportations — Unions and Catholic leaders have long found common cause in advocating for policies that defend the dignity of workers and protect immigrant families. Over the past several years, we have worked together to win congressional approval of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Congress, go back to D.C. and pass a farm bill and immigration package (editorial) — Underperforming elected officials could redeem themselves by closing deals on two big measures that affect Washington state: a farm bill guiding the nation’s food and agricultural policy and a comprehensive immigration reform package. The former affects regional researchers and farmers, as well as low-income families that rely on food assistance. The latter is critical for businesses to maintain a competitive labor force, both in the high-tech sector and in the fields of Washington.
► In The Hill — Budget panel blows first deadline — Congressional budget conferees on Monday failed to meet a deadline set by appropriators for a top-line budget number. The blown deadline raises the odds that Congress will need at least a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running after Jan. 15.
► In today’s NY Times — Cost of health care law is seen as decreasing — Over the next few years, the government is expected to spend billions of dollars less than originally projected on the law, analysts said, with both the Medicaid expansion and the subsidies for private insurance plans ending up less expensive than anticipated.
► In today’s Washington Post — Congress would rather fight than pass bills (editorial) — The lack of new laws is not a surprise, given partisan divisions. Less noticed, but arguably more depressing, is the number of existing federal programs still limping along under short-term extensions of outdated policy because Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on the terms of their reauthorization.
► At Huffington Post — You’re secretly subsidizing fast-food CEOs’ multimillion dollar salaries — Fast-food giants save money by paying their typical workers very little, but they also save money by paying their CEOs millions, thanks to a quirk of the tax code. In both cases, American taxpayers cover the cost.
► In today’s Washington Post — Illinois lawmakers to vote on public employee pension changes — Facing the worst pension crisis in the U.S., Illinois legislators will vote Tuesday on sweeping but controversial changes that could save the state an estimated $160 billion over three decades.
► At Huffington Post — The true price of great holiday deals (by Robert Reich) — Americans are getting great deals online, and they like the convenience. But there’s a hidden price. With the growth of online retailing, fewer Americans will have jobs in bricks-and-mortar retail stores.
► At Huffington Post — Everyday low wages at Walmart: Brought to you by government policy (by Dean Baker) — The folks pushing for the higher pay at Walmart and other chains of low-paying stores and fast food operations are not just asking for a helping hand. They are demanding that we end a government policy that has the effect of redistributing income to the large shareholders at Walmart and other members of the one percent.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seahawks dominate Saints 34-7 to take firm control in the NFC — The showdown for NFC supremacy turned instead into a showcase for the Seahawks. And in the process of all-but-clinching home-field advantage in the NFC throughout the playoffs with a dominating 34-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints, the Seahawks also sent another loud message about their place atop the NFL hierarchy, just in case their league-best 11-1 record hadn’t already said enough. That they did with a start-to-finish domination in front of a record crowd of 68,387 at CenturyLink Field that also set another Guinness noise record. The victory also officially clinched a playoff berth.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Seattle Seahawks, through their chapter of the NFL Players Association/Federation of Professional Athletes, are an affiliated union of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and have been for decades. They are the only professional sports union affiliated with the WSLC. Go Hawks!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.