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IAM willing to talk, WA’s living wage, open season on pensions…

Wednesday, December 4, 2013




Boeing-IAM-777► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Work underway to get Boeing, union back to the table — Public officials and aerospace insiders are conducting back-channel talks with the Boeing Co. and the Machinists union to get the two sides to resume contract negotiations. At stake is production of the company’s new 777X airplane in Everett. People involved say there isn’t much time to make something happen. IAM District 751 is open to new negotiations. District President Tom Wroblewski has said that the union is “certainly open to talking with the Boeing Co., but it comes with the understanding that we would be building on the current contract, not tearing it apart.” Union workers have said that they seem to be the only employees being asked to make sacrifices. Meanwhile, the company’s stock reached a record high this year, and industry analysts say that labor makes up a small portion of the overall cost of building large commercial airplanes.

► From Bloomberg — Boeing tantalizes governors bidding for 777X — Governors of more than a dozen states are rushing to offer incentives such as subsidized training and infrastructure to convince Boeing to move production of its new 777X jetliner out of Washington, where union members rejected a labor contract that froze pensions.

► In the Kansas City Star — Don’t get flighty over Boeing enticements (editorial) — Lawmakers must take care not to harm Missouri citizens and services in their eagerness to lure the aircraft maker — by ending tax credits intended to help needy Missourians in order to make room for corporate welfare for Boeing, for instance. Boeing’s scouting expedition reveals a company with boundless demands and limited loyalties. Today’s lucky suitor could easily turn out to be tomorrow’s jilted castoff.




► At Slog — New study pegs living wage in state at $16.04 to $30.46 an hour — If you think that $15 an hour seems like a ginormous amount of money to pay a minimum wage worker, then think again. According to the 2013 Job Gap Study from the Alliance for a Just Society, a single adult in Washington state would need to earn $16.04 an hour, 40 hours a week, in order to balance the most basic household budget.

tnt-wilcox-silo-collapse► In today’s News Tribune — Worker presumed dead in Wilcox Farm silo collapse — Efforts to stabilize a collapsed corn silo in Roy will resume at daylight Wednesday as crews try to find the body of a worker believed crushed in the avalanche of grain. Crane and welding crews worked Tuesday to stabilize three silos and a building at Wilcox Farm’s mill on McNaught Road South.

► In today’s News Tribune — Wilcox Farms cited this year for safety violations at feed mill — Wilcox Farms was ordered to pay $10,000 in penalties for seven safety violations found during a June 27 inspection of its operation on McNaught Street, according to the state Department of Labor & Industries.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Engineers sue BNSF Railway, seek same-sex benefits — A federal discrimination lawsuit filed in Seattle alleges the railway has a “stated policy” that marriage is between a man and a woman. BNSF says benefits are governed largely by union contracts, which can be changed only through collective bargaining.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Former Democratic official gets 25½ months for embezzlement — Michael Walter King, the former executive director of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, was sentenced to more than two years for embezzling up to $330,000 in campaign contributions to fuel his alcohol and gambling habits.




WA_healthplanfinder► In today’s Seattle Times — Healthplanfinder enrollment tops 175,000 — mostly in Medicaid — More than 175,000 Washington residents have signed up for health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s online insurance marketplace. The vast majority of enrollees qualified for the state’s Medicaid program, Apple Health, which is expanding eligibility in 2014 to include adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $16,000 for an individual.

► In today’s Columbian — Draft transportation plan includes little money for Southwest Washington — Details are sparse on negotiations over a state transportation package that would raise the gas tax and pay for new projects across the state, but a recent draft circulated among lawmakers included less money for Southwest Washington than other parts of the state.

► At PubliCola — The 43rd District House hopefuls — Three candidates are seeking the appointment to fill the soon-to-be-open state rep seat in Seattle’s 43rd LD; current Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-Capitol Hill) is a shoo-in to fill mayor-elect state Sen. Ed Murray’s open seat. The three candidates are Cristina Gonzalez, Scott Forbes and Brady Walkinshaw. (Walkinshaw, who is Cuban-American, has been endorsed by Rep. Pedersen.)




protect-our-pensions► In today’s NY Times — Detroit ruling on bankruptcy lifts pension protections — In a ruling that could reverberate far beyond Detroit, a federal judge held on Tuesday that this battered city could formally enter bankruptcy and asserted that Detroit’s obligation to pay pensions in full was not untouchable. The judge, Steven W. Rhodes, dealt a major blow to the widely held belief that state laws preserve public pensions, and his ruling is likely to resonate in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and many other American cities where the rising cost of pensions has been crowding out spending for public schools, police departments and other services.

► In today’s NY Times — Illinois Legislature approves retiree benefit cuts in troubled pension system — The Illinois legislature on Tuesday ended a day of emotional debate and fierce back-room arm-twisting by passing a deal to shore up the state’s debt-engulfed pension system by trimming retiree benefits and increasing state contributions.




► In today’s Washington Post — Congressional GOP may be willing to let emergency unemployment benefits lapse — With the jobless rate hovering just over 7 percent, congressional Republicans said Tuesday that they are ready to let emergency unemployment benefits lapse on Dec. 31, immediately cutting off checks to more than a million recipients.

► In The Hill — Reid: Boehner will ‘cave in’ on immigration — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expresses confidence that an immigration reform proposal will pass the House sometime next year, saying that Republicans would sign on to a deal if they ever want to see a GOP president again.




► In today’s NY Times — More college adjuncts see strength in union numbers — Only a quarter of the academic work force is tenured, or on track for tenure, down from more than a third in 1995. The majority hold contingent jobs — mostly part-time adjuncts but also graduate assistants and full-time lecturers. And SEIU, with members in health care, maintenance and public service, is moving hard and fast to add the adjuncts to their roster, organizing at private colleges in several urban areas.

corporate_flag► In today’s NY Times — Court blocks NLRB on workers’ class-action lawsuits — Employers can require their workers to sign arbitration agreements waiving all rights to class-action lawsuits over workplace grievances, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturns an NLRB decision last year that found such agreements conflicted with federal law giving workers the right to pursue collective action to complain about workplace conditions. The court’s ruling is a win for businesses that want to limit legal exposure from the rising cost of class-action lawsuits over unpaid overtime and other wage violations. But it is a blow to workers who find it easier to band together when challenging the policies at a large company.

► In today’s Washington Post — Uninsured Republicans as likely to pay fine as obtain health coverage — Forty-six percent of Republicans who are uninsured say they plan to get insurance next year, while 45% say they plan to pay the fine. Democrats take a very different approach: 80% say they plan to get coverage, while just 15% say they plan to pay the penalty.

christmas-disappointment► At Think Progress — Gov. Scott Walker tells supporters to forgo children’s Christmas presents, give money to his campaign instead — “Instead of electronics or toys that will undoubtedly be outdated, broken, or lost by the next Holiday Season, help give your children the gift of a Wisconsin that we can all be proud of,” read the Republican governor’s fundraising email to supporters.


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