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WA fits RFP to a T, zero cola, Richie Rich, Amazon union vote…

Wednesday, December 18, 2013




► At — Washington fits Boeing 777X RFP to a ‘T,’ says IAM 751 chief — Media reports have detailed all the items that Boeing wants states to provide in order to be considered as the new site. The list includes zero-cost, or “very low cost,” land and facilities next to a 9,000-foot runway; infrastructure improvements including highways, utilities and rail lines; worker training programs; low taxes and a streamlined regulatory system; and a highly skilled labor force. A seaport is on the wish list as well. Washington already has all of those things, says Tom Wroblewski, president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751:

Our state has the best tax structure and business climate among the competing states, and all the facilities and infrastructure that Boeing needs. Most of all, Washington is home to the largest and deepest pool of aerospace workers in the world, workers who time and again have proven their value to Boeing.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Inslee: Everything’s been done to entice Boeing — Gov. Jay Inslee said that elected officials have largely done everything they can to entice Boeing to build the new 777X jetliner in Washington and to get the company and Machinists union to reach a contract agreement. Negotiations between the two sides broke off last week after Boeing’s latest offer was rejected by local union leaders. Neither side has ruled out future talks.

► From AP — Washington state courts Airbus amid Boeing tension — Even as they try desperately to hang on to Boeing Co., officials in Washington state have been courting the main competitor of the aerospace giant.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Boeing: Offer to Machinists did require endorsement — Boeing confirms that its latest contract extension proposal to the Machinists was indeed offered with a stipulation that union leaders recommend a yes vote to members.

conner-ray-boeing► In the PS Business Journal — Boeing promotes Ray Conner, 3 others — Boeing has announced the promotion of Ray Conner, currently the head of the company’s Seattle-based Commercial Airplanes unit, to vice chairman, president and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Bidding for Boeing’s 777X: Long Beach pitches a skilled workforce — Boeing this week will narrow “down to a handful” its list of possible sites to build the 777X jet and its advanced composite wing. Washington is among 22 states that have submitted proposals. The Seattle Times in the next few days will report on several of the contending sites.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing-Machinists solution found, of all places, in Washington, D.C. (by Danny Westneat) — At the federal budget deal’s core is a pension trade-off. To simplify, Republicans wanted to cut federal employee pensions by huge amounts to save money. Democrats didn’t. In the end the two sides compromised with a plan that preserves pensions as is for current workers, while imposing higher contribution levels only on new hires. Substitute “Boeing” for Republicans and “Machinists” for Democrats in that previous paragraph, and I bet we could have a 777X deal here, too.

AT NOON TODAY at Seattle Times’ Boeing Blog — Machinists share opinions on latest developments — Two local Machinists with opposing views on Boeing’s latest 777X contract proposal will explain their reasons and take your questions during an online chat at noon on Wednesday.




cola-zero► In today’s News Tribune — Teachers’ and state employees’ raises in jeopardy — Washington’s biggest teachers union complained Tuesday that Gov. Jay Inslee’s modest supplemental budget plan leaves out a 1.3% cost-of-living pay raise for teachers. That omission would extend the time educators have not received inflation-based pay increases to six years. But if teachers are miserable, they’ll have company. It now is likely that the state’s nearly 60,000 government agency employees — whose temporary 3% pay cuts ended in June — will go another year without a cost-of-living adjustment. That is because a COLA written into contracts for most state workers is triggered next July only if state revenues grow by a certain amount by February. The latest revenue forecast showed the state is still $189 million short of the $200 million increase needed to give the raises.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee submits ‘hold steady’ budget — For the first time in six years, a Washington state governor has proposed a budget with no calls for spending cuts or more taxes. But next year, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday, will be a different story.

► From AP — Inslee unveils supplemental budget proposal — Inslee proposed about $200 million in additional spending to address overcrowded prisons, cover wildfire costs and upgrade technology to aid small businesses, including $8.2 million in response to a settlement that requires the state to expand mental health services for children.




JOIN TODAY’S TWEETCHAT at 11 a.m. with UNITE HERE Local 8, Maria Elena Durazo of the L.A. County Federation of Labor and Seattle Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant to discuss the campaign for a $15 minimum wage. Use #Raise2014.


► In today’s Seattle Times — Efforts to set $15 minimum wage gain steam in Seattle — Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant said 2014 is the year for a $15-an-hour minimum wage in Seattle. Mayor-elect Ed Murray said he plans to bring together business and labor and hopes to have a bill to the City Council within six months but said he won’t get fixated on a number.

► At Huffington Post — Most Americans think it’s time to raise minimum wage — Most Americans think the government should take action to address the wealth gap, and even more believe the minimum wage should be raised, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. There is wide agreement that current government policies don’t adequately address inequality: Of respondents, 64% say federal policies today do more to favor wealthy Americans, and just 26% said policies favor the less well-off. But 57% say the government should “pursue policies that try to reduce the gap between wealthy and less well-off Americans.”

► From AP — Income inequality is hurting the economy, 3 dozen economists say — The growing gap between the richest Americans and everyone else isn’t bad just for individuals. It’s hurting the U.S. economy. So says a majority of more than three dozen economists surveyed last week by The Associated Press. Their concerns tap into a debate that’s intensified as middle-class pay has stagnated while wealthier households have thrived.




► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford contractors approve 161 voluntary layoffs — The DOE has approved the three contractors to cut a total of 450 positions this fiscal year, but whether or how many involuntary layoffs also will be needed is still under discussion by the contractors. CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. told its workers Tuesday that it is re-evaluating the need to have forced layoffs.

roodman-rich► In today’s Seattle Times — Valley Medical’s CEO gets 2 more million-dollar years — Rich Roodman, chief executive of the taxpayer-funded Valley Medical Center — the centerpiece of King County Public Hospital District No. 1 — has won a new two-year employment contract that will pay him more than $1 million annually in salary and bonuses. And the new deal amounts to a pay cut.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Last year, Richie Rich notified his employees that he was terminating their pension plans and replacing them with retirement plans that push employees to contribute more. Today’s Times report notes that when RR retires, he’ll walk away with a $7.5 million retirement package.




► From AP — Bipartisan budget deal on cusp of passage — A modest, bipartisan budget pact designed to keep Washington from lurching from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis and ease the harshest effects of automatic budget cuts is on the brink of passing the Senate.

murray-patty► At Huffington Post — We just got one step closer to a budget deal — but now I need your help (by Sen. Patty Murray) — This is not the deal Democrats would have written on our own, and it’s not the deal that Republicans would have written on their own. It’s a compromise — and can hopefully serve as a foundation for continued bipartisan work. Because, we still have lots of work to do to create jobs, boost the economy, and replace the rest of sequestration.

► At Mother Jones — Unemployment benefits are ending for 1.3 million Americans. What’s that all about? — On Dec. 28, 1.3 million people will lose their unemployment insurance because Congress failed to add an extension of those benefits into the budget deal that will likely pass the Senate this week.

► In The Hill — White House backs three-month extension of jobless benefits — The White House on Wednesday said it supports Sen. Jack Reed’s (D-R.I.) call for a three-month extension of the unemployment benefits that are slated to expire on Dec. 31.

► In today’s Washington Post — Federal workers’ job satisfaction falls, with Homeland Security Dept. ranking lowest again — Government-wide job satisfaction continued its downward slide for the third straight year, dropping to 57.8%, a decline of 7.2 points from its high of 65% in 2010. Last year, job satisfaction was at 60.8%.

► In today’s Washington Post — Federal workers far less happy than private sector employees, report finds — The average government worker comes in 13 points below the average private-sector employee in terms of job satisfaction.

EDITOR’S NOTE — So, as the value of their essentially frozen wages continues to erode due to inflation, federal employees also get their pensions cut by Republicans so they can balance the budget while preserving indefensible corporate tax breaks. Meanwhile, federal employees are routinely bashed by right-wingers on the airwaves and in Congress. Are we surprised they’re not happy?




WorkingWA-Amazon-Art-Museum► In today’s WSJ — Amazon warehouse workers plan union vote — Amazon may be getting its first union shop in the U.S. The NLRB has scheduled a union-representation vote on Jan. 15 for 30 mechanics and technicians at an Amazon warehouse in Middletown, Del. The workers will choose whether to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

ALSO at The Stand — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ‘would not survive’ in own warehouse

► At Huffington Post — Worker who reported wage theft gets reprieve from deportation — An undocumented worker in Washington, D.C., who wound up in deportation proceedings after he accused his employer of wage theft has been granted permission to work temporarily in the United States, dramatically changing a case that had outraged advocates for immigrant workers. He’s also been designated the victim of a crime, making it possible for him to apply for a rare work visa.

► At Politico — AFL-CIO invites MSNBC hosts to meet with unhappy NBC workers — The AFL-CIO sent a letter to Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and other top MSNBC hosts on Wednesday requesting that they meet with NBC production workers who have spent more than a year trying to form a union.

► At the Honolulu Civil Beat — Hawaii teachers union joins ranks of AFL-CIO — It’s official: the Hawaii State Teachers Association (NEA) and the Hawaii AFL-CIO are joining forces.


► From Bloomberg — The minimum wage and McDonald’s welfare (by Barry Ritholtz) — Welfare queens McDonald’s and Walmart are the beneficiaries of a surprising amount of federal aid: Their employees receive an inordinate amount of Medicaid, food stamps and other public assistance. This allows them to maintain very low wages, and keep profits relatively robust. With these corporations having their full-time employees’ paychecks effectively subsidized by taxpayers, I decided to do a little do more digging. What I found about minimum wages in the U.S. surprised me. I suspect it will surprise you, too.




grocery-webcam-thank-you2► At Labor Notes — How’d Seattle do it? — Is there something in the water in Seattle? The area has seen dramatic actions by and on behalf of workers in the past few months: defeat of concessions at major grocery chains, Boeing workers’ big “no” vote on concessions, a $15 minimum wage voted in for airport workers, and election of a socialist to city council—a candidate who made a city $15 minimum the centerpiece of her campaign. Activists are hoping what’s happened here has implications far beyond the Puget Sound.

“We may be ahead of some areas, but we’re not unique,” predicted Dave Freiboth, head of Seattle’s county labor council. “This kind of change is coming nationally.”


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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