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U.I. myth debunked, no transportation, discouraging pensions, RTW…

Thursday, December 19, 2013




► In The Hill — Obama urges extending unemployment benefits — President Obama called for the extension of unemployment benefits after the Senate approved a bipartisan budget deal on Wednesday.

ALSO at The Stand — 24,400 in state face cutoff of jobless benefits — Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-6th) will hold a roundtable discussion on the issue starting at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 at the IBEW Hall, 3049 S. 36th St. in Tacoma.

welcome-to-north-carolina► From Bloomberg — North Carolina shows how to crush the unemployed — In July, Republicans in the state cut the maximum length of benefit from 99 weeks to just 19, and reduced the weekly check from $535 to $350. As intended, presumably, the number of North Carolinians receiving unemployment benefits has collapsed. It’s down by 45,000, or 40%, since last year. In addition, North Carolina’s labor force began to shrink. The state is experiencing the largest labor-force contraction it’s ever seen — 77,000 fewer people were working or searching for work this October than a year ago.

This should, but won’t, settle a partisan debate. Cutting unemployment insurance apparently hasn’t encouraged the unemployed to look harder for work: It has caused them to drop out of the labor force altogether. Meanwhile, the burden of easing the financial distress caused by unemployment has shifted from public programs to private charities.




► In today’s Olympian — No transportation deal until regular session convenes — Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington state legislative leaders say negotiations have failed to produce a new tax package for transportation projects.

stranger-pot-bank► In The Stranger — A state-run marijuana bank: It would solve two problems at once — State Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-11) has been championing a state-run bank for years, based on a successful state bank in North Dakota, and if you’ve been wondering what he’s been smoking in pursuit of this seemingly quixotic effort, well, he may have just answered your question. The latest iteration of Hasegawa’s bill attempts to recast his proposed state bank as “the sole depository for in-state marijuana producers, processers, and retailers.”

It’s a clever hack on top of Hasegawa’s previous state bank proposal that provides all the benefits of helping state government while addressing a huge unmet need created by the passage of Initiative 502: the lack of access to legal banking services by Washington State’s large and growing legal marijuana industry.

► In today’s News Tribune — More prison space needed in state, Gov. Inslee says — With Washington running out of room for inmates, Gov. Jay Inslee wants to start operating new space that is ready for use at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Health-benefit exchange extends deadline for completing individual policies — The state health-benefit exchange has extended by three weeks the deadline for health insurance through the online marketplace for individuals who’ve begun their application by Dec. 23.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Lawmakers already pushing new laws — There have been 59 bills filed early — 38 in the House and 21 in the Senate — dealing with specialty license plates and protecting hospital employees from violent criminals as well as naming a state waterfall and ensuring natural disasters don’t shut down government.

► In today’s Columbian — Clark County employee sues over Benton hiring — Anita Largent’s lawsuit stems from the May 1 appointment of state Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver) to the role of director of environmental services by Republican Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing made donations ahead of state tax break vote — Boeing campaign contributions to state lawmakers don’t usually draw much attention — until the checks are cut days before the Legislature votes to give the aerospace giant a huge tax break. PDC documents show that Boeing gave the maximum donation of $900 to seven lawmakers (six Republicans, one Democrat), for a total of $6,300.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Bidding for 777X: North Charleston dreams of more Boeing work — North Charleston, S.C., the only place outside Washington state where new Boeing jetliners are produced, has been notably muted during the multistate competition to land the 777X.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Handful of Machinists march, demand contract vote — About 30 members of the Machinists union protested their local union leaders’ decision not to put the latest contract proposal from the Boeing Co. to a vote by members.

Boeing-McNerney-thanks► From AP — Boeing exec shuffle puts 2 in race to be next CEO — Defense chief Dennis A. Muilenburg was promoted to president and chief operating officer, and named as vice chairman of the company. Raymond L. Conner was also named vice chairman, and will continue to run Boeing’s commercial airplanes division. Boeing spokesman John Dern said the moves are part of Boeing’s process for planning for the eventual retirement of McNerney, 64.




► In today’s Washington Post — Senate passes bipartisan budget agreement — The budget deal that passed the Senate on Wednesday amounts to a handshake agreement to avoid a government shutdown when a temporary funding measure expires Jan. 15. However, the accord does not address the need once again to raise the debt limit, setting up a potentially complicated confrontation in late February or early March.

► In today’s Washington Post — Budget deal brings some stability to federal workforce — The budget agreement does allow a 1% pay raise for most federal workers and some stability for a workforce that repeatedly had been threatened with government shutdown.

hands-off-our-pensions► From AP — Employer groups oppose pension fees in budget deal — For the second time in two years, Congress is targeting employers that still offer traditional pensions for a hefty increase in their insurance premiums to help finance a budget deal. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers support the overall deal, yet they and other business groups warn that the move to increase premiums more than 50% over the next three years will only encourage more companies to freeze plans or close them to new workers.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Et tu, Congress?

► At Politico — Patty Murray backs off military pension cut — Sen. Patty Murray is distancing herself from a cut in military pensions in the budget deal she brokered with Rep. Paul Ryan. Her unease about a key element of her own deal comes amid a backlash from veterans groups and Senate defense hawks. Murray’s response: The pension cut isn’t final.

► At Huffington Post — ObamaCare contractors penalized for labor law violations — Two of the companies hired by the government to implement the healthcare law are among the most penalized federal contractors for labor law infractions, according to a new report.




rtw-wtf► From AP — ‘Right-to-work’ push targets Oregon — Buoyed by recent successes in the Midwest, conservatives and business groups are targeting at least three additional states for new efforts that could weaken labor unions by ending their ability to collect mandatory bargaining fees. The latest efforts are focused on Oregon, Missouri and Ohio — in a new twist — could put the issue before voters in 2014 instead of relying on potentially reluctant governors to enact laws passed by state legislators. It could result in a multi-million dollar advertising battle between businesses and labor unions waged on several fronts at the same time.

ALSO at The Stand — Workshops to explain how ‘right-to-work’ harms communities — Sign up online for these workshops in Seattle, Olympia and Spokane in January 2014.

► In today’s NY Times — Health insurers extend deadline for first premiums — Insurance companies, worried about potential chaos next month as people begin seeking coverage under the federal health care law without completing the necessary paperwork, have agreed to give consumers an extra 10 days to pay their first-month premiums, according to the companies’ trade group.

► In the Biz Journals — Giant, Safeway workers’ union approves new contract in D.C. — The agreement, ratified Tuesday by UFCW Local 400, maintains health benefits for all current employees and “most future employees,” according to a statement from the union.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — Amazon German workers on fourth day of strikes — Workers at Inc. distribution centers in Germany will enter their fourth day of strikes on Thursday.

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




Bangladesh-factory-collapse► In today’s NY Times — After Bangladesh factory collapse, bleak struggle for survivors — Eight months ago, the collapse of Rana Plaza became the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry, and many of the survivors still face an uncertain future. While the Rana Plaza disaster stirred an international outcry — and shamed many international clothing companies into pledging to help finance safety improvements in other Bangladeshi factories — the people most directly affected are still living without any guarantees of help or financial compensation. Families who lost the wages of a son or daughter, husband or wife, are struggling.

Most of the companies that produced clothes in the factory have so far refused to participate in a long-term compensation package, including all of the American brands, but for many Rana Plaza survivors, the short-term compensation is already running out.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Those retailers include Walmart, Sears, and Children’s Place.


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