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Sign of the times, pleasing Boeing, saving Metro, Walmart charges…

Thursday, January 16, 2014




Boeing-IAM-777► At — Boeing Machinists’ plight marks changing times for labor — The Boeing contract phases out the pension over time, replacing it with a 401(k). The contract also increases health costs at a time when the company’s profits and stock are soaring. Workers felt backed into a corner, Machinist Wilson Ferguson says. Boeing threatened to move the jobs away; local politicians, and even their own national union leaders, pushed the machinists to accept.

“Everybody was fighting against us and we lost by 1 percentage point,” Ferguson says. “We put up a hell of a fight. But we lost.” The new labor pact was approved with 51 percent of machinists voting yes. This push by Boeing to wring concessions from its unionized workers echoes what’s happened at other big manufacturers and demonstrates the state of organized labor across the country.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Plane-building history cited in state’s 777X pitch — The best argument for the Boeing Co. to build the 777X in Washington is the state’s long history of building planes for the aerospace giant. That’s the thrust of the proposal Washington submitted in December as Boeing considered where it would manufacture its next-generation widebody jetliner.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — State pitches Spokane as site for Boeing 777X work — State to Boeing: How about building your new plane in Spokane? Low labor costs and short commute times mean the aerospace giant should consider building its newest jetliner on the West Plains, if it decides against a Puget Sound location, the state said in its official pitch for the 777X.




► In today’s News Tribune — Washington state pitches more help for Boeing — Even after giving Boeing Co. one of the largest packages of tax breaks in U.S. history, state leaders in Washington told the aerospace giant in a proposal released Wednesday that they are ready to do even more. In the 164-page proposal obtained under public disclosure laws, Gov. Jay Inslee and his administration vowed to work with Boeing on water quality issues, workers’ compensation costs and improved transportation infrastructure.


► At Crosscut — Will we ever say “no” to Boeing? (by Knute Berger) — No one seems ready to plunge into the next round of Boeing’s sure-to-come demands.

wa-state-dream-act_front► In today’s News Tribune — Let’s keep the DREAM alive for all our students (by two local school superintendents) — Speaking on behalf of school superintendents and educators across the state, our goal in K-12 education is to ensure that every child — regardless of income or immigration status — has the opportunity to be successful in K-12 and postsecondary education, the workplace, and society. They are the future stewards of our communities. The state House of Representatives demonstrated strong bipartisan support in approving HB 1817. The Senate should act swiftly to do the same. The DREAMers would benefit. We all would benefit.

ALSO at The Stand — House passes DREAM Act on Day 1

► In today’s News Tribune — Bills targeting lawmaker raises, fundraising clear WA Senate panel — A state Senate panel approved three measures Wednesday aimed at preventing prolonged special sessions of the Legislature, but not without some objections from minority Democrats.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Democrats find candidate to take on GOP state senator — Matt Isenhower, a Navy veteran and senior product manager at Amazon, announced Wednesday he’s running against state Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) in the 45th Legislative District.




► In The Stranger — Saving Metro won’t be pretty — With the Legislature proving absolutely incapable of addressing local transportation needs, King County Executive Dow Constantine has rolled out a proposal that would ask voters to approve $130 million a year in new local taxes to avert a 17 percent cut in Metro bus service, while providing additional money to maintain deteriorating city and county roads.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Ag stat report: Farm workers’ pay best in NW — The state’s annual Agricultural Workforce Report finds that the wheat industry pays better than tree fruit, and overall, farm work in the Northwest pays more than other agricultural regions of the country.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Bertha woes frustrate the state; investigators head underground — State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson says the agency “has had concerns” about how contractors have been operating tunnel-boring machine Bertha since July 30, when drilling began.

EDITOR’S NOTE — “When Bertha got movin’… the ground started shakin’…”

► In today’s Oregonian — J.C. Penney says no Oregon or Washington stores among 33 it plans to close — The retailer announced plans to close 33 stores and eliminate about 2,000 jobs nationwide, but none of the store closings will be in Oregon or Washington.




teabag► In today’s NY Times — In defeat for Tea Party, House passes $1.1 trillion spending bill — The House voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday, 359 to 67, to approve a $1.1 trillion spending bill for the current fiscal year, shrugging off the angry threats of Tea Party activists and conservative groups whose power has ebbed as Congress has moved toward fiscal cooperation.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington’s entire delegation voted “yes.”

► In today’s NY Times — Federal contracts plunge, squeezing private companies — The big business of Washington — federal contract work — is losing some steam. After spiraling higher for much of the last decade, the value of federal contracts awarded to companies is falling rapidly. For many businesses — particularly small ones used to lucrative contract work — the trend is worrying. Even for major corporations like Boeing, the cost of Washington’s budget battles is coming into sharp focus.

► In today’s Washington Post — Seems that 1.3 million people losing unemployment insurance hurts economic confidence — A couple weeks ago, 1.3 million people lost the unemployment insurance benefits they’d been receiving for months, casting them into a shaky job market with no support. Over time, obviously, that’s likely to depress their feelings about the economy. Now, courtesy of a measuring tool developed by CivicScience, we’ve got a reasonably concrete indicator that it already has.

► In today’s NY Times — False reasons for filibustering jobless aid (editorial) — Republicans do not believe that job-seekers who have been out of work for six months or longer deserve government assistance.

fast-track-public-citizen► At AFL-CIO Now — 7 reasons we don’t want ‘Fast Track’ trade deals — “Fast Track” isn’t a video game, a motor speedway or the official name of the high-speed rail project in California. In fact, “Fast Track” does not refer to anything swag at all — it’s a term that refers to international trade policy — and a very lame policy at that. Here are just a few reasons why “Fast Track” is terrible for working people…

► In today’s NY Times — Obama announces institute to create manufacturing jobs — With less than two weeks till his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, Obama hastened to make good on a pledge from last year’s speech, announcing the creation of a high-tech manufacturing institute aimed at creating well-paying jobs.

EDITOR’S NOTE — If the president wins his fight for Fast Track authority to ram through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “manufacturing institute” grads will have to look overseas for the those jobs.

► In the Fiscal Times — Obama throws a gut punch to teachers’ unions — A funny thing happened on the way to President Obama’s “Promise Zones.” He stepped off track and delivered quite a smack to the teachers unions.

► In The Hill — Unions back super-PAC supporting Republican centrists — Unions have contributed about $765,000 so far to the Defending Main Street Super-PAC, which is associated with former GOP lawmaker Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), according to FEC records.




► In today’s NY Times — Walmart facing claims that it fired protesters — The NLRB, in a sweeping complaint filed on Wednesday, said that Walmart illegally disciplined and fired employees after strikes and protests for better pay. The complaint listed violations of federal law in 14 states involving more than 60 workers and 34 stores. It said Walmart fired 19 employees for taking part in strikes and demonstrations against the company. Other employees were given verbal warnings or faced other disciplinary action. In some cases, according to the complaint, the company spied on employees.

► At Think Progress — Here’s Walmart’s guide for fighting unions and monitoring workers — Leaked internal documents show that Walmart’s strategy for fighting to keep its workers from forming unions includes instructing managers to report suspicious activity and warning workers that joining OUR Walmart could hurt them.

montlake-bridge-event► At Huffington Post — ‘Where’s the moral outrage’ over daily disaster of America’s bridges, experts ask — For years, leading transportation experts have been sounding the alarm over the country’s aging infrastructure, warning that many bridges — primarily those built during or before the Eisenhower administration — struggle to handle today’s traffic demands.

► From AP — Union vote fails at Amazon warehouse — Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Delaware rejected a proposal Wednesday evening that would have created the retailer’s first union organization in the United States.




► Today in The Onion — Nation recalls simpler time when health care was broken beyond repair — With the Affordable Care Act now making it possible for a greater number of Americans to purchase medical coverage, the nation looked back this week and fondly recalled a simpler time when its health care system was broken beyond any hope of repair.

morgue-toetag“Back then, if you couldn’t afford health insurance and got really sick, you went bankrupt, plain and simple,” said Dominique Otis, a Modesto, CA, mother of three. “They didn’t have this whole mess of lower-cost options, or all these subsidies you might or might not qualify for based on your income. People didn’t have to deal with any of those headaches. They just went ahead and died of preventable causes. Those were the good old days, ya know?”

According to nostalgic sources, there was a time when Americans who lost their jobs and the benefits that came with them simply went without insurance, and that was that. During this halcyon age there was reportedly no way anyone who was out of work could afford health care, and if people had a serious preexisting condition, they knew for certain they would never again qualify for decent coverage.


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