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Moocher Nation, methanol jobs, justices divided…

Wednesday, January 22, 2014




► In today’s NY Times — States cutting weeks of aid to jobless — The country’s safety net for jobless workers has undergone a sudden transformation, from one aimed at providing modest but sustained protection to workers weathering a tough labor market to one intended to give relatively short-term aid before spurring workers to accept a job, any job.

► At Huffington Post — There are 85 people who are as wealthy as half the WORLD, Oxfam reports — Says the global relief organization: “This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems. Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.”

► At Upworthy — Who are the real ‘moochers’? — Over a million people have lost their extended unemployment benefits as of the end of 2013, and another 2.5 million are about to over the next few months. Perhaps our priorities are upside down?


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boeing-NLRB► At KPLU — NLRB once again caught in thorny dispute between machinists, Boeing — 2011 is the year the NLRB exploded onto the national consciousness, all because the agency’s general counsel filed a complaint against Boeing over its decision to build a Dreamliner plant in South Carolina. Now machinists have filed more than a dozen charges with the NLRB against the company. They say Boeing violated labor law by threatening to build the 777X out of state if they didn’t pass the recent contract offer.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Challengers to top Machinist leaders struggle to fill slate — The challengers trying to oust Machinists union International President Tom Buffenbarger haven’t been able to muster a full slate of candidates, just days before the federally mandated process to elect the union’s national leadership kicks off Saturday.

► From AP — Canada’s Bombardier laying off 1,700 workers




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Liias, Ortiz-Self appointed in 21st District — As expected, Snohomish County Council members didn’t take long Tuesday to appoint Democratic Rep. Marko Liias to replace Paull Shin in the state Senate. But they deliberated a while before deciding to send Lillian Ortiz-Self to Olympia to take Liias’ seat in the House.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — A shifting political landscape (editorial) — The appointment of Lillian Ortiz-Self to the state House marks the first time in state history that four Hispanics serve in the Legislature. Why has it taken this long, and what do their districts and biographies reveal about Washington’s evolving demographics?

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Senate GOP may reshape Hobbs’ role in committee shake-up — Several GOP senators want to remove the centrist Democrat as chairman of the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee and put newly elected Republican Sen. Jan Angel of Port Orchard in charge.

► In today’s Olympian — Bill granting Boeing-style tax break to helicopter company gets hearing — Republican Rep. Ed Orcutt of Kalama said he’d like the Boeing incentives to extend to companies that design, make or repair helicopters. His bill is meant to help lure a Portland-based aviation firm to move to Cowlitz County when its current lease expires this year.




► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Chinese company ready to invest $2 billion in Kalama, Clatskanie methanol plants — In what would be the biggest jobs boost for the region in about 20 years, a Chinese company plans to build two methanol export plants — at the Port of Kalama and Port Westward near Clatskanie — creating 240 full-time jobs in the Lower Columbia region. Combined, the $2 billion investment would create an estimated 2,000 construction jobs during the two-year building period.

► In today’s Oregonian — Port of Portland labor turmoil backs up cargo as big decision looms from Hanjin — Renewed labor strife at the Port of Portland snarled cargo once again Tuesday, leaving truckers stuck holding freight and containers. Delays and lost productivity at the Port’s container terminal came at the worst possible time for Oregon’s international trade. Hanjin Shipping Co. managers in Seoul are keeping a close eye on Portland as they prepare to announce any day now whether their ships will continue calling here.




obama-populist► At AFL-CIO Now — The 5 things we want to hear in President Obama’s State of the Union speech next week — We will raise wages and tackle income inequality; we will invest in America’s infrastructure; we will end deportations and create a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans; we will restore the right to join together and form unions; and we will renew federal emergency unemployment benefits.

► At Think Progress — Pentagon workers strike over poverty wages paid by federal contractors — Food service and janitorial staff at the Pentagon are going on strike Wednesday morning, opening a new front in the ongoing fight to get President Obama to end the federal government’s practice of paying poverty wages to contract employees at federal facilities.

► At TPM — GOP seeks to sabotage Obamacare with higher premiums — Conservative wonks and Republican lawmakers are coalescing around a new strategy to sabotage Obamacare by repealing a temporary piece of the law designed to hold down premiums in the event of major market disruptions.

► At Politico — Target dropping health coverage for part-timers — The company Tuesday night announced a plan to transition employees working fewer than 30 hours a week onto Obamacare health insurance exchanges, where they can get subsidized coverage.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Translation: Target decides to have taxpayers pay for their employee’s health coverage.




kagan-elena► In today’s NY Times — Justices appear divided on sweeping challenge to public employee unions — The case, brought by Illinois workers who provide home health care to Medicaid recipients, could have been argued on narrow grounds. But the workers’ lawyer decided to go big. The lawyer, William L. Messenger of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, asked the Supreme Court to overrule a foundational 1977 decision and to declare that government workers may not be forced to pay dues to unions to represent them in collective bargaining negotiations if they disagree with the positions the unions take. Justice Elena Kagan said that was quite a request: “It is a radical argument. It would radically restructure the way workplaces across this country are run.”

► From Aviation Pros — Labor group submits signatures backing Alaska vote to raise minimum wage — The ballot initiative proposes to raise the state minimum wage from $7.75 an hour to $8.75 on Jan. 1, 2015, and to $9.75 a year later. After that, the rate would be adjusted for inflation or would be $1 more than the federal minimum wage, whichever is greater.


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