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Union busting backfires, no COLA, NAFTA nightmare…

Thursday, February 20, 2014




► In today’s Huffington Post — Turns out anti-union VW workers may have screwed themselves, and the South — The German “co-determination” model mandates works councils, which connect employees to management, at all large German companies. Following the union vote, the head of Volkswagen’s works council said that the automaker would hesitate to expand in the U.S. South.

VW-workers► From Reuters — VW workers may block investment in the U.S. South unless workers are unionized — Volkswagen’s top labor representative threatened on Wednesday to try to block further investments by the German carmaker in the southern United States if its workers there are not unionized. Workers at VW’s factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., last Friday voted against representation by the UAW (following unprecedented interference and misinformation from local Republican politicians). German workers enjoy considerable influence over company decisions under the legally enshrined “co-determination” principle.

“I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again,” said Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council. “If co-determination isn’t guaranteed in the first place, we as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor” of potentially building another plant in the U.S. south, Osterloh, who is also on VW’s supervisory board, said.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Dear Bernd: Bring it. SayWA!

► From KPLU — VW vote won’t stop Machinists from continuing Boeing South Carolina effort — A spokesman for the IAM says the vote in Tennessee doesn’t change the union’s organizing effort at Boeing’s South Carolina plant. He says they’re in the early stages and haven’t started actively collecting signed cards from workers.

Which brings us to…




you-get-what-you-pay-for► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing offers bonuses to spur 787 catchup in Charleston — To reduce the flow of unfinished 787 work arriving at the Everett final-assembly plant, Boeing dangles a bonus for its South Carolina workers and reorganizes its lagging plant there. Meanwhile in Everett, work is still backing up as sections arrive missing not only major wiring bundles but even the brackets that hold the wiring. According to three people in the factory, work on both 787 assembly lines in Everett slid by two to three days in the past week, despite mandatory overtime through the weekend for many mechanics.




► At — Revenue too low for state employees’ 1% COLA, state says, but… — The state’s February revenue forecast came out Wednesday and the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council says there hasn’t been enough revenue growth to trigger a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment under the General Government contract July 1. Office of Financial Management Director David Schumacher said: “By the end of this biennium, state employees will have gone seven years without a general wage increase. We face a number of big challenges in the next biennium — in addition to finding new funding to meet our constitutional basic education obligation, Gov. Inslee has made it clear he intends to address a growing backlog of compensation issues.”

► From AP — Legal pot to add $190 million to state coffers — The state’s new legal recreational marijuana market is expected to bring nearly $190 million to state coffers over a four-year period starting in mid-2015, according to an economic forecast released Wednesday.

► In the (Everett) Herald — The Basic Health Plan model may live on (by DJ Wilson and Amy Snow Landa) — One of the most innovative state health care initiatives in the country — the Basic Health Plan model heralded and extended in the Affordable Care Act — has quietly ended in Washington state. But it could be resurrected by state legislation as a Federal Basic Health Plan Option under the Affordable Care Act, allowing low-income adults who might not be eligible for Medicaid to purchase affordable coverage.

holmquist-newbry► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Senator announces candidacy for Hastings seat — “The battle for our country is real,” Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry (R-Moses lake) said in a news release. “I feel compelled that it’s my duty to continue my efforts to fight for the future of our state and nation. The stakes are just too high.” She is an insurance consultant who has sponsored bills in Olympia that would reform workers’ compensation and set up a “training wage,” below the state minimum wage, for teen workers.

► At PubliCola — Campaign finance disclosure bill fails in GOP Senate — The Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus ignored a bill that had bipartisan support and had passed unanimously out of the government operations committee and had been cued up for a floor vote for more than a week now. Sen. Andy Billig’s bill would have closed a Citizens United loophole in campaign finance law that allows groups to contribute to campaigns without publicly disclosing their donations.




Hanford-big► In the Tri-City Herald — New Hanford cleanup price tag is $113.6 billion — An estimated $113.6 billion is the new price tag for completing the remaining Hanford nuclear reservation environmental cleanup, plus some post-cleanup oversight. If the cost were spread evenly among everyone living in the United States today, each person would have to come up with $359.

► In the Oregonian — Negotiators reach agreement to avert historic teacher strike in Portland — Negotiators worked for nearly 24 hours straight to reach a “conceptual agreement” that will stop nearly 3,000 teachers from walking the picket lines on Thursday.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Decline of unions affects us all (by Jerry Large) — A clear pattern holds across national boundaries and through history: Strong labor and less inequality go together. UW sociologist Jake Rosenfeld told me that when we spoke about his new book, “What Unions No Longer Do.” He hopes his book will encourage people in academia and outside to take seriously the connection between a strong labor movement and, well, the American dream.




► In today’s NY Times — The clear benefits of a higher wage (editorial) — The CBO’s job-loss figure needs to regarded skeptically, as a careful reading of the report shows, while the benefits are undisputed. Those benefits to millions of low-wage workers overwhelmingly outweigh the questionable possibility of job losses. Lawmakers who focus only on the potential downside of an enormously beneficial policy change are the same ones who never wanted to do it in the first place.

► In today’s Seattle Times — The CBO minimum wage report and us (by Jon Talton)

► From Bloomberg — Democrats seen as gaining seats in debate over raising minimum wage — Labor groups led by the AFL-CIO say campaigns tied to higher wages may hurt Republican governors and legislators in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “Raising wages for Americans, for all workers, is the issue of our time and hopefully will be the issue of this election. They can yell all they want but this is a winning issue.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — So, doing something that enjoys dramatic bipartisan public support helps you get elected. Who knew?




► At Politico — Specter of NAFTA haunts Obama’s trade dreams — President Barack Obama just can’t shake NAFTA’s ghost. As Obama meets neighboring heads of state for their annual summit in Mexico on Wednesday, the three leaders are trying to leave the 20-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement in the history books by fixing its failings in a broader Pacific Rim deal.

afl-logo► At AFL-CIO Now — AFL-CIO Executive Council sets policy course — The AFL-CIO Executive Council adopted several policy statements addressing wage growth and economic inequality, job outsourcing, Fast Track and trade, higher education and performers’ rights at its winter meeting in Houston on Tuesday. Noting that “the principle that all working people share in the wealth we create through rising wages has always been at the heart of our movement,” the council said that the current growing national conversation about economic inequality is “both an opportunity and a challenge for our movement.”

► In today’s NY Times — Federal lawsuit accuses for-profit schools of fraud — A federal lawsuit against Premier Education Group, which owns more than two dozen trade schools and community colleges operating under several names in 10 states, contends that while charging more than $10,000 for programs lasting less than a year, school officials routinely misled students about their career prospects, and falsified records to enroll them and keep them enrolled, so that government grant and loan dollars would keep flowing.

► At Politico — Nation’s biggest teachers union slams ‘botched’ Common Core implementation — The nation’s largest teachers union (NEA) is pulling back on its once-enthusiastic support of the Common Core academic standards, labeling their rollout “completely botched.”

► At Think Progress — Emails suggest Scott Walker knew of illegal campaign coordination — Newly released emails and records from a former deputy Chief of Staff to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) suggest that the governor may have been involved in — or at least aware of — illegal coordination between his 2010 gubernatorial campaign and his Milwaukee County Executive office. The release comes as a second probe continues, examining Wisconsin’s 2012 recall elections.


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