Thursday, March 6, 2014
► From Bloomberg — Highest minimum wage state Washington beats U.S. job growth — When Washington residents voted in 1998 to raise the state’s minimum wage and link it to the cost of living, opponents warned the measure would be a job-killer. The prediction hasn’t been borne out. In the 15 years that followed, the state’s minimum wage climbed to $9.32 — the highest in the country. Meanwhile job growth continued at an average 0.8 percent annual pace, 0.3 percentage point above the national rate. Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years.
► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘Historic moment’ as hundreds pack minimum wage hearing — Minimum-wage workers and their advocates packed a public hearing at Town Hall Seattle on Wednesday night to advocate for a $15-an-hour minimum wage in the city. Jason Harvey, who described himself as a Navy veteran and an eight-year Burger King employee, said he receives food stamps and goes to food banks to make ends meet. He urged the committee members to not carve out exceptions to a $15 minimum-wage measure: “If you pass this with 100 exceptions, you’re going to end up hurting people like me who need your help.”
► From KPLU — Regional economist Dick Conway says $15 minimum wage is ‘not outrageous’ — Well-known regional economist Dick Conway says the current minimum wage is not enough. You’ve got Seattle’s high cost of living. And you’ve got a regressive tax system that disproportionately hits low-wage workers. Plus he says you should boost the minimum wage to account for gains in productivity. That’s the additional output that workers have helped create. So what did he get when he put his pencil to paper? “You end up with a minimum wage of about $16.82,” said Conway.
► In today’s Washington Post — Report: Minimum wage hike would cut food stamp spending by $4.6 billion a year — Raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour would reduce federal food stamp spending by $4.6 billion a year, according to a report by the Center for American Progress.
► At Huffington Post — McDonald’s admits it may lose fight to keep wages low — The “long-term trend toward higher wages and social expenses in both mature and developing markets, which may intensify with increasing public focus on matters of income inequality,” is one of the “risk factors” facing McDonald’s in 2014, according its latest SEC filing.
► From AP — State jobless rate drops to 6.4% — Washington state’s unemployment rate is 6.4 percent, the lowest it has been in more than five years. The state Employment Security Department said that Washington added 3,800 jobs between December and January. The state’s unemployment rate is below the national rate of 6.6 percent for January. State officials say the strongest growth was in private sector jobs.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Construction employment still in a deep hole
As construction remains one of the relatively few blue-collar jobs that can’t be offshored, this graphic is one more piece of the problem of rising income inequality.
Also in The Stand — Bipartisan school construction plan would benefit K-3 classes — HB 2797 sponsor Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish): “Reduced class sizes and all-day kindergarten play a critical role in a child’s success. In order to accomplish these goals, new classrooms must be in place before teachers can show-up for work… This plan gives them the classrooms they need and creates 7,000 jobs at the same time.”
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Premera flexes its lobbying muscle as database for consumers is blocked — Premera Blue Cross, one of Washington’s largest health insurance companies, has exercised its influence in Olympia, winning a legislative fight even when virtually every other health care stakeholder in the state was in the opposite corner. “It is very frustrating to have the one company that just happens to be the largest health insurer in the state to have veto power, if you would, over the state Senate and the Legislature – because that’s what it amounts to,” said Democratic Sen. Karen Keiser, a minority member of the Senate health committee.
► At NW Progressive — Miloscia files paperwork to challenge Eide as a Republican — Desperate to solidify their tenuous hold on the State Senate, top Republicans have once again recruited into their ranks a candidate repeatedly elected to the Legislature as a Democrat with Democratic volunteers and donations. Mark Miloscia, who previously served several terms in the House, has filed paperwork indicating he may run against his former colleague Tracey Eide for Senate.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — ‘Boeing Fatigue Syndrome’ just a temporary malady (by Jerry Cornfield) — An outbreak of a rare virus indiscriminately infected Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate on Day One and shows no signs of abating before they adjourn next week. It is a strain of “Boeing Fatigue Syndrome,” a political disorder characterized by extreme exhaustion from repeated legislative genuflecting at the altar of the aerospace giant.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — OMB discusses proposed Hanford budget cut — Spending at Hanford and other Department of Energy cleanup sites is proposed to be cut in part because some work is being completed, said the director of the Office of Management and Budget. But Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chairwoman of the committee, told OMB director Sylvia Mathews Burwell that “we have really serious challenges in making progress at these nuclear sites across the country.”
► In today’s Oregonian — Port of Portland’s troubled Terminal 6 shuts for second day in a row — The shutdown is yet another setback for the embattled terminal, where members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been feuding with terminal operator ICTSI Oregon Inc. Each side blames the other for slow work, chronic delays and lines of trucks in a situation closely monitored by Hanjin Shipping Co., which may soon decide to stop calling on Portland altogether.
► In today’s Columbian — Survey: Clark County workers oppose guns in workplace — A survey of Clark County employees shows a majority opposes loosening gun restrictions inside certain public buildings, but that hasn’t deterred commissioners from discussing a new, less-restrictive gun policy.
► From CoStar — SWMIA sells Kirkland building — A moving and storage company acquired the Totem Lake Industrial building at 13513 NE 126th Pl. in Kirkland from Sheet Metal Workers International Association for $3.25 million.
EDITOR’S NOTE — SMWIA Local 66 is now headquartered at 11831 Beverly Park Rd B-2 in Everett.
► In The Hill — New Obamacare regs slash fees for some unions — The new rules would “exclude from the obligation to make reinsurance contributions for 2015 and 2016 certain self-insured, self-administered group health plans.” Many unions utilize such plans, and will not have to pay the reinsurance fees for those years under the new language, though the fees are just one of labor’s gripes about the law.
► At MSNBC — Over 2 million people now without unemployment benefits — When long-term jobless benefits first expired on Dec. 28, the effects were immediate for those 1.3 million Americans who had already been without a job for six months or longer. But the pool of the long-term unemployed continues to grow with each passing month. By this Saturday, that pool will have grown to include at least two million Americans who are no longer eligible to collect benefits. Next month, the number is projected to rise to 2.3 million unless Washington takes action first.
► In The Hill — Dems to Obama: Slow the deportations — Pressure to slow deportations of undocumented immigrants is now coming from the Senate, where three senior members of the Democratic caucus say Obama should halt deportations of those who are immediately related to citizens or permanent legal residents.
► In today’s Atlanta J-C — Postal workers protest mail service inside Staples stores — About 50 people picketed a Staples office supply store, demanding the retailer and U.S. Postal Service use postal workers instead of store employees for a pilot program offering limited postal services at some metro Atlanta stores. A USPS spokeswoman said the 82 Staples that are part of the pilot program that could expand to 1,600 additional locations. A spokesman for the Postal Workers (APWU) union said Staples employees are not only poorly trained to handle U.S. mail, but also are making less than a living wage: “The Postal Service and a for-profit company are converting living-wage jobs in the community into minimum-wage jobs with no benefits. Our communities need living-wage jobs, not minimum-wage jobs.”
► At Huffington Post — Imposing a starvation diet on government programs needs to end (by AFGE President J. David Cox) — As any dietician will attest, starving the body of vital nutrients in an effort to slim down is a recipe for failure. The same is true for federal government programs and services. For example, in the name of austerity, Congress has cut the Labor Department’s Training and Employment Services by more than 30% since 2010, denying funds to a program whose chief goal is to reduce unemployment and develop a more productive workforce. That’s like going to the doctor to treat a sprained finger, only to come out with an amputated arm.
► From PandoDaily — An anti-pension billionaire shows the five rules of deceptive native advertising — You may love billionaire John Arnold’s crusade to slash the retirement benefits of police officers, firefighers, teachers and other public workers. You may hate it. Either way, what’s clear from his public broadcasting efforts, his Brookings initiative and his other efforts is that he is a virtuoso of native advertising.
That doesn’t make him unique. After all, many political powerbrokers, media organizations and interest groups are right now developing ever-more-deceptive ways to camouflage political and commercial messages as dispassionate analysis and news. But as the Brookings paper proves, it does mean Arnold has so mastered the dark arts of native advertising that trillions of dollars of retirement funds are threatened — and relatively few are even paying attention to the man behind the curtain.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.