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COLA zero, minimum wage not a job killer, corporate court…

Thursday, March 13, 2014




cola-zero► In today’s (Everett) Herald — With clock ticking, state lawmakers still in budget talks — House and Senate leaders put the finishing touches Wednesday on a supplemental budget agreement that will reportedly inject more money into public schools but make teachers wait at least another year for a state-funded pay hike. While they remained tight-lipped, several lawmakers and lobbyists late Wednesday said that a 1.2 percent cost-of-living adjustment for teachers and other public-school employees did not make it into the final agreement.

► In today’s Olympian — House-Senate budget negotiators ‘close,’ still expecting to adjourn on time — The Washington Legislature was closing in on a final supplemental budget agreement Wednesday evening that would let lawmakers adjourn their 60-day session on schedule by midnight Thursday.


Déjà vu.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Washington transportation package dies in Legislature — Washington drivers won’t see gasoline taxes rise 11.5 cents over the next three year. But they also might not see the Legislature come up with the money to finish the North Spokane Corridor or build several other “mega projects” many people think the state needs.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Get back to building job-creating projects (by Reps. Derek Stanford and Drew MacEwen) — Through a state-and-local partnership, we can create jobs and build projects to help the health and economic development of our communities for decades to come. We have a proven system in place to make this happen; all we need to do is get it moving again. The Public Works Assistance Account helps local governments provide clean water, working sewers and other projects that open the path for new economic development.

► From KPLU — Facing ethics charge, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen wants legal defense fund — Owen faces a formal ethics hearing this fall on whether he used public resources to a support a nonprofit entity he founded with his wife. He has hired a lawyer to defend him against the attorney general’s office. Owen says when all is said and done, this could personally cost him $20,000 to $30,000 in legal fees.




Happier times.

Happier times.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — The governor’s aerospace checklist, sans Machinists — Gov. Jay Inslee’s 2014 aerospace progress report has a check mark next to “Secure Boeing 777X work for Washington.” The report, which was released Tuesday, highlights the state’s considerable efforts but doesn’t give any credit to the Machinists union, which actually ensured the new airplane will be assembled in Washington.

► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — Boeing delays decision on where to assemble 787-10 Dreamliner — Boeing is stalling its decision on where it will build the 787-10 until later this year, leaving at least the possibility open that the largest version of the 787 might be built in Everett.




WA-minimum-wage► In today’s Seattle Times — Raising minimum wage doesn’t kill jobs, studies show — What have the effects been on employment at cities that have raised their minimum wages? Almost none, according to economists at the University of California, Berkeley, who have studied San Francisco, eight other cities that raised their minimum wages in the past decade, and 21 states with higher base pay than the federal minimum. Businesses absorbed the costs through lower turnover, small price increases at restaurants, which have a high concentration of low-wage workers, and higher worker productivity, the researchers found.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The Seattle Times headline — “Studies look at what happened when cities raised minimum wage” — suggests they weren’t interested in trumpeting what the studies actually found, so I changed it. :)

► At PubliCola — Labor group open to minimum wage initiative if deal falls through — M.L. King County Labor Council head David Freiboth says that the labor group will be open to an initiative if business interests on the committee water down the proposal with too many business-friendly exemptions (such as tip penalties).

► At PubliCola — Minimum wage task force co-chair says discussions are ‘on track’ — The panel’s first few meetings, according to co-chair David Rolf, head of the pro-$15 minimum wage SEIU Local 775, were spent getting “steeped in data.”

► At KPLU — Parking lot workers in SeaTac say boss isn’t paying the $15 minimum wage — Thirteen employees of Extra Car Airport Parking in SeaTac have filed complaints with the city, saying their boss isn’t complying. The workers say their boss instead gave them a 32-cent raise; many of them now make $10.32 an hour.




► In today’s Yakima H-R — Local farmworker advocacy groups to split $800,000 — The long-running Perez-Farias v. Global Horizons case saw its final chapter Tuesday with a ruling from U.S. District Judge Robert Whaley approving distribution of the remaining funds to two legal-aid groups, Columbia Legal Services and Northwest Justice Project, as well as Radio KDNA in Granger and the Laurel Rubin Farmworker Fund, which supports internships for law students working on farm worker issues.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Detained immigrants entitled to bond hearing, judge rules — Immigration authorities must grant bond hearings to immigrants at the Northwest Detention Center who are picked up by immigration authorities months and sometimes years after resolving their criminal cases in state court and returning to their communities.

► In today’s News Tribune — Four detainees still not eating at Tacoma’s Northwest Detention Center — With four detainees on the sixth day of a hunger strike, an unrelated court ruling brought some movement on one of the demands of protesters at the federal immigration detention center in Tacoma.

TAKE A STAND — Casa Latina, an affiliate of the Washington State Labor Council, is urging supporters to sign an online petition from the Not1More campaign in support of hunger strikers and their efforts to improve conditions at the Tacoma detention center.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane Veterans Affairs hospital brings budget concerns to Sen. Patty Murray — Staff shortages and the worry of possible budget cuts prompted local managers at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Spokane to ignore the chain of command and take their concerns straight to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who put pointed questions to senior officials during a Wednesday hearing.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Sign up now for health care to avoid March 31 deadline crunch (editorial) — You can do your uninsured friends and neighbors a favor by reminding them that March 31 is the deadline to sign up for health care coverage before risking a federal tax penalty.




bush-tuxedo► At AFL-CIO Now — Obama seeks to restore overtime pay to millions denied under Bush-era rules — In 2004, President George W. Bush, at the urging of business groups, used his executive powers to change overtime eligibility rules and allow businesses to deny overtime for millions of workers. Today, President Barack Obama is expected to announce that he will direct the U.S. Department of Labor to update overtime eligibility rules to restore overtime protection that workers have lost to inflation since 1975.

► In The Hill — Biz stunned as Obama moves on overtime — Business groups and congressional Republicans are blasting regulations President Obama will announce Thursday that could extend overtime pay to as many as 10 million workers who are now ineligible for it. While liberals lauded the plan as putting more cash in the pockets of millions of workers, business groups warned it would damage the economy and Republicans said it was another example of executive overreach.

► In today’s NY Times — Extra pay for extra work (editorial) — In 2004, rule changes by the Bush administration, which remain in force today, locked in the law’s outdated and inadequate salary threshold, while giving employers more leeway to define workers in ways that make them ineligible for overtime pay. President Obama’s directive to the Labor Department to revamp the nation’s overtime rules is an opportunity to undo the damage. By reasserting a meaningful right to overtime, it could lift pay for an estimated five million workers a week and, in the process, help to mitigate the wage stagnation and income inequality that increasingly plague the American economy.




microsoft► At Think Progress — Corporate America is hiding $2 trillion in profit from the IRS — The largest American multinational companies parked an additional $206 billion of profits in offshore accounts last year, according to Bloomberg, bringing the total amount of profits stashed where U.S. tax officials can’t touch them up to about two trillion dollars. The 307 companies that Bloomberg examined now hold a combined $1.95 trillion offshore, allowing them to avoid paying U.S. taxes on those earnings.

EDITOR’S NOTE Our own Microsoft ranks No. 2, with more than $76 billion in accumulated profits parked offshore to avoid U.S. taxes. Meanwhile, company executives have been key players in the campaign to cut Social Security benefits.

► In today’s Detroit News — UAW: NLRB ruling in favor of anti-union VW workers ‘an outrage’ — On Tuesday, the NLRB granted a motion by five VW workers seeking the right to challenge the UAW’s challenge of last month’s vote at their factory in Chattanooga.





supreme-court-chamber-chart► At Think Progress — Supreme Court ruled in favor of nation’s top corporate interest group in 7 of 8 cases this term — So far this term, the Supreme Court handed down eight cases where the United States Chamber of Commerce filed a brief — and a majority of the justices sided with the Chamber in all but one of these decisions. This most recent data is part of an ongoing project by the Constitutional Accountability Center, which scored the Chamber’s “win rate” before the justices going back to 1981. As their data reflects, corporate America got a big boost in the nation’s highest Court shortly after Chief Justice John Roberts (and his conservative colleague Justice Samuel Alito) became justices.


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