Friday, March 14, 2014
► In today’s Seattle Times — Legislative session ends without tackling some major issues — State lawmakers finished their two-month session Thursday night by passing an operating budget that slightly increased state spending and then heading home without dealing with a plethora of other major issues. For the first time since 1996, lawmakers could not agree on a construction budget — despite a version of the plan passing 92-4 in the state House.
► In today’s News Tribune — Teacher evaluation process unchanged — State lawmakers adjourned without changing the state’s teacher evaluation system, which probably means Washington will lose its waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act, education leaders said.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — State exchange counts nearly 450,000 enrolled in Medicaid, private plans — Of those, 109,000 were people who purchased their plans, in some cases with the help of federal subsidies. The exchange is on the final lap of a race to enroll as many Washingtonians as possible. Residents have until March 31 to meet the open enrollment deadline for private health plans.
Behavioral Health Resources employees strike! — At 8 a.m. this morning, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members at Behavioral Health Resources, which provides mental health and addiction services in Thurston, Mason and Grays Harbor counties, launched a three-day unfair labor practice strike. Stop by the picket lines (see locations) and show your solidarity and support! Check out 1199NW Facebook page for more pictures from the picket lines.
ALSO at The Stand — 3-day strike at Behavioral Health Resources begins Friday
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Workers to picket today at Memorial Hospital — Workers at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital will stage an informational picket this afternoon. As the hospital moves ahead with a possible new partnership or affiliation, “it continues to stall on contract negotiations for healthcare workers,” reports SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.
► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma’s MultiCare nurses win back pay for breaks worked — MultiCare Health System registered nurses who claimed they were forced to work through their breaks have been paid nearly $100,000 in back wages by the health care system.
► In today’s Oregonian — Court rejects Del Monte appeal in compensation case — Del Monte Fresh Produce and its staffing company should pay 338 workers almost $800,000 in damages to compensate for not paying them during the time they put on or took off workplace protective gear, the Oregon Court of Appeals rules.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Teen-employment rate sharply down in Seattle area, study says — A new study by the Brookings Institution shows that while job prospects for teenagers have deteriorated nationwide in the past 12 years, the trend is even more pronounced locally.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Amazon opening new distribution center in Kent — Amazon said it will open a 1-milllion-square-foot distribution center in Kent, which will be its fourth in Washington state. The company said the Kent center will “create hundreds of full-time jobs.”
► In today’s Oregonian — Longshoreman pleads the 5th in United Grain sabotage case — Lawyers for a longshore worker accused of pouring sand into a gearbox at a Vancouver grain terminal want a judge to seal records in a civil lawsuit against him.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing engineers elect new union president — Ryan Rule narrowly won a three-way race for the top spot in the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA). He received nearly 44% of the vote, ahead of Michael Hochberg with 36% and Joel Funfar with 20%. Rule will lead the union, which has nearly 25,000 members, starting March 26. The current president, Tom McCarty, could not run for re-election. SPEEA’s bylaws limit elected officers to two 2-year terms in any one position.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Boeing ‘heir apparent’ tells Senate panel: Competition fiercer than ever — Boeing Chief Operating Officer Dennis Muilenburg — considered by many to be the heir apparent to run the company — focused on global competitiveness at a Senate hearing Thursday, and also thanked the Machinists union for helping Boeing compete.
► In today’s NY Times — Senate deal is reached on restoring unemployment benefits — The Senate on Thursday reached an agreement to pay for an extension of an unemployment assistance program that expired in December, leaving more than a million Americans who have been out of work for a half-year or longer without support from the federal government. The deal, a long-anticipated breakthrough after months of fitful negotiations, solves a problem on only one side of the Capitol, however. Getting the $10 billion measure through the Republican-controlled House will be another battle altogether.
► From CBS — Pilots union wants ‘Walmart of the skies’ Norwegian Air banned from U.S. air space — An international airline now flying in and out of LAX is offering some of the lowest fares in the world. And while passengers love it, major U.S. airlines and their unions say Norwegian Air is breaking the law and should be banned from the U.S.
TAKE A STAND — Urge White House to reject Norwegian Air scheme
► In today’s NY Times — Obama, citing concern for families, order review of deportations — The president said Thursday that deportations of illegal immigrants should be more humane, and to make that happen, he has ordered a review of his administration’s enforcement efforts.
► At AFL-CIO Now — AFL-CIO backs move for shorter, non-violent drug offenses — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka supports Attorney General Eric Holder’s move to reduce sentences for non-violent drug offenses and address the issue of mass incarceration.
► At GoIAM.org — IAM reaches tentative agreement with Alaska Airlines — IAM negotiators have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract for approximately 3,000 clerical, office and passenger service employees at Alaska Airlines. The five-year accord includes 12.3 percent in wage increases, improved job security provisions, strengthened merger protections, improved premium pay, enhanced home agent pay protections and holds the line on health care costs.
► From WAVE TV — ‘Right-to-work’ bill dies in Kentucky House committee — A Kentucky House committee’s vote killed right-to-work legislation for the rest of the year, but both sides say the issue will play a key role in November’s elections.
► At Salon — McDonald’s workers mount class-action suit in three states — McDonald’s workers in in California, Michigan and New York are suing the corporation and its franchisees over alleged wage theft, opening a new front in the embattled U.S. labor movement’s effort to transform a mammoth industry.
► In today’s NY Times — Happy Meals, Unhappy Workers (editorial) — Lawsuits alleging wage theft and other infractions were filed against McDonald’s in a bold escalation in the battle by fast-food workers for better pay.
► In today’s NY Times — Fear of wages (by Paul Krugman) — The troubling crusade against full employment raises the question: What’s wrong with rising wages, anyway?
► In today’s Seattle Times — In the incentives game, the house always wins (by Jon Talton) — In 2011, North Carolina provided $22 million in incentives to lure the headquarters of Chiquita Brands International to Charlotte from its longtime home in downtown Cincinnati. But this week’s announcement that the company will merge with Ireland’s Fyffes means the headquarters will move to Dublin. Most of that $22 million is probably lost with minimal gain for North Carolina.
► It’s hard to imagine a contemporary rock band singing a song about dedicated hard-working government employees. So when this song shuffled onto the iTunes of the Entire Staff of The Stand yesterday, we just had to share it. Channeling Beaker, a youthful David Byrne sings, “Some civil servants are just like my loved ones/They work so hard and they try to be strong.”
From the Talking Heads’ very first record in 1977, this song predates Ronald Reagan’s declaration that government is “the problem.” Today’s cynics — many of whom dwell in dark places like online comment sections — insist the song must be satirical, ironic, or “lunatic optimism.” After all, who would praise civil servants?! Not so, said bass player Tina Weymouth: “It was just us saying the best rock ‘n’ roll comes out of the suburbs. It was a beautiful and innocent sentiment.”
So today, we mourn our loss of innocence. And we look forward to the day that people who work to protect and serve the public are once again celebrated for what they do, rather than disrespected and blamed for society’s ills. Until then, long live the Talking Heads!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.