Friday, July 25, 2014
► In today’s News Tribune — Alaska Air Group announces record second quarter earnings — Earnings were up 50 percent over the same quarter last year and the company’s pre-tax margins grew from 13.5 percent in the same quarter last year to 18.5 this year.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Workers for Alaska Air’s bag vendor vote to join SEIU 6 — More than 200 Sea-Tac Airport workers at Bags, Inc., who are contracted by Alaska Air Group to provide wheelchair and other passenger services for Alaska customers, have voted to join SEIU Local 6. Bags employees typically work part time and earn just 68 cents above the minimum wage. Local political and faith leaders are urging Alaska’s CEO to adhere to his company’s own Vendor Code of Labor Standards and ensure Bags, Inc. honors its employees’ decision and begins contract talks immediately.
► From AP — U.S. airline profits are soaring — Riding a post-merger tide of higher fares and stable fuel costs, those same airlines are piling up profits — and sharing the newfound riches with investors.
EDITOR’S NOTE — How about a share for your employees, including your poverty wage-earning sub-contracted employees?
► In today’s News Tribune — To support the completion of SR 167, support its funding (by Dick Marzano and Tom Pierson) — Most legislators are for the completion of SR 167 and projects like it. What we face for the most part is a complete shortage of key leaders who will come out and support the way it must be funded. Being “for” a project but against the way we must pay for it is irresponsible, misleading and not supportive; it amounts to opposition.
► In today’s News Tribune — Health insurance exchange contractor catches flak for glitches — Chairman Ron Sims says late August is deadline for complete fix by Deloitte Consulting.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Rep. Hope resigns over dual voter registrations — Republican state Rep. Mike Hope resigned Thursday after it was revealed he’s been registered to vote in two states, Washington and Ohio, since last summer. His decision creates a vacancy which Republicans might be able to fill, even briefly, before the November election. In the meantime, Hope could be pressed to reimburse the state for the money he’s earned as a state lawmaker since he registered in Ohio last summer.
► In today’s News Tribune — Sen. Pam Roach giving up state-paid phone, mailbox — Under scrutiny over expenses she charged to state government, state Sen. Pam Roach has paid back $680 and promised to give up her Senate-paid phone and mailbox.
► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver schools chief’s compensation rises despite complaint — In the climate of shrinking budgets, not many public employees have received a 28 percent increase in total compensation over the past six years. But Steve Webb, superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools, has negotiated salary increases, additional cash outs and stipends to push his total compensation from $208,000 to more than $268,000 since starting the job in 2008.
► In today’s Oregonian — United Grain operations slow at Port of Vancouver after Gov. Inslee pulls security escorts — Grain loading has stopped at United Grain’s terminal at the Port of Vancouver, where longshore workers are picketing after being locked out last year by the terminal’s owners.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — PeaceHealth names new senior executive — Shakeups at the top for PeaceHealth, the Vancouver, Washington-based Catholic health system.
► In The Hill — Obama hits ‘corporate deserters’ — Lashing out at what he called “corporate deserters,” President Obama on Thursday increased the pressure on Congress to approve legislation targeting companies that change their address to slash their U.S. tax bill. Obama said corporations were taking advantage of a loophole not available to average workers — and in the process, forcing the middle-class to take up more of the tab for infrastructure and job-training programs. (Walgreens is considering buying a small Switzerland-based drug chain in one of these “inversion” deals to avoid U.S. taxes even though the chain will derive nearly all its sales and most of its profits from its 8,700 U.S. locations.)
► In today’s Olympian — Congress punts shamefully on highway funds (editorial) — Here’s how ridiculous Congress has become: In order to avert the nation’s Highway Trust Fund from going broke, shutting down countless road projects and throwing 700,000 people out of work, the U.S. House approved a 10-month patch with money that may or may not exist.
► In The Hill — House Republicans fear backlash from punting border bill to the fall — House Republicans are growing anxious about leaving town for the August recess without passing a border bill. Rank-and-file lawmakers are openly fretting about the questions they would face from constituents if they break from legislative work without taking action to address the surge of child migrants into the United States.
► At AFL-CIO Now — AFGE applauds move to reduce federal prison overcrowding — The federal employees’ union issued a release in support of the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s unanimous vote to allow federal prisoners serving time for low-level drug offenses to apply for early release.
► In today’s NY Times — Why voters aren’t angrier about economic inequality — Why don’t governments in democratic societies do more to combat income inequality? Many scholars say it’s because the poor vote less than the rich, reducing their electoral clout. And they don’t vote exclusively on the basis of their economic self-interest, but are often swayed by noneconomic issues, like abortion, the environment or gun control. Others say the rich might simply buy political power and use it to maintain their privilege. But researchers at the University of Hannover in Germany propose a simpler reason: Voters don’t demand more redistribution because they don’t grasp how deep inequality is.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Bloomsbury, N.J., Subway workers vote to join union — Notoriously anti-union Gov. Bill Haslam (R-Tenn.) can’t be happy about this story. Haslam’s family owns Pilot Flying J, a chain of travel centers, and workers at a Subway sandwich shop in the Pilot Flying J location in Bloomsbury, N.J., just voted to join a union.
► At AFL-CIO Now — The voice of Thomas the Tank Engine quits over ‘survival’ wages — Martin T. Sherman, who has voiced Thomas (and other characters) for the past five years, described HIT Entertainment’s wages as a “quantum leap” below what he would make for the same type of gig in the U.S. under a Screen Actors Guild contract. Sherman said:
I feel so bullied. Very bullied, and silenced…I find it ironic that most of the shows that HIT Entertainment puts out are about worlds where good people get rewarded, justice happens, and bad things happen to bad people. They themselves don’t live up to that world in any way.
► At TPM — Non-union grocery workers revolt at Massachusetts chain — Industry analysts say worker revolts at non-union companies are rare, but what’s happening at Market Basket is particularly unusual because the workers are not asking for higher pay or better benefits. They are demanding the reinstatement of beloved former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, who workers credit with keeping prices low, treating employees well and guiding the company’s success.
► The Entire Staff of The Stand sends this one out to Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, the guy with $23 million-plus annual salary, the $7.2 million Palm Beach home, and the sweet $3 million-plus annual pension. The guy who took away the pensions of the people building Boeing jets at a record pace — and strongly boosting company profits — after extorting a biggest-in-U.S.-history $8.7 billion tax break from Washington state, and then announced a few months later than he would move thousands of Boeing engineering jobs out of state to more union-hostile places, like Putin’s Russia.
You think you’re higher than every star above, but Mr. Big Stuff, you’re never gonna make us cower.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.