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Grain deal, attack on city employees, USPS ‘loss’…

Tuesday, August 12, 2014




► This morning at the Oregonian — Grain handlers, longshore union reach late-night agreement — A long-running lockout marked by pickets and inspectors’ safety concerns appears to have come to an end, following a tentative agreement reached late Monday between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and three Pacific Northwest grain handling companies.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Metal workers in Tukwila vote to join Machinists — More than 100 metal workers at Jorgensen Forge voted to join District 751 of the International Association of Machinists, which also represents blue-collar workers at Boeing and BAE Systems.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Jorgensen workers forge union with IAM

Freedom Foundation staffers "rally" last week in Olympia to make state employee contract negotiations public.

Freedom Foundation staffers “rally” last week in Olympia to make state employee contract negotiations public.

► At HA Seattle — Is Freedom Foundation plotting to transform Washington into a ‘right-to-work’ state, one city at a time? (by Goldy) — The execrable Freedom Foundation has been kvelling in recent weeks about a pair of anti-labor initiatives that have been filed in Sequim, Shelton, and Chelan, that would severely curtail the rights of public employees to organize. One initiative would require that all contract negotiations with public employee unions be open, a Freedom Foundation fetish that has no discernible function other than to disrupt the negotiating process. The other initiative would permit public employees to enjoy all the benefits of a negotiated contract while opting out of paying any union dues — essentially transforming these cities into so-called “right to work” cities for public employee unions, with the goal of destroying the public employee unions entirely.

► In today’s Peninsula Daily News — Petitions verified to make Sequim City Hall union talks public; now issue goes to City Council — Backers of efforts to make the city’s negotiations with employee unions public and to give employees a choice of joining a union or not have attained enough signatures to qualify initiatives for City Council consideration.

► From KPLU — Dozens of Sakuma berry workers walk out to protest firing of a worker — The ongoing labor dispute at a large Skagit Valley berry farm has flared up again. Workers at Sakuma Brothers Farms walked out on Monday to protest the firing of an employee who has been active in workplace organizing.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — After delay, farmworkers could arrive this week — More than 500 foreign workers who are supposed to help with apple harvest in the Tri-City area and Yakima Valley might finally arrive later this week.

council-fire► From Council FIRE — Council FIRE, IAM step up to support Native veterans — The Veterans Administration at American Lake, just outside of Joint Base Lewis McChord in Tacoma, has supported Native ceremony to assist military personnel suffering from PTSD, chemical dependency and other issues. Now Council FIRE, the IAM, and Weyerhaeuser have stepped up to defray the costs of the sweats by supplying firewood, and helping cut, split and store it.




► At — Looks like SEIU organizing strategy may backfire — on Washington taxpayers (by Erik Smith) — More than a month ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling likely to shake the left side of Washington politics. But this state hasn’t heard in any official way what effect Harris vs. Quinn will have – and now it looks like we’ll have to wait for a legal decision sometime in the months or even years ahead.

seattle-times-blame-unionsEDITOR’S NOTE — Since joining the already-conservative Times editorial board, former business-funded blogger Erik Smith has proven to be a prolific anti-union attack dog. He has penned dozens of editorials and columns that side with extreme right-wing ideologues on state government issues (like today’s editorial in support of the Freedom Foundation’s ALEC legislation du jour: opening state employee contract negotiations to the public) and siding with employers involved in labor disputes (supporting United Grain positions on its 17-month employee lockout one, two, three times in the past two weeks). Hiring a right-wing blogger/lobbyist like Smith demonstrates that the Times continues to test the limits of its credibility among readers in a liberal, pro-union town.

► From AP — Inslee clarifies psychiatric patient ‘warehousing’ deadline — Gov. Jay Inslee’s office has told health officials they have until Aug. 27 to comply with a state Supreme Court’s decision to ban the warehousing of psychiatric patients in emergency rooms.

► In today’s News Tribune — Which is it: Fund schools first or fund mental health now? (editorial) — It’s a double bind: The court wants school funding stepped up so quickly that all other state services face potential cuts. At the same time, it has ordered expanded services for the mentally ill, more or less immediately.

► In today’s Olympian — No Child Left Behind Act needs an overhaul — Both the state law and NCLB were driven by simple ideas: educate every child, regardless of his or her background or learning style; have clear academic standards; hold schools and students accountable for learning. But these simple ideas turn out to be incredibly difficult to execute, and perhaps even more difficult to legislate.




U.S. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe

U.S. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe

► In today’s NY Times — Postal Service quarterly loss was $2 billion despite higher prices — Despite an increase in revenue for nearly all of the Postal Service’s products, the agency continues to be mired in debt because of a congressional requirement to pay about $5 billion into a future retiree health care fund, post office officials said on Monday. The USPS reported operating revenue of $16.5 billion, a $327 million increase over the same period in 2013.

► From the NALC — Congress needs to preserve and strengthen USPS while fixing pre-funding — Letter Carriers (NALC) President Fredric V. Rolando:

The figures released today by the Postal Service show an operating profit of slightly more than $1 billion for the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 2014, continuing the operating profitability that began in October 2012… The red ink at USPS is attributable to non-mail factors — chiefly the 2006 congressional mandate that the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits, something no other public or private entity is required to do. That annual $5.6 billion annual charge accounts for most of the “losses.”

► From the APWU — Postal Service’s best kept secret: It’s making money from operations — “Despite the good news, Postmaster General Donahoe continues to paint a desperate picture of postal finances to justify his push to privatize the U.S. Postal Service,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “But USPS financial reports show the Postal Service is rebounding from the economic collapse of 2008 and can thrive as a public institution — if it is allowed to do so.”




wall-st-rules► In The Hill — Who rules America? — A shattering new study by two political science professors has found that ordinary Americans have virtually no impact whatsoever on the making of national policy in our country. The analysts found that rich individuals and business-controlled interest groups largely shape policy outcomes in the United States. This study should be a loud wake-up call to the vast majority of Americans who are bypassed by their government. To reclaim the promise of American democracy, ordinary citizens must act positively to change the relationship between the people and our government.

► At Politico — How K Street beat Obama — Barack Obama promised to take on Washington’s revolving door culture. Washington won. A Politico review shows that the Obama administration has hired about 70 previously registered corporate, trade association and for-hire lobbyists. And many of these former lobbyists work at the highest levels of government.

► In The Hill — ACA premiums slated to rise by an average of 7.5 percent — The average is “well below the double-digit increases many feared,” an analyst said.

mcmorris-rodgers-L► In The Hill — Manufacturers disappointed Ex-Im missing from GOP schedule — The memo plays into business groups’ fears that House leaders aren’t doing enough to urge Ex-Im reauthorization.

► At Huffington Post — Obama hints about making Supreme Court appointments — President Barack Obama suggested he will appoint more than one additional Supreme Court justice before he leaves office.




► At AFL-CIO Now — Make the union choice, switch to AT&T wireless — When you choose AT&T, you’re supporting more than 45,000 CWA members at the nation’s only unionized wireless carrier. Plus, all dues-paying union members and their families are eligible for AT&T’s 15% monthly discount on select monthly wireless plans.

► At Think Progress — Workers accuse Jimmy John’s sandwich chain of wage theft — A pair of former employees say that sandwich shop chain Jimmy John’s commits systematic wage theft as a matter of corporate policy by forcing workers to put in off-the-clock hours and refusing to pay overtime, according to a lawsuit.

► In today’s NY Times — Coaxing fire, police staff in Arizona to cut own pensions — With many pension plans for the state’s police officers and firefighters underfunded, the leader of a Arizona firefighter association (not a union) says his group must protect the public from financial ruin.




chicken-little-l► In the Washington Post — Santa Fe hiked worker pay. What happened next is … unclear. — In this historic capital of 70,000 people, 10 years has brought a stalemate. Has the city’s living wage — now at $10.66 an hour — been an overall benefit? Absolutely. Not at all. Sometimes. Maybe. It depends. It’s complicated. “One of the lessons learned is that the sky didn’t fall,” Mayor Javier Gonzales says. “The doom and gloom that was predicted never came to be. … But the living wage is not a silver bullet, either. It’s not a quick fix and it alone won’t save the economy.” The emotion that attended the city’s first debates about the living wage long ago dissipated. The battle goes on quietly, fought now on the field of anecdote.


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