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Higher ed deals, Doug’s dough, hedging jobs & breadsticks…

Wednesday, September 17, 2014




wfse► In today’s Olympian — Evergreen, WFSE agree to 3% pay hikes in 2015, 1% in 2016 — The two-year agreement, which still needs to be ratified by 307 workers and funded by the Legislature, comes at a time Gov. Inslee’s labor team is negotiating with two dozen state-worker unions who are also seeking pay hikes.

► At — WWU reaches tentative agreement — Western Washington University became the third group of Washington Federation of State Employees’ Higher Education members to reach tentative agreement on a new two-year contract. The WWU Bargaining Team reached tentative agreement on their 2015-2017 contract covering 444 employees on Tuesday. It includes a 3% increase in 2015 and 1% in 2016.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — State, union near deadline on EvCC negotiations — With classes at Everett Community College starting next Monday, the union representing most of the administrative and support staff is bolstering its position before heading into a day of negotiations this Friday. Some of those employees met Tuesday and were informally polled to see if members would support a walkout if talks fail, said the WFSE’s Tim Welch.

Washington-No-1► From AP — Report ties sales-tax reliance to rising income inequality — Washington is among the states that depend most heavily on sales taxes for revenue, and a new report links a decline in growth of such funds to the rising concentration of wealth for the richest U.S. households. The study by credit-ratings agency Standard & Poor’s shows a significant decline in annual average state tax growth among the 10 most sales tax-dependent states, which includes Washington. That report ties the slowed growth to rising income inequality, which appears to stunt overall economic growth. S&P also links it to a slowdown in average yearly gains in state tax revenues.




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Problems still plague 787 — Untimely work and substandard supplier components continue to be a drag on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner program, say factory workers and others familiar with the production process.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — Boeing’s Conner names goal for 737 production: 52 a month — On Tuesday, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner put a number to something that’s only been hinted at before: That Boeing is planning to boost the rate of Boeing’s smallest plane to an unprecedented 52, five more than the current goal of 47.




► In the P.S. Business Journal — The effects of 900 Seattle service workers losing their jobs at the same time — Hundreds of employees on Seattle’s waterfront will lose their jobs in two weeks when 15 businesses close down to make way for the city’s replacement of the Elliott Bay Seawall. The businesses will be paid about $12 million as part of a mitigation settlement with the city, but employees will see none of the funds.

eyman-pez-wages► At — Mayor Murray on Tim Eyman’s initiative against minimum wage boost: Bring it on!!! — “Tim Eyman and others have put on the ballot everything I have done in elective office,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who was a state legislator for 17 years before being elected mayor. Murray ticked off a list of measures, ranging from the state’s 2005 transportation package to non-discrimination legislation and marriage equality for gays and lesbians. In particular, Eyman targeted — unsuccessfully — a 2006 gay civil rights bill.

► In the Seattle Times — Mayor Murray seeks new office to enforce $15 wage, other laws — Seattle Mayor Ed Murray proposed creating an Office of Labor Standards to carry out education and enforcement duties related to the city’s sick-leave ordinance, its job-assistance ordinance and its $15 minimum-wage law.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Three cities hit with $2.5 million bill for back pay — The cities of Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Brier have been hit with unexpected bills totaling $2.5 million from Fire District 1 to pay for retroactive pay raises for its employees for the past two years.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Metro finance picture improves, so bus cuts may not be as bad — It creates an intriguing situation for Seattle voters, who will be asked to raise their taxes on the November ballot to forestall Metro service cuts. An upturn in Metro finances might enable city residents to grow the transit network, instead of merely holding the line against proposed bus cuts.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Metro finds room on the bus for some good news (by Danny Westneat) — Turns out Metro doesn’t have to cut the bus system as much as it once claimed. So maybe now we can get to what really needs to be done: expanding it.




ericksen-doug► In the Bellingham Herald — Sen. Ericksen’s campaign cash coming mostly from special interests, corporations — More than three-quarters of cash contributions made to incumbent state Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) have come from corporations, special interest groups, businesses or political action committees, according to state records. In comparison, challenger Seth Fleetwood has raised about 25% of his money from labor unions, businesses, tribes and PACs, and the rest from individual donors.

ALSO at The Stand — More free lunches for Ericksen, now from his campaign donors

► In the (Everett) Herald — Snohomish County Council can’t decide on a state House appointment — The Democrat-controlled Snohomish County Council balked Monday at appointing a Republican to an open state House seat. Instead of choosing a replacement, the council voted 5-0 to let Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee fill the vacancy in the 44th Legislative District created by the July resignation of Republican Rep. Mike Hope.

► At PubliCola — Progressives fight nice in pre-K competition — With SEIU squaring off against the city over pre-K measures, SEIU 775’s David Rolf and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray are on opposite sides of the contentious ballot race, caught in a larger intra-progressive tension that has the potential to sow some nasty, longer-term divisions in Seattle. This may explain the “play nice” language in SEIU’s recent letter.

► In today’s NY Times — GOP gains strength as Obama gets low marks — A New York Times/CBS News poll shows that President Obama’s approval ratings are similar to those of President George W. Bush in 2006 when Democrats swept both houses of Congress in the midterm elections. A deeply unpopular Republican Party is nonetheless gaining strength heading into the midterms, as the American public’s frustration with Obama has manifested itself in low ratings.




► At Politico — Child laborers. In America. In 2014. — The Obama administration has made curbing nicotine use by kids a public health priority, with efforts including mass media campaigns to reduce teen smoking and a proposed ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors. But when it comes to the serious health risks run by thousands of children who work each summer on tobacco farms in the United States, the administration has been conspicuously silent.

kono-mcdonalds-franchises► At Think Progress — Fast-food franchise owners ask Congress for help to stop workers’ campaign for wages, union — The International Franchise Association is flying fast food store owners and other franchisees into Washington, D.C. to drum up congressional opposition to a recent legal decision that could make corporations liable for how franchise employees are treated.

► From AP — NLRB orders CNN to rehire fired workers — The National Labor Relations Board ruled against the CNN cable television network on Monday in an 11-year-old labor dispute, ordering the network to rehire or compensate about 300 former workers.

► At Think Progress — Republicans unanimously block equal pay bill — Senate Republicans have unanimously shot down the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would ban salary secrecy and tighten rules to try to narrow the gender wage gap, multiple times over the past four years.

► From AP — Cuts to food stamps will only hit 4 states — Cuts to the nation’s food stamp program enacted this year are only affecting four states, far from the sweeping overhaul that Republicans had pushed. Among the 16 states potentially affected by the cuts, 12 mostly Democratic governors (including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee) have taken steps to avoid the food stamp cuts.

► In the NY Times — Number of Americans without health insurance falls, survey says — Federal researchers reported on Tuesday that the number of Americans without health insurance had declined substantially in the first quarter of this year, the first federal measure of the number of uninsured Americans since the Affordable Care Act extended coverage to millions of people in January.




► At Politico — Unions trumpet historic win in American Airlines vote — Reservation agents at Texas-based American Airlines have voted overwhelmingly for union representation, in a move that labor organizers hailed Tuesday as a historic win in the South. The agents chose to join with US Airways agents to form a bargaining unit of 14,500 employees at the new American Airlines. The two airlines merged this year, taking American’s name. The combined group of airport and reservation agents will be represented by the Communications Workers of America-Teamsters Association. The CWA called it “the largest labor organizing victory in the South in decades.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — American Airlines agents join CWA in “historic” organizing win

walmart-angry-face► At Think Progress — How Walmart is getting away with making employees buy new work outfits — Under federal labor law, employers can’t make their workers buy uniforms with their own money if doing so would drop their wages below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. But, under the language used by the company, the new clothes aren’t “uniforms.” Instead, they’re part of a new “dress code.”

► From KGO — Union workers hold one-day strike at Golden Gate Bridge — On Tuesday, workers with the Golden Gate Transit District held a one-day strike on the Golden Gate Bridge over health benefits and labor practices. The strike was sparked by unsuccessful talks with management over a new contract.

► In today’s NY Times — New data, old story (editorial) — Income for most Americans has not recovered since the recession ended, and, at the recent rate of progress, it won’t for a long time, if ever.




smith-jeffrey-starboard-value-ceo► At Slog — A hedge fund wants to cut jobs at Olive Garden, but everyone is more worried about losing breadsticks (by Paul Constant) — By now, you’ve probably read about Starboard Value, the aggressive hedge fund that blamed Olive Garden’s recent financial decline in part on the restaurant chain’s tendency to hand out too many breadsticks to customers. A PDF of Starboard’s 300-page presentation about the future of Olive Garden went online. I read it. It’s not a PR stunt. It’s a sincere document that exemplifies the worst of corporate communications: Stultifying language, vapid repetition, pointless visual gimmicks, and an all-consuming blandness that threatens to descend on your brain in a feathery cloud and nibble your prefrontal cortex to pieces… This Starboard document is a ghoulish representation of everything that is wrong with corporate culture: obsessed with herd mentality, overly fond of meaningless catch phrases, and happy to euphemize job losses to the point where readers of the report get more upset over the thought of having to ask for a few more breadsticks than over the idea of real human beings losing their low-paying jobs.


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