Tuesday, November 11, 2014
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Airlines sue Port of Seattle over Sea-Tac Airport wage hikes — Airlines flying out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are suing the airport’s operator, the Port of Seattle, over the port’s summertime decision to mandate higher wages at the airport. The airlines’ trade organization, Airlines For America, filed the suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, claiming the port’s wage decision conflicts “with federal and state laws, and importantly, mutually negotiated labor agreements.”
► A related story in the P.S. Business Journal — New Port of Seattle CEO sets lofty goal: Add 100,000 jobs in region — Ted Fick, the newly appointed CEO for the Port of Seattle, did not specify a timeline for the job creation. It’s likely this growth will be driven by a variety of transportation sectors over the course of many years.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Hey, Mr. Fick. The Port has already proven it can create jobs: crappy contractors’ jobs with low pay and no benefits. “Creating jobs” is no longer good enough. Tell us how many good jobs with decent wages and benefits you plan to create — and how.
► In today’s Peninsula Daily News — Clallam to mull one-time refund to employees who made union concessions — Clallam County commissioners next month will consider a one-time refund for union employees who made concessions three years ago. Nearly all county employees volunteered in late 2011 to pay an amount equal to their 2012 contractually-guaranteed cost of living raise to the employer portion of their medical benefits to help cover the $1 million cost of the Darold Stenson double-murder trial. County workers also took 16 unpaid furlough days in 2012 and again in 2013.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Snohomish budget calls for higher taxes, pay — The proposed city of Snohomish budget for 2015 calls for tax increases, higher pay for employees and additional staffing. If adopted by the City Council, it will enable Snohomish to restore services cut during the economic downturn, city manager Larry Bauman said. A compensation study earlier this year, which compared Snohomish workers’ pay to their counterparts in similar-sized cities, revealed that many of them are underpaid.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Convention Center coming together on time, on budget — The Spokane Convention Center is just weeks away from throwing open its doors for larger conventions and events. Garco Construction is on time and on budget for a 91,000-square-foot expansion of the facility. The project is generating about 400 jobs both during and after construction. Currently, Garco has about 150 trade workers and laborers on the job. They are both union and nonunion workers. All are paid prevailing wages.
► At The Seattle Globalist — Another decade of detention center woes in Tacoma? — If there is ever a time to oppose the existence of or conditions at the Northwest Detention Center, that time is now. The elusive contract for the facility’s continued operation still hasn’t posted to FBO.gov, but should soon. The current contract, held the private for-profit prison corporation GEO Group, was supposed to expire on Oct. 23 but was extended through February of next year when ICE failed to get the call for bids posted in time.
► At KPLU — Washington voter turnout appears at 36-year low — Voter turnout in Washington state could be a 36-year low. Not since 1978 has such a small percentage of registered voters participated in a Washington election.
► In today’s News Tribune — Michelle Caldier unseats Rep. Larry Seaquist — Four-term Gig Harbor Rep. Larry Seaquist conceded Monday to a political newcomer. Michelle Caldier said she will bring unique perspectives to the Legislature as a dentist who treats nursing-home patients and as a former foster child and foster parent. Shelton Rep. Kathy Haigh, trailed Republican Dan Griffey by 546 votes Monday. If Haigh loses and Christine Kilduff (D-University Place) hangs on to her 289-vote lead over Paul Wagemann (R-Lakewood), Democrats’ majority in the House will slip to 51-47.
► In today’s Columbian — Stonier concedes to Wilson in 17th District race — Democratic state Rep. Monica Stonier has conceded defeat to Republican challenger Lynda Wilson in the most competitive legislative race in Southwest Washington.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Votes piling up for lower class sizes — A statewide class-size reduction initiative appears certain to pass, based on the latest vote totals released Monday. Initiative 1351 led with 50.7 percent of the vote, and an analysis by The Seattle Times shows there is almost no way it will fail.
► At RossHunter.info — State budget 2015-17: A high degree of difficulty (by state Rep. Ross Hunter) — When writing about the budget it’s important to share good news as well as bad. First the good: (it’s short) the revenue forecast picked up a little bit. The bad is that we face one of the most difficult budget cycles of my time in the Legislature, and perhaps worse than we’ve seen in many decades.
► At WFSE.org — Members voice need for reforms at Harborview — Frontline workers used their voice and gave the unvarnished truth about working conditions at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle at a no-holds-barred town hall meeting — without management present — on Friday.
► At AFL-CIO Now — America’s unions honor veterans, active service members — U.S. military service and unionism go hand-in-hand—and always have. Working people stormed the beaches of Normandy, waded the rivers of Southeast Asia and planted dusty boots on the deserts of the Middle East. Previous generations of veterans returned from service and started careers in manufacturing, construction and public service. They went from defending America to building America—and continued to build our country and our unions.
► At AFL-CIO Now — I am AFGE: Vets helping vets — This video in the American Federation of Government Employees’ series “I Am AFGE” is very appropriate for Veterans Day. It introduces us to Christopher Lee Castle, an AFGE vice president and a veteran who took a job as a loan specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs so he could help his fellow soldiers.
► In the Washington Post — An incoming Senate committee chairman’s views are sure to rile the federal workforce — The views of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) will be important to federal workers come January when he takes over as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — it oversees the workforce. One of the richest people in Congress, Johnson wants a hearing to examine whether federal employees are overpaid, even after a three-year freeze on their basic pay rates. “Studies I’ve seen in the past would indicate that is the case,” he said… Whatever the size of the government, he thinks its workforce should not have collective-bargaining rights — a notion that will make blood boil in union halls.
► At Huffington Post — The dark horse policy reform that has both Obama, GOPers optimistic — White House and Capitol Hill officials say there is one issue that may have enough cross-party appeal to break through the logjams. That issue is criminal justice reform. Both President Barack Obama and some high-profile Republicans want to address the nation’s soaring rates of mass incarceration.
► From AP — UAW says recognition near at Tennessee VW plant — The United Auto Workers union is hailing a new Volkswagen policy as a vehicle to soon gain representation of workers at its first foreign auto plant in the South. The UAW expects the policy change to lead to the union being recognized by the company to bargain on behalf of all workers at the plant, the UAW said in a letter to members of Local 42 in Chattanooga on Monday.
► From KCRA — About 18,000 Kaiser Permanente nurses to strike — Thousands of Kaiser Permanente nurses plan to walk off the job in Northern California during a two-day strike today and tomorrow as contract negotiations continue.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Why many Latinos still shun Obamacare — With sign-ups set to resume Saturday, some Latinos say they are hesitant to enroll, fearing that they might put undocumented relatives at risk of deportation.
► In today’s NY Times — The great wage slowdown: Looming over politics — A quiz: How does the Democratic Party plan to lift stagnant middle-class incomes? I realize that liberal-leaning economists can give a long, substantive answer to this question, touching on health care costs, education and infrastructure. But most Americans would not be able to give a clear answer — which helps explain why the party took such a drubbing last week.
We’re living through the great wage slowdown of the 21st century, and nothing presents a larger threat to the Democrats’ electoral fortunes than that slowdown. The Democratic Party fashions itself as the defender of working families, and low- and middle-income voters are indeed more favorably disposed to Democrats than to Republicans. Those voters have helped the party win the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. But if Democrats can’t deliver rising living standards, many voters aren’t going to remain loyal. They’ll skip voting or give a chance to Republicans who offer an alternative, even a vague alternative.
EDITOR’S NOTE — And it starts at the top. The president’s last State of the Union address, focused on addressing income inequality, didn’t even mention unions or organized labor. Raising the minimum wage is important, but it won’t restore the nation’s middle class. What will? Restoring the ability of the working class to negotiate higher wages and better working conditions. They used to have it. But it has been effectively taken away. Democrats need to start talking about labor law reform and the importance of unions someplace other than when they give speeches at union halls.
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