Monday, December 1, 2014
► In the (Everett) Herald — Should we raise Washington’s minimum wage? (dueling guest columns) — A food bank worker writes, “We have to acknowledge that a nation that allows its workers to starve may prosper in the short run but, in the end, it will be financially and morally bankrupt.” A business owner write: “I hope the voters in Washington are smart enough to see through the ‘smoke and mirrors’ of these socialist political efforts.”
ALSO at The Stand — Rally Thursday at State Capitol to raise minimum wage
► In today’s Seattle Times — California golden again — and we’re the fiscal mess (by Danny Westneat) — We don’t have California to kick around anymore when it comes to state budget dysfunction. Our deficit is now worse than theirs. In short what California did was get real. It got rid of some of its Tim Eyman-style, two-thirds budgeting constraints (California went Eyman 20 years before we did). It cut back on state spending. And then it raised taxes. Those last two were pushed through by Gov. Jerry Brown. Remember Governor Moonbeam? It turns out he has a fiscal-hawk side, as well as the skill to sell a tax increase to voters. The combo erased a paralyzing 25 percent budget hole in only two years. Another word for it is leadership, of a sort we mostly only read about from afar around here.
► In the Spokesman-Review — With Washington roads in poor shape, tax breaks need scrutiny (editorial) — Owners of the Model S, the Nissan Leaf and other electric vehicles get free use of Washington’s congested, crumbling highways and bridges. Yet Gov. Jay Inslee is reportedly ready to extend a sales tax exemption for EVs beyond its July 1 expiration date, and there is legislative support from Republicans and Democrats for the idea… Transportation has become a third-rail issue in Olympia because everyone knows a solution will require more money. Most also understand that as more EVs, hybrids and high-mileage vehicles take to the road, the revenue from fuel taxes will fall further behind construction and maintenance costs.
► In today’s Olympian — Fight continues over Washington’s No Child Left Behind waiver — A political battle that played out earlier this year over Washington state’s waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act looks as if it will repeat itself come January.
► In the Tri-City Herald — State supports new Hanford facility, questions where money will be found — The state of Washington supports the concept of a proposed new facility that would allow Hanford’s vitrification plant to start treating some waste sooner, but has concerns about how the Department of Energy will pay for the facility.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Union walks off the job at Port of Portland: Is a strike or lockout next? — On Monday, the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union walked off the job at the Port of Portland, according to the executive director of the Agricultural Trade Coalition. The ILWU would not confirm the report… On July 1 of this year, the labor contract between the PMA and ILWU expired. They’ve been working without a contract since. Negotiations turned ugly at the beginning of November when accusations about the cause of slowdowns started flying from both sides.
► In the News Tribune — Pierce County Jail overtime drains county budget with no end in sight — Over last 5 years, jail deputies worked nearly 270,000 extra hours; a small number of them nearly doubled their take-home pay.
► In today’s News Tribune — Hire more county jail staff and bring back DOC contract (by Kent Wales) — Bringing the Department of Corrections (state inmates) back would bring in needed income to the jail that should be used to hire and train new corrections deputies and renovate and repair an aging facility.
► In the News Tribune — Bremerton shipyard to soon hire 850 ‘helper’ positions — The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard soon will hire another large batch of entry-level workers.
► From AP — Univ. of Oregon teaching assistants plan to strike on Tuesday — Graduate teaching assistants at the University of Oregon say mediation this week failed to resolve their contract dispute with the school’s administration, and they are preparing for a strike on Tuesday.
► From KUOW — 15 years after ‘Battle of Seattle,’ labor groups raise concerns about new trade deals — Business groups, including the Washington Council on International Trade, whose members include Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, say (the TPP) would benefit the state’s economy. But labor unions are concerned. The AFL-CIO’s Celeste Drake says new trade agreements need stronger provisions for investigating labor conditions. Said Drake: “If they’re serious about defending labor rights, they need to constantly be monitoring labor rights and there needs to be a dialogue with all of the countries all of the time saying what are you doing to protect workers and how is that going.”
ALSO at The Stand — Let’s get off the hamster wheel on international trade (by Celeste Drake)
► At AFL-CIO Now — Victory! We stopped Fast Track (for now) — Congress heard more than 1 million voices against Fast Track during our week of action, and it has taken us a long way toward making sure that the lame-duck Congress doesn’t make this mistake. Here’s the bad news: Fast Track is being pushed by some very powerful corporate interests. There’s no doubt they’re going to try again — if not this year, then with the new Congress in 2015.
► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — Boeing boss Jim McNerney’s turbulent tenure — Boeing Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney, who turned 65 in August, has driven hard to increase productivity and cut costs, reaping record profits. To many employees in Washington state, he’s a distant figure who has stifled the unions and is sending jobs elsewhere… “The workforce busted a gut to push out the 737 and 777 at record rates,” said Issaquah-based aerospace analyst Scott Hamilton of Leeham.net. “Yet when it came to new contracts, McNerney wanted to do nothing but crush them.” McNerney’s public comment in July that employees “will still be cowering” before him merely reinforced his unpopularity.
► At Huffington Post — Republican control could mean jobs bills that don’t create jobs — Economists say that almost none of the 40 “jobs” measures touted by Republicans are likely to have any measurable, immediate impact on job growth. Instead, the bills would serve more to promote other parts of the Republicans’ agenda — and, in most cases, aid large corporations.
► In today’s NY Times — Case seeking job protections for pregnant women heads to Supreme Court — Peggy Young used to drive for United Parcel Service, delivering envelopes and small packages early in the morning. “I was a dependable, honorable worker,” she said. “I worked when I was supposed to. I did what I was supposed to.” Then she got pregnant, and her doctor recommended that she avoid lifting anything heavy. The company responded by placing her on unpaid leave. “I lost my health benefits,” Ms. Young said. “I lost my pension. And I lost my wages for seven months. And my disability benefits.” She sued and the Supreme Court will hear her case on Wednesday.
► In today’s NY Times — Women who work (editorial) — Under a plain reading of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and also as a matter of fairness, pregnant workers should be treated no worse than employees who are injured on the job, and the Supreme Court should use the Young case to say so.
► In the NY Times — Still awaiting union ruling, Northwestern players focus on field — The day Northwestern football players voted on unionization in April, the ballots were impounded, carried away from Ryan Field in two shiny silver locked boxes. Seven months later, they have yet to be counted.
► In The Hill — Rep. Adam Smith ‘open’ to Defense secretary post — “I’m open to it, but I don’t anticipate being asked,” the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, told KIRO-TV.
► At duckyfem — 7 common myths about people on welfare — Despite how commonly used these programs are, most people are unaware of how their daily lives are affected by government assistance. In fact, many people who complain the most about the “evils” of welfare are actually receiving it themselves — in some form or another.
► In light of the Ferguson grand jury decision and resulting protests, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a brief video statement. But today we are posting his speech delivered in St. Louis back in September about the shooting of Michael Brown and why it’s important for labor to address racism and classism. It’s still a must-see, especially this week.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.