Tuesday, December 9, 2014
► In today’s News Tribune — Ports’ slowdown continues — The heads of California’s two largest ports, Los Angeles and Long Beach, joined the chorus of business people, port executives and farmers this week asking President Barrack Obama to appoint a federal mediator to help shippers and longshore union members reach a new labor agreement. The PMA says longshore workers are deliberately slowing work. The union claims the slowdown is a result of a long-building knot of problems ranging from larger ships to chassis shortages and terminal mismanagement. That slowdown continued Monday in Tacoma and Seattle and other West Coast ports.
► At Politico — Are West Coast longshoremen spoiling Christmas? — The National Retail Federation, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce claim that West Coast dockworkers are disrupting a holiday shopping season that’s already well underway. But the International Longshore and Warehouse Union says the business groups are exaggerating, and that any pileup in dock warehouses of unshipped Zoomer Dinos, Longchamp Totes, or Samsung LED flat-screen TVs is not the union’s fault.
EDITOR’S NOTE — A more accurate headline: “Are hard-line West Coast shipping companies spoiling Christmas?” Meanwhile, the ILWU reports that contract talks continued over the weekend “as negotiators look ahead to the ILWU caucus that is scheduled for Dec. 15.”
► In today’s News Tribune — $15 minimum wage could be on Tacoma ballot in 2015 — An activist group has filed a petition in Tacoma to collect signatures for a citywide $15 minimum wage. The City Council could choose to pass it. If not, the issue could land on the ballot next year.
► In today’s Everett Herald — Contract worker dies from injuries in Boeing airbag accident — A contract worker who was injured in a Nov. 13 accident on Boeing’s Paine Field flight line died Sunday. The mechanic, Ken Otto, was an employee of Everett-based Jamco America. He and an employee of a different contractor were working on a first-class seat in a 777 when a “partially disassembled” airbag system accidentally discharged, Boeing said.
► In the Everett Herald — County Ombudsman Koster under fire for anti-union statements — When he was appointed Snohomish County’s first ombudsman, John Koster was told to check his politics at the door. But he launched a verbal attack on organized labor in an Oct. 11 fundraising letter for the Freedom Foundation, a right-leaning Olympia think tank. “For too long, labor leaders have ripped off our hard-working teachers and state employees, forcing them to pay dues whether they want to be part of the union or not, then funneling that money to politicians at election time,” the letter reads. Elsewhere, it refers to Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe as a “brother-in-arms of mine in the fight against union control of Washington for more then 20 years.”
► From KPLU — Metro drivers picket outside King Co. Exec’s office over lack of bathroom breaks — One showed up with a package of Depends disposable adult underwear to demonstrate the lengths some workers go to stay on schedule. The workers have been trying to reach a new contract; their old contract expired more than a year ago.
► In today’s Columbian — Firefighters’ union chief not sending out fliers — Firefighter Mark Johnston, president of the Vancouver Firefighters’ Union IAFF Local 452, isn’t going door to door to promote the Affordable Care Act and Obama’s immigration policy. But somebody identifying himself as the president of the Vancouver firefighters’ union has been making the rounds handing out fliers saying the union backs the president on the ACA and immigration. “It’s all very strange,” Johnston said Monday.
► In today’s Peninsula Daily News — Port Angeles’ Nippon mill announces ‘curtailment’ at one of its two paper machines — The company did not say how many people would be affected by the curtailment in operations.
► In the Columbian — Right way to waive fees (editorial) — As members of the Vancouver City Council approve fee discounts for large employers that pay high wages, they provide a lesson for the Clark County commissioners in diligent and responsible governance.
► In the Coos Bay World — ILWU not backing down — ILWU members gathered Thursday, set up pickets outside the gates of Southport Lumber Co. and had members picketing in boats on the bay.
► From KUOW — Lawsuit payout top $150 million as CPS requests more workers — The agency that oversees child welfare in Washington wants to hire nearly 100 more child protection workers. But the budget request comes after years of lawsuits that cost the state more than $150 million. Now the question is whether the state DSHS has taken adequate steps to learn from child welfare cases that went awry. Part of the problem is fresh reports of child abuse and neglect keep pouring in — up 10,000 over the last two years. “It truly is a crisis,” said state Rep. Ruth Kagi (D).
► In today’s Olympian — Pierce County officials mad at King County’s solo vote to replace deceased state lawmaker — Members of the King County Council voted 8-0 Monday to appoint Carol Gregory to the position formerly held by Democratic state Rep. Roger Freeman, who died Oct. 29. But she shouldn’t pack her bags for Olympia yet, because Pierce County Council members didn’t take part in Monday’s vote.
► In The Oregonian — Oregon lawmakers propose requirement that all businesses offer maximum of 7 days paid sick time — A bill set to go before the Oregon Legislature early next year would require Oregon employers to provide as many as seven days of paid sick to their workers — no matter the company’s size.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Tacoma council meets Tuesday on paid sick leave
► At Think Progress — Big banks balk, so Colorado has created a credit union for marijuana industry — The nation’s first bank for marijuana sellers, growers, and investors will open in January after Colorado’s banking regulators approved a charter for The Fourth Corner Credit Union. The first-of-its-kind bank will allow state business owners to move away from relying on cash for every transaction.
► In today’s Washington Post — For 2nd straight year, public assistance was only major state budget area with net decline — Once again, every major state budgetary program area this fiscal year had spending increases, save one: public assistance. That’s according to a new survey out from the National Association of State Budget Officers.
► In today’s Washington Post — States have enacted net tax cuts in 3 of the last 4 fiscal years — The same report finds that states cut taxes and fees by $2.3 billion in fiscal 2015, slightly more than they slashed the year before.
► In today’s Washington Post — Massive spending bill hits snag in Congress as deadline draws near — Plans to quickly approve a $1.1 trillion spending package to keep most of the federal government open through the end of the fiscal year fell apart late Monday, increasing the chance lawmakers will miss a Thursday deadline. Just in case, top appropriators said Monday that they were ready to pass a short-term extension of a few days in order to give the House and Senate more time to pass the final bill and end the least productive congressional session in modern history.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Of course, there’s plenty of time for political theater. (Something about Hans Gruber not being an architect.)
► In the National Journal — Unions accuse Congress of sneak attack on pensions — As lawmakers pressed Monday to finalize the legislative language of a must-pass omnibus spending bill, labor unions and retiree groups were mobilizing to defeat what they are characterizing as a lame-duck sneak attack on the pensions of some already-retired workers. At issue is an effort led by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee to bring reforms to troubled multiemployer pensions. It was widely expected on Monday that it would give multiemployer plan trustees the ability to cut benefits of already-retired workers or widows to help shore up some of the plans. Opponents suggest that such a major decision by Congress should undergo hearings and other public airings and not be made in the waning days of a lame-duck session as an attachment to a spending bill.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Wall Street Journal reports that the proposal has divided labor, with the Teamsters supporting it and the United Mine Workers taking no position. Both unions have troubled multiemployer plans.
► In The Hill — Senate Dems confirm NLRB nominee before GOP take over — The Senate voted 54-40 to confirm Lauren McGarity McFerran to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces federal labor laws.
► In today’s Washington Post — Federal employees unhappy with leaders, new government survey finds — Despite continued positive feedback at some agencies and improving morale at others, just 56.9 percent of employees are happy with their jobs and would recommend their agencies as places to work.
► Breaking from AP — Supreme Court says Amazon warehouse workers not entitled to pay for security screenings — The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that warehouse workers who fill orders for retail giant Amazon don’t have to be paid for time spent waiting to pass through security checks at the end of their shifts. The unanimous decision is a victory for the growing number of retailers and other companies that routinely screen workers to prevent employee theft.
► At Politico — Big Labor eyes Hillary warily — Frustrated by President Barack Obama and wary of Hillary Clinton’s perceived closeness to Wall Street, several leading figures in organized labor are resisting falling in line early behind the former secretary of state as the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee. Top officials at AFL-CIO are pressing its affiliates to hold off on an endorsement and make the eventual nominee earn their support and spell out a clear agenda.
► At Politico — Can the left launch its own Tea Party? — The extreme right has power, and that’s something the left hasn’t had much of for a long time. But in the aftermath of the party’s disastrous midterm performance, it’s very possible that the Democratic Party leadership will be facing its own Tea Party-style insurgency from the other side of the spectrum.
► In The Hill — MoveOn.org to vote on Warren run — MoveOn.org is holding a vote among its eight million members on whether to launch a campaign to urge Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to run for president.
► At Think Progress — How Costco closed on Thanksgiving and did just fine — Many of the largest American retail brands decided to keep their stores open on Thanksgiving, but one company that put its workers’ holiday plans ahead of business was rewarded with sales growth that beat analyst expectations.
► In today’s Washington Post — Half of doctors listed as serving Medicaid patients are unavailable, investigation finds — Many of the doctors were not accepting new Medicaid patients or could not be found at their last known addresses, according to a new federal report.
► At Huffington Post — Left-handed people make less money than righties — According to a recent study published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, lefties make about 10 to 12 percent less annually than righties. It is the first study to document the income gap between right-handed and left-handed people.
► At Huffington Post — Moocher CEOs (by USW President Leo Gerard) — This holiday season, CEOs’ Christmas plums are super-sugared with record-breaking corporate profits. But instead of giving workers raises and steady hours, corporations have rewarded only those at the top. The Fleecing Uncle Sam study found that companies that paid their CEOs more than they paid in federal income taxes gave those CEOs fat raises. The average pay of these CEOs rose from $16.7 million in 2010 to $32 million in 2013. They’ve got trillions for CEOs and stock buy-backs, but nothing for workers or the federal government. This isn’t an accident. It’s not some invisible hand of the market. It’s CEOs freeloading.
No ghosts are going to show up to convert these Scrooges into humans. Instead, the first step in that process is recognizing that the moochers are the CEOs, not the hapless food stamp recipients who desperately want steady, full-time, decently-paid work. The second step is to demand that corporations pay their fair share of taxes and provide steady, full-time, decently-paid work.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.