Wednesday, December 10, 2014
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Gov. Jay Inslee to seek $1 billion in tax hikes in two-year budget — Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposal for the next two years will include a request for $1 billion or more in higher taxes along with some program cuts, a delay of some new school spending approved by voters and raises for state employees. Inslee will unveil the details of his budget plans for the second half of his term over four days next week.
► In today’s Olympian — Senate Republicans end committee power sharing with Democrats — Republicans have ended a power-sharing arrangement in the state Senate after two years of letting Democrats hold leadership positions in some committees… Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) will take over a vacancy at the top of the important Commerce and Labor Committee.
EDITOR’S NOTE — That’s right. Republicans have chosen the only state legislator in either house, in either party, who has sponsored union-busting legislation to make Washington a so-called “right-to-work” state to be in charge of the committee addressing all labor-related bills. The facade of bipartisanship has been torn down now that Republicans have an actual majority, however small.
► In today’s Seattle Times — State’s first charter school in disarray — Since it opened in September, the state’s first charter school has lost its special-education coordinator, principal, board president and half the rest of its board. By Wednesday, it must prove to a state board that it can solve problems in four major areas.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — State may lodge drug offenders at empty Yakima jail — The state Department of Corrections wants to house drug offenders at Yakima County’s idle jail on Pacific Avenue, a move that would put the facility in full operation. But funding to house those inmates here may be hard to come by.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Boeing pushes back as state auditors call for clarity on aerospace tax breaks — While Washington state aerospace companies will be relieved from paying $500 million in taxes between 2015 and 2017, nobody knows if the payback is worth the loss in tax revenue. Tax breaks may have helped persuade Boeing to manufacture the 787 and 777X in Washington, but lawmakers say they need real numbers to know whether those should be extended moving forward.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing says it will cut 747 production rate in 2015 — Boeing says it is cutting production of the venerable 747 jumbo jet next September from 18 per year to slightly less than 16 a year. Says Boeing spokesman Doug Alder: “There may be some employment impact, but we’ll do our best to mitigate that by placing employees in other jobs at” Boeing Commercial Airplanes… Many analysts see the reduction as another step toward the demise of the program that brought Boeing to Everett in the 1960s.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing plans to move some 777X engineering to Philadelphia — Boeing plans to put a small, but important set of 777X engineering work in Philadelphia rather than metro Puget Sound, where similar work is done on the 787. The work will move but not the people doing the work, according to a SPEEA official.
► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma council to move forward with sick leave policy — The Tacoma City Council will move forward with a paid sick leave policy next week that would require businesses to provide at least three paid days off per year. A final vote could come in January. The city would require employers to give workers one hour of sick leave per 40 hours worked up to three sick days a year. Mayor Marilyn Strickland said the number came from a San Francisco report that said workers on average used three days of paid sick leave per year.
► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — City Councilmember Nick Licata: Seattle needs a public bank — Could Seattle be the first major city to have a publicly run bank? Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata will host a public forum to take considerations for a publicly funded municipal bank, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 10 at the University Methodist Church. The public forum is a small step toward policy, and the city is still in the beginning phases of a proposal.
ALSO at The Stand — Establish Seattle Public Bank; learn more at Dec. 10 forum
► At Huffington Post — Justice Clarence Thomas suggests Amazon warehouse workers should unionize — Addressing the workers’ arguments, the court’s opinion, delivered by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, included this curious line: “These arguments are properly presented to the employer at the bargaining table… not to a court in an FLSA claim.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Well, you heard the man. Form a union!
► In today’s Peninsula Daily News — 21 to 28 layoffs expected at Port Angeles’ Nippon mill — The indefinite shutdown of one of two Nippon Paper Industries USA paper-making machines will lead to the layoff of 21 to 28 hourly employees, a union official said.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Official’s political work displays lack of discretion (editorial) — Snohomish County Ombudsman John Koster’s strongly worded indictment against unions could make it difficult for Koster to continue his work as an ombudsman, raising questions about his ability to be an impartial judge if he has to investigate a complaint, for example, about a county employee who belongs to a union. And about 80 percent of the 2,800 county employees are represented by unions. Koster has every right to voice his opinion. And the county council has every right to decide if his apparent inability to show discretion means he’s not the right fit for the job.
► From AP — Lawmakers reach agreement on $1.1 trillion spending bill — Republicans and Democrats agreed Tuesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown and delay a politically-charged struggle over President Obama’s new immigration policy until the new year. In an unexpected move, lawmakers also agreed on legislation expected to be incorporated into the spending measure that will permit a reduction in benefits to current retirees at economically distressed multiemployer pension plans. Supporters said it was part of an effort to prevent a slow-motion collapse of a system that provides retirement income to millions, but critics objected vehemently.
► MUST-READ in today’s LA Times — That awful congressional plan to allow pension cuts heads for enactment (by Michael Hiltzik) — Asked why it’s so urgent to pass a historic change in federal labor law in the final hours of a congressional session, without exposing the details to public view, much less to public hearings, they said that many of the affected pension plans are within a few years of insolvency… There’s a real risk that panicky trustees — usually union and employer representatives — could act prematurely, cutting the income of retirees who can’t make it up from other sources. Indeed, the condition of many multiemployer pension funds has been improving recently, thanks to the strong investment markets and a better economy. That implies that there may be less need for urgency… Carving out an exception for multiemployer plans is a big deal; doing so in haste, and secretly, is a bigger deal.
► In The Hill — Spending deal opens spigot of campaign cash — A surprise provision included in the massive spending bill released by Congress on Tuesday evening would give the parties new ways to raise campaign cash. On page 1,599 of the 1,603-page document — under a heading entitled “Other Matters” — is a provision increasing the amount a person can contribute to a national political party from $32,400 to $324,000. It would allow a couple to give almost $1.3 million in a two-year cycle.
► At Politico — Senate Ethics Committee loses top staffer to Boeing — John Sassaman, the top staffer for Senate Ethics, has been appointed as ethics director for Boeing’s Government Operations program.
► At Huffington Post — TPP negotiators hit with protests media don’t cover — The secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations resumed this week, this time in D.C. TPP is a massive agreement that sets up new rules for over 40 percent of the global economy. It will have profound effects on our jobs, our standard of living now and in the future and our ability to make a living as a country. Oddly, though, as of Monday morning you have to read about it in Japan Times because few-to-no U.S. media outlets are covering it… In spite of the lack of American media coverage of this tremendously important agreement representatives of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, Internet freedom, public health, faith, human rights and community organizations held a rally Monday outside the office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
► In the National Journal — The app that gives control back to shift workers — WellStar Health System, a health care network with more than 12,000 employees in Marietta, Ga., has a new online scheduling system, called Smart Square, which allows nurses to pick their own work days… The system has built-in parameters that ensure its nurses work their required holiday and weekend shifts. Managers also have the ultimate say over how the final schedule looks. The biggest difference is in the attitude the system creates as a collaborative way for workers and their managers to make the schedule. Shifts are not decreed from the top down.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Bike-share employees reject Walmart model, vote to unionize — Workers at a bike-share venture in Boston voted to unionize with the Transport Workers in an election conducted by the NLRB.
► From AP — UAW reaches top tier of VW labor policy at U.S. unit — The United Auto Workers on Monday qualified for the top tier of a new labor policy at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, giving the union its first formal role within a foreign-owned auto plant in the southern U.S.
ENTER AND WIN!
► At Think Progress — How an obscure writing contest could put an end to partisan gerrymandering — The First Amendment forbids viewpoint discrimination, so when a state draws legislative district lines that minimize the power of people who belong to one political party while maximizing the power of people who hold another viewpoint, that violates the Constitution. A majority of the justices on the Supreme Court, however, have refused to police partisan gerrymandering, largely because they believe that doing so would be too difficult… But mathematical models do exist that can measure when a state’s electoral map produces results that are wildly out of line with voter preferences… A potentially significant writing contest sponsored by Common Cause seeks to further repudiate the claim that there is no meaningful way for judges to determine when a legislative map was drawn to give one party an advantage over the others. The contest offers a $5,000 top prize to lawyers and scholars who submit papers “creating a new definition for partisan gerrymandering or further developing an existing definition.”
► At TPM — Millennials aren’t cheap, skittish, or quirky — we’re just broke (by Donovan Ramsey) — It’s not about smart phones, selfies or social media. The reason Millennials aren’t making some of life’s biggest purchases is because we’re broke. Reading the money pages of popular publications as a Millennial can be infuriating. Every other article seems to stumble through clumsy speculation about my generation’s financial decisions, as if we’re so mysterious… The suggestion that Millennials are forgoing major financial decisions, like buying a car or first home, because of generational values is an unnecessary stretch — especially in the presence of consistent, reliable economic data that shows we’re currently just too saddled with student loan debt and low-wage jobs to buy big-ticket items… When the American public stops focusing on the minor cultural idiosyncrasies of Millennials, it’ll have to reckon with an economic system rigged against Millennials that badly needs fixing. We’ll have to rethink the affordability of higher education and take a real look at income inequality in this country. The folks with the most to lose if that ever happens are the Baby Boomers — like the editors who’ve been commissioning hit pieces on Millennials.
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