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Tougher tax breaks, Wall Street’s failing pension, Nina ‘Cares for Me’…

Thursday, December 11, 2014




pollet-gerry► From KPLU — Legislative committee recommends toughening requirements for aerospace tax breaks — State Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle) says says the Legislature should make changes to the existing tax breaks so that companies like Boeing have to show they’re adding or at least maintaining jobs here. “I will be proposing that we say you can’t lose jobs and still get your tax preference when you got the tax preference by saying you’re increasing jobs,” he said.

► In today’s Olympian — State hustling to end psychiatric warehousing — With only a couple weeks to go before a state Supreme Court order bans the warehousing of psychiatric patients, state officials are scrambling to expand the number of beds and hire new mental-health workers.

► From KING 5 — DSHS worker says she was virtual sex slave on the job — According to a lawsuit filed against DSHS on Monday, the trauma occurred over seven years at the hands of her supervisor at the Rainier School, an institution for developmentally disabled adults in Buckley.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Goodwill fined for fatal forklift accident in Lynnwood — Goodwill has been fined $9,000 by the state in connection with a fatal forklift accident in Lynnwood on Aug. 19. L&I found three violations of workplace safety laws, two of them considered serious.




► In today’s Seattle Times — A Seattle public bank? Backers say it’s a good idea — It would be a controversial and somewhat revolutionary step, but Councilmember Nick Licata says a public bank would operate in the interest of the city’s government and its residents.

ALSO at The Stand — Establish Seattle Public Bank

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Lovick vetoes county budget, which could lead to partial shutdown — Snohomish County Executive John Lovick vetoed the County Council’s version of the 2015 budget Wednesday, citing a long list of disagreements. He challenged the council’s decision to halve funding for a program that serves young mothers and the elimination of some jobs. The executive also accused the council of unfairly singling out some of his employees for “ridicule and humiliation.”

port-of-kalama► From Longshore & Shipping News — Temco grain terminal expansion in Kalama nearly complete — A $50 million expansion of the Temco grain terminal is nearing completion at the Port of Kalama after almost a year of construction. The expansion is expected to double the terminal’s capacity and employment.

► In today’s (Longview) Daily World — Union paper workers plan to continue negotiations with KapStone — AWPPW officials said Wednesday they hope to continue negotiating with KapStone Paper and Packaging Corp. after their members overwhelming approved a strike authorization against the company.

► MUST-READ in today’s Seattle Times — Amazon workers have an answer: a union (by Jon Talton) — It was always a stretch, Amazon workers suing to be compensated for waits to go through security screening at the end of their shifts. And, sure enough, a unanimous Supreme Court turned them down, citing a 1947 law… The answer is a union. Only through the solidarity and collective bargaining of a union — and the power it can bring to bear for more worker-friendly laws — can employees address an issue such as this. It might demand that the company pay for the extra time. Management might come back with a response to speed the process. A solution would be reached at the bargaining table. A union would also be the workers’ advocate on gaining full-time status, higher pay and better benefits.




wall-st-rules► In today’s Int’l Business Times– Pension fund run by Wall Street cited in push to cut retiree benefits — Lawmakers pushing to allow benefit cuts are citing the example of the $18.7 billion Teamsters’ Central States Fund, which has 410,000 members and is the nation’s second-largest multiemployer pension plan. There’s an estimated $22 billion gap between assets in the Central States Fund and promised benefits to the system’s current and future retirees… But critics of the provisions say the plight of the Central States Fund is not a cautionary tale about unsustainable benefits but an example of Wall Street mismanagement. They note that Central States is the only major private pension fund where all the discretionary investment decisions are made by financial firms rather than by the fund’s board. Roughly a third of the pension system’s shortfalls — or almost $9 billion — can be traced to investment losses accrued during the financial industry’s 2008 collapse. Those losses were in addition to more than $250 million in fees paid by the plan to financial firms in just the last 5 years.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Bill would restore proposed Hanford budget cut — A proposed cut to the Department of Energy’s Hanford Richland Operations Office would be restored under a compromise federal spending bill released Tuesday night, according to the staff of Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

warren-elizabeth-l► In today’s Washington Post — Warren leads liberal Democrats’ rebellion over provisions in $1 trillion spending bill — Congressional liberals rebelled Wednesday against a must-pass spending bill that would keep the government open past midnight Thursday, complaining that it would roll back critical limits on Wall Street and sharply increase the influence of wealthy campaign donors. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a popular figure on the left, led the insurrection with a speech on the Senate floor, calling the $1.01 trillion spending bill “the worst of government for the rich and powerful.”

► In The Hill — Labor warns Obama on trade policy — Labor unions and environmental groups warned President Obama Wednesday that getting too cozy with congressional Republicans on trade issues could imperil other parts of his policy agenda.




► In today’s NY Times — Many feel the American dream is out of reach, poll shows — Despite an improving economy and jobs picture, the public is more pessimistic than it was after the 2008 financial crisis that it is possible to work hard and become rich, according to a New York Times poll. Only 64% of respondents said they still believed in the American dream, the lowest result in roughly two decades.

► From AP — 42.9 million Americans have unpaid medical bills — Nearly 20 percent of U.S. consumers with credit records — 42.9 million people — have unpaid medical debts, according to a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

old-at-walmart► In today’s NY Times — Walmart illegally punished workers, judge rules — A National Labor Relations Board judge ruled that Walmart managers in California had illegally disciplined employees for going on strike and unlawfully threatened to close a store if many of its employees joined a group demanding higher wages.

shuler-elizabeth► At — Three ways to raise wages (by Liz Shuler) — For a lot of working people, this holiday season will be one of belt-tightening rather than shopping sprees. Let’s face it, our wages just aren’t keeping up the way they used to… The answer isn’t to cut back even more, it’s to raise wages. One sure way to put more money in consumers’ pockets and place upward pressure on pay is by raising the minimum wage — a sorely needed move that is stymied in Congress, although 20 states and as many localities have raised their minimum wages over the past two years. But that’s not the only way.

► In today’s NY Times — Slide in fuel costs lift profits for airlines, but fares won’t fall — Although oil prices are down more than 40 percent since June, airline executives say other expenses rose and they are reinvesting in their companies.

► In today’s NY Times — Heavy lifting (by Linda Greenhouse) — The case of a pregnant UPS driver before the Supreme Court is a reminder that working while pregnant has confounded the justices for a long time.

► In today’s NY Times — Employers will have to raise wages. They just don’t know it yet. (by Neil Irwin) — there is a standoff between Corporate America and America’s workers. Businesses see demand for their products and want to expand. After years of stagnant wages, workers aren’t prepared to accept these jobs on the terms they are being offered… In this standoff between businesses that want high-skilled workers for minimal pay and workers who want to see raises, one side has to give.




► The Entire Staff of The Stand is taking Friday off.  So today, we present one of our all-time desert-island favorite songs, Nina Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares for Me.”  What makes it really great is Simone’s amazing, understated piano solo in the middle (from about 1:10 to 2:20).  Recorded in 1958 for her debut album, Simone’s definitive version of this jazz standard languished in obscurity for decades.  But in 1987, the song was rediscovered and became a hit after being featured in a British perfume commercial, inspiring somebody to make this claymation cat video that same year.  And as anybody who’s taken Internets 101 knows: (Great Song + Cats) x Piano = More than 10 million-plus views.  It’s simple math.


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