Gap in port talks, Vermont gives up, Warren is wary…

Thursday, December 18, 2014




► At Longshore & Shipping News — ILWU recesses caucus, awaits PMA response to contract proposal — Last Thursday, the PMA presented a new contract offer to the ILWU. Union negotiators reviewed the proposal over the weekend, and on Monday returned it to the PMA with the ILWU’s comments. That is where the negotiations stood on Tuesday. A PMA spokesman said employers continued to review the document, and they expect to meet again with the ILWU later this week.

► From Reuters — U.S. shippers cite wide gap in labor talks with West Coast dockworkers — Negotiators for shipping lines and terminal operators at 29 U.S. West Coast ports remain far from a deal with union dockworkers after seven months of contract talks, the companies said on Wednesday, again blaming the union for waterfront cargo slowdowns.

ALSO at The Stand — ILWU frustrated by shippers’ finger-pointing over port delays (Dec. 13) — Citing competitive pressures in the shipping industry, huge multinational corporations already reaping enormous profits are focused on replacing family-wage ILWU jobs with low-wage subcontractors or machines. But in their effort to accomplish this, the shippers have made some big decisions that have had disastrous consequences in terms of congestion problems and delays.

► From KPLU — Port slowdown keeps NW farm exports stuck on the ranch — Produce processors are laying off production line workers. Apples are backing up. And the summer’s premium hay is stacked in sheds and not moving. The longshoremen’s union and the ports are negotiating, and have been since mid-October. Shipments are still being moved, but at a markedly slower pace than usual.

► From Bloomberg — FedEx, others say West Coast port labor dispute causes Christmas congestion — Protracted labor talks at the busiest U.S. container ports are leading to delayed deliveries to some retailers, and may result in a lot of gift cards under Christmas trees in place of absent presents, FedEx Corp. said.

► In today’s NY Times — McDonald’s in Japan is driven to ration fries — McDonald’s began limiting French fry servings at its 3,200 Japanese stores to the smallest of the usual three sizes, blaming a shortage of processed potatoes due to a dockworker dispute on the U.S. West Coast.




► In today’s Olympian — Inslee proposes a carbon-pollution cap and trade system to raise $1 billion a year — The governor’s package includes plans to spend $380 million of that new revenue on K-12 public schools. Another $400 million would pay for transportation projects rather than relying on a gas tax increase, and about $163.5 million is earmarked to assist low-income families and energy-intensive industries that are hurt by higher fuel costs.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Inslee’s bold plan addresses ‘common good’ — WSLC President Jeff Johnson says Inslee’s plan “challenges the status quo by putting a price on carbon, putting a price on pollution, and creating a jumping off place for creating economic growth that is more sustainable, more equitable, more accountable, and creates healthier communities.”

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Whatcom senator stands in the way of Inslee’s cap-and-trade climate proposal — Whatcom County industries are likely targets of Gov. Jay Inslee’s ambitious cap-and-trade proposal that would require the state’s largest polluters to pay for every ton of carbon they release. That list of polluters is sure to include BP Cherry Point refinery, Phillips 66 Refinery and Alcoa Intalco Works… If Inslee’s legislation is to become law, it needs the approval of Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), chairman of the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. In two years as committee chair, Ericksen has blocked environmental legislation favored by Democrats.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Inslee carbon tax plan would help complete North Spokane freeway — The proposal, which also would pay for a significant portion of the remaining work needed to complete the North Spokane freeway, was part of a broader package that the Democrat said would help the state meet a 2008 mandate to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

► In the Seattle Times — Finally, Inslee’s big moment (by Danny Westneat) — This, right now, is Inslee’s “go big or go home” moment. All this week Inslee is rolling out his budget, but it goes well beyond the usual fiscal tinkering. For instance, after years of recession he’s proposing a major ramp-up in education spending — the largest percentage shift upward in education’s share of the state budget in decades. What’s really different is what’s at the core of it all. It’s the Full Inslee: A plan to pay for ambitious expansions in government programs by charging the state’s 130 largest air polluters for the carbon they emit.




► In the P.S. Business Journal — Boeing engineers unhappy with $12 billion stock buyback — “This is apparently how the company has decided to use some of the $8.7 billion in tax breaks the state of Washington granted them, and that’s shocking,” said Bill Dugovich, spokesman for Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, which represents engineers.




► From AFA-CWA — Alaska Airlines flight attendants ratify five-year deal — Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, voted to accept a tentative contract agreement on Wednesday that offers significant improvements for the 3,400 Flight Attendants at Alaska.  Assistance was provided through mediation by the National Mediation Board. The new five-year agreement includes some of the top pay in the industry, built-in protections for reining in health care costs, improved job protections and work rules.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Budget compromise averts county government shutdown — Snohomish County Council members united on Wednesday to pass a compromise version of the 2015 budget, averting the prospect of a government shutdown.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Ferry crew, nurse’s extensive CPR brings back heart-attack victim — Authorities say a well-trained Washington State Ferries crew and a registered nurse who happened to be nearby swung into action and provided CPR to an 80-year-old man who had an apparent heart attack as he walked onto a state ferry.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Social failures trickle down to our prisons (by Jerry Large) — The Seattle Times prison labor investigation found aggravating problems, but mass incarceration in the U.S. is telling us something much bigger is not right. The failings of our institutions and policies begin a long time before anyone reaches prison.




► From AP — Vermont governor abandons single-payer health care plan — Calling it the biggest disappointment of his career, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday he was abandoning plans to make Vermont the first state in the country with a universal, publicly funded health care system. Going forward with a project four years in the making would require tax increases too big for the state to absorb, he said.

► In The Hill — Poll: Majority likes employer mandate, dislikes ‘ObamaCare’ — Six in 10 people said they support the employer mandate, which goes into effect next year for businesses with 100 or more workers, according to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

► At Think Progress — The more people are told about the ACA, the more they like it — One year into the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Americans remain confused about what the law actually does — and public opinion toward the ACA is easily swayed depending on small changes to the amount of information people receive about it.




► In today’s Washington Post — Elizabeth Warren, other Democrats raise concerns about free-trade pact with Asia — Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday voiced new concerns over President Obama’s trade agenda as congressional Democrats ramp up efforts to slow the administration’s bid to finalize a major free-trade pact in Asia that the president has called a top priority… In her letter, Warren raises concerns that the deal could include provisions that would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. policies before a judicial panel outside the domestic legal system, increasing exposure of American taxpayers to potential damages.

ALSO at The Stand — Gov. Inslee wary of expanding investor rights in trade deals (Dec. 16)

► From AFL-CIO Now — Seven reasons ‘right to work’ is wrong for Warren County, Ky. (and everywhere else) — In Warren County, Ky., a fiscal court has given preliminary approval to a local “right to work” for less ordinance. The measure is worded as to prevent any worker covered by the NLRA from being required to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. Since it is already illegal in the U.S. to require workers to join unions, the real focus of the measure is to weaken workers in negotiations with employers for decent wages and benefits.

► From Reuters — How the NLRB may expand responsibility for labor violations — The Board is expected to rule soon on if, and how, companies can be held responsible for labor violations carried out by their contractors or franchisees — a move that could have far-reaching implications for businesses.

► At Slate — Court says Walmart must pay up for inadequately compensating workers — A week after an NLRB judge ruled that a Walmart manager in California could not legally threaten to “shoot the union,” the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that Walmart must pony up $188 million to employees whom it failed to compensate properly during breaks and total hours worked.




► At Huffington Post — What a fired Qdoba worker tells us about the fast food strikes — On Dec. 4, Rosa Velasquez went on strike to protest low wages in the fast food industry. The following day, the 52-year-old grandmother lost her job at a Qdoba restaurant inside the Pentagon. Velasquez says the greatest indignity wasn’t being fired from her $8.75-per-hour position. It was being publicly escorted out of the food court by police at her manager’s request, as if she had broken the law. “They humiliated me,” the Honduras native said… The worker strikes are not stunts, nor are they spontaneous. Real workers like Velasquez are at the center of this campaign, taking the risks that give the strikes meaning. Unions, for their part, are standing behind the workers with the institutional support that makes the strikes possible.


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