Monday, January 5, 2015
PORT CONTRACT TALKS
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Late Friday accusations reveal depth of discord in port negotiations — The timing of the PMA’s release (again accusing the ILWU of an organized work slowdown) could be interpreted as an attempt to gain an edge over the union, because it was released right at the end of the workday before a weekend, giving union leaders little time to respond. The mere fact that employers are resorting to such tactics is, if nothing else, and indication of how far the two sides are from reaching an agreement, or possibly from communicating at all.
► Wire reports — Dock workers protest port cutbacks — Dock workers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports Friday protested a partial work stoppage ordered by a group representing West Coast terminal operators, saying it will slow down the unloading of cargo by several days.
► From the ILWU on Dec. 29 — PMA member carriers needed at negotiating table — The ILWU said that the PMA member carriers sitting on PMA’s Board of Directors need to come to the negotiating table so that direct and constructive dialogue between key decision makers can take place.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Port operations must get back to full speed (editorial) — A slowdown of cargo movement through the ports of Seattle and Tacoma is pushing Washington growers and manufacturers to lose money and cut jobs… It’s time for a mediator to help forge an agreement to get ports functioning at full speed again.
ALSO at The Stand — ILWU frustrated by shippers’ finger-pointing over port delays
► From KUOW — Workplace deaths increased in Washington State in 2014 — Sixty-four people died on the job in Washington state in 2014, more than in any of the past three years, according to preliminary figures from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. The fatal incidents varied widely, from an ironworker falling off a roof on Jan. 6 to a logging truck driver being run over by his own truck on Dec. 30.
► In the Dec. 22 (Everett) Herald — Koster loses job as county’s first ombudsman — The decision on reappointing Koster rested with the County Council. Executive John Lovick had urged them to say no because of Koster’s choice to lend his name to an anti-union fundraising letter for the right-wing Freedom Foundation asking “committed patriots across Washington to support them in taking on the union machine.”
► At ReuvenCarlyle36.com — Coasting on fumes toward low taxes: Is this our vision? (by state Rep. Reuven Carlyle) — There is a public narrative that is so accepted it floats along unmolested by facts on the ground. It has become almost religious in its conviction and unquestioned among elected officials attuned to the public’s frequency: Washington is a high-tax state. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear that this was the case…in 1995. Today, we are on the march toward being a low tax, low service state. Of course the public feels as if Washington is a high-tax environment because we are irrationally nickeled and dimed in a fashion that doesn’t track with how people live their lives.
► In the News Tribune — Can lawmakers alter class-size mandate to avoid massive budget shortfall? — State legislators return to the Capitol for a 105-day session on Jan. 12, and a major question facing the divided Senate and House is what changes can they make to voter-approved I-1351’s new requirements for class sizes — without offending the state Supreme Court.
EDITOR’S NOTE — That said, offending the court doesn’t appear to be a top concern.
► In today’s Washington Post — Oil’s swoon creates the opening for a carbon tax (by Lawrence Summers) — The case for carbon taxes has long been compelling. With the recent steep fall in oil prices and associated declines in other energy prices, it has become overwhelming. There is room for debate about the size of the tax and about how the proceeds should be deployed. But there should be no doubt that, given the current zero tax rate on carbon, increased taxation would be desirable.
► In the (Everett) Herald — How traffic is hurting Snohomish County businesses — Highway 531 is one of 23 chokepoints throughout the county that have been identified by Snohomish County, the cities, a citizens’ group and businesses as needing improvement. The organization has been working behind the scenes for months along with elected officials to make the case for transportation funding in this next legislative session.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Insurance companies pleased with Healthplanfinder payment change — Instead of using the exchange’s website, Healthplanfinder, to make payments, consumers will now pay insurance carriers directly.
► In the Washington Post — Republicans in state governments plan juggernaut of conservative legislation — The Republican Party now controls 31 governorships and 68 of 98 partisan legislative chambers across the country. And in 24 states, Republicans have total control of the legislative process. This all but guarantees a new tide of conservative laws… [including] dozens of measures challenging the power of labor unions.
► In The Hill — Republicans take the reins — For the first time since 2006, Congress is convening this week under full GOP control, with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reaching the pinnacle of Senate majority leader and Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) poised to win a third term as Speaker.
► In today’s NY Times — Republicans say they’ll act fast to push agenda — In taking control of Congress on Tuesday, Republicans say they will quickly advance energy and health care legislation that stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate… McConnell acknowledged that he would need help from Democrats who were willing to deal with Republicans, and said he had held discussions with a number of Democrats he thought were potential partners on various issues, saying: “There is a pool of Democrats who want to do business.”
► At Politico — Trade’s big breakout — So while many in Washington are bracing for stalemates on issues as wide-ranging as health care to immigration, the climate could be just right to move the kind of bipartisan trade agreements not seen since NAFTA 20 years ago.
► At Huffington Post — Piketty: Bill Gates told me he doesn’t want to pay more in taxes — The world’s richest man recently told the economics professor that he didn’t want to pay more in taxes, as Gates believes he can spend his money in “more efficient [ways] than the government.”
► At Politico — Why Republicans are Ready for Hillary — Conservatives have one thing to be thankful for: The fact is that Hillary Clinton learned so many lessons from her surprising 2008 defeat that she’s repeating each of them all over again. Once more she is running as the overconfident, inevitable nominee with safe speeches filled with mush and a bloated campaign staff that already is leaking against each other in the press.
► In The Hill — Warren set to headline labor event on raising wages — On Wednesday, Jan. 7, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is slated to deliver the keynote address at the AFL-CIO’s national summit on raising wages for middle-class workers that will include remarks from Labor Secretary Tom Perez and the group’s president, Richard Trumka, along with analysis from business and policy experts on the issue. Through her brief tenure in the Senate, Warren has been a staunch supporter of protecting consumers and keeping a close eye on Wall Street’s behavior.
► In the Washington Post — Postal Service poised to begin controversial plant closures this week — The U.S. Postal Service next week plans to begin a new round of plant closings and consolidations that will affect dozens of mail-processing centers, despite calls from more than half the members of the outgoing Senate to postpone the changes.
► Today from AP — American Airlines, pilots union reach labor deal — The pilots union at American Airlines has agreed to put up for a vote a five-year contract proposal that would boost pay by more than 26 percent and offer smaller raises in later years.
► From Al Jazeera America — Minimum wage increases take hold in 20 states — Low-wage workers in 20 states got a raise on the first day of 2015, when minimum wage increases automatically take hold. According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, that will mean an additional $1.6 billion in wages for the U.S. workforce in the coming year.
► From PBS Newshour — Undisputed facts about the minimum wage — We know minimum wage workers tend to be younger, female and white, often working in notoriously low-paying industries like hospitality and service… The majority (72%) of at-or-below minimum wage workers have at least a high school degree.
► At In These Times — How 13 complaints against McDonald’s could help millions unionize — In December, the National Labor Relations Board issued 13 complaints involving 78 charges by workers that McDonald’s USA, LLC, and many of its franchisees broke the law by interfering with collective efforts to organize and improve working conditions. The complaints will now go to trial before administrative law judges , who could, for the first time, find McDonald’s guilty of violating workers’ right to organize. Until now, McDonald’s has shielded itself from liability by claiming that it’s not an actual employer. Franchisors argue that although they provide the brand name, products, techniques and other operational necessities, they leave franchisees the discretion to operate as sole employer, responsible for all labor costs, risks and obligations. What’s so significant about the NLRB’s complaints is that the board defines McDonald’s as a joint employer with its franchisees — and thus sharing responsibility.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.