Friday, February 6, 2015
► From ILWU — ILWU president blasts PMA threat to shut down U.S. ports — LWU President Robert McEllrath blasted the Pacific Maritime Association for threatening to shut down West Coast ports, bargaining in the media, and distorting the facts. “What the ILWU heard yesterday is a man who makes about one million dollars a year telling the working class that we have more than our share,” said McEllrath. “Intensifying the rhetoric at this stage of bargaining, when we are just a few issues from reaching an agreement, is totally unnecessary and counterproductive.” In mid-January, PMA claimed that there was a lack of dock space for containers, and it eliminated nightshifts at many ports. Today, the union provided photos disputing the employer group’s assertion that docks are too congested to unload ships.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Lingering export woes continue to hurt Columbia Basin industries — The port slowdown is holding up exports along the West Coast is causing economic losses and export backlogs to accumulate. It’s hitting many industries hard, from agriculture and food processing to retailers and manufacturers.
► In today’s News Tribune — Port slowdown hurting Chehalis frozen food plant — A Chehalis frozen food company says the slowdown at Puget Sound ports has cost it nearly 20 percent of its business.
► From Bloomberg — Oil union’s Shell talks suspended as White House urges deal — Talks to end the first national walkout of U.S. oil workers in more than three decades were suspended after the United Steelworkers union rejected an offer from energy companies. The White House urged a resolution to the impasse. The latest offer from Royal Dutch Shell Plc, representing companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., shows “minimal movement,” USW said in a text message distributed to members, adding that bargaining will resume next week.
► From Al Jazeera America — Amid fraught negotiations, Shell refinery workers picket in Texas — Workers in Texas and elsewhere are preparing for a potentially long action. Protesters outside the Shell refinery had no idea how long the work stoppage would last, but they know the 1980 strike dragged on for three months.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Labor dispute rages on at Seattle’s most famous landmark — Union employees say the labor tension has created a stressful work environment at the 605-foot-tall landmark that is the symbol of the city. UNITE HERE says the Space Needle sent letters to employees encouraging them to resign. The NLRB panel ruled this violates federal labor laws, and ordered the Space Needle to stop. The panel also said the Needle has to re-hire two employees with back pay. One of the employees is a union supporter.
ALSO at The Stand — NLRB: Space Needle illegally opposed union
► In today’s Seattle Times — Tiny Haggen set to become heavyweight on West Coast — The little Bellingham grocery chain Haggen is about to morph into a major West Coast retail force with nine times as many stores, reaching from the Canadian border to Southern California. The unlikely expansion is the result of a $9.4 billion merger between Albertsons and Safeway; the deal closed last week. To pacify federal antitrust regulators, the companies agreed to jettison 168 stores, 146 of which will be acquired by Haggen. Before this lopsided deal, Haggen operated just 18 grocery stores in Washington and Oregon, plus a stand-alone pharmacy in Bellingham.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing, Machinists close to announcing performance payout — Boeing and the Machinists union are reportedly close to an agreement for union members’ performance bonus for 2014.
► In the Skagit Valley Herald — Bill seeks to help state’s two aluminum plants — Managers and workers from the Alcoa plants in Ferndale and Wenatchee pleaded that tax break extensions be green lighted for the two plants. Rep. Vincent Buys (R-Lynden) introduced the bill that is a fairly standard extension of a tax break, although with some new wrinkles. The Legislature has become more rigorous about putting job-related targets and so-called “clawbacks” in tax exemption legislation, which require that a company refund its tax break money to the state under certain conditions, such as closing a facility or cutting jobs. Legislators’ use of the requirement has arisen largely in response to their granting of huge tax breaks to Boeing only to have the corporation send away jobs that were not specifically covered by the language in tax exemptions.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee a student of California’s carbon-cap lessons — California has the nation’s most ambitious system to reduce carbon emissions. It’s the model for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s carbon-reduction legislation in this state.
► In today’s News Tribune — Washington health exchange is short of enrollment goal — The Washington health exchange on Thursday was 81,000 people short of its enrollment goal for the period with just over a week remaining for signups.
► In today’s News tribune — Cost shouldn’t prevent humane mental health care (editorial) — Washington state’s reluctance to order the mentally ill into psychiatric care isn’t about compassion, except the false kind. It’s really about trying to treat grave illnesses on the cheap — and pretending that we protect people’s freedom by letting them live on sidewalks in rainstorms while suffering crippling psychoses.
► In today’s Oregonian — Paid sick days supporters make another push in Oregon, while employers mostly push back — Supporters of paid sick leave hope a wave of political momentum and large Democratic majorities in the Oregon Legislature will result this year in a new state law requiring paid sick days for all private sector workers.
► In The Hill — DHS shutdown grows more likely — The chances of a shutdown at the Department of Homeland Security are growing by the day, with congressional leaders at a stalemate over legislation that would provide funding after Feb. 27. Republicans are using the funding measure as leverage to try and roll back the president’s executive actions on immigration. Of the more than 230,000 employees who work for DHS, the vast majority — around 200,000 — would continue to work, but without paychecks.
► In today’s NY Times — Democrats exercise ‘no’ power in Senate, to GOP’s dismay — The tactics that had served them well when they were in the minority are now being effectively exploited against them.
► At Huffington Post — Here’s the biggest problem with Obama’s new trade push (by Zach Carter and Dana Liebelson) — Of the 11 nations negotiating with the U.S. over the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, none has a closer relationship with China than Vietnam. Like China, which is not participating in the talks, Vietnam has a one-party communist government with a long record of human rights abuses. It has also some of the world’s weakest labor standards. As a consequence, Vietnam has become as an increasingly popular offshoring destination for businesses headquartered in China.
► Meanwhile, from AP — U.S. trade deficit jumps 17% to $46.6 billion — The U.S. trade deficit in December jumped to the highest level in more than two years as American exports fell and imports climbed to a record level. The politically sensitive deficit with China set a record for 2014, rising 23.9 percent to $342.6 billion.
► In today’s NY Times — U.S. economy added 257,000 jobs in January; unemployment rate at 5.7% — With the new figures, 2014 turned out to be the strongest year for job gains since 1999. Average hourly earnings rose 0.5 percent in January, the biggest monthly gain in more than six years.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Wall Street will take care of this…
► At Think Progress — High-risk investment that brought down the U.S. economy returns, with a new name — When a restaurant fails a health code inspection, sometimes the easiest thing to do is to close up shop, let people forget what happened, then slap a new sign on the door and reopen under a new name. That’s essentially what the world’s biggest banks are doing with a complex, high-risk investment product that helped destroy the global economy less than eight years ago. Goodbye, “collateralized debt obligations.” Hello, “bespoke tranche opportunities.” Banks including Goldman Sachs are marketing that newfangled product, according to Bloomberg, and total sales of “bespoke tranche opportunities” leaped from under $5 billion in 2013 to $20 billion last year.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Talk shop and dream big at the National Organizers Workshop (Registration deadline Is Monday, Feb. 9) — Four hundred of the best organizers in the country will gather in Washington, D.C. on March 6-7 to talk shop and dream big at the National Organizers Workshop. If you’re working for economic justice and passionate about organizing, there’s still time to sign up; online registration closes Monday, Feb. 9.
► In the Milwaukee J-S — Documents show Walker administration did seek removal of UW’s Wisconsin Idea — Documents reviewed Thursday show that Gov. Scott Walker’s administration requested in painstaking detail the removal of phrases central to the Wisconsin Idea — the guiding principle of the state’s public university system for more than a century. Walker sought to strike language in state law about the University of Wisconsin System’s commitment to public service and improving the human condition, and to remove the phrase, “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.”
► Today, Bob Marley would be celebrating his 70th birthday had cancer not taken his life at the young age of 36. In the final eulogy at Marley’s 1981 funeral, Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga said: “His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.” Written for his wife, Rita, this song was Marley’s first hit outside of Jamaica. Enjoy!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.