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Ports back up, tax break accountability, Homeland hostage…

Tuesday, February 17, 2015




► From AP — Top U.S. labor official arrives as West Coast ports back up — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez arrived in San Francisco, where months-long negotiations between the dockworkers union and a maritime association of companies have come to a halt. Starting Saturday, companies locked out workers who load or unload ships, saying they would not pay weekend or holiday wage premiums to crews they accuse of intentionally slowing work to gain bargaining leverage. Dockworkers deny slowing down and say they want to work.

► In the PSBJ — Ports reopen after weekend closure as top government officials intervene in union negotiations — This is the second temporary shutdown as a result of a management lockout.

mcgrath-dean► In the News Tribune — Dock dispute doesn’t need presidential fix (by ILWU 23’s Dean McGrath) — Taft-Hartley provisions were meant for strikes. The ILWU is not on strike. Taft-Hartley provisions clearly help the employer in contract disputes, and in no way should the PMA be rewarded for its actions, which clearly threaten the economy of our region, state and nation… We agree that something needs to be done to get our docks moving again. We sit at the bargaining table every day, wondering if the PMA will show up and have serious talks about relieving the congestion on our docks and work toward a fair contract for both sides. This weekend, President Obama ordered Labor Secretary Tom Perez to help facilitate an ending to these deliberations. We welcome this step and hope it helps find a solution that gets our docks moving again.

► In the News Tribune — TNT should be supporting dockworkers (letter to the editor) — If the shipping companies weren’t cutting two-thirds of the working shifts and moving towards a complete lockout, they might have a leg to stand on. The shippers are to blame, and they should just sign a fair contract and let the ports get back to work.




PresserRobinson1► At IAM 751 — Two-thirds of voters support tax break accountability — New polling shows that more than two-thirds of likely Washington voters support tying tax breaks for aerospace companies to requirements for maintaining jobs and providing living wages. The effort to add accountability to the tax incentives was officially launched Feb. 16 at a press conference overlooking the Boeing plant in Renton by Rep. June Robinson (D-Everett), members of the Machinists Union District Lodge 751 and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, IFPTE Local 2001.

ALSO at The Stand — Voters back tying tax breaks to jobs, wages

PLUS — We’re being taken for a ride (WSLC Legislative Update)

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Everett lawmaker presses bill to link aerospace tax breaks with jobs — Rep. June Robinson (D-Everett) said she will introduce a bill that could lead to reducing Boeing’s multi-billion dollar tax break if the aerospace giant trims its overall workforce in the state. “Other states require Boeing to bring jobs to receive tax breaks and it’s only fair that the citizens of Washington demand the same treatment,” she said.

► In the PSBJ — Proposed law would limit Boeing’s ability to shift jobs out of Washington after receiving tax breaks




15-wslc-shared-pros-agenda► In today’s Spokesman-review — Minimum wage hike to $12 considered by Washington — On Monday, the proposed bump in the minimum wage got its second hearing in the House, where supporters flooded the Appropriations Committee room with requests to approve what Rep. Jessyn Farrell, the bill’s sponsor, called “a modest step in the right direction.” A person working 40 hours a week for a full year can’t afford housing, food and medical care for a family, said Farrell (D-Seattle). “You should be able to get by. You should be able to pay your way.”

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Strong support for wage theft, minimum wage, sick leave bills

► In today’s Olympian — Senate offers imperfect transportation plan (editorial) — It threatens limits funds for transit, takes money from the state general fund, prevents at least one course of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and erodes wage protections. But it does represent a welcome new effort after last year’s Senate failure to even get a vote on a needed transportation plan.

ALSO at The Stand — WSLC: Ideological provisions doom Senate transportation plan

► In the (Everett) Herald — Roads paved by compromise (editorial) — Democrats and Republicans will each have to give some ground in voting for the package.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The Herald suggests that raising gas taxes is a “concession” by Republicans. Paying for it is a concession? Their other “concession” is allowing Sound Transit counties to conduct a very limited vote on whether they want to raise their own taxes to expand service.

► In the Seattle Times — Don’t let ideology stand in the way of a transportation deal (editorial)

► In the Spokesman-Review — Senators’ state transportation package a good start (editorial)

► In today’s Columbian — Transportation package has its detractors — Southwest Washington lawmakers raised concerns Monday over the $15 billion transportation state package unveiled last week by a bipartisan group of senators.

► In the News Tribune — Legislature might send I-1351 back to voters — Lawmakers can’t figure out a way to pay for the class size initiative voters approved last fall, so they may put it back on the ballot.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Teacher pay is basic education (editorial) — If the Legislature is going to satisfy the McCleary decision, it will have to find funding to address pay and benefits for teachers and other school employees, the most basic part of basic education.

costco-ballot► In the Olympian — Liquor bills look like an unfair tax break for Costco (editorial) — SB 5301 and HB 1343 are being presented as proposals to help out ailing restaurants that say they cannot get quick enough deliveries of alcohol on short notice when their supplies run out. But the real effect is to create a loophole that Costco and its lawyers had intentionally closed by requiring the 17 percent distributors’ fee in I-1183 — part of a political strategy to win over voters. That strategy emerged after voters shot down a previous Costco-backed initiative that offered less revenue for the state.

► At 24/7 Wall Street — States with the worst taxes on average earners — Washington has by far the most regressive tax system nationwide… Washington’s tax system helped widen the income gap more than any other state. Washington’s poorest residents paid nearly seven times what the wealthiest 1% paid as a share of income, one of the highest such ratios nationwide.




hall-michael_space-needle► From KIRO 7 — Space Needle workers insulted by advice to ‘Live on Less’ — Space Needle workers say instead of getting a raise, they got a presentation on “How to Live on Less.” The webinar was emailed to Space Needle workers last month. “Four years ago, my wage was enough to live on in Seattle comfortably,” said elevator operator Michael Hall, who has worked at the Space Needle for seven and a half years. “I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck. Since then, I’ve had to move back in with my parents outside of the city. Now I commute two hours each way to and from work.”

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — ‘Live on Less:’ Space Needle hands out advice, not raises

► From AP — Washington health exchange extends enrollment by 2 months — The health exchange, which signed up another 20,000 people for private health insurance over the weekend, announced Monday it would be giving people two more months to enroll. The special enrollment period that ends April 17 will basically be for anyone who hasn’t bought health insurance for 2015, since one of the ways people can qualify for the extension is by saying they didn’t realize how big the tax penalty would be if they don’t have health insurance.

► In the Seattle Times — Guess who else opposes forced flu shots (by Danny Westneat) — The Washington State Nurses Association says it isn’t anti-vaccine, and it recommends everyone get the flu shot. But it draws the line at forcing (or what amounts to a forcing, as their jobs are on the line if they refuse).




► Today from AP — U.S. to appeal ruling blocking Obama immigration plan — The Justice Department will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that temporarily blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, the White House said Tuesday. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas issued a temporary injunction, giving a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit that aims to permanently stop the orders.

► At Think Progress — Federal judge blocks Obama’s immigration action; here’s why it probably won’t work — This particular judge’s decision should surprise no one. Judge Andrew Hanen is a George W. Bush appointee whose past opinions left no doubt that he would leap at the opportunity to strike down a program benefiting undocumented immigrants. The Obama administration, and the millions of immigrants who hope to benefit from the administration’s policies, can take solace in the fact that two Republican members of the Supreme Court hinted as recently as 2012 that they do not share Hanen’s views.

Boehner-House-GOP► In today’s Washington Post — Republicans are holding the Department of Homeland Security hostage (by Eugene Robinson) — Under Boehner’s leadership, House Republicans are holding the Department of Homeland Security hostage in an attempt to force Obama to undo his executive actions on immigration. Funding for the agency expires at the end of the month, and the House refuses to take up a simple appropriations bill without attaching unrelated immigration measures that have no chance of getting past the Senate or the president. The timing of this attempted power play is less than exquisite. Each day seems to bring new reminders of the potential threat posed by terrorism.

► At TPM — Dems brandish new counterproposal in Social Security fight: Tax the rich — Democrats are proposing to raise or eliminate the cap on Social Security taxes. Those taxes are currently collected up to $118,500 of a person’s income, and any income above that is Social Security tax-free. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced last week that he would propose eliminating the cap for income above $250,000. His office estimated that that would keep Social Security solvent until 2060; the program is currently projected to start running out of money in 2033.

► In today’s Washington Post — A ripple effect if Obamacare unravels — Millions are at risk of losing health-care coverage as the Supreme Court takes up a case that poses the most serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act since its ruling more than two years ago.

► In today’s NY Times — The roadblock to sentencing reform (editorial) — The new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee opposes almost any reduction of mandatory minimum sentences.




► From Reuters — USW leader: U.S. refinery strike could spread over safe staffing — A strike by U.S. refinery workers that entered its 16th day on Monday could spread if there is no progress in talks this week with plant owners on safe staffing levels, said the lead negotiator for the United Steelworkers union.


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