Monday, March 9, 2015
► In the PSBJ — Washington state loses 6,800 Boeing employees in less than 3 years — Boeing’s Washington state workforce declined more than 2 percent last year, from 81,939 in 2013 to 80,199. While that is still almost twice as many as even tech giant Microsoft Corp., which employed 43,031 in Washington state in 2014, it is significant for a region that recently fought hard to keep Boeing’s 777X production facility here.
ALSO at The Stand — Voters back tying aerospace tax breaks to jobs, wages
PLUS — We’re being taken for a ride (WSLC Legislative Update, Feb. 10)
► In the Seattle Times — ‘$16 in ’16’: Nick Hanauer wades into wages — Republicans say they’d like to quarantine the lefty politics coming out of Seattle. But a near-billionaire is about to hit them with a bigger dose than ever. Ready for a $16-an-hour minimum wage? “Yes, I’m dead serious,” said Nick Hanauer. “If the Legislature doesn’t act to raise the minimum wage, we’re going to the ballot with a statewide $16-an-hour minimum-wage initiative in 2016.” … Hanauer’s probably right: Business-backed Republicans are fools not to take the $12 deal on the table.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Education spending not enough, but it’s a start (by Jerry Cornfield) — A stream of bills flowing through the state House and Senate would pour several hundred million more dollars into educating children in Washington. But little, if any, of that proposed spending would bring the state closer to fully funding public schools, as required by the McCleary state Supreme Court decision. Lawmakers aren’t sweating it too much — not yet, anyway — because state tax revenue is expected to increase in coming years after years-long recession.
► In today’s News Tribune — Lawmakers consider region-based funding of teacher salaries — Budget writers in both chambers of the Legislature are looking not only to increase how much the state pays to hire school employees across the board: They’re also looking tie the state’s salary allocations to regional costs of living.
► In today’s Seattle Times — An important step by the Legislature on mental-health reform (editorial) — The Legislature is passing necessary reforms of the state mental health system, but now it needs to ensure they are funded.
► In the Columbian — Voting Rights Act is needed (editorial) — On Thursday, the House passed the bill by a 52-46 vote that went mostly along party lines, with Democrats in favor. The bill is unlikely to progress beyond the House. This marks the third straight year the chamber has passed such a bill, and last year’s effort did not even come up for a vote in the Senate. But at its heart, the bill speaks to the nature of representative democracy and to the notion of inclusion upon which this nation was founded.
► From ProPublica — OSHA report echoes ProPublica and NPR’s workers’ comp findings — Separate investigations into changes in the workers’ compensation system nationwide found that cutbacks were hurting injured workers and their families… OSHA’s report said changes in workers’ comp programs have made it increasingly difficult for injured workers to get the benefits they’re entitled to. The report noted that workers’ comp pays just 20 percent of the overall financial cost of workplace injuries and illnesses.
ALSO at The Stand — The dismantling of workers’ compensation (WSLC Legislative Update) — Even as reserves in Washington’s workers’ comp system have recovered and rates have stabilized, business lobbyists have continued to seek benefit cuts, eligibility restrictions, and an expansion of those buyouts. See the list of 2015 Senate bills that aim to do just that.
► From KUOW — As workers’ comp varies from state to state, workers pay the price — At the time of their accidents, Jeremy Lewis was 27, Josh Potter 25. The men lived within 75 miles of each other. Both were married with two children about the same age. Each man lost a portion of his left arm in a machinery accident. Because Lewis lived in Alabama, he received $45,000 in workers’ compensation for the loss of his arm. Potter, who had the comparative good fortune of losing his arm across the border in Georgia, was awarded benefits that could surpass $740,000 over his lifetime.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Health coverage in limbo for many small-business employees — For 20 years, small businesses in the state have relied heavily on associations and trusts to provide coverage for their workers. These groups had cheaper prices than insurance sold on the open market, allowing them to become the dominant players, with roughly half a million of the state’s residents covered by these plans. Now Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, citing federal changes under the ACA, has rejected the majority of the state’s roughly 64 association and trust plans, saying they don’t comply with the new rules.
► In the News Tribune — Businesses elsewhere report few problems with sick leave laws — A handful of Seattle small business owners want Tacoma business owners to know that adjusting to mandatory paid sick leave for employees will be a lot easier than they may think. “Don’t be terrified of it. Don’t make grandiose statements like ‘everyone’s going to close because of this,’ ” said Dave Meinert, who owns six neighborhood restaurants in Seattle. “Are you going to have to make adjustments and be smart? Yes.” His assessment of Seattle’s paid sick leave law, in effect since October 2012, was echoed by the owner of a local chain of ice cream shops and the CEO of a consignment clothing retailer with operations in five states.
► From KPLU — Franchise owners say Seattle’s $15 wage rollout is unfair — People who own franchises in Seattle are suing the city, claiming it’s unfair they have to pay workers $15 per hour four years before other businesses have to do the same. Oral arguments happen Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
► From The Hill — Labor fires back at Obama on trade — Labor unions and other groups opposed to free-trade policies are ramping up a spring offensive against the White House and congressional Republicans with new trade legislation set to emerge in the coming weeks.
► Interesting read from Slate — Sotomayor may have just saved the ACA — If (the plaintiffs’ attorney) is correct and a state chooses not to set up its own exchange — and thus loses federal subsidies — Sotomayor said, “We’re going to have the death spiral that this system was created to avoid.” And she went on to list the parade of horribles that would follow from this so-called choice, including destabilized insurance markets and skyrocketing premiums. “Tell me how that is not coercive in an unconstitutional way?” she asked… But Sotomayor wasn’t done.
► In the NY Times — What ending health subsidies means — The political opponents of Obamacare seem to think this fight is about ideology. What they refuse to acknowledge is the human toll and the economic devastation that destroying the heart of health reform will bring about.
► In the Washington Post — I was a professor at four universities. I still couldn’t make ends meet. (by Tanya Paperny) — Last week was the first ever National Adjunct Walkout Day, a grassroots protest to push for fair pay and better working conditions. Protests and teach-ins took place on as many as 100 campuses nationwide, prompting at least one university to create a task force to address labor concerns. It’s little wonder that a national movement has sprung up around the adjunct system, which offers little or no job security or access to benefits and significantly lower wages than regular faculty. I sympathize — I was an adjunct, and I could only tolerate the stress and exhaustion for two years.
ALSO at The Stand — Massive walkout at Seattle U. in support of adjunct faculty
► In the Washington Post — Utilities wage campaign against rooftop solar — Sensing a threat in rooftop panels, the utility industry and its fossil-fuel supporters are waging a determined campaign to raise the cost of solar power.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
► In case you missed it Saturday, hear are President Obama’s remarks from the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, marking the 50th anniversary of the marches from Selma to Montgomery.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.