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‘Wrong’ pay plan, Spokane sick leave, gutting workers’ comp…

Monday, April 6, 2015




hill-andy► In the Olympian — Senate pay plan is wrong (editorial) — Senate Republicans offered a budget plan this week that is creative in the way it shifts funds and takes other steps to meet a balanced budget goal – without raising taxes. It is full of as yet unexamined budget complexities but one thing is obvious: It balances the books too heavily on the backs of state employees. The Senate plan rejects union contracts — negotiated with Gov. Jay Inslee’s labor team — that otherwise would raise most general government workers’ pay by 4.8 percent over two years. These are state workers who last saw a general wage increase in July 2008 — more than six years ago. In its place Senate budget writers, led by Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond), are offering flat $1,000 per year raises to state agency workers — regardless of pay level. Of course, such a move would be illegal.

► In the Seattle Times — How state budget plans differ for Democrats, GOP — Possibly the biggest difference between the Republican and Democratic budget proposals is the gap between their ideas of how to compensate teachers and state government employees.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Tax increases meet two goals (editorial) — The House budget seeks $1.47 billion in new tax revenue over the biennium through a capital gains tax and an increase of the B&O services tax paid by professionals, such as physicians and lawyers… The tax increases proposed by the House are fair and allow the state to begin making up for past losses to programs and employee compensation.

► From KUOW — Group launches initiative for carbon tax in Olympia — The circulation of petitions to put Initiative 732 on the 2016 ballot signals a new strategy that may come into play if Gov. Jay Inslee and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are unable to pass their own carbon-tax proposal.

aerospace-accountability-front► In the (Everett) Herald — Only a little time left for legislators to vote on Boeing tax breaks bill — Time is running out for backers of a bill tying Boeing Co. tax breaks to the number of people the company employs in Washington. The bill has been in the House Finance Committee for nearly a month with no sign that the chairman is going to bring it up for a vote. But sponsoring Rep. June Robinson (D-Everett), brushed aside insinuations that it is dead, saying Friday that it is still in play as the Legislature enters the last three weeks of a 105-day session.

►In case you missed it… in the Seattle Times — Low wages for aerospace workers despite tax breaks for employers — In 2013, outside of Boeing, a third of production workers at local aerospace parts manufacturers — companies that get tax breaks intended to preserve good jobs in the state — earned between $10 and $15 an hour, a Seattle Times analysis of state data shows.

► In the Seattle Times — GOP lawmaker wants Seattle on hook for buses during delayed tunnel project — The Legislature’s “stick it to Seattle” clause is resurfacing on the Highway 99 tunnel project, as a reason to possibly cut off state transit aid before the late job gets finished.

► From PubliCola — Kohl-Welles ‘seriously considering’ county council seat — Veteran state senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) announced on Facebook last night that she is “seriously considering” running for Larry Phillips’ King County Council seat; Phillips announced last week that he’s retiring after 17 years on the council.




welcome-to-spokane► In the Spokesman-Review — Spokane City Council makes sick leave policy a priority — Paid sick leave shot to the front of the Spokane City Council’s agenda this year, as council members vowed Tuesday to quickly pass a policy to provide workers the opportunity to earn hours reserved for unplanned emergencies or unforeseen health issues. Councilman Jon Snyder, who has worked for the past year with the Spokane Alliance to craft a citywide paid sick leave policy, called it a “popular, important bipartisan issue.” He said the council would immediately pass a resolution supporting citywide paid sick leave, and promised that a city law enforcing the proposal would be voted on by the council this summer.

► From KPLU — Secretary of Labor praises Seattle for leading the way on a higher minimum wage — U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez is praising Seattle for leading the way by phasing in a $15/hour minimum wage. He says Seattle has set an example for the rest of the country: “What you have done has reverberated across this country and you have every reason to be proud of this.”

► From the Stranger — UW refuses to comply with Seattle’s minimum wage law for student employees — Just in time for Seattle’s new minimum wage law to take effect, the UW announced it will raise the minimum wage of all non-student employees to $11 per hour. However, UW’s decision to raise wages still leaves about 2,600 student employees making less than $11. Dozens of students, unionists, and socialists are pissed off about that, and they marched around campus calling on the university to raise wages.

► From IAM 751 — Machinists forge tentative agreement with Jorgensen — If approved, the contract would cover about 100 workers at the Jorgensen Forge plant on East Marginal Way in Tukwila, who had voted in August 2014 to join the Machinists Union.

ALSO at The Stand — Jorgensen workers vote to join IAM 751 (Aug. 12, 2014)

► From Longshore & Shipping News — ILWU Longshore Caucus delegates vote to recommend TA to membership for ratification vote — ILWU Coast Longshore Caucus delegates voted Friday to recommend approval of the tentative agreement reached on Feb. 20 between the union and employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association. The proposed 5-year contract covers 20,000 dockworkers at 29 west coast ports.

► From the PSBJ — Dreamliners flying out the door at 10 a month, Boeing reports — What the rising production rates mean for the Puget Sound region is continued jobs at Boeing and its suppliers, especially for the legacy aircraft, such the 737, that are primarily made of aluminum.

► From the PSBJ — Microsoft lays off hundreds in last round of cuts — Microsoft has now finished the layoffs the company announced last summer, after notifying hundreds of employees last week that their jobs were eliminated.





► In the Seattle Times — City Council opposes fast track for Pacific Rim trade pact — Burly tradesmen stood shoulder to shoulder with environmental activists and the local chapter of the Raging Grannies on Monday to urge the Seattle City Council to send President Obama and the world’s largest companies a message from the Northwest. The council complied, voting 9-0 for a resolution stating its opposition to so-called fast-track consideration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Tell Congress to vote against ‘Fast Track’

sorscher► At Huffington Post — Seattle City Council Votes 9-0 to Oppose Fast Track (by Stan Sorscher) — What can we learn from this week’s vote in the Seattle City Council, to oppose Fast Track trade legislation and express concerns about the TPP? Lesson 1: It’s not, “For trade” or “Against trade.” Lesson 2: The more you look at our failed trade policy, the less you like it. Lesson 3: 20 years after NAFTA, the results are in — trickle-down fails again. Lesson 4: Public sentiment is shifting against our failed trade policy. Lesson 5: No one understands why this deal is good for regular people. Lesson 6: We will need government policies to solve our most urgent problems. Lesson 7: This issue is not that hard to figure out.

► From McClatchy — Obama’s fast-track plan hits bumps in trade-dependent Washington state — Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said the votes opposing Fast Track by the Bellingham and Seattle city councils are significant because they represent public opinion in “a place where trade is a big deal.” And she said grass-roots opposition is growing across the nation.




► In the Washington Post — Workers — not employers — are the real wage movers and shakers (by Harold Meyerson) — The raise at McDonald’s, even though it applies only to a small fraction of the employees who work at the Golden Arches, is one of a series of remarkable, if incomplete, victories that low-wage U.S. workers have won in recent months. It also follows minimum-wage hikes enacted by voters and elected officials in numerous cities and states. And it reflects the broad support in poll after poll for raising the federal minimum wage from its abysmal $7.25 an hour.

► From AFL-CIO Now — Strong contracts boost UAW membership — As a result of strong collective bargaining agreements in a rebounding auto industry, the number of UAW-represented workers has grown for five straight years, with the latest government figures showing an increase to 403,466 in 2014, compared to 391,415 in 2013.

► In today’s NY Times — Wisconsin Supreme Court election raises concerns about partisanship — Ahead of the vote on Tuesday, out-of-state money has poured in, and harsh advertisements have filled the airwaves.




workers-comp► From Mother Jones — Walmart, Lowe’s, Safeway, and Nordstrom are bankrolling a nationwide campaign to gut workers’ comp — Nearly two dozen major corporations are bankrolling a quiet, multistate lobbying effort to make it harder for workers hurt on the job to access lost wages and medical care — the benefits collectively known as workers’ compensation. The companies have financed a lobbying group, the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation, in a mission to pass laws allowing private employers to opt out of the traditional workers’ compensation plans that almost every state requires businesses to carry. Employers that opt out would still be compelled to purchase workers’ comp plans. But they would be allowed to write their own rules governing when, for how long, and for which reasons an injured employee can access medical benefits and wages.


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