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Benton bumbles, government gagged, Puzder’s poverty pay…

Wednesday, January 25, 2017




► From AP — Boeing sees more airliner deliveries, lower defense revenue — The Boeing Co. beat Wall Street expectations for fourth-quarter profit despite a slump in revenue from its defense business. The company forecast Wednesday that deliveries of commercial airplanes will rise slightly in 2017 after slipping last year. Boeing said that net income in the fourth quarter was $1.63 billion, up 59 percent from a year earlier.

ALSO at The Stand — Boeing cashes in on tax breaks, cuts 11K jobs in Washington

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Tri-Cities ends 2016 as Washington’s fastest-growing job market — The Tri-Cities boasted Washington’s fastest-growing job market for 2016, with an annual growth rate of 3.6 percent. In fact, the top three economies for 2016 were all in Eastern Washington, with Wenatchee and Spokane rounding out the list.

► From KOMO — In Port Orchard, a new minimum wage is squeezing small businesses

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story — which is being circulated by Olympia’s business lobbying groups (that probably facilitated it) — only talks to business owners about their concerns with higher labor costs. It totally avoids talking to any minimum wage workers about the difference a raise means to them, or where they spend their higher wages (at businesses just like these). Sad!




► In today’s Olympian — GOP Sen. Dansel takes job with Trump administration, leaving state Senate in 24-24 tie — State Sen. Brian Dansel (R-Republic) resigned effective immediately to accept a job as a special assistant to the U.S. secretary of agriculture. (This) prompted questions Tuesday about whether Democrats could take advantage of a tie in the Senate to pass legislation that so far has proved unpopular with Republican leaders. But Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn), the Senate majority floor leader, said he doesn’t plan to hold a Senate floor session until a replacement for Dansel is appointed.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The Seattle Times’ coverage of this story notes that Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane), is also rumored to be getting a job with the Trump administration, though he denies having any interviews. Baumgartner, who is known in Olympia for his prolific use of Twitter, recently deleted all his tweets and rewrote his Twitter bio to highlight his international and national security résumé.

► MUST-READ in today’s Seattle Times — Trump’s EPA pick bumbles from Washington state onto national stage (by Danny Westneat) — President Trump tapped Don Benton, a former state senator from Vancouver and Trump’s Northwest campaign manager, to be his senior liaison to the Environmental Protection Agency. What’s shocking about this isn’t Benton’s anti-green views. It’s that he has an almost perfect track record of failure and interpersonal conflict, often resulting in legal or disciplinary action, at every public position he’s held… With the insults, grievance-mongering and litigiousness, he’s Trump’s mini-me. Now he’s in a position of influence over a federal agency with 15,000 employees. What could go wrong?

EDITOR’S NOTE — Though you wouldn’t know it from today’s coverage by the skeletal remains of the Capitol Press Corp, in addition to the Republicans’ musical chairs yesterday, there were actually hearings on some important issues in Olympia. Like…

ALSO at The Stand — Strong support for equal pay legislation




► From KUOW — 1 million Washingtonians could lose health coverage if Obamacare goes — State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler estimates one million people in Washington have received health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. He said that without a plan in place from Republicans in Congress, those people could all lose insurance if Obamacare is repealed.

► In today’s Columbian — GOP delegation respond to Gov. Inslee’s ACA request — In a letter to the governor, the Republicans paint a picture of skyrocketing state premiums, increasing deductibles and more expensive employer-based family plans. Jaime Smith, the governor’s spokesperson: “These members of Washington’s Congressional Delegation are using alternative facts to distort the reality that the ACA has successfully provided coverage for 750,000 Washingtonians and is helping lower our inflation rates, improve access and health care outcomes, and create jobs.”

► From KUOW — Hiring freeze and Obamacare repeal could clobber Veterans Affairs — A health policy researcher at the Rand Corp. says 3 million vets who are enrolled in the VA usually get their health care elsewhere — from their employer, or maybe from Obamacare exchanges. If those options go away, she has no idea just how many of those 3 million veterans will move over to the VA.




► In the Olympian — TPP dies, Washington state merely sighs – so goes free trade in the new Trump era — When President Donald Trump officially killed the TPP on Monday, it drew only a tepid response from federal lawmakers in the state that could have the most to lose, a sure sign of the pernicious politics facing trade backers in Congress. “President Trump promised on the campaign trail that he would stand with workers and middle class families when he negotiates trade deals, so I will take a look at what he puts forward and I will do everything I can to make sure any trade deal works for Washington state workers and economy,” Sen. Patty Murray said Tuesday.

ALSO at The Stand — TPP dead amid calls for trade policies benefiting workers

► Meanwhile at our sans-TPP ports, from the News Tribune — Seaport alliance marks highest container volumes since 2007 — The Northwest Seaport Alliance finished strong in 2016 for shipping through the ports of Tacoma and Seattle. Last year’s container traffic through both ports was the highest since 2007, managing more than 3.6 million TEUs, or 20-foot-equivalent container units, an increase of more than 2 percent from the previous year.

► In The Guardian — We celebrate TPP’s death. Now the NAFTA trade deal must be re-written (by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka) — Today we breathe a sigh of relief and say good riddance to the TPP. But this is not a time to rest on our laurels. The American people were divided in their choice for president in 2016. But one clear mandate emerged: there is strong, broad-based support for a new direction on trade. And when it comes to bad trade deals, none has a longer record of failure than the North American Free Trade Agreement. The consequences we warned of two decades ago when Nafta was first being debated have all come true. America’s industrial base has been gutted. Jobs have vanished. Employers have held wages down. Entire communities have lost their identity.

► From ABC News — Fall of TPP under Trump signals new era for American trade — Although the agreement was already considered dead because of its lack of support from either major party’s presidential candidate, Trump’s signing of the memo nevertheless ended what Thea Lee, the policy director and chief international economist at the AFL-CIO, described to ABC News as a “six year fight” to stop the pact. “The TPP was dead already,” she said. “Trump just disposed of the body.”




► From Huffington Post — Federal workers told to halt external communication in first week under Trump — Multiple federal agencies have told their employees to cease communications with members of Congress and the press. The freeze has startled aides on the Hill and people at those agencies, who worry that it could abruptly upend current operations and stifle work and discussions that routinely take place between branches of government.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Scientists at federal agencies — experts on everything from the environment to agriculture to public health — have been banned from talking to anyone (even each other) about taxpayer-funded research. #MakeAmericaSilentAgain #DrainTheWhistleblowers

► From AP — Trump moving forward with border wall, weighs refugee cuts — President Trump will begin rolling out executive actions on immigration Wednesday, beginning with steps to build his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to two administration officials. He’s also expected to target so-called sanctuary cities and is reviewing proposals that would restrict the flow of refugees to the United States.

► From KUOW — 6 things to know about undocumented immigrants in Washington state

► From Bloomberg — Trump freezes overtime, pay data regulations — The move appears to put the Labor Department’s overtime rule on ice, along with regulations to expand federal contractor disclosure requirements and require employers to provide information about union-busting “persuader” activities.

► In today’s LA Times — How Andy Puzder’s fast-food industry sticks taxpayers with the cost of supporting its workers (by Michael Hiltzik) — A 2013 study by the Center for Labor Research and Education at UC Berkeley found that public assistance for front-line fast-food workers costs roughly $7 billion a year. That’s a subset of the $152.8 billion the federal government spends on support for low-wage working families, according to a separate study. Puzder’s CKE Restaurants, which owns the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands, collects a taxpayer-funded subsidy of about $247 million a year, according to an estimate by the National Employment Law Project. That’s what it takes, NELP said, to “offset poverty wages and keep [CKE’s] low-wage front-line workers and their families from economic disaster.”

“It’s clearly the case that firms that don’t pay their workers enough to get by are shifting those costs to taxpayers,” said Ken Jacobs, head of the Berkeley labor center. Given the evidence that public costs come down when employers raise pay, then “if employers paid better wages, we could spend public funds in more efficient ways.”

► From CNN — Puzder: 52% of country is dependent on government, ‘votes benefits to themselves’

TAKE A STAND — Urge our senators to REJECT Puzder.

► In today’s NY Times — Trump won’t back down from his voting fraud lie. Here are the facts. — There is no evidence to support Trump’s claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had voted for his Democratic opponent and robbed him of a victory in the national popular vote. His claim has been discredited repeatedly by numerous fact-checkers.

► In today’s Washington Post — Trump’s disregard for the truth threatens his ability to govern — Donald Trump, having propelled his presidential campaign to victory while often disregarding the truth, now is testing the proposition that he can govern the country that way. Veterans of previous White Houses say they can recall no precedent for what Trump and his top aides are doing. They worry about the implications of this untethering from the truth when big decisions must be made about dealing with terrorism or charting the course of the economy.

► In the Seattle Times — The (robot) elephant in the room with the auto titans (by Jon Talton) — There’s no sense that Trump is even aware of the biggest threat to job creation in manufacturing (and elsewhere): automation. He can take us to Somalia-levels of environmental, health, safety and tax “burdens” on business and it won’t change this reality.




► From Fortune — CWA workers at AT&T plan protest to jump start talks — AT&T’s four-year run of unbroken labor peace will be tested in 2017 amid preparations by the carrier’s main union to ramp up the pressure in two ongoing contract negotiations. Some 17,000 workers in AT&T’s traditional wired phone business in Nevada and California have been working without a contract since April, while a contract covering another 21,000 employees in the wireless unit is set to expire early next month. There has been little progress in the negotiations on sticking points like the outsourcing of call center jobs overseas, stagnant pay, rising health care costs, and greater reliance on wireless retail stores not owned by AT&T, officials at the Communications Workers of America union say.


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