Thursday, April 27, 2017
► MUST-READ from The Stranger — Seattle Times is providing PR for Boeing’s greedy execs — When Boeing announced yet another round of job cuts, and not just any old cuts, but cuts to technical and engineering jobs, Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times explained the situation exactly the way Boeing executives wanted it explained. It was a matter of remaining competitive in a harsh “business environment.” And not only that, but “‘fewer sales opportunities and tough competition’ would drive further cuts in 2017.” At the opening of the story, Gates wastes no time pointing out that no cuts are happening at Boeing’s South Carolina plants. What he is really saying by this is: Unions are the real the problem here… But, of course, all this talk about competition and “sales opportunities” is complete nonsense, if you add an important factor that is completely missing in Gates’s post. It is buybacks.
ALSO see: The stock buyback bubble from the National Inflation Association.
► Case in point, in today’s Seattle Times — Boeing’s revenue dips as company says ‘tough’ cost-cutting will continue — The company said first-quarter profit was up 19 percent despite a drop in revenue. Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg offered some assurances Wednesday that production rates of its big widebody jets in Everett won’t go any lower than the five- per-month output planned starting this summer. But that doesn’t mean the current wave of layoffs is at an end. He reiterated Boeing’s intention to tamp down costs and make its factories more efficient as it girds for a slowing aerospace market.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing sales fall, cuts may continue, shareholders get boost — Boeing executives won’t say how much longer they see the slow-motion job cutting continuing. Company-wide efforts to cut labor and other costs contributed to Boeing posting better payouts to shareholders for the first quarter of 2017… During the call, Muilenburg praised efforts by President Donald Trump and the Republican majority in Congress to simplify and lower corporate taxes and streamline federal regulations.
► In the Wenatchee World — Alcoa employees seek extra leverage for restart — Alcoa employees laid off from the Wenatchee Works plant in 2016 would like to see Alcoa Corp. extend supplemental unemployment benefits or provide an additional severance package as a gesture of good faith. That was one suggestion delivered to Chelan County PUD Commissioners Tuesday night during a public meeting to discuss Alcoa’s request to delay a $67 million power contract payment due in June to the PUD.
► From The Stranger — Attorney General: Supervisor at Quincy onion packing plant harassed, groped women employees — The state’s complaint alleges that the bosses at the company where supervisor Hermilo Cruz worked, Horning Brothers, knew about his conduct and failed to stop it. The state also says the company has had a practice since at least 2012 of hiring women only for jobs on the onion packing line at their plant in Quincy.
► From The Stranger — Labor stands by Mayor Ed Murray despite sexual abuse allegations — The Stranger called every union on Murray’s endorsement list, finding none that are seriously reconsidering their endorsement of Murray, who has denied the allegations of abuse and pledged to continue running for re-election.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima councilwoman to face DUI charge — Yakima City Councilwoman Carmen Mendez will be charged with driving under the influence, a Yakima County prosecutor announced.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Senate committee hearing an effort to push Dems to vote on their tax plan — Dozens of teachers, parents and others appeared before a Senate committee Wednesday to support a Republican proposal to raise billions of dollars through a capital-gains and business-and-occupation tax. Wait, what?
► In today’s Seattle Times — Teacher-shortage crisis? UW researcher says it’s not that simple, and offers some fixes — The authors argue that school districts could use financial incentives to attract and keep more teachers in high-need subjects and hard-to-staff schools. But that’s not likely to happen in a state like Washington, where virtually all districts adhere to the same statewide teacher-salary schedule.
► A related story in today’s Olympian — State Patrol graduates record-large class of cadets after lawmakers approve big trooper pay raises — The newest class of troopers — 49 in total — was the largest in modern history, according to patrol officials.
► From The Hill — The Freedom Caucus gets to ‘yes’ on health care — Republicans took a serious step forward in their effort to replace ObamaCare on Wednesday when the conservative House Freedom Caucus endorsed revised legislation… The new amendment would allow states to apply for waivers opting out of a core ObamaCare protection for people with pre-existing conditions, which conservatives say drives up premiums. Several moderates also pointed out that there are problems in the underlying bill that remain unaddressed. The bill is still projected to result in 24 million fewer people with insurance over a decade and has deep cuts to Medicaid.
ALSO at The Stand — Call Congress today! Urge NO vote on new Trumpcare bill
► From Politico — GOP senators not so keen on House’s Obamacare repeal
► Yesterday from Vox — Republicans exempt their own insurance from their latest health care proposal — House Republicans included a provision that exempts members of Congress and their staff from their latest health care plan. The new Republican amendment would allow states to waive out of Obamacare’s ban on preexisting conditions. But that change would not, however, apply to themselves and their staff.
► Today from The Hill — GOP to kill language exempting staff from new ObamaCare repeal bill — It isn’t entirely clear why or how language exempting lawmakers and staffers ended up in the amendment.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Patty Murray, Bernie Sanders lead Democrats’ effort to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour — The Raise the Wage Act of 2017 would hike the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade, raising it to $9.25 immediately, and inching it up to $15 by 2024, while simultaneously raising the minimum wage for tipped workers. With Republicans in control of Congress, the bill is largely a messaging vehicle, with no chance of passage. But its support from the conference is the latest example of the Democratic Party’s leftward shift since the defeat of 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
► From KUOW — What 100 days of immigration reporting under Trump sounds like — Protests. Arrests. Executive orders stopped in court, revised and stopped again. President Trump’s early immigration policies have rolled out in waves, crashing into government agencies and immigrant communities, leaving behind uncertainty, fear and unrest.
ALSO at The Stand — Join May Day marches for immigrant rights
► In today’s Washington Post — House Republicans introduce one-week spending bill to continue budget talks — The measure would keep the lights on in federal agencies until May 5 while negotiators continue on an agreement that would authorize spending through the end of September.
ALSO at The Stand — Shutdown: ‘It’s the American people who pay the price’
► From The Hill — Trump tells Mexico, Canada he won’t terminate NAFTA ‘at this time’ — Trump spoke with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to assure them that he would pursue a renegotiation of — and not tear up — the NAFTA.
► In today’s NY Times — White House proposes slashing tax rates, significantly aiding wealthy — President Trump on Wednesday proposed sharp reductions in both individual and corporate income tax rates, and also called for the elimination of most itemized tax deductions.
► In today’s NY Times — Trump tax plan silent on carried interest, a boon for the very rich — Hedge fund managers and private equity executives could benefit if a loophole Donald Trump promised to close is replaced by a lower corporate tax rate.
► From Politico — Mnuchin won’t guarantee middle-class tax cut
► In today’s NY Times — President Trump’s laughable plan to cut his own taxes (editorial) — The skimpy one-page tax proposal his administration released on Wednesday is, by any historical standard, a laughable stunt by a gang of plutocrats looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the country’s future. Two of Trump’s top lieutenants — Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, both multimillionaires and former Goldman Sachs bankers — trotted out a plan that would slash taxes for businesses and wealthy families, including Trump’s, in the vague hope of propelling economic growth… The proposal was so empty of illustrative detail that few people could even begin to calculate its impact on their pocketbooks. Further, depending on where they live, some middle-class families might not benefit much or at all… Regardless of the plan’s fate, Trump has already sent a strong message about where his sympathies really lie. They lie not with the working people who elected him, but with the plutocracy that envelops him.
► In today’s LA Times — Republicans are rethinking their disdain for the Paris accord – creating a political headache for Trump — More Republicans realize that there isn’t much upside to walking away from the accord beyond the burst of satisfaction it would give core Trump voters.
► From Reuters — U.S. chief justice alarmed at Trump administration immigration case stance — U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts took issue on Wednesday with the Trump administration’s stance in an immigration case, saying it could make it too easy for the government to strip people of citizenship for lying about minor infractions.
► From The Hill — 150 workers die each day from hazardous work conditions: AFL-CIO study — The AFL-CIO study released Wednesday found 4,836 workers died after suffering workplace injuries in 2015, the most recent year data is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to the employees who died from workplace injuries, the AFL-CIO pointed to an estimate from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that another 50,000 workers died from illnesses and occupational diseases contracted at work.
ALSO at The Stand — Workers are now canaries in the coal mine (by Jeff Johnson)
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.