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Boeing’s only path forward | ‘We need more pie!’ | Prior authorization kills

Monday, March 18, 2024




► MUST-READ from the Seattle Times — Boeing labor contract is opportunity for overdue culture change (editorial) — As of March 7, Boeing opened contract talks with its largest labor union. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751 represents more than 32,000 Boeing workers in Washington. For Boeing, there is more at stake than what it pays for in salaries and benefits. It is no exaggeration to say the future of the 107-year-old manufacturer hangs in the balance. Boeing must do right by its workforce. It must reinforce its commitment to the women and men who work in its local factories by making the unprecedented declaration that its next plane will be made in Washington. It must move its corporate headquarters from Virginia back to Seattle — a symbolic but meaningful return to the community that once made aerospace history, in a good way.

For decades, Boeing fought its unions, outsourcing work across the globe and opening a new factory in labor-unfriendly South Carolina. The results can fill business textbooks of what not to do… It took a long time for Boeing to tumble to its reputational and financial depth. It will take a long time to return to respect and admiration, let alone assurance that the plane you’re about to board has been put through the most rigorous safety assessment and maintenance. Boeing cannot do so with a cadre of bean-counters and Wall Street suck-ups leading the charge. It is the people who design and manufacture these technological marvels who ought to be valued above all others. Boeing must begin its recovery by mending fences with its own workforce. There is no other path forward.

From The STAND (March 11)‘Washington’s union movement has IAM 751 members’ backs’ — As Machinists at Boeing begin contract talks, labor solidarity is evident.

► From Bloomberg — Boeing criminal probe widens with Seattle grand jury subpoena — Federal prosecutors investigating the Jan. 5 midair blowout of a Boeing Co. door plug on an Alaska Airlines flight are casting a wide net to gather information and documents, sending subpoenas and using a grand jury based in Seattle.

► From the AP — Older Boeing plane found to have missing panel after flight from California to southern Oregon — A post-flight inspection revealed a missing panel on an older Boeing 737-800 that had just arrived at its destination.

► From the AP — United Airlines CEO tries to reassure customers that the airline is safe despite recent incidents

► From the Wall Street Journal — The F-bomb-dropping airline CEO about to earn a $100 million-plus bonus — Profanity, off-color jokes and drunken dinners are all part of Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary’s lore.




► From the Bellingham Herald — Workers at WWU, one of Bellingham’s biggest employers, rally for higher wages, benefits — Union workers and others rallied Thursday at Western Washington University, seeking increased pay in the face of inflation and the rising cost of rent. About 200 students and employees, from professors to food servers and maintenance workers, gathered at WWU’s Red Square for a noon event on March 14, or “Pi Day” in pop culture, to ask the Legislature to fully fund public education and demand that the university pay its workers equitably. WWU gardener Mirabelle Lemieux, eliciting cheers from the crowd, said:

“We refuse to fight over a shrinking pie. We need more pie!”

► From the Peninsula Daily News — Paraeducators fill school board meeting — A standing-room crowd of more than 100 paraeducators and their supporters filled a Port Angeles School District meeting to press the board for a 3.7 percent pay increase, remuneration for advanced degrees and better longevity compensation.

► From the News Tribune — County corrections chief receives vote of no confidence from guild. Sheriff stands by her — Corrections deputies’ main concern with Patti Jackson is over insufficient training, the Pierce County Corrections Guild president said.

► From the Olympian — OSD considers school closure alternatives after securing more funding from legislature — Three House bills and a Senate bill could bring in an estimated $1,542,000 per year, if signed by the Governor.




► From Crosscut — U.S. judge picks new WA legislative map, moving Latino district — A U.S. District Court judge has adopted a new Washington legislative map to create a majority-Latino voting district in the Yakima area. The map was chosen three years after the state’s once-a-decade political redistricting process began, but in time for the 2024 election. Under the new map, the Latino-majority district unites Latino communities from East Yakima in Yakima County to Pasco in Franklin County.

► From the WA State Standard — Redistricting ruling stirs partisan uproar — A Republican leader calls it an “unjust outcome” that must be overturned. Democratic Party chair says it is “a great day for democracy.”




► From the Washington Post — Border security deadlock heightens risk of government shutdown — A dispute over border security funding threatens to force a shutdown of vast swaths of the federal government in less than a week, as Congress and the White House struggled Sunday to reach a deal on long-term spending legislation. Funding for roughly 70 percent of the federal government — including the departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security as well as the IRS and Transportation Security Administration — will lapse at 12:01 a.m. Saturday unless Congress acts before then. A prolonged shutdown could have cascading effects on the government and economy.

► From Roll Call — Final spending package back on track after flurry of DHS talks — Lawmakers are back to writing a full-year fiscal 2024 Homeland Security appropriations bill in a dramatic, last-minute shift following White House intervention over the weekend, sources familiar with the decision said Sunday night.

► From Politico — U.S. Steel sale faces another potential headache — The sale of U.S. Steel to its Japanese rival Nippon Steel is being scrutinized by the Justice Department over potential antitrust concerns. The $14.1 billion deal has drawn fire from lawmakers, unions and others — including President Joe Biden — who argue the storied U.S. industrial titan should not be owned by a foreign company.

► From The Hill — AstraZeneca follows rival, will cap inhaler prices at $35 per month amid scrutiny — The announcement follows a similar move by rival company Boehringer Ingelheim and comes amid scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers over the cost of inhalers. AstraZeneca’s Breztri Aerosphere inhaler costs $645 in the U.S. but just $49 in the U.K.

► From the Seattle Times — Social Security and Medicare are on the ballot (by Paul Krugman) — The Biden administration has staked out a firm position opposing cuts to America’s social safety net — indeed, calling for increased benefits, to be paid for with increased taxes on corporations and high-income individuals… Biden has a clear plan to preserve these programs; Trump, wittingly or unwittingly, would probably help wreck them.

► From The Hill — Trump gets burned after touching on Social Security — Former President Trump’s remarks about “cutting” Social Security has given a major opening to President Biden while underscoring how the entitlement earned-benefit program has become a third rail in politics.

► From The Hill — Trump says some undocumented immigrants are ‘not people,’ warns US will see ‘bloodbath’ if not reelected




► From HuffPost — A growing union campaign has put REI’s progressive image on trial — Plenty of REI’s devoted customers ― “members,” in company parlance, since REI is structured as a cooperative ― would have been surprised to see disaffected employees protesting such a beloved retailer outside its Issaquah, Wash., headquarters last Friday. But a growing union campaign that has so far organized nine stores and counting is testing the progressive reputation that REI built through its environmental and conservation advocacy over the years.

From The STAND (March 8)REI workers demand company bargain in good faith

READY FOR A VOICE AT WORK? Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for better wages and working conditions. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► From Blue Virginia — Virginia AFL-CIO appalled at Gov. Youngkin’s vetoes on pro-worker legislation — The Virginia AFL-CIO decries the Republican governor’s vetoes of legislation on railroad safety, employment discrimination, salary history protections, and unemployment benefits for locked-out workers.

► From Capital & Main — Long Beach hotel workers on track to earn the highest minimum wage in the nationA ballot measure to raise pay to $23 an hour could help workers in labor negotiations and boost the local economy.




► From the NY Times — Denying your health care is big business in AmericaShould your insurance company be allowed to stop you from getting a treatment — even if your doctor says it’s necessary? Doctors are often required to get insurance permission before providing medical care. This process is called “prior authorization” and it can be used by profit-seeking insurance companies to create intentional barriers between patients and the health care they need. At best, it’s just a minor bureaucratic headache. At worst, people have died. Prior authorization has been around for decades, but doctors say its use has increased in recent years and now rank it as one of the top issues in health care. To produce the Opinion Video above, the New York Times spoke to more than 50 doctors and patients. They shared horror stories about a seemingly trivial process that inflicts enormous pain, on a daily basis. The video also explains how a process that is supposed to save money actually inflates U.S. health care costs while enriching insurance companies.

Prior authorization has come under intense scrutiny in Congress in the past few years, but bipartisan proposals have repeatedly stalled. Under public pressure, some insurance companies — like United Healthcare and Cigna — have said they would reduce the use of prior authorization. And in January, the Biden administration finalized a plan to put limited guardrails around this practice. But doctors say that these efforts only scratch the surface and should go further. This issue is ultimately about the role of insurance companies in American health care: Should they have more power than your doctor to decide what’s medically best for you?


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!