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November 10, 2009

Nov. 9: House passes health reform

Nov. 6: Keep calling for health reform

Nov. 5: Call-In Day for Health Reform

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Boise Cascade provokes dispute at Wallula mill

More than 325 employees represented by AWPPW Local 69 at the Boise Cascade pulp and paper mill in Wallula have resoundingly rejected management's latest offer and authorized their contract bargaining team to call a strike. The union says Boise proposed permanently freezing its defined-benefit pension -- blocking new enrollment and ending benefit accrual for participants -- in favor of existing 401(k) plans, which also are subject to benefit cuts. The rejected proposal also would have doubled the employees' out-of-pocket health insurance costs. Read more.


Don't forget: WSLC post-election luncheon this Thursday

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, invites all union members, staff and officers to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season -- and the conclusion of the 2009 election -- with us this Thursday, Nov. 12 at the WSLC's annual post-election luncheon at the Catholic Seamen's Club in downtown Seattle. Raffle donations are appreciated. Read more.


Health care news:

►  At -- Speaker in Seattle: Pelosi talks about health care bill -- Making her first public appearance outside the Capitol since the U.S. House approved a sweeping health reform bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in Seattle that the vote was part of a historic march toward expanding the country's safety net. "This is a great for Americans," Pelosi said. "We are standing on the shoulders of those who saw the value of Social Security, who saw the value of Medicare."


On Saturday, 220 members of Congress earned our thanks for keeping their promises and passing landmark health care reform. Click here to contact your member of Congress and thank him or her for voting “Yes” on H.R. 3962, or express your disappointment with his or her "No" vote.

►  In today's Seattle Times -- Pelosi tours Seattle's Swedish after health-care vote -- Just two days after shepherding a landmark health-care bill through the House, Pelosi visits Seattle to see how one hospital is delivering care in much the same way as the bill proposes.


►  In today's Olympian -- U.S. Rep. Brian Baird under fire for "no" vote -- Disappointed labor activists and others reacted with anger over Baird’s weekend vote against health reform, and they dropped off letters of protest at his Olympia office. Baird was the lone Democrat in Washington’s congressional delegation to vote against H.R. 3269. “With a no vote, you have placed yourself on the wrong side of history, and on the wrong side against your constituents,” wrote Joseph Nilsson, co-chair of the WFSE Political Action Committee, in a letter.

►  In today's NY Times -- Democrats raise alarms over costs of health bills -- As health care legislation moves toward a crucial airing in the Senate, the White House is facing a growing revolt from some Democrats and analysts who say the bills Congress is considering do not fulfill Obama’s promise to slow the runaway rise in health spending.

►  In today's NY Times -- Obama seeks revision of plan's abortion limits -- President Obama says he is not comfortable with abortion restrictions inserted into the House version of major health care legislation, and he prods Congress to revise them.


Local news:

►  From AP -- Happiest states are wealthy and tolerant -- New research suggests U.S. states with wealthier, better educated and more tolerant residents are also happier on average. The reasoning is that wealthy states can provide infrastructure and so it's easier for residents to get their needs met. The University of Cambridge in England created an index that includes six types of well-being: overall evaluation of their lives, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors (such as whether a person smokes or exercises), and job satisfaction. Washington is tied for 6th happiest state.

►  In Sunday's Seattle Times -- State has to play the add-value card, not low-cost-leader ace (Jon Talton column) -- Now that we see the vulnerability of the aerospace cluster, how do we leverage this asset for a less Boeing-centric future? We may not be in a race to the bottom. Maybe it's to the middle -- but that could still mean a painful ride down for most Americans and Washingtonians.

►  In today's Columbian -- Employers asked to ease sick leave policies -- Making sick employees get a note from the doctor is bad health policy during a flu outbreak, says Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer. He is urging employers to keep the health of their employees -- as well as the public -- in mind as the community copes with H1N1 influenza.

►  In today's Tri-City Herald -- Democrat takes on Doc Hastings -- Jay Clough, a former Marine from the Tri-Cities, hopes to accomplish what no Democrat before him has been able to do: Defeat Congressman Doc Hastings. Clough, 33, kicked off his 2010 campaign Monday by accusing the incumbent congressman of being too comfortable and too complacent in his job.

►  In today's Seattle Times -- King County cuts foot ferry tax; bus service may benefit -- The county is scaling back its plans to expand ferry service in favor of keeping bus service from being cut.

►  In today's Seattle Times -- King County OKs "don't ask" law on immigration -- The county will continue providing services to residents without regard to citizenship or immigration status.


Election redux:

►  In today's Seattle Times -- Disrupting the Tea Party: Why the government haters lost in Maine, Washington (E.J. Dionne column) -- When advocates of public programs take on the right-wing anti-government crowd directly, the government-haters lose. Conservatives hope no one pays attention to the news from Maine and Washington, where voters decided not to be part of a laboratory experiment being pushed by the Beltway Right. But will President Obama and his party take the lesson and go on offense against the simple-minded anti-government screeds now getting so much play?

►  In today's Seattle Times -- McGinn next Seattle mayor; Mallahan concedes as vote gap widens -- McGinn, a former Sierra Club leader and neighborhood activist, campaigned hard on a vow to stop the tunnel replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. But he responded to a City Council vote to move forward with the project by announcing he would not stand in its way, if elected. 


National news:

►  From AP -- Debt, lack of insurance make today's unemployed more vulnerable -- It hurts more to be unemployed now than the last time the jobless rate hit 10%. Americans have more than triple the debt they had in 1982, and less than half the savings. They spend 10 weeks longer off the job. And a bigger share of them have no health insurance, leaving them one medical emergency away from financial ruin. For these reasons, the unemployed are more vulnerable today to foreclosure and bankruptcy than they were a generation ago.

►  At AFL-CIO Now -- Send your best wishes to Fort Hood hero -- Sgt. Kimberly Munley is a bona fide hero, having risked her life to stop the alleged gunman who killed 13 people and injured 30 at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5. Munley shot the alleged assailant, Maj. Nidal Hasan, four times, despite being shot herself. She currently is recovering from her injuries and is in stable condition. Now her union, the American Federation of Government Employees, has set up a site where you can send your best wishes to Sgt. Munley. Just click here and compose a message to her.  Your messages will be collected and AFGE will deliver the messages to Munley on Friday, Nov. 20.

►  In today's Washington Post -- Globalization brings world of hurt to one corner of North Carolina -- This region has lost more of its jobs to international competition than just about anywhere else in the nation, according to federal trade-assistance statistics, as textile mills have closed, furniture factories have dwindled and even the fiber-optic plants have undergone mass layoffs. The unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation -- about 15%.


Boise Cascade provokes dispute at Wallula mill

More than 325 employees represented by the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers Local 69 at the Boise Cascade pulp and paper mill in Wallula have resoundingly rejected management's latest offer and authorized their contract bargaining team to call a strike.

More than 97% of members voting rejected Boise's proposal to permanently freeze its defined-benefit pension -- blocking any new enrollment and ending benefit accrual for existing participants -- in favor of existing 401(k) plans, which also are subject to benefit cuts.

The rejected proposal also would have doubled the employees' out-of-pocket health insurance costs and created an new 20% surcharge for all employees -- or employee family members -- who use tobacco.

Although negotiations will continue, the union has filed a 10-day contract termination notice after which it could go on strike at any time.

"We're trying to find a solution, but the company is doing its best to force us into an impasse," said Ken Smith, AWPPW's Southern Washington Area Representative. "We just want a fair contract for our hard-working members at Wallula."

The union is asking that all construction and other trades that work at the mill -- as well as other unions in the Benton-Franklin-Walla Walla area -- to support the mill workers as they struggle to attain a fair and reasonable contract.

For more information, e-mail Ken Smith.


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