Updated DAILY... Almost Every Day!™ by 9 a.m. Pacific
Links are functional at date of posting, but sometimes expire.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Unless Congress acts quickly, retraining benefits for computer programmers, call center operators and other service sector workers whose jobs are offshored will expire in January. Take action to ensure that men and women whose livelihoods are destroyed by so-called "free trade" policies don't also lose access to valuable retraining programs. Read more.
More unemployment news:
► In today's (Longview) Daily News -- As Christmas nears, jobless benefits running out for millions -- In Cowlitz County, 465 people had exhausted their unemployment benefits by the end of October. Hundreds more likely will lose benefits or receive smaller payments over the next few months because the federal program is ending. As of October, unemployment benefits pumped about $4.7 million into the county's economy, which means the impact will be wider than only the families losing the income.
► In Roll Call -- Unemployed push Congress on benefits extension -- Congressional Democrats and the White House teamed up with the AFL-CIO to unleash more than 200 unemployed workers from 20 states to lobby on Capitol Hill for the extension.
► At ESD.wa.gov -- When will your jobless benefits run out? -- For the past year, eligible jobless workers could get up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. This includes up to 26 weeks of regular benefits, up to 53 weeks of emergency benefits (EUC) and up to 20 weeks of extended benefits. With the end of EUC, people who were drawing regular benefits at the end of November and people who file new claims after Nov. 27 will be limited to 46 weeks of benefits.
State government news:
► In today's Olympian -- Special session now more likely -- No one is holding his breath, but top lawmakers talked Wednesday as if a special session were possible this month in Olympia. The slight change in tune came after Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate met for more than an hour with Gov. Chris Gregoire.
► In today's Columbian -- Senate GOP leader unveils his plan for big cuts -- Sen. Joe Zarelli (R-Ridgefield) unveils a list of $850 million in proposed cuts -- and promises more to come. The list, prepared by the Senate Republican Caucus, includes eliminating assistance for disabled unemployable people (GAU), suspending $100 million in bonuses for national board certified teachers, and cutting all undocumented noncitizens from Basic Health Plan (rather than eliminating BHP entirely). The Senate Republican plan assumes 2.5% salary reductions for all higher education employees.
► Today's Fairview Avenue Douchebaggery -- The Seattle Times picks up yesterday's balanced Columbian story, "State employees pressed to give up more," splashes it atop their website and gives it the provocative headline, "State employee unions resist further cuts."
► In today's Olympian -- Governor can wait no longer on state's budget problems (editorial) -- The longer lawmakers wait to reduce state spending, the deeper the cuts. That makes no sense. Part of leadership is forcing people to do things and make decisions they would just as soon avoid. It's time for Gov. Gregoire to lead. She does that by summoning lawmakers into special session -- now -- with a limited agenda of quickly balancing the state's 2009-11 budget.
► In today's Bellingham Herald -- Buys, Linville recount results likely Thursday or Friday -- An automatic recount was triggered when Republican Vincent Buys and Democratic Rep. Kelli Linville ended up within just 154 votes of each other, with the GOP challenger in the lead.
► From AP -- Oregon governor recommends deeper state worker pay cuts -- With 40 days left in office, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski recommended eliminating a retirement program for government workers and cutting pension benefits for workers who have already retired. Unions representing public employees dismissed Kulongoski's report, saying he'll have no power to implement his suggestions after a new governor and Legislature are sworn in Jan. 10.
Washington State LERC seeks Labor Educator
The Washington State Labor Education and Research Center at the South Seattle Community College is looking for a new Labor Educator to plan and implement trainings and workshops with unions and community organizations throughout the state. Some examples of the types of workshops facilitated include labor history classes, trainings for union stewards, collective bargaining, leadership and communication skills, community-labor alliances, and organizing. The Labor Educator will do strategic outreach to the labor community to develop programs and be a resource to faculty and staff at the Seattle Community Colleges. The job is open until Dec. 29. Click here to apply online or to get more information about the position.
► In today's News Tribune -- Pierce County Executive not fair in blaming unions for budget problems (column by Tracey Thompson of Teamsters 177, a WSLC affiliate) -- County Executive Pat McCarthy not only granted salary increases to all nonrepresented employees, even those who are already at the top of the county pay scale, she handed herself and members of the County Council a 3% raise. For her then to suggest that the unions that negotiated increases for their members in good times are to blame for the county's financial troubles is irresponsible.
► In today's Seattle Times -- New Airbus A320 engines puts heat on Boeing -- The move puts Boeing in a difficult spot. Boeing executives have signaled clearly in the past months that they are unlikely to follow Airbus with a re-engining of their 737 single-aisle airliner, instead opting to go for a brand new narrowbody some years down the line. But in the interim, the re-engined A320 -- to be available from spring 2016 -- will leapfrog the 737 in fuel-efficiency.
Deficit commission news:
► In today's NY Times -- As final plan is released, signs that fight is just beginning -- Members of President Obama's debt-reduction commission indicate that they are split over their chairmen's far-reaching plan, a development that suggests the proposal is more likely to be a framework for next year’s debates than the basis for legislation anytime soon.
► At Huffington Post -- Andy Stern: I'm not beholden to labor on deficit panel -- Forrmer SEIU President Andy Stern, named to the deficit commission (when he still served with SEIU) by President Obama to represent the interests of workers and organized labor, says he would not be beholden to the labor movement. Both SEIU and the AFL-CIO have blasted the panel chairmen's plan. Asked if he could see voting for the plan in the face of strenuous labor opposition, he said, "Could I see myself? Yeah. ... Obviously, they are very persuasive in my thinking, but I don't feel beholden to anybody in particular."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Andy Stern, who has previously suggested investing some Social Security funds on Wall Street, is well-compensated as SEIU's president emeritus, a position that includes few actual duties. It has been pointed out that Stern and the rest of the commission that is proposing to cut Social Security benefits all have great retirement plans.
► In today's Washington Post -- Obama's risky compromises (E.J. Dionne column) -- Is Obama's strategy of offering preemptive concessions destined to make enemies of his potential friends in the electorate without winning over any of his adversaries? His dance toward a capitulation on the tax cuts is perfectly timed for the release of the deficit commission's fiscal plan. How can anyone take a deficit-reduction proposal seriously when the main order of business in Congress is to make sure we widen the deficit by keeping all of the Bush tax cuts?
► In today's NY Times -- Senate Republicans threaten tax dispute blockade -- Less than 24 hours after President Obama met with senior Republican Congressional leaders and expressed hopes for a "new dialogue," renewed partisan fury engulfed the Senate on Wednesday, as Republicans threatened to block any legislation until a deal is reached to extend the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, potentially derailing the Democrats’ busy end-of-year agenda.
► Today from AP -- Negotiators work on tax deal as House holds vote -- Negotiators worked on a deal Thursday that would extend expiring tax cuts for everyone even as House Democrats moved toward a vote to show their commitment to letting taxes on the wealthy go up. The vote is a political maneuver to satisfy Democratic supporters who oppose extending tax cuts for the wealthy. Even if the bill passes the House, it has no chance in the Senate, where Democrats need Republican support to pass a tax bill.
► At Politico -- Dems roll out DREAM Act No. 5 -- Senate Democrats have introduced their fifth version of the DREAM Act this year in a bid to tackle concerns from critics and win support from a handful of moderate lawmakers. But the immigration legislation continues to draw fire from opponents and face stiff odds in the lame-duck session -- and this was even before Republicans vowed to filibuster all bills until the Senate votes to extend Bush-era tax cuts.
► In today's Washington Post -- U.S. publicizes names of federal contractors -- For years, the government reported only the companies that won major, or prime, government contracts -- even if those companies then hired subcontractors to do most of the job. Now taxpayers can follow more accurately where their dollars are going, tracing public money to the specific companies and communities that share in multimillion- and billion-dollar federal work.
As the congressional lame-duck session continues, progressive activists have been contacting their legislators to urge against cuts in Social Security and for renewing extended unemployment benefits. The Washington State Labor Council also urges you to take a moment to send a message to Congress on another important issue: renewing the full Trade Adjustment Assistance program.
Unless Congress acts in the coming days, job retraining benefits for computer programmers, call center operators and other service sector workers whose jobs are offshored will expire in January. Please take action to ensure that men and women whose livelihoods are destroyed by so-called "free trade" policies don't also lose access to valuable retraining programs.
Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) provides job retraining, extended unemployment and other benefits to hundreds of thousands of Americans each year whose jobs are either directly offshored or displaced by imports. The WSLC, in partnership with the State of Washington Employment Security Department, recently launched a new website for laid-off workers and downsizing companies affected by foreign competition to help them access the benefits of the TAA program.
Until recently, only manufacturing workers typically qualified for this program. With passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, however, the program was successfully expanded to also include service sector workers whose jobs are shipped abroad. Since that time, more than 40% of the 367,427 men and women who have qualified for TAA have been from the service sector. In Washington state, nearly one in every three workers who qualify for TAA benefits do so because of this expanded eligibility (see chart below).
According to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, "Between May 2009 and the end of September, more than 155,000 who may have otherwise been ineligible for assistance were certified to receive the income support and training that they desperately needed. Unless Congress takes action, however, the expanded TAA program will expire at the end of 2010. That could leave a great many trade-impacted workers across the country without needed support and services. And it would undermine the progress we are making as a nation toward economic recovery."
TAA benefits are often cold comfort for someone whose job is offshored through no fault of their own -- but cold comfort is obviously better than no comfort at all.
Trade-related job loss certifications
in each state
U.S. Department of Labor
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO