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January 27, 2010

Jan. 26: Health reform rallies at noon today

Jan. 25: State remains 4th most unionized

Jan. 22: U.I. benefits are SAVING JOBS

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Voting records released for 3rd CD candidates

The Washington State Labor Council has compiled detailed voting records for each of the candidates for the 3rd Congressional District who served in the Washington State Legislature. These candidates are running to replace Rep. Brian Baird, who has announced he will not run for re-election. These voting records will be a factor -- but not necessarily a determining factor in which candidate(s) receives the endorsement of the largest labor organization in the state. Read more.

►  In today's Olympian -- Candidates at forum aim to replace Baird -- A candidate forum is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Phillip Wickstrom Theater at Centralia College.


Teabag this:

►  In today's Oregonian -- Oregon voters pass tax increases by big margin -- Oregon voters bucked decades of anti-tax and anti-Salem sentiment Tuesday, raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to prevent further erosion of public schools and other state services. The results triggered waves of relief from educators and legislative leaders, who were facing an estimated $727 million shortfall in the current two-year budget if the measures failed. Other states, facing similar budget woes, are watching the outcome closely.

►  In today's Oregonian -- Passage vindicates legislative Democrats and their union allies -- The victory is a big defeat for the business community, which counted on Oregonians to maintain their aversion to tax increases. But the opposition had a hard time finding their "poster child" -- in other words, a business that could show a real, demonstrable harm caused by the taxes. 

►  ROUNDUP from the Land Where Democrats Are Democrats:  For those of you keeping track, in the past year the Democrats in Oregon approved their equivalent of the Worker Privacy Act (which was quashed on behalf of Boeing and other business interests by Democratic leaders in Washington), Democrats in Oregon voted to INCREASE health coverage for uninsured children in the face of this recession (Democrats in Washington cut 43% of the funding for the Basic Health Plan as part of their all-cuts budget), and now Democrats in Oregon have successfully supported a ballot measure targeting tax increases to those who can afford them in order to avoid drastic cuts in state services and state employee layoffs/furloughs/benefits cuts.

How will Washington's Democrats answer this latest development?


Legislative news:

State furlough bill worse than other states'

The Washington Federation of State Employees tells state budget writers that SSB 6503's recipe -- cut and furlough first before even announcing what are sure to be more cuts in the supplemental budget -- sets up state services and state workers to bear the brunt of this recession. WFSE's Greg Devereux says it "contemplates more extensive furloughs than 16 other states that are comparable to ours. None of those other states have taken health care cuts and furloughs. We would be the only state among them." Read more.

►  In today's Olympian -- Senate Democrats' plan: Business tax credit -- They have proposed legislation that would offer a business-occupation tax credit to small businesses that create jobs. The plan also would retrain up to 6,000 workers for high-demand fields such as nursing.

►  More coverage of the Senate Democrats' jobs plan in today's Tri-City Herald and Seattle Times

Unemployment benefits are SAVINGS JOBS

Our state's unemployment system is a lifeline. It's a safety net keeping things from getting far worse. It not only helps desperate families keep food on the table, gas in the car and a roof over their heads, it is saving jobs. It is saving businesses by pumping $6.5 billion worth of economic activity into our state in 2009. But all business groups can do is complain about its tax structure... which THEY created. Read our Legislative Update from Jan. 22.

Seattle Times photo -- click to enlarge

►  In today's Seattle Times -- Budget cuts swell class sizes at UW -- There are 700 students who pack professor Toby Bradshaw's introductory biology class at the University of Washington, up from 400 students last year. It's one example of how higher-education budget cuts are playing out in university classrooms across the state. UW has also increased tuition 14% and eliminated some 850 staff positions in the past year.

►  In today's Kitsap Sun -- Proposed legislation would tap state's oil exports to pay for new ferries -- A proposed tax on fuel shipped from Washington suppliers to out-of-state gas stations could generate $50 million a year to build new ferries. It would also generate money for a new Columbia River crossing in Southwest Washington.

►  In today's Columbian -- Keeping Larch open is well worth it (editorial) -- Larch Corrections Center must be saved from the budget ax. Its community service, fire-safety aid and other benefits outweigh the savings -- and penalties -- of closure. (Another newspaper editorial board advocating for all-cuts budgets says "But not in my backyard!")

►  In today's (Everett) Herald -- Sweet deal for public health (editorial) -- Given the weakened state of public health agencies in rural areas, the minor and sensible change in tax policy to remove the exemption to the state sales tax from candy and gum is one even tax-averse lawmakers, including Republicans, should be able to support.


Health care reform news:

Rallies call for reform NOW

Nearly 200 people rallied at the Federal Building in Seattle on Tuesday to call on Congress to move ahead with health care reform.

►  In today's Bellingham Herald -- Dozens rally for health reform -- About 80 protesters gathered on the sidewalk in front of Rep. Rick Larsen's Bellingham office toting signs saying, "Healthcare reform now," and "Democrats show some backbone."

►  At Huffington Post -- Trumka to Senate Democrats: Pass health care through reconciliation -- One of the most powerful union officials in the country is urging Senate Democratic leaders to craft an entirely new health care bill and pass it using reconciliation before sending it to the House for a vote. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says that the key to getting legislation passed was for the Senate to move first. This could be either by pre-emptively amending the bill they have already passed or by constructing new legislation and using parliamentary tactics to get it considered by an up or down vote.

►  In today's NY Times -- Democrats put lower priority on health care -- With no clear path forward on major health care legislation, Democratic leaders in Congress effectively slammed the brakes on President Obama’s top domestic priority on Tuesday, saying they no longer felt pressure to move quickly on a health bill after eight months of setting deadlines and missing them.

►  At Huffington Post -- Voters see health reform as marred by backroom deals -- Special legislative favors, especially one designed to secure a Nebraska senator's vote, ignited so much public outrage that President Barack Obama is calling them a mistake and House leaders say the bill can't be resurrected unless such sweetheart deals are scrapped.


State of the Union news: 

►  In today's LA Times -- Obama's State of the Union address will focus on economy -- He is expected to call for a change in Washington's partisan political climate as he tries to reassure Americans that he can lead the way to jobs and better times. But change may be hard to come by.

►  In today's NY Times -- Opposite of bold (editorial) -- The problem with the president’s economic initiatives is that even if they work as planned, Americans desperately need much more.

►  In today's Wash. Post -- It's no time for Democrats to think small (Harold Meyerson column) -- Last year, Obama proposed big solutions to big problems. This year, as many of those solutions languish, he's come up with some proposals reminiscent of the cosmetics of Clintonism.


Boeing news:

►  From AP -- Boeing 4Q profit up, 2010 outlook cautious -- It reports a net income of $1.27 billion, or $1.75 per share. That beat Wall Street's expectations of $1.36 per share. It forecast earnings of $3.70 to $4 per share for 2010. Analysts had expected $4.26 per share.

►  In today's Olympian -- Boeing workers donate to Haiti relief (brief) -- Employees and retirees have committed more than $910,000 to Haiti relief efforts so far, an amount the company will match.


Local news:

►  At -- Local economic indicators pointing upward, but not jobs -- The state economy will build steam through the spring and summer, but total employment won't return to peak levels of 2008 until well into 2011, analysts forecast. And for many residents and businesses, the gloomy outlook will persist. "Economists say they see a recovery, but try to tell that to the 7 or 8 million people (nationwide) without jobs," says Costco CEO Jim Sinegal.

►  From AP -- Feds charge Seattle union official with embezzling -- The feds say Sid Mannetti took more than $50,000 while he was president of the AFGE Local 1170 from 2006 to 2008. The union represents about 140 workers at Pacific Medical Centers in the Seattle area.

►  In the Whidbey News Times -- Laid-off deputy saves life in last week on the job -- An Island County Sheriff’s deputy victimized by budget cuts saved a woman’s life during his last week.

►  In today's Tri-City Herald -- FFTF, better Hanford cleanup among public concerns -- Speakers at a public hearing split their comments between calling for the Fast Flux Test Facility to be saved and worries that proposed cleanup plans for Hanford would not protect the environment.

►  In today's Oregonian -- Vancouver lays off 44 employees, makes other job cutbacks -- The city is also offering retirement incentives to 30 others and leaving 22 positions unfilled as it tries to fill a $6 million hole in this year's general fund budget. Most of the laid-off employees were informed today. Nearly every department in the city is affected, officials said.

►  In today's News Tribune -- Cuts balance Tacoma's budget -- Since the city adopted its $443 million general fund budget for 2009-10, the city manager has made $42.8 million in downward revisions, in part by not filling some positions as they become vacant and by tapping reserves.

►  In today's Kitsap Sun -- Bremerton firefighters weigh in on proposed merger with poll -- The firefighters are voting this week on which neighboring fire district -- South Kitsap or Central Kitsap -- they would prefer to consolidate with, or if they would prefer no consolidation at all.

►  In the (Aberdeen) Daily World -- Esses responds to criticism -- Road Engineer Russ Esses says his job is not to handle union issues, just to run the county Road Department as efficiently as possible. The Public Services Division of the county’s largest union recently issued a vote of “no confidence” in Esses with a laundry list of complaints against the department head.


National news:

►  At Politico -- Labor helps kill its top priority -- Whether their rank-and-file lost patience or simply didn’t realize the stakes, the decision of most union members in Massachusetts to back Republican Scott Brown helped put the last nail in an effort that was already on life support to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Asked if EFCA was dead for the year, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the bill’s sponsor, hesitated for several seconds, saying, “Well, it’s, it’s, it’s there. But it doesn’t look too good.” He added: “I’m not going to give up on it. I’ll never give up it."

►  In the Washington Post -- It's a new day for big Wall Street bonuses (letter by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka) -- Wall Street's tradition of paying enormous bonuses in lieu of salary may have worked when firms were private partnerships. Back then, partners' capital was at risk, and managing partners had a vested interest in appropriate compensation. In contrast, today's Wall Street firms are publicly traded and owned by a diverse group of shareholders who lack the power to protect themselves.

►  In today's LA Times -- Kaiser Permanente workers vote to split from SEIU -- Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers throughout Southern California have voted overwhelmingly to quit the giant SEIU and join a smaller rival union. The NLRB, which tallied secret-ballot votes cast earlier this month, said that about 2,000 nurses and care professionals voted more than 6 to 1 in favor of ditching the SEIU and affiliating with the rival National Union of Healthcare Workers.


Voting records for 3rd CD candidates

The Washington State Labor Council has compiled detailed voting records for each of the candidates for the 3rd Congressional District who served in the Washington State Legislature. These candidates are running to replace Rep. Brian Baird, who has announced he will not run for re-election.

The WSLC compiles legislative voting records each year of issues of concern to organized labor and Washington's working families. These official WSLC Voting Records compiled for the 3rd CD candidates list the bill numbers and brief descriptions of each vote counted during their tenures in the State Legislature. The voting records for those currently serving will be updated following this year's session.

Download the WSLC Voting Records for the following candidates (listed in order by lifetime percentage):

These voting records will be a factor -- but not necessarily a determining factor in which candidate(s) receives the endorsement of the Washington State Labor Council. There are also other candidates running for this seat who have not served in the Legislature, including Democratic candidate Maria Rodriguez-Salazar, Republicans David Castillo, David Hedrick and Jon Russell, and Peace candidate Cheryl Crist. 

All candidates will be interviewed by the Central Labor Councils in the 3rd District: the Clark, Skamania and West Klickitat CLC; the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum CLC; and the Thurston Lewis Mason Counties CLC. Those CLCs will make endorsement recommendations to the Statewide COPE Committee, which consists of WSLC officers and executive board members, the WSLC Political Director and representatives of every CLC in the state.

Statewide COPE will vote on a endorsement recommendation to be made to the body of the WSLC C.O.P.E. Convention (Committee On Political Education) scheduled for Saturday, May 15 at the Machinists District 751 Hall in Seattle. Delegates representing WSLC-affiliated unions from across the state will convene that day to debate and vote on endorsements for Congress, State Legislature, judicial races and ballot measures. A two-thirds majority is necessary to win the WSLC's endorsement.

For more information about the process, e-mail WSLC Political Director Benjamin Lawver or call him at 206-281-8901. Rank-and-file union members in the 3rd District who are interested in getting involved in the endorsement process should contact their local CLC and/or their union local about serving as a delegate.

Furlough bill worse than other states'

The following report was distributed Tuesday afternoon by the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28, an affiliated union of the Washington State Labor Council. For more information, visit


The state employee furlough bill may be on a fast track for passage, but it was exposed Tuesday as making state employees the sacrificial lamb in the budget debate.

And the furlough plan is unprecedented when compared to sacrifices inflicted on state employees in 16 other comparable states, Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux told the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday (Jan. 26).

Devereux told the budget writers that SSB 6503 "is predicated on cuts and furloughs first, then votes on a broad revenue proposal. We do not see that broad revenue proposal on the horizon and it feels like state services and state workers are going to bear the brunt of this recession."

"SSB 6503 contemplates more extensive furloughs than 16 other states that are comparable to ours," he said. "None of those other states have taken health care cuts and furloughs. We would be the only state among them."

If furloughs are implemented, they should be focused on higher-paid employees, like those in the Washington Management Service and the exempt service, he said.

State employees have sacrificed much already, yet billions in tax breaks remain untouched, Devereux said.

"Since 2000, this Legislature has passed 154 tax exemptions -- 27 percent of the total tax exemptions in this state -- totaling $3 billion. I would imagine some of those are excellent, they create jobs but some of them probably could be furloughed or suspended temporarily to bridge us through this period.

"In the end, the root cause of this Great Recession really is middle class wage stagnation. Certain sectors of our economy got fabulously rich while the rest of us were treading water.

"Laying off state workers, furloughing state workers, cutting the health care benefits of state workers, will only lead to further stagnation and economic harm to our communities. The answer is shared sacrifice by spreading the revenue needs for our citizens across as many people as possible rather than continuous cuts to specific groups."

The committee is expected to vote on SSB 6503 today. So, call 1-800-562-6000 and urge your two House members to vote NO! on SSB 6503. Its unintended consequences will cost more, not less.


Copyright © 2010 --  Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO