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June 9, 2010


June 8: I-1082: A hostile takeover

June 7: DOL webinars on e-filing LM forms

June 4: Congress must do more on jobs

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

WSLC gets DOL grant to assist displaced workers in Washington

The Washington State Labor Council will receive $225,477 -- funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- to provide enhanced technical assistance in the Trade Adjustment Assistance program to better support laid-off workers throughout Washington state. The TAA provides job retraining, income support and health care benefits to workers who have been adversely impacted by federal trade policies. The funding will be used to heighten public awareness of services and training that are available. Learn more.

 

Jobs Bill news:

►  At TheOlympian.com -- Rossi opposes federal Medicaid money for states -- The spokeswoman for the Republican U.S. Senate candidate says the proposal to restore $24 billion in federal Medicaid to the Jobs Bill -- which includes $480 million that Washington state was counting on -- is unacceptable to Rossi. He says: "Instead of relying on yet another bailout from the federal government, state governments have to start getting spending under control."  (Dino Rossi criticizes Sen. Patty Murray for her success in bringing such federal funding home to Washington state.)

►  At Politico -- Senate Democrats close on Jobs Bill -- Democrats have moved within striking distance of the votes needed for passage of a long-delayed jobs and economic relief bill. The restoration of $24 billion in state Medicaid funding aims to bring governors off the sidelines and get senators to support the bill to forestall deeper budget cuts and layoffs at home. But without more push from the White House and Republican governors, the whole effort may fail.

TAKE ACTION!  Sen. Patty Murray has clearly stated her support for restoring the Jobs Bill's Medicaid matching funds to the states, without which thousands of state employees face layoffs. Call Sen. Maria Cantwell at 202-224-3441 or 1-888-648-7328 and urge her to "support the six months of extra Medicaid help to states in the 'extenders' bill."

 

National election news:

Trumka: Message sent in Arkansas primary

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: "Taking a two-term incumbent in deep red Arkansas into a runoff, and coming within a few thousand votes of her, is a virtually unprecedented achievement. If working families were able to accomplish this in Arkansas, imagine what they can achieve in other states." Read more.

►  In today's Seattle Times -- Incumbent U.S. Sen. Lincoln barely survives runoff election -- Embattled Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln narrowly won the Democratic nomination for a third term Tuesday night, defying a nationwide anti-establishment tide.

►  At Politico -- White House official: 'Labor just flushed $10 million down the toilet' -- A senior White House official just called with very pointed message for the Obama administration's sometime allies in labor, who invested heavily in beating Blanche Lincoln, Obama's candidate. "Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise," the official said. "If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November." 

►  At Salon.com -- Democrats to organized labor: Drop dead -- For an entity that's supposedly the bought-and-paid-for servant of organized labor, the Democratic Party sure has a hell of a way of showing it. When it looked like the labor-backed challenge to incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln was going to succeed, the Democratic establishment turned the race into a referendum on unions. In a right-to-work state with the sixth lowest union density in the nation, it worked. Lincoln narrowly survived her primary last night. In other words, the critics have it backward: it's not Democrats who are supposed to act like labor's servants, it's labor that's expected to act like it belongs to the party, with no reciprocal obligations.

 

If your friends all jumped off a bridge...

►  At Huffington Post -- Group-think caused the market to fail

(by Stan Sorscher, SPEEA Legislative Director and WSLC Vice President)

No prestige is lost by staying in until the bubble bursts, then saying, "No one could have foreseen this." More often that not, when someone says, "No one could have foreseen this," many had foreseen it, but were dismissed by those caught in group-think. ... We are taught that the market's invisible hand will find the optimal, most efficient outcome. Our faith in the invisible hand cannot justify the trillions of dollars misallocated through an escalating series of market failures over the last few decades. With some regularity, the invisible hand just royally screws up. ... Now that "financial engineering" dominates one of our largest industries, policy-makers should adopt another fundamental engineering practice -- systems solutions that account for failure mechanisms, as the only way to design systems that are robust, practical and safe.

 

State election news:

►  In today's News Tribune -- Candidates becoming party poopers -- The free-for-all top-two primary holds a place for politicians of every stripe, including the "Lower Taxes Party" and the "Problemfixer Party." State Democrats may sue, as they did in 2008 in an unsuccessful attempt to keep the ballot from listing then-gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi as "Prefers GOP Party." Rossi is running again, but hasnít declared a party preference.

►  At Publicola -- AWB issues urgent plea for signatures on Eyman initiative -- An email memo from the Association of Washington Business alerts folks that I-1053 has about 160,000 signatures to date and pleas for money to help finance paid petitioners.

►  At TheOlympian.com -- Trial lawyer to take on Justice Johnson -- Pierce County trial lawyer Stan Rumbaugh says he is filing to run for the state Supreme Court against conservative one-term Justice James Johnson, who Rumbaugh says sides with corporations, insurers and the BIAW.

 

Local news:

►  In today's (Everett) Herald -- No shame in taxes OK'd by Legislature (John Burbank column) -- Talking with legislators, you get the feeling that they want to apologize for the new taxes they voted for, as if that was the wrong thing to do. They should apologize for punting in the stare-down with corporate lobbyists who were carefully tending their tax loopholes -- like BP, for one. And the big banks, for another. But they did come up with some new revenue, which makes sense, both because our citizens need the help and because the taxes themselves will benefit our own health, environment and quality of life. No need to apologize for that.

►  In today's Olympian -- Actions show Legislature less transparent than previous years (editorial) -- A new report by the Washington Policy Center details a series of abuses by majority Democrats as they rushed sometimes flawed bills through the legislative process -- often without giving the public time to read the bills, let alone react to them.

►  In today's Bellingham Herald -- WTA staff unveils options for service cuts -- A plan to save bus service on Sundays would mean cutting back on all evening service, among other cuts.

 

National news:

►  In today's Washington Post -- In Senate and on trail, Democrats target overseas job losses -- The threat of American jobs heading abroad has become such a potent campaign issue this year that congressional Democrats are moving quickly to capitalize on it -- and to use it against Republicans. Democratic leaders are pushing a package of hefty corporate tax increases intended to discourage businesses from moving their operations overseas. "It's not rocket science," said Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the AFL-CIO. "People are unemployed, or their brother is, or their next-door neighbor is. If Democrats want to win races in 2010, they need to show people they're creating jobs for them. And repealing tax breaks that send jobs overseas is a direct corollary."

►  In today's NY Times -- Stimulus talk yields calls to cut deficit -- At a moment when many economists warn that the U.S. economic recovery is likely to be imperiled by prolonged high unemployment and slow growth, Obama is discovering that the tools available last year -- a big economic stimulus and action by the Federal Reserve -- are both now politically untenable.

►  In today's Washington Post -- Social Security defenders wary of deficit reduction commission -- Activists say the president's commission is at work on a secret plan to gut Social Security. The group Social Security Works says the threat to the nation's primary social safety net is greater now than at any time in the program's 75-year history.

►  In today's NY Times -- Obama lobbies elderly on benefits of new health law -- The president dipped back into the volatile politics of health care on Tuesday, using a televised question-and-answer session to attack his Republican critics and remind retirees that the check -- a new $250 rebate to help them pay for prescription drugs -- is about to go in the mail.

BP's live BS Camô

►  In The Onion -- Massive flow of BS continues to gush from BP headquarters -- The toxic bullshit, which began to spew from the mouths of BP executives shortly after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April, has completely devastated the Gulf region, delaying cleanup efforts, affecting thousands of jobs, and endangering the lives of all nearby wildlife.

►  At Huffington Post -- BP still denies existence of underwater plumes -- BP executive Doug Suttles continues to insist that no massive underwater oil plumes in "large concentrations" have been detected from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

►  At Huffington Post -- Exxon Valdez lawyer: Louisianans, "to use a legal term," are "just f---ed" -- For more than two decades, Brian O'Neill represented fishermen in civil cases related to the now 2nd-most- damaging spill in U.S. history: the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. "These big oil companies, they have a different view of time and politics than we do," O'Neill says. "The fact that BP hard-asses it a little bit for 5 to 10 to 15 years, despite all the bad publicity there may be between segments of society and BP as a result [of this spill]. Exxon sure weathered it really well. The market went up the next day for Exxon stock [after the settlement]. They just thrived despite treating an entire state poorly. And there is a lesson there for BP, and that is: it really doesn't matter whether you treat these people nicely or not. The only difference is if you extract oil. It sounds cynical but it might be true."

►  In today's NY Times -- More labor trouble for Honda in China -- For a third consecutive day, the Honda Motor Company found itself on Wednesday confronting a growing labor problem in China, with at least two auto parts suppliers staging strikes and several assembly plants shut down.

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9, 2010
WSLC awarded DOL grant to support TAA program

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) announced Tuesday that the Washington State Labor Council will receive $225,477 -- funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- to provide enhanced technical assistance in the Trade Adjustment Assistance program to better support laid-off workers throughout Washington state.

TAA provides job retraining, income support and health care benefits to workers who have been adversely impacted by federal trade policies. The funding will be used to heighten public awareness of services and training that are available.

"TAA means the difference between someone who is trapped outside the workforce without the skills they need and someone who can compete and win in todayís economy," Murray said.

"We are pleased to be one of three nationwide recipients of this grant," said WSLC President Rick Bender. "This will help us reach out to more laid-off workers throughout the state and help them get the benefits they are due so they reenter the workforce as quickly as possible."

The Washington State Labor Council's direct access to rank-and-file workers and 25-plus years of experience working with TAA and other dislocated worker programs provided the unique opportunity to apply for these competitive funds in partnership with the Washington State Employment Security Department.

"TAA hardly compensates for the loss of good family-wage jobs overseas," said Chelsea Orvella, WSLC Labor Liaison for the Workforce Investment Act. "But for workers affected by foreign competition -- via trade or outsourcing -- it provides far superior benefits than other dislocated worker programs."

In Washington state, benefits may include:

  • Up to $25,000 for retraining;

  • An 80% health-care coverage subsidy;

  • Extended income support (equivalent to weekly Unemployment Insurance benefits) for an additional 2-3 years;

  • $1,500 to travel for an interview or other job search costs;

  • $1,500 to relocate for work; and

  • A 50% wage subsidy for workers over the age of 55.

With the new DOL grant, the WSLC will work closely with its affiliate unions and workforce system partners to build upon its established dislocated worker services and assist thousands more potentially eligible workers who are looking for work without the support of the TAA program.

" We hope the demand for TAA is one day obsolete but the reality of today is that far more workers are eligible for this program than are aware it even exists," said WIA Labor Liaison Bill Messenger. "These workers are more likely to settle for work with lower wages or poorer working conditions, risk going without health insurance for longer periods of time, and are turned away from training opportunities due to a lack of resources."  

 

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9, 2010
Trumka: Message delivered in Arkansas primary

The following statement was released this morning by the AFL-CIO:

STATEMENT BY AFL-CIO PRESIDENT RICHARD TRUMKA ON THE ARKANSAS DEMOCRATIC SENATE RUNOFF

Americas workers thank Bill Halter for a courageous campaign. He stood up and fought for working families on jobs, trade and holding Wall Street accountable.

While tonight was not our preferred outcome, it was still a tremendous victory for working families.

Taking a two-term incumbent in deep red Arkansas into a runoff, and coming within a few thousand votes of her, is a virtually unprecedented achievement. If working families were able to accomplish this in Arkansas, imagine what they can achieve in other states.

It is also now abundantly clear to all politicians that if they want to get the support of working families on Election Day, they are going to need to fight for their issues every day. 

 

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