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Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Still targeted for privatization, agency wins national award for efficiency
The state's Department of Printing in Tumwater -- which has been and continues to be targeted for closure by privatization advocates -- has earned the In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association's prestigious Management Award for its exemplary performance. In 2010, while our self-supporting State Printer was busy generating some $27.5 million in revenue and implementing efficiencies that would earn it top honors in a competition with private printing companies across the nation, Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina) and other members of the "Roadkill Caucus" of conservative corporate Democrats were busy trying to shut it down. Ultimately, Sen. Tom failed in 2010 but he and others are back in 2011. Again they are using the revenue shortfall as an excuse to close the State Printer, based on the completely erroneous assumptions that it would save the state money and that the private sector does such work better and more efficiently than the public sector. The truth is exactly the opposite, on both counts. Read more.
Last year, Costco spent more than $3.4 million on Initiative 1100 to privatize Washington's state-run liquor system. Voters rejected the ballot measure, plus another similar liquor privatization initiative, sending a clear message that public safety was of paramount concern and our public liquor system is best-suited for protecting our families. Now, Costco is again pushing liquor privatization in the form of SB 5933, a brand new bill sponsored by Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina), which would direct that the system be completely privatized and all state stores be closed by Sept. 1, 2012. Read more.
► At SeattlePI.com -- CDC to states: Don't privatize alcohol sales -- Alcohol consumption increases dramatically in places that privatize liquor sales, the U.S. government's health agency says in warning states not to turn over their alcohol sales operations to for-profit businesses. Lawmakers are considering two measures that would partially or totally privatize Washington's liquor operation. But the U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends that states not further privatize alcohol sales "based on strong evidence that privatization results in increased per capita alcohol consumption, a well-established proxy for excessive consumption... Following privatization, consumption of privatized beverages increased substantially (median relative increase of 48.2%.)”
More State Legislature news:
► From AP -- Lawmakers try again on workers' comp -- Eight House Democrats unveil a workers' compensation proposal that keeps the thorny issue of lump-sum settlements but makes some changes to the Senate version. The revamped proposal has also met opposition from organized labor, which has argued that the workers' comp system is a safety net for laborers, not a place for litigation.
► In today's (Everett) Herald -- Deal reached on state roads budget -- House and Senate transportation leaders have reached agreement on a new budget that lays out how $8.9 billion will be spent on fixing highways, building ferries, running buses and repairing bridges.
► In today's Olympian -- Senate postpones vote on transportation budget -- A planned vote on the state transportation budget was sidetracked when Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver) tried to tack on an amendment aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses.
► In today's (Everett) Herald -- Prison safety bill goes to governor's desk -- Corrections officers in state prisons are a step closer to gaining use of special body alarms, panic buttons on radios and, in some locations, pepper spray to help make their jobs safer.
Community briefing on hotel campaign Thursday in Seattle
UNITE HERE Local 8 will host a Right to Recovery Campaign Community Briefing on Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Hall 8 of the Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 1st Ave. The hotel industry is rebounding and set to make record profits by 2012, while workers are asked to do more in fewer hours, literally breaking their backs for hotel companies. Join us to learn how you can stand with hospitality workers who are fighting for fair contracts in unionized hotels and are organizing for a better life in non-union workplaces. Together, we can help ensure a recovery that includes good quality jobs and sustains economic growth throughout Western Washington. For more information, email Jasmine Marwaha, UNITE HERE Local 8 Community Organizer, at 206-470-3002.
► In today's Spokesman-Review -- Bargaining support on agenda for Spokane City Council -- With the possibility of new rounds of negotiations in which city leaders could ask for more wage and benefit concessions, the city council may give its union employees a pat on the back. The council will consider a nonbinding resolution stating that the city supports collective bargaining for its workers.
► In today's Yakima H-R-- Farm Workers Clinics cut jobs -- Faced with cuts in state reimbursements for Medicaid, the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic has cut 50 jobs, most in the Yakima Valley.
Today's Signs of America's Decline:
► In today's Seattle Times -- The giant sucking sound from corporate America (Jon Talton column) -- U.S. multinationals added 2.4 million jobs overseas during the 2000s while reducing domestic employment by 2.9 million souls. This is a stark turnaround from the 1990s, when 2.7 million jobs were created in multinational units abroad while 4.4 million were added at home. All told, these major companies employ one-fifth of all working Americans, 21.1 million in 2009.
► In today's LA Times -- Bipartisan support builds for slicing corporate tax rate -- U.S. corporations have enjoyed a two-year bull run on Wall Street. They are sitting on a record amount of cash and are back to paying bonuses that are the envy of executives around the world. Now, they are set up for a tax cut that has bipartisan support in Congress. As part of their budget plan, House Republicans want to cut the corporate tax rate to 25% from 35%. The Obama administration and many Democrats also are looking to slice the rate, but not as much. Despite complaints that they pay too much in taxes, U.S. corporations have been paying an increasingly smaller share of federal taxes over the last half-century. Nearly a third of all federal taxes came from corporations in 1952. Last year, they paid just 8.9%. Loopholes, credits and the ability to shelter earnings abroad have helped many of the country's biggest companies pay far less than the corporate tax rate set into U.S. law.
► In Vanity Fair -- Of the 1%, by the 1% and for the 1% -- Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1% of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation's income -- an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
► At AFL-CIO Now -- 2011 Paywatch: Average CEO salary is $11.4 million -- While 25 million unemployed and underemployed U.S. workers are drowning, CEO pay skyrocketed by 23%, for an average salary of $11.4 million in 2010, according to the AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch. Released Tuesday, data compiled at PayWatch also show CEOs have done little to create badly-needed jobs, instead sitting on a record $1.93 trillion in cash on their balance sheets.
► From Bloomberg -- CEOs' pay could support 102,000 jobs, says labor study -- Chief executive officers at 299 U.S. companies had combined compensation of $3.4 billion in 2010, enough to pay more than 102,000 workers, the AFL-CIO reported Tuesday. "The disparity between CEO and workers' pay has continued to grow to levels that are completely stunning," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.
► In today's Washington Post -- Poll shows American oppose entitlement cuts to deal with debt -- The survey finds that Americans prefer to keep Medicare just the way it is. Most also oppose cuts in Medicaid and the defense budget. More than half say they are against small, across-the-board tax increases combined with modest reductions in Medicare and Social Security benefits. Only President Obama's call to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans enjoys solid support.
► At Huffington Post -- Financial system riskier, next bailout will be costlier, S&P says -- The financial system poses an even greater risk to taxpayers than before the crisis, according to analysts at Standard & Poor's. The next rescue could be about a trillion dollars costlier, the agency warns.
► At Huffington Post -- One year after Gulf tragedy, Congress fails to pass a single oil spill law -- Soon after his son Gordon died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion last April, Keith Jones made eight trips to D.C. to push for stronger safety measures in offshore oil drilling and to increase the compensation paid to victims of the tragic accident. He met with President Obama, who apologized for the families' "unimaginable grief" and cradled Gordon's baby boy Maxwell in his arms. When Jones arrived on Capitol Hill, he says he was mobbed by Senators and Representatives eager to express their condolences and to promise that they would swiftly pass legislation to make sure such a tragedy never happens again. He is still waiting.
► At Huffington Post -- BP marks gulf spill anniversary with campaign contributions -- The stain of shame candidates originally felt about accepting BP's contributions appears to have evaporated.
If there was ever evidence that the motivation of certain state legislators to "reduce the size of government's footprint" through privatization is rooted in pure ideology, and not in fact, this is it.
The State of Washington's Department of Printing (PRT) in Tumwater -- which has been and continues to be targeted for closure by privatization advocates -- has earned the In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association's (IPMA) prestigious Management Award for its exemplary performance in 2010. This national award recognizes "one outstanding corporate publishing and distribution operation that excels in efficient management practices to further the objectives of its parent company."
"In short, PRT is an example of government at its best -- an entirely self-supporting state agency effectively responding to a dire budget crisis in a way that reduced costs, improved efficiency, maintained core service levels, while delivering even higher value to the state," said IPMA Awards Chairperson Chris Anderson. "In a year that they described as being the toughest to date, we found the State of Washington's efforts worthy of this year's management award."
In 2010, while the self-supporting State Printer was busy generating some $27.5 million in revenue and implementing efficiencies that would earn it top honors in a competition with private printing companies across the nation, Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina) and other members of the "Roadkill Caucus" of conservative corporate Democrats were busy trying to shut it down. Tom fought to include closure of the State Printer in the Senate budget last year and to contract that work out to "resize the footprint of government," eliminating some 100 jobs at one of the state's oldest agencies. Ultimately, Sen. Tom failed in 2010.
But he and others are back in 2011, and again using the state revenue shortfall as an excuse to close the State Printer, based on the completely erroneous assumptions that it would save the state money and that the private sector does such work better and more efficiently than the public sector. The truth is exactly the opposite, on both counts. But that hasn't stopped the corporate media echo chamber from supporting Tom's ideological quest.
"As the director of this agency, I am extremely proud of our team approach of delivering greater value to Washington State government, while successfully navigating the worst recession in 80 years," said Jean-Luc Devis, Director of the State Printer. The entirely self-supporting 97-person team, generating $27.5M in annual revenue, provides communication solutions through printing and related services. They also assess customer print environments to maximize the efficiency of office print technology and maintenance resources. Customers include all Washington state agencies, political subdivisions, higher education, as well as other government agencies. "We handle one third of Washington State Government's total print spending, outsourcing about a third of those projects."
While the economic crisis has been particularly challenging for the industry as a whole, their department's situation was compounded by statewide mandates to print less, publish more via the Internet, and reduce office paper usage by 30%.
"Our team stepped up to the challenges by focusing on the core competencies of our business and capitalizing on new technologies to deliver more value to our customers," Devis said. "We are very proud that we were able to reduce expenses in tandem with declining revenues and that we continue to enjoy high customer satisfaction ratings, while delivering tremendous value to our customers. Our actions have resulted in increased sales per FTE of 1.5%, ranking us as a top performer compared to commercial printers and the in-plant community. I am very proud of every member of this organization."
Washington State's Department of Printing will be formally presented IPMA's Management Award for their extraordinary efforts during IPMA's Annual Awards Banquet, Wednesday, June 8, in Charleston, SC, held in conjunction with IPMA's Educational Conference, June 5-9.
Last year, Costco spent more than $3.4 million to finance Initiative 1100, which would have privatized Washington's state-run liquor system. Voters rejected it, plus another similar liquor privatization measure, sending a clear message that public safety was of paramount concern and our public system is best-suited for protecting our families.
Just a few months later, Costco is again pushing liquor privatization in the form of SB 5933, sponsored by Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina), which would direct that the system be completely privatized and all state liquor stores be closed by Sept. 1, 2012. Under this late-arriving bill (introduced just a week ago as a regular session winds down), private operators would be allowed to purchase and run state liquor stores.
Once again, the Washington State Labor Council is adamantly opposed to this proposal. On April 15, WSLC President Jeff Johnson sent the following letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire:
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO