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All union leaders, staff and rank-and-file members are invited to come to Olympia for an important update on legislation affecting our state's working families at the Washington State Labor Council's 2011 Legislative Conference on Thursday, Feb. 24 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Olympia Red Lion, with registration starting at 7:30 a.m. Find out what is happening in Olympia and what you and your union can do to help us all achieve our goals. Legislative leaders and state agencies directors will address attendees at the half-day conference that ends at lunchtime. Participants are then urged to go to the State Capitol to meet with their state legislators about the working family issues discussed at the conference. As always, there will be a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the preceding evening, Wednesday, Feb. 23, at the hotel with legislators and other state officials in attendance. This is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with state lawmakers, with representatives of other unions, and with WSLC officers and staff (including the entire staff of WSLC Reports Today!) Read more.
The Washington State Labor Council is seeking a Political Director to draft, implement and direct the political efforts of the largest labor federation in the state, representing more than 500 local unions and more than 400,000 rank-and-file members. Applications must be submitted by this Friday, Feb. 18. The start date for the position will be between April 1 and May 1. Check out the job posting.
More Legislative news:
After weeks of negotiation, the Legislature approved legislation last week addressing both taxes and benefits in our Unemployment Insurance system. In addition to granting businesses permanently lower U.I. tax rates, it provides federal extended benefits, plus enhancements to the existing training benefit program and a temporary $25 boost in weekly benefits for all new claimants. Read today's WSLC Legislative Update for details, plus news regarding liquor privatization, workers' compensation changes, Washington Film Works, and the Presidents Day "Rumble in the Rotunda."
► At BudgetAndPolicy.org -- 2011 state budget proposals reflect impact of recession -- The House and Senate are soon expected to release a final version of a 2011 budget shortfall solution. Each chamber has approved its own version of the solution and progress is being made to resolve differences between the two budgets. The Legislature and the Governor have been trying to close a $1.1 billion shortfall in the current biennium, a result of the ongoing effects of the recession. Check out a comparison of the proposals by the Washington State Budget and Policy Center.
► In today's Seattle Times -- State schools brace for deeper cuts: "There are no easy choices left" -- Along with reducing health-care spending for children and providing less support for disabled people, the poor, higher education and state parks, state lawmakers are talking about cutting about $1 billion from a number of education programs. As a result, Washington state's per-student spending could go down for the second year in a row. For many districts, that means class sizes may rise -- again. Fewer students may have a bus ride to school. High-school electives may be scaled back, including some of the special classes designed to help students catch up in math. Schools may get cleaned even less often.
► In today's Spokesman-Review -- Jeff Baxter sworn in to State Senate seat -- In 30 days, he went from being a Spokane Valley businessman active in local GOP politics to a nominee for an open seat to taking the oath of office in the Senate chamber. "It's been a whirlwind," he said.
With the decision this month to officially grant Transportation Security Officers collective bargaining rights, an election will be held online and via telephone from March 9-April 19, with tens of thousands of TSOs across the country voting on whether they want representation, and whether they want it with the American Federation of Government Employees or a different union. AFGE is conducting leafleting actions through Wednesday at SeaTac Airport and is looking for volunteers to assist. All union members are urged to support TSOs and show their solidarity by helping. Read more.
► In today's NY Times -- In Pacific Northwest, a clash over a coal operation -- A plan to build the United States' first West Coast facility for exporting coal to Asia has come under increased scrutiny after the disclosure of documents suggesting that the company proposing the project did not convey the full scope of its plans to state regulators. The project, to be built on the Columbia River in Longview, got preliminary approval from Cowlitz County commissioners last year but has been delayed by a legal challenge by environmentalists.
► In today's Kitsap Sun -- Kitsap Transit plans to contract out some bus drivers' jobs -- Letters distributed to drivers indicate that the agency is invoking terms of labor agreements that allow it to contract out bus driving on some routed service and all Access service. ATU Local 1384 disputes that the agreements give the agency that right.
► At IAM 751's blog -- Machinists Union plans charity motorcycle event -- Puppy Putt 9, an annual motorcycle fundraiser to benefit Guide Dogs of America, has been scheduled for June 18. The two groups will take part in a poker run that will wind up at the Machinists Union Hall, at 9125 15th Place S. in Seattle, for an afternoon of motorcycle-themed fun, food and music. Last year, District 751 Machinists raised more than $276,000 for the charity, which provides guide dogs for blind or vision-impaired people across North America.
Trade Adjustment Assistance news:
► At AFL-CIO Now -- Tell Boehner: Act on TAA now! -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his Republican House colleagues refused last week to schedule a vote on extending the TAA for workers who have lost their jobs because of outsourcing, offshoring and unfair trade deals. As a result, the program that for nearly 50 years enjoyed bipartisan support, expired Saturday. You can deliver a message to Boehner that it is inexcusable and unacceptable that he keeps promoting policies backed by corporate CEOs that encourage outsourcing -- yet does nothing for the workers who lose their jobs. Click here.
► At Huffington Post -- We can't afford to give up on American workers (by Sen. Sherrod Brown) -- Our actions bring consequences, and so does our inaction. TAA is expiring at the expense of Americans who worked hard and played by the rules, yet lost their jobs, their pensions, their health care -- or all three. This program helps tens of thousands of Americans either get back to work or regain some measure of the financial security that has been stripped from them due to unfair foreign trade.
► In the Wall Street Journal -- Trade deals, TAA linked in Congress -- TAA's expiration threatens to fracture the coalition of lawmakers backing trade accords with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The White House has said it would send the Korea trade agreement to Congress in early March, but some Democrats warn that they won't back the Korea deal unless the trade assistance is renewed.
U.S. Budget news:
► In today's News Tribune -- State delegation holds party lines on budget -- Most Democrats gave at least muted praise to the president's $3.7 trillion spending plan for 2012, which includes the first year of a five-year freeze on domestic spending, while lambasting the Republican proposal, which calls for $100 billion in budget cuts this year. Republicans, on the other hand, criticized the president for not doing enough to rein in spending. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers called Obama's plan “irresponsible and unsustainable.”
► In today's Tri-City Herald -- Obama proposes Hanford budget increase -- While the budget for work at the tank farms and the vitrification plant would increase, money for the Richland Operations Office would decrease. It is responsible for the rest of Hanford work. The proposed cut to cleanup funding for the ROO would be in addition to the end of $1.96 billion in economic stimulus money. Contractors doing that work already have announced they could lay off about 1,600 employees before the start of fiscal 2012 on Oct. 1.
► In today's News Tribune -- Obama budget would fund surge of JBLM growth -- Joint Base Lewis-McChord's building boom would surge further in 2012 if Congress adopts the budget request from President Obama. It would set aside more than $300 million for construction at the base, up from the $171.8 million earmarked for this year in a budget proposal Congress has yet to approve.
► In today's Washington Post -- Obama budget would maintain federal workers' pay freeze -- His budget recommends a 1.6% pay increase for members of the military but keeps intact a two-year pay freeze for civilian federal employees. The government's civilian employees are "patriots who work for the nation often at great personal sacrifice; they deserve our respect and gratitude," Obama's budget document said, but the ongoing freeze "reflects the shared sacrifices we must make."
► At FireDogLake -- Debate over Wisconsin collective bargaining gets heated as Republicans waver -- The proposal to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees in Wisconsin and the suggestion by Gov. Scott Walker that he would send out the National Guard to quell protests over the action have become a major political football in the state. Walker and his allies talked about this plan almost immediately after the election, getting support from southern-state Governors with right-to-work laws in place and the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has stimulated discussion over this idea in several states since November. Only now, three conservative Republicans in Wisconsin who happen to be public employees are decrying Walker's effort.\
► At Daily Kos -- The White House calls for Social Security talks -- In his budget message, President Obama said, "we should come together now, in bipartisan fashion, to strengthen Social Security for the future." The six principles for those talks puts Social Security firmly back on the negotiating table, everything but "privatization," which is a red herring anyway. That the problems facing Social Security are long term rather than immediate suggests that putting it on the table now is unnecessary. That's particularly so when you've got a Democratic administraiton that has shown a distinct lack of negotiating skill vis-a-vis the take-no-prisoners Republicans and which also has a really disturbing practice of advancing the false "Social Security in crisis" and "Social Security is part of the deficit problem" narratives.
► At Huffington Post -- Plouffe: Obama won't "slash" or "reduce" Social Security benefits -- Obama's budget offered no major changes to Social Security, like those put forth by his deficit commission. In fact, the six principles for alterations in the document's language included no benefit cuts of any kind.
► In today's Wash. Post -- Hacked emails reveal plans for dirty-tricks campaign against Chamber foes -- The e-mails revealed a series of dubious counterintelligence proposals aimed at enemies of Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber, including distributing fake documents and launching cyber-attacks.
► In today's LA Times -- Government contractors targeted Chamber of Commerce critics -- Employees of the security firms compiled short dossiers on a few activists that included photographs, references to their families and charts of their relationships with other liberal and labor leaders.
All union leaders, staff and rank-and-file members are invited to come to Olympia for an important update on legislation affecting our state's working families at the Washington State Labor Council's 2011 Legislative Conference on Thursday, Feb. 24 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Olympia Red Lion, with registration starting at 7:30 a.m.
Find out what is happening in Olympia and what you and your union can do to help us all achieve our goals. Legislative leaders and state department heads will address attendees at the half-day conference that ends at lunchtime. Participants are then urged to go to the State Capitol to meet with their state legislators about the working family issues discussed at the conference.
As always, there will be a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the preceding evening, Wednesday, Feb. 23, at the hotel with legislators and other state officials in attendance. This is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with state lawmakers, with representatives of other unions, and with WSLC officers and staff (including the entire staff of WSLC Reports Today!)
The conference and reception are open to all members of WSLC-affiliated unions. The registration fee, which includes materials, lunch and one admission to the reception, is $50. Additional admissions to the reception are $15 per guest. Download a registration form. The deadline to pre-register is Monday, Feb. 21. You can register at the door, but come early... there will be lines. For more information about registration, call Karen White at 206-281-8901 ext. 14.
Here is the tentative agenda for the 2011 Legislative Conference (times are subject to change based on the lawmakers' schedules that day):
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO