(Daily Clips will not publish Thursday, December 11, so that the editor can attend the Holiday Party of the 34th District Democrats Wednesday night. See you there.)
They’re talking: Boeing commercial airlines chief meets with IAM 751 union reps who opposed 777X deal
On deadline day for states around the U.S. to submit their bids for the 777X project, Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Ray Conner met Tuesday with the Machinists union officials who last month led the rejection of the company’s contract offer. Conner met with the International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 751 council officials, known as business reps, at the Commercial Airplanes headquarters in Renton, confirmed three people with knowledge of the talks. “The meeting was congenial and 777X was discussed,” said one of them. The meeting is the first sign since the Nov. 13 rejection vote that union and management may re-engage and that a labor deal to win 777X for Washington state might still be salvaged. Neither Boeing nor the union would confirm the meeting between Conner and the IAM reps, or discuss its outcome. Seattle Times, 12-10-13.
Was union holding another NLRB action over Boeing’s head? Unlikely, but the possibility still might exist
Although Boeing and its largest union got involved in legal battles involving the National Labor Relations Board during their struggle in 2011, the current difficulties are less likely to lead to such an outcome. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. IAM 751 contended, in 2011, that Boeing had opened its South Carolina factory in “retaliation” for legal activity by the union. IAM filed a complaint with the NLRB, the board took the case, and Boeing and the NLRB got locked in a debate so toxic that House Republicans tried to pass legislation that would have stripped the agency of much of its powers. Then Boeing offered the Machinists a contract extension with relatively generous terms, plus a promise to build the new 737 Max in Washington—if the Machinists dropped the NLRB complaint. IAM did that, approved the contract extension, and the NLRB immediately dropped its complaint against Boeing. Could the union wield such a lever again—with 8,500 future 777X jobs on the line—to pressure Boeing to offer it a revised contract that union members would approve? Legal experts in this arena are divided. It appears to hang on whether Boeing’s stance in November, that it would guarantee 777X work in Washington state only if union members approved their proposed contract extension, could be construed as “threats and coercion.” Puget Sound Business Journal, 12-10-13.
Boeing families in Seattle area feel spurned over 777X project
Shannon Ryker is a third-generation Boeing employee. She followed her grandfather into the huge plant in nearby Everett. And her father. And her Uncle Bob. Her youngest sister worked at Boeing until she became pregnant. Both of Ryker’s brothers-in-law and one of their dads work there. Her other sister’s stepson has applied for a Boeing job. So it wasn’t easy for the 37-year-old mechanic to sit down in her crowded apartment and write to Boeing management about her growing disappointment. “Like my 86-year-old grandmother, I would like to tell my children and grandchildren that ‘Boeing has been good to this family,'” Ryker wrote in an open letter that has since landed on company break-room tables and in co-workers’ email in-boxes. But now, she said, “I no longer can hold my head high and say I am proud to work at Boeing.” Ryker, in her letter to Boeing’s Ray Conner, spoke for many union members when she explained her planned “no” vote: “I have told my father … I would rather keep my integrity and be unemployed than bullied into agreeing to a contract that hurts my children in the future.” Such sentiments were once unthinkable here. Few major U.S. cities have such a strong identification with a single corporation. Los Angeles Times, 12-9-13.
In the other Washington, Boeing gets Congressional love letters
Washington’s congressional delegation sent the Boeing Co. a love letter Tuesday telling the company that they’ve worked hard to help the aerospace giant, will continue to do so, and want the 777X built in this state. All 12 members of the delegation signed the letter, which was addressed to Boeing CEO Jim McNerney Jr. in Chicago and the head of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Ray Conner. Washington’s delegation has long advocated for Boeing, but that didn’t stop the company from moving its headquarters to Chicago in 2001. The letter states, “As our delegation’s support illustrates, support for aerospace manufacturing in Washington is not just statewide, it is miles wide and miles deep. Aerospace manufacturing creates jobs in every corner of the state.” In an appeal to Boeing’s what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mentality, the delegation members say they are working on: (long list of items). Everett Herald, 12-10-13.
West Seattle faces not just the deepest of Metro’s looming service cuts, but also the first ones
West Seattle won’t just be the hardest hit if Metro has to carry out its plan for cuts–it will be the first hit. The plan that is being drawn up right now, to send to the King County Council within a few weeks and to be considered next month, is intended to cover what will be lost when the Alaskan Way Viaduct “mitigation funding” from the state expires in June of next year. That money was supposed to cover extra bus service for the corridors most affected by Highway 99 construction–mostly West Seattle and points south. Metro’s pitch to the state for more funding will say mitigation isn’t just needed until the tunnel is open in 2016, but all the way until Viaduct demolition and waterfront work is complete in 2019. However, at this point, the money runs out in mid-2014, and no replacement is in sight. West Seattle Blog, 12-10-13.
High-speed Internet project touted by McGinn is delayed, possibly in jeopardy over financing
Financing problems are forcing Gigabit Squared to delay plans to implement a high-speed Internet network in 12 Seattle neighborhoods using the city’s dormant “dark fiber” network. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn—a longtime champion of the project who will leave office at the end of the year—acknowledged the setback in an interview with GeekWire Monday afternoon. He said Gigabit Squared, the company behind the project, is having problems securing financing to install the network, and he raised questions about the project’s future. “We’re now a year into it and the question is, will it work or not?” McGinn said inside his office at City Hall. He acknowledged that he’s ”very concerned it’s not going to work.” GeekWire contacted Gigabit Squared for comment, but a company representative said executives were unavailable for comment. Geekwire, 12-9-13.
Seattle businesses find talking about minimum wage ‘scary;’ David Meinert talks about it anyway
Asked for her reaction recently to the mounting call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage in Seattle, Kate Joncas, president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association, said her group hadn’t talked about it yet. And then she hung up. While SeaTac’s Proposition 1 on a $15-an-hour wage sparked active opposition, the issue is obviously touchy in Seattle, where everyone likes to think of themselves as “progressive.” David Meinert, owner of The 5 Spot and a prominent music promoter, notes that “everyone is talking about it” privately, but many find it “scary” to talk about publicly for fear of being labeled “a bad person” and perhaps targeted for a consumer boycott. Nevertheless, there’s no question that the business community will weigh in on an issue that affects them so directly. And Meinert, more outspoken than most, expresses views that indicate how at least one wing of the business community might respond. Seattle Weekly, 12-9-13.
Lt. Rich O’Neill will leave Seattle Police Guild presidency
Lt. Rich O’Neill will not seek another term as president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, a post whose $125,000-a-year salary is paid by the city of Seattle. O’Neill rocked in announcing his decision. Thee head of the Guild used The Byrds’ classic “Turn Turn Turn,” to explain why he is moving on. The announcement was made in the Guardian, and first disclosed by The Stranger, which has delighted in harvesting Archie Bunker-style quotes from the Guild’s newsletter. The Guild president is unique in how he is paid. No other union head representing city employees receives a full-time city salary. The city and Guild remain in negotiations over the pay issue. Seattle P-I, 12-10-13.
Recount: Wagner holds off Binetti, retains City Council seat
Incumbent Rich Wagner has beaten back a stiff challenge from Michelle Binetti to retain his Auburn City Council seat. King County Elections Tuesday certified the results of the manual recount for Position 6 Tuesday afternoon after completing the data entry required to finalize the result. Certified results were posted at 4:30 p.m. after the Canvassing Board meeting. Wagner finished with 6,125 votes, 50.1 percent in the combined results of King and Pierce counties, and Binetti had 6,095, or 49.9 percent. That razor-thin margin demanded an automatic hand recount. Auburn Reporter, 12-10-13.
State Senate majority doubles down on right-wing agenda; plans to pick up where it left off last session
The state Senate majority caucus congratulated itself Tuesday for surviving a year, and vowed to pursue legislation that did not pass last session, including changes to K-12 education and workers compensation. The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus was born a year ago when Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom (D-48) and Tim Sheldon (D-35) said they’d caucus with Republicans, giving the GOP control of the chamber. Tom and other leaders said their caucus, during the session that starts Jan. 13, will take up measures such as a bill that would allow school districts to lay off employees based on job performance, instead of seniority. The caucus also wants to resume efforts to change the state workers compensation system. When asked about meeting a state Supreme Court mandate to increase funding for education, Tom, the Senate majority leader, said during a news conference it’s all about prioritizing spending within existing resources. “We should never have a conversation that we need new revenue for education,” he said. Seattle Times, 12-10-13.
Ferguson outlines legislative priorities for 2014
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson will ask lawmakers to consider four policy bills in the upcoming legislative session, including one that failed to pass two years ago when introduced by his predecessor Rob McKenna. Ferguson announced his 2014 legislative agenda at a press conference Tuesday, along with sponsoring legislators from the House and Senate. One bill would bring Washington state in line with 49 other states that do not have to pay attorney’s fees if it loses a case brought under the Consumer Protection Act. Another bill would require all public officials to undergo training on open government laws. The third bill would grant certain legal protections to military members who are called to active duty by the governor in the case of a disaster. Lastly, Ferguson called for changes to a law that affects the nearly 300 sexually violent predators at McNeil Island.The bill would require sexually violent predators to participate in a yearly review with the state’s forensic psychologist if they want the state to pay for their own expert at trial. TVW Capitol Record, 12-10-13.
Report: Shutting down Richland N-plant would save $1.7 billion
Physicians for Social Responsibility plans to release a new report Wednesday showing that shutting down the commercial nuclear power plant near Richland could save utility customers $1.7 billion over 17 years, the group said. However, Energy Northwest and the Bonneville Power Administration said this spring that a temporary or permanent shutdown of the plant would increase the cost of power for the region. Costs for consumers would increase at lease $2.5 billion over 20 years if the plant is shut down and replacement power produced by natural gas is purchased, according to Energy Northwest. Energy Northwest, owner of the Columbia Generating Station near Richland, and BPA released their cost prediction this spring when the Washington and Oregon chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility announced they had commissioned an economic study of the possibility of shutting down the nuclear plant. Tri-City Herald, 12-10-13.
Conservative Whatcom PACs fined by Disclosure Commission for reporting donations late
Two conservative political action committees in Whatcom County have been fined $4,500 for reporting contributions late and for failing to file reports electronically. Save Whatcom and Whatcom First worked in tandem to campaign for conservative County Council candidates Kathy Kershner, Bill Knutzen, Michelle Luke, and Ben Elenbaas; and Port of Bellingham candidates Dan Robbins and Ken Bell. Of these, only Robbins was elected on Nov. 5. The Public Disclosure Commission levied the fines at a hearing on Thursday, Dec. 5. Donations to Save Whatcom were funneled to Whatcom First to pay for campaign materials. Whatcom First also submitted reports late. “This campaign raised a remarkable amount of money in a week,” PDC Vice Chairman Grant Degginger said. “We need to be sure that the public has the opportunity to know in a timely manner what the organization is doing and who is contributing to the organization.” Bellingham Herald, 12-10-13.
Pot ban to stay; County Council overrides McCarthy veto
The Pierce County Council narrowly voted Tuesday to override county Executive Pat McCarthy’s veto of the council’s marijuana ordinance. The decision means the county has indefinitely banned recreational pot businesses from unincorporated areas, even if they’re granted a state license. The council needed five votes to overturn the veto. Councilman Doug Richardson, who had pushed to extend the current moratorium on marijuana businesses, provided the swing vote. The ordinance prohibits licensed marijuana businesses from operating until Congress removes marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances. McCarthy called that requirement “ostensibly a ban.” She said the ordinance conflicts with state law, which the council is obligated to follow. Washington voters approved Initiative 502 last year, legalizing recreational marijuana. Tacoma News Tribune, 12-10-13.
A budget deal with pain for Republicans and Democrats
The budget agreement struck by House and Senate negotiators Tuesday will invite Republicans to choose whether they’re for fiscal responsibility or small government. The deal drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) would let the federal government spend almost $45 billion more in the current fiscal year than the Budget Control Act of 2011 allows, and almost $19 billion more in the fiscal 2015. That’s because it rolls back the act’s infamous sequester—annual across-the-board spending cuts—by $63 billion over two years, with the extra money evenly divided between defense and non-defense programs. But it more than offsets the increases by reducing projected spending on some federal benefit programs and increasing “non-tax revenue.” Included among the latter are higher pension contributions by federal employees hired after the end of this year and higher premiums for government-backed corporate pensions. The deal includes no money to extend federal unemployment benefits, which expire at the end of the year. Without an extension, 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans will have their aid cut off, and an additional 850,000 laid-off workers won’t have any federal help after their state benefits run out in the first quarter of 2014. Los Angeles Times, 12-11-13.
Stockman files to challenge Cornyn in Texas Senate primary
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) will face Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) in the GOP primary for Senate next year in Texas. In a surprising move on the last day for candidates to file for federal office in the Lone Star State, Stockman promised “a vigorous campaign” against Cornyn in an interview with World
Net Nut Daily. Stockman, who was elected to the House in 2012 after serving a single term in the 1990s, said his impetus for running was Cornyn’s decision to not sign the letter with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that eventually instigated the government shutdown. He had not informed Cruz of his decision to run, according to the interview. Stockman, a hardline conservative who pushed for the impeachment of President Barack Obama, has the capacity to rough up the second-ranking Senate Republican. The question is whether any outside groups will come in to support him financially. Roll Call, 12-9-13.
Senate confirms Millett and Watt; first nominees passed after Democrats invoke filibuster ‘nuclear option’
The Senate Tuesday confirmed two Obama administration nominees, taking advantage of filibuster rule changes pushed through by Democrats last month. Democrats used the changes to install Patricia Millett at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which controls the government-supported mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The moves came after Republicans had blocked votes on Watt, Millett, and two other nominees for the D.C. Circuit, prompting Democrats to force a change so contentious it has been dubbed the nuclear option. The DC Circuit is one of the nation’s most influential courts because it regularly considers lawsuits challenging major federal rules and regulations. The appellate court will now include five judges appointed by Democratic presidents and four appointed by Republicans. Millett was approved on a 56-38 vote, picking up two Republican supporters—Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. No Democrats opposed her. Wall Street Journal, 12-10-13.
A bridge too far: Was traffic jam Christie’s retaliation?
Did Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) administration cripple a New Jersey community with a deliberate, brutal traffic jam, purely out of petty and partisan spite? The question is not as outlandish as it may appear. Fort Lee was effectively turned into a giant parking lot on the first day of school in September, after the Port Authority closed two of the three lanes leading from the community to the George Washington Bridge. Christie’s administration later defended the move, saying it was part of a “traffic study,” though we now know that there was no study. So why cause the massive congestion on purpose? New Jersey Democrats allege the Christie administration was punishing Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor for refusing to endorse the governor’s re-election campaign. And while that seems hard to believe–Christie was cruising to an easy win anyway–the growing controversy is increasingly difficult to dismiss. MSNBC, 12-10-13.
Obamacare blamed for reduction in dump hours; Hey, it’s Idaho
Boundary County, Idaho, is cutting the number of hours people can drop off garbage for the county landfill because of health care reform, the county said in a news release today. Here’s how the news release put it: “Due to increased expenses of the Federally Mandated Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care, Boundary County is forced to reduce the hours of operation at our monitored solid waste disposal/collection sites.” The county explained that it is cutting hours for full-time workers so they no longer are eligible for the county’s health care plan. Fewer worker hours mean fewer hours the dump collection sites can be open. Spokesman-Review, 12-10-13.
To Think About
Did Michelle Rhee’s policies in DC work? Doubtful, says Ravitch
Rhee’s defenders point to a recent study to claim that the teacher evaluation system she created, called IMPACT, is “working.” But that study was never subject to peer review. And scholars have said the study was so fundamentally flawed that its conclusions cannot be taken seriously. For example, only 17 percent of the teachers in the study were actually teaching the subjects that are tested. The other 83 percent were not teaching reading or math in grades 3-8. Thus, the study is no vindication of using test scores to evaluate teachers. Most scholars who write about test-based accountability, along the lines of the D.C. IMPACT study, agree that it is inaccurate and unstable. A teacher who gets a high rating one year may get a low rating the next year, and vice versa. These methods—often referred to as test-based accountability or value-added measurement (VAM)—tend to reflect who is being taught, not teacher quality. Diane Ravitch, Talking Points Memo, 12-10-13.