Boeing-IAM talks collapse; company would not give up demand to end machinists’ defined-benefit pension
Negotiations between Boeing and the Machinists union over placing the 777X work in Washington state abruptly collapsed Thursday with the union leadership rejecting what management described as its final offer. The offer would have given rank-and-file employees a $15,000 signing bonus and dropped an earlier proposal to dramatically slow the rate of wage growth for new hires. However, the company insisted on eliminating the traditional pension for all employees, which according to union sources proved an insurmountable barrier. A company statement issued after the breakdown left little room for hope that any further steps forward are possible. Seattle Times, 12-12-13.
Union leaders: Boeing’s 777X offer wasn’t worth a vote
Some Machinists were outraged when they heard late Thursday afternoon that union leaders had rejected what the Boeing Co.called a “best and final counter-proposal” that would have secured production of the new 777X in metro Puget Sound. The head of the district union said the company’s demands were too great, but several rank-and-file members said that should be their decision to make. But Boeing stuck by a proposed change from the earlier offer: Defined-benefit pensions would be ended and 401(k)-like retirement plans would be phased in. Company executives also demanded that union leaders recommend the offer to members, the union said. Boeing, which was first to announce the union’s rejection, did not mention that requirement. Everett Herald, 12-12-13.
But negotiator now says rank and file WILL get to vote (to let Boeing screw them out of a secure retirement)
In a phone interview late Thursday, the Machinists union’s lead negotiator said rank-and-file membership will get a chance to decide on the Boeing offer that the union leadership rejected earlier in the day. Rich Michalski, who represented the national leadership of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) in the negotiations, described the terms offered by Boeing management in a positive light and insisted that the members must decide the final outcome. Seattle Times, 12-12-13.
City’s proposal upsets both taxi drivers, ride-share firms
A new Seattle City Council plan to balance the needs of taxi drivers and emerging ride-share services has already upset both sides. The proposals—to be discussed at a hearing Friday—would be part of a two-year pilot program. The draft rules largely focus on safety, but leaders of ride-share services such as Uberx and Lyft say that the plan would hamper their ability to operate, and would protect the old-line taxi industry. On the other side, taxicab drivers feel far from protected. In fact, they feel vulnerable, said Teamsters Local 117 business agent Dawn Gearhart, who represents cab drivers. Cab drivers are financially responsible for purchasing, maintaining, and insuring their own cars, she said. Instead of alleviating this enormous financial burden, Gearhart said the draft proposals still favor ride-share companies, allowing them to bring in third-party vehicle inspectors. The issue will be discussed Friday at 9:30 a.m., with time for public testimony, at the council Committee on Taxi, For Hire ,and Limousine Regulations. Puget Sound Business Journal, 12-12-13.
Who voted for Sawant: Income map has some surprises
Did the Seattle City Council race between incumbent Richard Conlin and challenger Kshama Sawant reveal a deep fissure between rich and poor in Seattle? Looking at a map of the election results, it certainly seems to tell a “Tale of Two Cities,” as the Stranger called it. Conlin, considered the establishment candidate, handily won nearly all the well-heeled waterfront areas, while the socialist Sawant ran strong in Seattle’s less-wealthy interior. But just how close was this correlation between election results and the wealth gap? Sawant, who came to prominence as an organizer in the Occupy Seattle movement, and whose campaign platform included the creation of a “millionaire’s tax,” showed strength in some high-income areas around Green Lake, in Fremont, Wallingford, and central Ballard, as well as Portage Bay and Eastlake. On the other hand, the maps also reveal that Conlin did surprisingly well in some of the poorest areas in the southern parts of the city, such as Rainier Beach, Rainier Valley, and White Center. Seattle Times, 12-12-13.
Court declares I-1240 unconstitutional; charter proponents claim victory nevertheless
In a ruling issued Thursday, King County Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel has tossed out the heart of Washington State’s charter schools law on the grounds that it violates the constitutional provision that state education revenues be “exclusively applied to the support of the common schools.” But, Judge Rietschel concludes: “A charter school cannot be defined as a common school because it is not under the control of the voters of the school district. The statute places control under a private nonprofit organization, a local charter board, and/or the Charter Commission.” In other words, charter schools may not be funded with state dollars dedicated to funding our state’s common schools. The Stranger, 12-12-13. House Budget Committee chair Ross Hunter (D-48), said he doesn’t believe the ruling will affect state funding for charter schools. While other courts may still weigh in, Hunter said the ruling “solved one big question, which is, is the whole thing constitutional? And this court says ‘yeah, pretty much.'” Seattle P-I, 12-12-13.
Fears about oil train safety, impacts at Spokane hearing
A proposal to ship North Dakota crude oil through Spokane by train drew mostly opponents at a hearing Wednesday night. About 75 people showed up for the state hearing on a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver that could result in up to four oil trains daily passing through Spokane. The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is reviewing Tesoro-Savage’s proposal for an oil terminal that would receive between 120,000 and 360,000 barrels of oil daily. The crude oil would be shipped from the Port of Vancouver to U.S. refineries on the West Coast. Tesoro-Savage’s application for the Vancouver terminal is the largest of seven applications for oil terminals in Western Washington. Other facilities are proposed for Grays Harbor, Ferndale, Cherry Point, and Anacortes, and several Washington refineries are already receiving rail shipments of North Dakota crude. Spokesman-Review, 12-12-13.
Robinson wins PCO vote for 38th LD House appointment
Democrats are hoping the die is cast for June Robinson, of Everett, to become a member of the state House of Representatives next week. Robinson emerged Tuesday night as the party’s top choice to fill the 38th Legislative District seat that John McCoy vacated when he moved to the Senate. She finished ahead of Jennifer Smolen of Marysville and Deborah Parker of Tulalip in balloting by the district’s Democratic precinct committee officers. On Monday, the Snohomish County Council will interview the three nominees, then appoint one to represent residents in Everett, Tulalip, and a slice of Marysville through the 2014 election. The four Democrats and one Republican on the County Council are expected to respect the wishes of the party members, and Robinson could be sworn in Monday afternoon. Everett Herald, 12-12-13.
Republican to run for Tami Green’s House seat in 28th
Tacoma restaurant owner Monique Trudnowski said Thursday she is running for the state House in 2014, looking to fill an open seat in the 28th Legislative District. Trudnowski, a Republican, will seek the House seat now occupied by Tami Green (D-28), , of Lakewood. Green plans to challenge appointed state Senator for his Steve O’Ban (R-28) . Trudnowski and her husband Bill co-own the restaurant Adriatic Grill, which they opened by the Tacoma Mall in February 2008. The 28th District Democrats announced last month that two Democratic candidates will also run for the House next year, one for Green’s vacant seat and one against appointed Republican incumbent Dick Muri. John Connelly, a Lakewood native, said he would run for one of the seats. Also announcing was Lakewood City Councilwoman Mary Moss. Tacoma News Tribune, 12-12-13.
Tim King, banned for life from running schools in Oregon, operates online school in Washington
Charter school founder Tim King, who is banned for life from running taxpayer-funded schools in Oregon, is clear to continue running a state-funded online school in Washington, that state’s director of online schools confirmed. King, who agreed with a partner to repay Oregon almost half a million dollars after state prosecutors alleged they obtained that money through fraud, is the Washington-approved operator of Northwest AllPrep, a statewide online school. The school, which educates about 200 students in grades three through 12, is overseen by the Toppenish School District in the Yakima Valley but lists its business address at an office park just off I-205 and SE Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver. Students anywhere in Washington may attend at state expense. Karl Nelson, director of Washington’s Digital Learning Department, said his agency is aware of the sanctions that a judge ordered for King, including the lifetime ban on being financially involved with any Oregon charter school. But he said King has met all the requirements to operate a Washington school and his school’s finances have passed regular on-site audits by the state. Oregonian, 12-11-13.
How Patty Murray won over Dems on budget fight
President Barack Obama was on the phone repeatedly with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) during the high-stakes budget talks and asked how he could help. Murray’s response: I got this. The veteran Washington Democrat, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, had quietly and methodically built a close relationship with a man long vilified by the White House and congressional Democrats: Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican and Mitt Romney’s running mate. But after private negotiations with each other, starting in the Senate dining room exactly a year ago and culminating after Murray’s tense talks with furious House Democrats, the two were able to do what seemed impossible in a gridlocked Congress: Reach a bipartisan budget accord. Politico, 12-13-13.
“Left-leaning’ Obama advisor has major corporate ties
John Podesta of the Cednter for American Progress, named a senior adviser to President Obama, is not currently a lobbyist and therefore does not have to worry about the Obama administration’s self-imposed ban on hiring lobbyists to administration jobs. But he will nonetheless arrive at the White House after having run an organization that has taken millions of dollars in corporate donations in recent years, and has its own team of lobbyists who have pushed an agenda that sometimes echoes the interests of these corporate supporters. These financial ties offer a hint of the blurry lines in Washington between the research organizations like Podesta’s—which is a virtual external policy arm of the Obama administration — and lobbying shops. The ties could also cause some complications for Podesta as he heads into the West Wing. New York Times, 12-12-13.
Walmart contractor agrees to $4.7 million settlement over wage theft allegations
A contractor that runs warehouses for Walmart has agreed to pay $4.7 million to settle allegations that it cheated workers out of wages, according to documents filed in federal court in California. A group of warehouse workers accused Schneider Logistics, which operates a major Walmart distribution center in Mira Loma, Calif., of failing to pay them for overtime and illegally deducting wages from their paychecks, among other claims. Schneider will not admit fault under the settlement, but it will dish out millions of dollars to 568 workers who handled Walmart goods at the warehouse. A judge granted preliminary approval of the settlement last week. Huffington Post, 12-10-13.
To Think About
The appalling stance of Rand Paul
I don’t put much past politicians. I stay prepared for the worst. But occasionally someone says something so insensitive that it catches me flat-footed. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said Sunday on Fox News: “I do support unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they’re paid for. If you extend it beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers.” This statement strikes at the heart — were a heart to exist — of the divide between conservatives and liberals about whether the social safety net provides temporary help for those who hit hard times or functions as a kind of glue to keep them stuck there. The poor are easy to pick on. They are the great boogeymen and women, dragging us down, costing us money, gobbling up resources. That seems to be the conservative sentiment. We have gone from a war on poverty in this country to a war on the poor, in which poor people are routinely demonized and scapegoated and attacked, and conservatives have led the charge. Charles Blow, New York Times, 12-11-13.