Monday, July 28, 2014
NEW AT THE STAND
IAFF calls out looters
of public pensions
Across America, state budgets are being balanced on the backs of current and former public employees by breaking commitments to fund their defined-benefit retirement plans. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is the latest to go this route, warning that he plans to skip a couple (more) yearly installments against the state's pension liability due to an unexpected revenue shortfall. "Promises were made that can't be kept," said the Republican presidential hopeful. "Welcome to the real world, folks." ... Check out an excellent new video produced by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) reminds us that, especially for fire fighters who won't receive Social Security benefits, these defined-benefit pensions are deferred wages, not some gold-plated luxury, and they are absolutely necessary to keep them out of poverty. Read more.
Today's news posted at The Stand:
? In today's NY Times — Corporate artful dodgers — Apologists for "inversion," the tax-avoidance strategy du jour, tend to claim that high taxes are driving businesses out of America, are indeed talking nonsense. These businesses aren't moving production or jobs overseas -- and they're still earning their profits right here in the U.S.A. All they’re doing is dodging taxes on those profits. Congress could crack down on this tax dodge -- it's already illegal for a company to claim that its legal domicile is someplace where it has little real business, and tightening the criteria for declaring a company non-American could block many of the inversions now taking place.
? At Vox.com — Corporations used to pay almost one-third of federal taxes. Now it's one-tenth. — Corporate tax revenues have declined as a share of GDP over the years, but individual tax revenues have held steady, according to a 2013 GAO report. Corporations account for a much smaller share of the tax revenue pie than they used to. In 1952, corporations accounted for 32.1 percent of federal revenue. As of 2013, it was less than 10 percent.
? In the Seattle Times — Boeing's McNerney apologizes for remark about 'cowering' workers — Boeing CEO Jim McNerney apologized Friday in a companywide message for telling analysts that he won't retire after turning 65 next month because "the heart will still be beating, the employees will still be cowering."
? In today's News Tribune — Transportation forum on SR 167 scheduled for Tuesday at UWT — Pierce County community and business leaders plan to put state lawmakers and their possible replacements on the spot about funding a long-awaited extension of state Route 167 this week. The SR 167 Completion Coalition is putting together a candidates’ forum on transportation Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Philip Hall at the University of Washington Tacoma.
? Last week in the News Tribune — To support the completion of SR 167, support its funding (by Dick Marzano and Tom Pierson) — Most legislators are for the completion of SR 167 and projects like it. What we face for the most part is a complete shortage of key leaders who will come out and support the way it must be funded. Being "for" a project but against the way we must pay for it is irresponsible, misleading and not supportive; it amounts to opposition.
? In the P.S. Business Journal — Investigative report vindicates insurance chief's deputy in whistleblower case — The report concludes that Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler's top deputy did not commit ex parte, or improper, contact with the Judge Patricia Petersen as accused.
? In the News Tribune — State Sen. Pam Roach pays mileage refund for campaign business — The Auburn Republican agreed Saturday to pay back more than $4,500 to the state for improperly charging taxpayers for mileage to pick up mail at a post-office box where she received both official and campaign mail.
? In today's (Everett) Herald — $1.3M settlement reached for county workers over health benefits — Leaders from the union that represents most Snohomish County employees say they received their largest-ever settlement this month for $1.3 million. The dispute stems from how the county has been administering health-care benefits. Under the settlement, no lump sum will go out. Instead, the money is being applied to lower what union employees pay in insurance premiums, in some cases, to just a few dollars a month. Changes took effect with paychecks last month.
? In the Oregonian — Longshore union, port operators call talks 'productive,' take this week off — Talks on a new contract for the longshore workers will pause until Monday, Aug. 4, so the ILWU can focus on contract negotiations with three grain handlers, Columbia Grain, United Grain and Louis Dreyfus Commodities.
? At GeekWire — Seattle City Council asks Bezos to treat Amazon’s security guards better — All nine councilmembers penned a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, asking that he address concerns shared by the Seattle Human Rights Commission over the treatment of workers hired by Security Industry Specialists, an Amazon subcontractor.
EDITOR'S NOTE — For more information, visit StandForSecurity.org.
? In the Tri-City Herald — Estakio Beltran looks to be 'effective voice' in 4th Congressional District — A foster kid and Gonzaga University graduate, he hopes voters will send him to Congress "to be an effective voice for this community that raised me" and an advocate for all of Eastern Washington. Beltran, of Yakima, is running as a Democrat for the seat long held by retiring Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA).
? In The Hill — Deal struck on VA reform bill — Leaders in the House and Senate have reached a deal on legislation to reform the Veterans Affairs Department and are poised to unveil it on Monday. A spokesman for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says an agreement has been reached that will "deal with both the short-term and long-term needs of the VA."
? At Politico — Export-Import Bank faces danger from all sides — Two competing proposals would reform the U.S. export credit agency as part of a reauthorization deal, but they have been stymied by party infighting and leaders’ procedural disputes. Conservative groups like Club for Growth, Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity have become only more entrenched, seeing the bank’s expiration as a winnable policy goal just weeks ahead of November’s midterm elections.
EDITOR'S NOTE — It’s Kochs v. Boeing! What's "Shutdown Cathy" to do? (P.S. You reap what you sow.)
? In today's News Tribune — Republican Senate obstruction is decapitating U.S. embassies (editorial) — The magnitude of the problem is shocking. The United States has embassies in 169 nations. Nearly a quarter of them currently have no ambassador to represent America.
? In today's NY Times — Fast-food workers intensify fight for $15 an hour — Crowding over the weekend into an expo center in this suburb west of Chicago, four miles from McDonald’s headquarters, some 1,200 fast-food workers from across the country wore boldly lettered T-shirts proclaiming “We Are Worth More” and “Raise Up for $15.” It was by far the largest gathering of fast-food workers, and it was largely underwritten by SEIU, a powerhouse with two million members known for unionizing hospital workers, home care aides and janitors.
? From AP — Fast-food workers vow civil disobedience — Comparing their campaign to the civil rights movement, fast food workers from across the country voted Saturday to escalate their efforts for $15-an-hour pay and union membership by using nonviolent civil disobedience.
? In The Hill — Business groups alarmed by rise of 'micro-unions' in workplace — Industry groups fear the arrangements could create havoc by forcing companies to bargain with multiple unions at the same work site. But labor unions and public interest groups say micro-unions will help level the playing field for employees, so that those who want to organize can do so.
? In the Columbian — Safeway’s $9.2B sale approved by shareholders — Safeway shareholders on Friday approved the company’s $9.2 billion sale to Albertsons. A Safeway spokesman said, "We don't expect any stores to close as a result of the transaction."
? At Politico — I tried to live on minimum wage for a week (by Gov. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio) — For all of last week, I worked hard to live on the budget of a minimum wage worker. That meant I had $77 to spend on food, transportation, activities and other personal expenses for the week. I didn’t make it.
? In The Onion — Scientists: Rich people, poor people may have shared common ancestor — "After conducting careful DNA analysis, our research team was taken aback to discover that the wealthy and the working class actually have a considerable number of genetic similarities," said study co-author Kenneth Chang, a Cornell University geneticist.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…
? From Funny or Die — Mary Poppins quits (with Kristin Bell)
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.