Labor Neighbor Radio
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
is National Consumer Protection Week. It's supposed to heighten our awareness that there are bunches of scams
out there.....like the guy with the Pakistani accent that keeps calling my phone claiming he's with the Microsoft Windows
technical department and wants access to my computer. He always hangs up when I tell him he has reached the FBI
The state Attorney General has jumped
on this national observance to say you should contact his office if you think you are being scammed.
Similarly, this week, the Insurance Commissioner said he has an entire unit devoted to helping consumers experiencing
trouble with their policies or companies. Said he had more than 5,000 inquiries from consumers last year and recovered
more than 8 million dollars for people.
In Olympia maybe a dozen ex smokers who tried to quit with pills and patches
and gum came to the legislature to testify for E-cigarettes and against the 95% tax some lawmakers propose.
Electronic cigarettes are generally tobacco-free and produce harmless vapor instead of smoke, so users consider them less
(sot) Its called a cigarette, but its not....its a healthy alternative.
Career smokers say E-cigarettes have really helped them.
(sot) I feel like it saved my life.
We don't know whether the tax would be intended to raise money, or discourage use of E cigarettes, but two witnesses
said such a tax would be counter productive
At somewhere around 9 bucks.... a 95% tax would increase the cost of one e-cigarette to 17 dollars.......the cost of two and
a half packs of real cigarettes.
Experts say things are going better with Washingtons Obamacare insurarance exchange,
but 15,000 applications are stuck in the system and those people aren't getting their insurance. The hangup seems to
be in coordinating all the information required for eligibility.
Unions are celebrating in Oregon. The
hated campaign to make that a Right to Work state ....that is, one in which workers represented by unions are not required
to share the cost of collective bargaining....is over. It was a trade off. Unions agreed to drop several initiatives
to raise taxes on rich people and big corporations and the Right to Workers agreed to drop their ballot initiative.
Right to work laws are designed less to give people worker rights, than to weaken unions. Where they are in effect,
take Arizona and New Mexico as examplesn they result in lower wages, and benefits ,lower safety standards and less involvement
by employees in their own working conditions.
Here, during tax time theres been publicity about all
the corporations who don't pay any taxes because of all the tax breaks available. Boeing is a prime example.
One of the people that keeps track of this is Marilyn Watkins from the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle.
(sot) "Many of them are doing the same thing at the state level, too, moving assets around from state to state and
exploiting the variations in state laws around corporate taxation, in order to minimize what they pay to state governments,"
Watkins said. "And that means all of us are having to make up the difference."
Her new report says 288 major
corporations are not paying any federal tax...and haven't since 2008.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a workers compensation
case against Amazon.com. Workers claim they should be paid for standing in line waiting for security screening...apparently
to prove they didn't steal anything from the warehouse. Amazon says that's not work time. The attorney for the
workers say they are owed $300 million dollars.
An anti TV consolidation editorial in the Seattle Times
says the take over of KOMO by Sinclair Broadcasting and King TV by Gannett is not good for the community...it results in homogenized
news content that helps the bottom line, but hurts public service.
Labor Neigbor Radio is funded, in
part by the Martin Luther King Labor Council
I'm John Sandifer
Labor Neighbor Radio
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
than one in four American workers show up at work when they are sick....even though they could sicken their colleagues.
This is in a new survey published by the Huffington Post. Most said their boss required them to....a third said
they needed the money.
Not coincidentally, the Washington State Senate Commerce and Labor Committee is holding a public
hearing today on House Bill 1313....which would require businesses with at least five employees to have paid sick days off.
This is strongly supported by the Labor Council which has been urging its membership to put pressure on lawmakers to get it
approved. Thing is...many of the people going to work sick work in restaurants, grocery stores, medical centers and
the like.....and we wonder where our cold or flu came from. Opposition comes from Republicans and business owners.
Republicans are also promoting a bill to let business owners off the hook if they fail to pay minimum wages
or overtime. It's the "Oh...I didn't know" defense. Senator Doug Erickson argued that the Feds do it.
Democrat John McCoy said it won't help workers.
Senator Karen Keiser says we've been
To show it does happen, just this week a drywall contractor in Issaquah agreed to pay $550,000
in a Department of Labor Lawsuit. He allegedly failed to pay 400 workers overtime....over three years.
If state Republican senators had their way...he would have just said OH, I didn't know."
you know the state Senate proposed a budget this week, but the Governor said it's short on money for public schools.
He proposes closing more tax breaks to raise more money for schools.
Does Washington need a voting
rights act? Some say not all communities have a fair chance to vote. Greaceila Villanueva, for instance,
in Yakima, who ran for the school board...and lost against an opponent who did not campaign and eventually pulled out of the
(sot) "All people have the same needs," she says. "We want to have safe neighborhoods, we want
to have good schools, access to good quality health care. And I think all groups, really, want to have an opportunity to be
at the table, to have their thoughts and decisions be part of the process."
Villanueva claims voting is a difficult
process for Hispanics in Yakima county.
Teamster union school bus drivers are not happy with First Student....the
private contractor that provides busing for Seattle Public Schools. They were reported preparing for a strike,
over sick leave and health issues.
Marijuana will bring nearly $190 million dollars into the state bank account in the four years after the legal market
Labor Neigbor Radio is funded, in part by Longshoremen
I'm John Sandifer
Labor Neighbor Radio
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
good news that Boeing has picked Everett for building the composite wings for the 777x.
This is a
new industry and the plant will be huge. The wings are made from advanced composite materials and represent the future
of flight. Putting it in place here means decades of work for locals.
You'll recall that
the battle with Boeing in locating the triple-7X building program....was over whether the Machinists would give up their defined
pension program in order to get the work.
Now a similar demand is emerging in the state legislature, as it deals with
state government employees. A Republican bill seeks to remove their pensions and replace them with 401K plans....something
that is happening all over corporate America.
The President of the Retired Public Employees Council of Washington,
Gwen Rench says that would be a bad deal.
(sot) "The reason you stay as a public employee is because one of the
benefits is being able to have a defined pension at the end of your service," she points out. "To take that away,
you'd probably have more turnover in employees, which isn't exactly saving the state any money."
Her group says
Washington's pension system is in the top four best funded in the nation, and doesn't need to be changed.
let you know about various scams aimed at you and your friends. One of the latest regards USA Payday Loans.
The State Department of Financial Institutions warns about this outfit which telephones people with offers of easy loans....provided
you pay a fee up front. One guy paid over one-thousand dollars in fees....and never got his loan. Duh.
Turns out the Seattle address of USA Payday Loans doesn't exist, the license number is not listed by the state and the call
was traced to India.
Lawmakers are putting additional restrictions of drinking boaters. Senator Pam Roach.
New legislation would slap fines on boaters who refuse a breathalyzer test.
In the house, four new
bills go after the so-called underground economy: businesses that avoid taxes and benefits by hiring employees
and calling them independent contractors. In general the law assumes that a worker is an employee unless he has pretty
good proof that he s not. One of these bills further defines what an employee is.
Labor Neighbor radio got a
nice mention by the State Labor Council website this week in an article that asserts that Labor oriented Radio is going the
way of the Do Do bird...the few remaining labor programs and stations are fighting to stay on the air..
press reports that older Americans are doing better under the health law. Those who have lost jobs, or are self employed
and don't yet qualify for medicare...folks in their 50's and 60's, ... are now able to get basic and affordable health insurance
plans. They make up 31 percent of new enrollees...the largest segment by age group.
If you were living here
in 1990, you will remember that it was this week thirty five years ago that the Hood Canal Bridge went into the water during
80 to 120 mile an hour wind gusts. Of course since then we've seen the Lake Washington Floating Bridge and the
Skagit River bridge go down too. But the most famous failure of all remains Galloping Gertie....over the Tacoma Narrows.
We someties don't have a lot of luck with bridges.
Labor Neigbor Radio
is funded, in part by Machinists Local 309
I'm John Sandifer