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Wednesday, January 29, 2020




ATTEND TODAY’S MARCH AND RALLY — Stand with Swedish-Providence strikers in their fight for safe staffing, safe patient care and justice for our communities on Wednesday, Jan. 29 from 3:30 to 6 p.m. in Seattle. Participants will be marching from the Swedish First Hill campus at 747 Broadway at 3:30 p.m. toward Westlake Park, 401 Pine St. At 4:30 p.m., participants will be joined by elected officials, representatives from local organizations, and community supporters at a rally. Together, all will be urging Swedish-Providence to sign a fair contract that addresses severe understaffing and prioritizes patient safety! RSVP at the Facebook event page.

ALSO at The Stand — Here’s how you can support Swedish strikers

► In today’s Seattle Times — Swedish caregivers strike: Pickets and chants met with ‘thousands’ of outside workers — The first day of the three-day strike by 7,800 health-care workers at Swedish Medical Center facilities went like this: Pickets, chants and emotions were met with management bringing in what it said were “thousands” of outside workers, and vowing that if negotiations begin anew, “all bets are off the table.” Lizette Vanunu, a night-shift internal-care-unit charge nurse, who has worked at the Swedish First Hill campus for 32 years, said that 10 months of negotiating, and now the strike, have taken their toll: “There are hard feelings. We’ve lost faith in our employer. It’s going to take a long time to get over this.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — In the years since Providence Health & Services took over the formerly independent Swedish Health Services eight years ago, Swedish nurses and other frontline healthcare workers have complained about staffing shortages jeopardizing patient safety. Swedish CEO Guy Hudson said Swedish was shifting to a “more cost-effective model of care,” but nurses have sounded alarms about ongoing staff reductions, cost-cutting and profits being prioritized over patient safety.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Swedish Edmonds nurses and caregivers begin 3-day walkout — Fill-in workers Scabs (fixed it) crossed picket lines Tuesday and are costing Swedish $11 million… Outside the hospitals, security guards in long yellow coats are providing extra security during the strike. The union says it’s a scare tactic.

MORE coverage from the Associated Press, KING, KIRO, KOMO, and the Redmond Reporter.

► From The Stranger — “Patients Before Profit”: The three-day strike at Swedish begins — Betsy Scott, an oncology nurse who has worked at Swedish for 38 years, thinks offering higher wages would allow the hospital to recruit more people, especially those who can’t afford the region’s sky-high living costs. “People are leaving and we can’t recruit anybody,” she said, adding that short-staffing among the hospital’s environmental service workers recently forced Swedish to hire contract workers to clean “blood and fluids” from First Hill’s emergency department. Scott also said hospital managers sent “multiple nasty emails” in the days before the strike, which she found discouraging. “It’s gotten very negative and mean,” Scott said. “We wonder how we’re going to go back and have trust and faith in our management after this strike.”




► In today’s Seattle Times — Alaska Air reports surging profit and plans to hire almost 2,800 this year — Carrying more passengers at higher fares while burning cheaper jet fuel was a winning combination last year for Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. The Seattle-based company announced strong 2019 profits Tuesday and said it plans to hire nearly 2,800 employees in 2020, mostly in the Pacific Northwest.

► In the Portland Tribune — Harassment, injury claims spurred union at Portland bakery — Mishandling of sexual harassment complaints and fears of repetitive motion injuries ignited a unionization effort at a Portland bakery, workers’ reps say. After first talks of organizing began this summer, a majority of the 44 bread makers and dishwashers at Grand Central Bakery’s Portland production facility voted to unionize late last year.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Why is Amazon so touchy about its employees speaking out on climate change? The answer’s right across the lake. (by Danny Westneat) — “Microsoft plans to be carbon negative (by 2030) sooner than we want to be carbon neutral (by 2040). How can Amazon claim to be ‘thinking big’?” wrote Duncan Scott, an Amazon software engineer… Microsoft. You have to say it in the same tone Jerry Seinfeld used to say “Newman.” Or to put it in more contemporary terms: It seems as though Microsoft is starting to live rent-free in Amazon’s head like Obama does in Trump’s. Morally superior, and so, also highly annoying.




► In today’s Olympian — High volume leads to payout delay in family leave program — Officials with Washington state’s new paid family leave law are warning of delays in payouts of the weekly benefits due to the high volume of people applying since the law took effect at the start of the month. Within the first three weeks of the program going live, more than 22,000 people have applied, which is the amount officials had estimated they would receive in the first three months.

The Stand (Jan. 20, 2020) — Thank you for Paid Family & Medical Leave

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Documents from Shea investigation show detailed plans for action — Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) laid out detailed plans to prepare for dramatic “government escalation” at an Oregon standoff and to protect the ability of a Priest River, Idaho, veteran to keep his guns, documents released Tuesday by the House leaders indicate.

► In today’s News Tribune — Legislature making progress on bills addressing homelessness — Several bills are expected to move forward in the House and Senate that will “continue to move us in the direction where we are taking care of people who are experiencing homelessness,” said Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver).

► From Crosscut — ‘It’s a fairness thing’: Testing positive for pot wouldn’t disqualify you from most WA jobs under new bill — Weed use has been legal in Washington state since 2012, but so has refusing to hire adults who lawfully consume the drug.




► From Reuters — Boeing swings to annual loss as 737 MAX costs near $19 billion — Boeing on Wednesday swung to its first annual loss since 1997 on mounting 737 MAX costs and indicated it would again cut production of its bigger 787 aircraft, currently its main source of cash. Boeing had previously estimated an around $8 billion price tag for the MAX fallout. Boeing, which is producing the 787 at 14 aircraft per month, said in October it expects to lower the production in late 2020 to 12 per month, amid a drought of orders from China. The company now expects to further lower 787 production to 10 per month in early 2021.




► In today’s Washington Post — McConnell tells senators he doesn’t yet have votes to block witnesses in Trump impeachment trial — In a closed-door meeting after White House lawyers’ closing remarks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told colleagues he doesn’t have the votes to block witnesses. Just four GOP senators would have to join with Democrats to produce the majority needed to call witnesses — an outcome McConnell has sought to avoid since it could invite new controversy and draw out the divisive proceedings. An initial vote to allow witnesses, expected Friday, does not ensure witnesses would actually be called, since the Senate would have to subsequently hold separate votes on summoning each individual witness.

► From the AP — Mitch McConnell says the GOP can’t block witnesses — yet

► From Politico — Poll: Nearly 6 in 10 oppose Trump’s use of executive privilege to muzzle witnesses — The new poll shows that just over a quarter of voters, 26 percent, think the president should be allowed to use executive privilege to muzzle potential bombshell witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton. That’s compared with 57 percent who say Trump should not be allowed to invoke the powers of the presidency to block certain witnesses.




► From In These Times — Trump’s NLRB quietly makes it riskier to wear union schwag at work — The Republican-controlled National Labor Relations Board ended 2019 by rolling back another round of Obama-era regulations and handing down a number of pro-employer decisions. One of those rulings restricts workers from wearing union buttons and other pro-labor insignia.

The Stand (Dec. 31, 2019) — Politicized NLRB failing to protect America’s working people




► From the AP — UNITE HERE labor union staying neutral in Democratic primary — The international union representing hotel, restaurant and casino workers said Tuesday that it will not endorse a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary. The union’s decision to stay out likely reflects strong divisions within its ranks for who is the best candidate. Unions now find themselves in a similar role to the broader Democratic electorate, still undecided between many options.

► From Politico — Trump allies are handing out cash to black voters — Organizers have begun holding events in black communities where they lavish praise on the president while handing out thousands of dollars in giveaways.




► In the LA Times — A West Coast union faces bankruptcy. Here’s why unions nationwide are unnerved. — The union that handles every shipping container that crosses West Coast docks is bracing for bankruptcy. It’s a rare prospect for a bargaining group, and it’s rattling organized labor nationally… Labor leaders fear that the award could embolden other employers. The ILWU’s predicament reminds some labor managers of the pre-1930s era, when judges hit unions with fines and injunctions before Congress passed federal protections.

The Stand (Dec. 13, 2019) — ILWU: Our union will survive this challenge

► From Vice — Google fired an engineer who wrote code telling Googlers they had a right to organize — Kathryn Spiers is the fifth Google employee involved in labor activism at the company who has been fired for violating security policies within the past month.

► In the Washington Post — Players considering whether to proceed in CBA negotiations with NFL with 17-game season — Leaders of the NFL Players Association are considering this week whether they want to move forward with the league and team owners in negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement that would include a 17-game regular season.

► From The Onion — Seattle Mariners offhandedly suggest Astros’, Red Sox’ titles be awarded to them instead — Mariners president Kevin Mather: “We were right around .500—not great, not terrible—it would just be a nice, neutral gesture. There has never been a whiff of scandal around signals or PEDs with us. We are obviously clean, and I think maybe we deserve this.”


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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