Friday, March 6, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 6 — Newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by a new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, continue to pop up around the Puget Sound region. In total, 14 people in Washington state are known to have died from the disease.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand:
WSLC temporarily closes its Seattle and Olympia offices — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is choosing to proactively follow the guidance from King County Public Health to limit public gatherings and implement telecommuting for employees. Therefore, the WSLC offices in Seattle and Olympia will be closed through March, or until we hear guidance that suggests a different course of action. All meetings scheduled at our offices in Seattle and Olympia – with the exception of legislative meetings – will be rescheduled for later dates.
Sen. Murray introduces emergency paid sick leave legislation — This emergency paid sick days legislation requires all employers to allow workers to accrue seven days of paid sick leave and to provide an additional 14 days available immediately in the event of any public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis.
Washington state’s unions tackle COVID-19 — Labor leaders huddle on best practices to protect the workers who are protecting the public.
► In today’s Wenatchee World — ‘Presumptive positive’ COVID-19 patient in critical condition in Wenatchee — The patient, a Quincy resident in their 80s, is isolated at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee. She didn’t report any recent travel outside of the country, indicating the illness may have been acquired locally. If confirmed, this would be the first case of COVID-19 in Eastern Washington.
► In today’s News Tribune — State sets up income, health care protections as number of COVID-19 cases rises to 70 — Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday said he has asked the the state Department of Labor and Industries to ensure compensation protections for health care workers and first responders who can’t work because they are being quarantined or may have contracted COVID-19. State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said he is issuing an emergency order on Thursday to health insurers, requiring them to waive co-pays and deductibles for anyone requiring testing and treatment for COVID-19.
► From MLK Labor — Workers should be made whole for any pay lost due to the coronavirus — We call on public officials and businesses to commit to ensuring workers are made whole for any time missed due to the coronavirus. Large businesses should pay workers if their shift is canceled. Workers at small and low-margin businesses should have access to unemployment insurance funds if they are forced to miss time.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Pence pledges ‘full support’ to Washington in COVID-19 fight
► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘Press 3 for coronavirus:’ Even a woman at outbreak’s epicenter can’t cut through bureaucracy to get tested (by Danny Westneat)
► LIVE from the NY Times — Cases of infection pass 100,000, WHO calls for wider action — The world’s leading health official implored international leaders to unleash the full power of their governments to combat the new coronavirus outbreak. But around the world, as the number of cases passed 100,000, governments have displayed signs of paralysis, obfuscation and a desire to protect their own interests, even as death tolls passed 3,200 and global capitals were so threatened by infection that politicians and health officials tested positive for the illness. In the United States, a survey of nurses found that only 29 percent had a plan to isolate potentially infected patients… Trump on Friday signed an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill to confront the coronavirus outbreak.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, the White House predictably presents its solution for any and every problem… corporate tax cuts.
► From HuffPost — Nurses blast government, hospital readiness for coronavirus — The union National Nurses United surveyed its members and found they were lacking the equipment, training and clear guidelines they need right now.
► In today’s Washington Post —This regulation could protect health-care workers from the coronavirus. It hangs in limbo. — The draft regulation would require employers to provide protective gear for health-care workers and to create infection-control plans, which could include building isolation rooms. The Obama administration was working to adopt the regulation, but the Trump administration in 2017 moved it to a less urgent, long-term agenda and work on it stopped.
► From ITPI — Unions helped stop the spread of Ebola. They’re trying again with coronavirus. — Once again, working people are using their collective power to demand workplace protections, sick leave policy changes, training, and other measures to slow the spread of an infectious disease.
► In today’s Oregonian — Oregon jury’s $93.6 million in damages verdict against longshore union reduced to $19 million — The former operator of the Port of Portland’s container terminal, ICTSI Oregon, can either accept the lower amount or seek a new trial solely to determine the appropriate damages. The judge gave ICTSI Oregon two weeks to inform the court of its decision. Dan Jackson, attorney for the ILWU, argued that the “excessive and unreasonable’’ $93.6 million award would bankrupt the union.
The Stand (Dec. 13, 2019) — ILWU: Our union will survive this challenge (by ILWU President William E. Adams) — The struggles that the ILWU is facing have brought us to a watershed moment… Rest assured, there are no funeral plans and the ILWU will survive this challenge. We must remain calm and focused.
► In the NW Labor Press — Safeway.com drivers become the first home grocery delivery workers to unionize — A unit of 53 Portland-area Safeway.com delivery drivers voted 30-18 to join the Teamsters… The campaign began Sept. 30 with a shot in the dark by brand-new organizer Bobby Rispler on his first day on the job. Safeway.com drivers in Olympia and Seattle had joined the Teamsters and won a $2-an-hour raise, a “90-10” health insurance plan and a $1 an hour pension contribution. Rispler decided to talk to Portland-area drivers.
► In today’s Columbian — Camas paper mill’s future continues to unfold (editorial) — Predictions of the Camas paper mill’s demise, apparently, have been greatly exaggerated. Two years after a restructuring led to the loss of about 300 jobs at the plant, the Camas-Washougal Post-Record reports that Georgia-Pacific has announced a $15 million capital investment in the plant. While we hope that represents a long-term commitment to the facility and the community, Camas is well-positioned to prosper with or without the paper mill.
► In today’s Columbian — Report: Vancouver Public Schools keeps black kids out of class longer than whites — Black students in Vancouver Public Schools are kept out of school longer than their white classmates, particularly for minor infractions.
► In the NY Times — ‘It’s more than I imagined’: Boeing’s new CEO confronts its challenges — In his eight weeks on the job, Boeing’s chief executive, David L. Calhoun, has come to one overriding conclusion: Things inside the aerospace giant were even worse than he had thought. In a wide-ranging interview this week, Calhoun criticized his predecessor in blunt terms and said he was focused on transforming the internal culture of a company mired in crisis… Calhoun said former CEO Dennis Muilenburg had turbocharged Boeing’s production rates before the supply chain was ready, a move that sent Boeing shares to an all-time high but compromised quality.
► From The Hill — House passes bill to expand TSA worker protections — The House passed legislation Thursday aimed at expanding worker protections for Transportation Security Administration officers to put them on par with other federal employees. Lawmakers passed the measure on a 230-171 vote, with 14 Republicans joining Democrats in support of the bill. The bill would provide TSA workers with full collective bargaining rights and implement whistleblower protections.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Not a single member of Congress from Washington state voted against this important labor-backed legislation! Actually, Rep. Denny Heck (D-10th-WA) was the only one to vote “yes.” The rest didn’t vote at all, because they were joining Vice President Mike Pence on Air Force Two flight back to this Washington.
► From The Hill — Vulnerable Republicans dodge questions on support for lawsuit to overturn ACA — The Supreme Court said this week it would take up the case, thrusting the issue to the forefront and posing a headache for Republicans in tough races this year. “I’m not saying whether I support it or not, it’s in the hands of the Supreme Court now so we’ll see,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Look for a similar response from the office of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-3rd-WA).
► From the AP — FBI cites ‘pure and simple greed’ as former UAW president Gary Jones charged in alleged embezzlement scheme — Prosecutors on Thursday charged the former president of the United Auto Workers with corruption, alleging he conspired with others to embezzle more than $1 million to treat themselves to private villas, golf outings, boozy meals, good cigars and horseback rides on beaches.
EDITOR’S NOTE — “All UAW members including the UAW leadership are and should be angry about the charges of former UAW member Gary Jones and his alleged actions,” said the UAW in a statement released Thursday. “This is a violation of trust, a violation of the sacred management of union dues, and goes against everything we believe in as a Union.”
► In the Washington Post — Long voting lines in Texas spotlight concerns about access to the polls — The voting center at Texas Southern University, the historically black university in Houston, was one of a number of such locations around Texas that were plagued by long delays on Super Tuesday, raising questions about the readiness of local election officials and spurring outrage among voting rights advocates. Many cited as a factor the closing of hundreds of precincts around the state after a pivotal Supreme Court decision in 2013.
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 6, 2020
► The Entire Staff of The Stand presents its first ever CONCERT TICKET GIVEAWAY! We have three tickets to see Saturday night’s performance by Colin Hay (formerly of Men at Work) and Kate Dinsmore at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. (The event organizers say it’s still on and they are “encouraging our guests, artists, volunteers, and staff to follow the CDC’s recommended precautionary measures and highly encourage those who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or who may be at increased risk to stay home.”) The first person/people to email us gets the tickets. Let us know if you want one, two, or all three.
In the meantime, these lyrics find some new context amid what Washington state is experiencing. “I can’t get to sleep / I think about the implications/ Of diving in too deep / And possibly the complications / Especially at night / I worry over situations / I know will be alright / Perhaps it’s just imagination.” Stay safe, everybody.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.