Connect with us


Silence kills ● Boeing extends shutdown ● State budget cuts

Monday, April 6, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, April 6 — Washington state appears to be flattening its “curve” — the impact on the hospital system at any one time — according to the latest analysis from UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Its models suggest we hit “peak resource use” on April 2 and project daily COVID-19 deaths will peak today, April 6, before dropping to 18 deaths per day during April 7-9 and declining slowly from there. The state health department on Sunday confirmed an additional 393 cases and 28 deaths from COVID-19 as of 11:59 p.m. Saturday, bringing the state’s totals to 7,984 cases and 338 fatalities.

► A MUST-READ in the Seattle Times — Silencing nurses and doctors will make the coronavirus crisis worse (by Sally Watkins, WSNA Executive Director) — Hospitals are muzzling nurses and other health-care workers in an attempt to preserve their image. While hospitals give media tours touting their sterling response to the COVID-19 crisis, they are simultaneously silencing the voices of workers on the front lines. This doesn’t just hurt nurses and other health-care workers who are risking their lives to treat the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 patients. It also puts the public in harm’s way. Without an accurate understanding of the critical safety issues inside our hospitals, public officials won’t have all the information they need to make wise decisions, and our communities will fail to understand how serious this crisis really is… As front-line caregivers in the state that saw the first COVID-19 deaths, we have experience to share with the rest of the nation, but we can only do so if we’re allowed to speak the truth.

The Stand (April 3) — WSNA: Speak up for PPE, because #SilenceKills

► In the Spokesman-Review — Pullman Regional Hospital faces financial hardships amid preparations to treat coronavirus patients — PRH announced Thursday it would cut all hourly and salary employees’ pay by 25% for the next 60 days. Expected income that would flow in from elective surgeries and outpatient procedures has been dammed up by stay-home orders, while some services have been shut down completely.

► In the Seattle Times — ‘Essential’ but unwanted: Coronavirus reveals another American double standard (by Danny Westneat) — “We will continue to work because we understand that in times of crisis we must show solidarity,” said Familias Unidas por la Justicia, a small union of Mexican farmworkers in Skagit and Whatcom counties. “However we ask ourselves, we are working for what exactly? To maintain the status quo? Get sick and no health care plan for us? Getting paid at poverty levels? Hunted down by ICE?” These are great questions. But they’re great questions whether we’re having a national emergency or not. Can we go back, once this is over, to trying to deport millions of people who the government just acknowledged are a critical national resource?

► In the Seattle Times — Washington state nonprofit files lawsuit saying Fox News misled viewers about coronavirus — A little-known Washington nonprofit has filed a lawsuit against Fox News in King County Superior Court, claiming the news station, its parent companies and owners violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act and acted in bad faith by disseminating false information about the novel coronavirus through its television news broadcasts and minimized the danger posed by the virus as COVID-19 began to explode into a pandemic.

The Stand (April 3) — Journalism profs blast Fox News as ‘a danger to public health’




► In the Seattle Times — Boeing indefinitely extends production shutdown at Washington state plants — Thirty thousand Boeing employees on Wednesday must start taking vacation or sick time, or apply for unemployment, after the region’s largest private employer decided Sunday to keep its Puget Sound plants closed indefinitely. The workers had been paid during the initial two-week work stoppage that began March 25. Boeing has roughly 70,000 employees in the state. The decision affects about 30,000 of them, mostly production workers. Other employees who can work from home will continue to do so. A company spokesman said Boeing will continue to provide medical benefits for all employees during the work stoppage… The tremendous airline collapse means Boeing faces an indefinite period of very low demand for aircraft. Even when production restarts, many airlines won’t want to take the jets they had previously ordered.

Earlier Friday, a management conference call briefed Boeing front-line managers, telling them a return to work Wednesday was still the plan. In that call, managers were told that due to a scarcity of PPE such as masks and gloves, Boeing would not provide PPE to everyone in the factory, only to those in certain confined work areas. That stance had already provoked anger among some workers and opposition from the union. IAM 751 President Jon Holden on Saturday expressed “great concern that Boeing is asking people to work in conditions that will simply continue to pass the virus along.” The new CDC guidance might have made Boeing’s position on PPE untenable.

EDITOR’S NOTE — IAM 751’s message to members: We are working hard to protect your interests during this ever-changing landscape… We will be shifting our efforts to effects bargaining. We will focus on the impacts of this decision (to extend the suspension of production) in regard to areas of concern that include wages, health care, date of return, process to volunteer for available essential work, PPE and social distancing when operations restart, and other safety requirements associated with the Governor’s Stay Home/Stay Safe order, etc.




► In the Spokesman-Review — Inslee cuts state budget, expecting pandemic to cause revenue to drop — With Washington facing a sharp drop in revenue from closed businesses and homebound consumers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Jay Inslee cut some $235 million in state spending for the next 15 months. With a series of vetoes, the governor cut a wide range of programs from the 2019-21 Supplemental Operating Budget. If the Legislature doesn’t decide to replace them next year, it would drop projected spending for the next two-year budget by another $210 million… All cuts involve new programs the Legislature approved this year, which were also vetoed; spending for current programs wasn’t cut, although lawmakers could do that in the coming months.

► In the Yakima H-R — With governor’s exemption, construction continues on many public projects — One exemption is for projects that “further a public purpose related to a public entity.” That includes publicly funded projects and public facilities, such as schools and low-income housing. Construction has continued on several publicly funded projects in the Yakima Valley, but not all.

► In the Yakima H-R — Washington construction industry makes case for getting back to work — safely — Over the past week, local, state and national construction industry groups and state and federal legislators have sent letters to Inslee, urging him to reconsider his position that most construction, including residential, is nonessential.

► In the Tri-City Herald — Tri-Cities homebuilders make plea to Inslee

► In the Seattle Times — In age of coronavirus and social distancing, states looking to Washington’s vote-by-mail system — The state’s vote-by-mail system — one of only five in the nation — has been generally touted as more secure against election hacking and its convenience as good for voter turnout.

► In the Washington Post — Trump, GOP challenge efforts to make voting easier amid coronavirus pandemic — Trump and a growing number of Republican leaders are aggressively challenging efforts to make voting easier as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts elections, accusing Democrats of opening the door to fraud — and, in some cases, admitting fears that expanded voting access could politically devastate the GOP. Around the country, election officials trying to ensure ballot access and protect public health in upcoming contests face an increasingly coordinated backlash from the right. Much of the onslaught of litigation has been funded by the Republican National Committee, which has sought to block emergency measures related to covid-19, such as proactively mailing ballots to voters sheltering at home. “I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting,” Trump, who voted absentee in New York in 2018, said at a news conference Friday, offering no examples. “I think people should vote [in person] with voter ID. I think voter ID is very important, and the reason they don’t want voter ID is because they intend to cheat.”

► In the Seattle Times — State Supreme Court denies Seattle’s bid for income tax on wealthy households — The court has denied Seattle’s bid to reinstate an income tax on wealthy households, declining to hear the city’s case and dealing a major blow to advocates for tax system reform in the state.

► In the Tri-City Herald — Benton County is No. 1 in the state for filling out census questionnaires — Washington also is ahead of the curve with the second-highest rate west of the Rockies. Census Day was April 1, and the average U.S. response rate to the questionnaire is so far 41.3 percent. Washington has a response rate of 45 percent.

The Stand (April 1) — Census Day: Take 5 minutes to be counted! — If you haven’t already, fill out a census questionnaire today.




► From SEIU Healthcare 1199NW — Murray, healthcare workers call on Trump administration to drive transparent response to protect healthcare workers — Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and frontline healthcare workers from SEIU 775, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, UFCW 21 and WSNA called on the Trump administration to show the leadership the country needed since before this crisis began, and ensure all healthcare workers have the personal protective equipment they need to safely care for their patients and elderly clients.

► From Common Dreams — Under cover of pandemic, Trump’s NLRB moves to make unionizing ‘nearly impossible for workers’ — “The Trump NLRB takes this moment to publish a rule that will make it harder both for workers to unionize and to keep unions they have. Shameful does not even begin to describe this.”

► From Roll Call — Mental health workers seek protections during COVID-19 crisisAFL-CIO warns that psychiatric facility and VA employees endure especially dangerous conditions.


► A MUST-READ in the Washington Post — The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged — By the time Trump proclaimed himself a wartime president — and the coronavirus the enemy — the United States was already on course to see more of its people die than in the wars of Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined. The United States will likely go down as the country that was supposedly best prepared to fight a pandemic but ended up catastrophically overmatched by the novel coronavirus, sustaining heavier casualties than any other nation. It did not have to happen this way. But, from the Oval Office to the CDC, political and institutional failures cascaded through the system and opportunities to mitigate the pandemic were lost.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This is the definitive investigation into the federal government’s chaotic failed response to COVID-19.

► In the Washington Post — Americans warned of ‘Pearl Harbor moment’ as Trump tells parts of the nation to brace for ‘peak’ — Americans are being advised to steel themselves for one of the most agonizing weeks in living memory, as Trump and his advisers predicted parts of the country were nearing a peak of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. “This is going to be the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly,” the surgeon general said. “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country.”

► From Politico — How Trump surprised his own team by ruling out Obamacare — Insurers were prepared to extend coverage, HHS officials were largely on board, but the White House refused to reopen enrollment.

► In the Washington Post — The jobless statistics should guide Congress and the president on the next phase of recovery (editorial) — The situation calls for a swift and strong response targeted at these areas of greatest need. One popular idea — a massive infrastructure plan — might be meritorious in theory but would take months or years to work through the economy, and the benefits would be difficult to target. More likely to be effective would be one or more additional rounds of cash assistance to households, possibly continuing until some public health or employment target had been reached, along with additional support to small business payrolls. State and local governments may also need additional fiscal support, lest they, too, be forced to make undue budget cuts in education, public heath, water and other basic services upon which local economies depend.

► In the Washington Post — Here’s how to make up for lost time on COVID-19 (by Bill Gates) — First, we need a consistent nationwide approach to shutting down. Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely. Second, the federal government needs to step up on testing. Far more tests should be made available. Finally, we need a data-based approach to developing treatments and a vaccine. Scientists are working full speed on both; in the meantime, leaders can help by not stoking rumors or panic buying.

► In the Washington Post — Foot-dragging GOP governors are imperiling the whole country (editorial) — Those governors, all Republicans, have been enabled by Trump, who points to states that don’t yet “have the problem,” and remarks that it’s “awfully tough to say, ‘Close it down.’ ” They are guilty of an abdication of leadership whose consequences will be measured in body bags.

► In the NY Times — He went to Jared (by Maureen Dowd) — Jared Kushner is leading a group, mocked within the government as “the Slim Suit crowd,” that is providing one more layer of confusion — and inane consultant argot — to the Trump administration’s laggardly, disorganized response. Heaven help us.




► From Business Insider — America’s largest trucking companies won’t reveal how — or if — they’ll get their drivers home if they get coronavirus, and truckers are terrified — Marten Transport, one of the largest trucking companies in the U.S., refused to help pay one sick driver for the time it would take to drive the truck back to the yard in which their car was parked. The company, which generated $843 million in revenue last year, instead encouraged the driver to quarantine in their truck… Truck drivers are vital to keeping North America functioning at all times, but even more so during a pandemic, and trucking companies find themselves under major pressure to keep supplies moving. But in the absence of clearly-communicated policies around sick leave, truck drivers are starting to panic about how they’ll get home in the worst-case scenario. The fear of getting stranded with a deadly illness like the coronavirus has led Tony, a truck driver who works for one large trucking company, to lose trust in his employer. “These truck companies are giddy about the surge in supplies for right now,” he told Business Insider. “They don’t care about much about our safety.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — If you work for a trucking company — or any other company — that doesn’t respect you, your family or your work, you need a union. Find out more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for respect on the job and a fair return for your hard work. Or just go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► From NBC — Carpenters union to Massachusetts members: Stop working because of ‘abnormally dangerous’ conditions — Thomas Flynn, executive director of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, said members should not report to work starting on Monday, April 6. “It has become apparent that working on construction sites in Massachusetts is abnormally dangerous, and that continuing to work on construction sites poses an immediate threat to the health and safety of my members and the public,” Flynn wrote. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has refused pleas from organized labor to shut down construction sites across the state.

► In the NY Times — Young adults, burdened with debt, are now facing an economic crisis — Young people who entered this financial downturn with fewer resources than previous generations are enduring pain.

► From Politico — How public health failed nursing homes — At least hundreds of long-term care centers have infections — but public disclosure is spotty.






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

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!