Monday, April 13, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, April 13 — The number of new cases and deaths per day in our state continues to drop. That trend depends largely on people continuing to stay away from each other. In Washington, confirmed infections passed the 10,000 mark Saturday, and the total death toll rose above 500 Sunday.
► From KING 5 — New UW data predicts U.S. coronavirus cases could peak in late April — A new data-driven model from the University of Washington predicts the number of “active” coronavirus cases could peak in the U.S. on or around April 20.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Snohomish County budget shortfall could top $26 million — Snohomish County is weighing a hiring freeze and other belt-tightening.
► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — Bleak financial picture prompts furloughs at hospital — Grays Harbor Community Hospital has reduced staffing levels by about 18% by furloughing employees temporarily and reducing hours for others beginning April 13.
► In the Seattle Times — Boeing to restart some work on jets in Washington as early as Monday — Boeing told employees Friday afternoon it will begin “a safe and orderly restart of limited operations” at a handful of its Washington state sites as early as Monday. Out of about 30,000 employees idled by the shutdown, Boeing will recall only about 2,500 employees for this narrowly targeted resumption of work. The company said it will provide the workers with personal protective equipment, including masks, and enforce social distancing measures.
► From SPEEA — Workplace safety is top priority as Boeing calls some workers back — SPEEA reminds employees to remain focused on personal and workplace safety. The work on Boeing defense programs is important, but not nearly as important as the health and safety of ourselves, our co-workers and our families.
► From IAM 751 — Boeing announces return to work for limited workgroups — If PPE is not available or social distancing is not being followed, we encourage you to contact a Union Steward and utilize our Article 16 Imminent Danger Stop Work Clause, which will trigger an investigation from EHS and stop work until the work environment is deemed safe.
EDITOR’S NOTE — That’s the power of a union contract in action: protecting members’ safety and health on the job. Meanwhile, in South Carolina…
► In the Charleston Post-Courier — Claims that Boeing SC unlawfully fired workers over union support move closer to trial — Boeing Co. has been hit by a complaint from a federal agency claiming the planemaker unlawfully fired and disciplined employees at its North Charleston campus because they supported joining a union. The National Labor Relations Board filed the complaint on Thursday, about eight months after a regional director for the panel ruled that the claims had merit.
EDITOR’S NOTE — If this NLRB filed charges, you KNOW they have merit.
► In the Seattle Times — Inslee says more restrictions could be needed beyond the May 4 stay-home order to battle coronavirus — “Is it possible that there will have to be actions after May 4?” Inslee said. “Certainly there is, and we will make decisions at that time based on the data and science, and how much progress we’re making.”
► In the Yakima H-R — Farm work carries on amid pandemic, but at least one worker says, ‘We’re scared’ — With the growing season underway, employers, farmworker advocates and state officials are wrestling with redefining workplace safety, a task that eventually will spread to other parts of the economy when the governor’s stay-at-home order is relaxed. With safety guidelines rushed through earlier in the pandemic, the state has drafted new rules — expected to be finalized soon — requiring agricultural employers to “facilitate” social distancing that keeps workers 6 feet apart, ensure frequent hand washing and isolate sick workers. In recent days, farmers and farmworker advocates, often at odds over labor conditions, have scrutinized proposals in teleconferences as they grapple with a common threat.
► In the Tri-City Herald — Latinos suffering high coronavirus rates in state — The Hispanic population in Washington state is suffering from an elevated rate of new coronavirus infections, according to data from the Washington state Department of Health. The state says 13 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic, but the Hispanic population accounts for 21 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the states for which race or ethnicity is known.
► In the News Tribune — Out of the shadows: COVID-19 exposes sorry state of Washington’s nursing homes (editorial) — Resources for nursing homes have shrunk dramatically over the years, putting Washington at increased risk of a shortage… Nearly 70 percent of patients in skilled nursing facilities rely on state Medicaid, an assistance program for low-income individuals funded by federal and state governments. But Medicaid funding hasn’t kept up with inflation. When it comes to Medicaid nursing home reimbursement, Washington is ranked near the bottom.
► In the Washington Post — White House rejects bailout for U.S. Postal Service battered by coronavirus — The volume of the kind of mail that pays the agency’s bills — first-class and marketing mail — has withered during the pandemic. The USPS needs an infusion of money, and Trump has blocked potential emergency funding for the agency that employs around 600,000 workers, repeating instead the false claim that higher rates for Internet shipping companies Amazon, FedEx and UPS would right the service’s budget. Trump threatened to veto the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act, if the legislation contained any money directed to bail out the postal agency… Advocates for the Postal Service worry the agency is in a vulnerable position. Conservatives have long talked about privatizing the mail delivery in the United States.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Tell Congress to support our Postal Service!
► From Common Dreams — ‘Putting profits over people’: Unions warn new COVID-19 guidance from Trump CDC endangers frontline workers — Labor unions representing millions of nurses and other frontline workers across the U.S. are voicing outrage at new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allows essential employees who have been exposed to the novel coronavirus to return to work more quickly.
► From Salon — Scalia, Trump’s Labor Secretary, comes under fire for making life harder for the unemployed — From his guidance rolling back paid leave benefits to his attempt to limit who qualifies for beefed up unemployment insurance, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia’s implementation of the multi-trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus package is coming under fire from Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups who say the former corporate lawyer’s handling of the new law favors businesses over people in desperate need of assistance.
► In the Washington Post — Who’s getting these hundreds of billions in the government aid? For now, the public may be in the dark. — The names of businesses that collectively will receive hundreds of billions of dollars in coronavirus relief from the federal government may not be disclosed publicly, an omission that critics say could make the massive spending program vulnerable to fraud and favoritism.
► From NPR — White House seeks to lower farmworker pay to help agriculture industry — New White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is working with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to see how to reduce wage rates for foreign guest workers on American farms, in order to help U.S. farmers struggling during the coronavirus, according to U.S. officials and sources familiar with the plans.
► In the Washington Post — Trump uses the pandemic to overturn decades of U.S. asylum law and rules — For the past three weeks, virtually every category of migrant without papers has been turned back at legal ports of entry along the southern border or expelled immediately upon apprehension by border agents; 10,000 have been thrown out so far in the crisis. They include minors who may have been trafficked and asylum seekers, individually or in families, who may face persecution in their home countries. Immigration courts are suspended, deportation procedures have been ditched, and due process is a thing of the past.
► From CBS News — 27-year-old grocery store clerk kept working because she wanted to help people. Then she died from coronavirus. — A 27-year-old grocery store clerk from Maryland wanted to keep working through the coronavirus pandemic, even though her job put her at risk. Leilani Jordan had a disability, but she told her mom she wanted to continue working at Giant Food because she wanted to help people. But later, she was hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms and tragically lost her battle with the disease.
► In the Washington Post — ‘It feels like a war zone’: As more of them die, grocery workers increasingly fear showing up at work — At least 41 grocery workers have died so far. Now workers across the country are staying home or quitting altogether, according to interviews with more than a dozen employees, leaving many markets short-staffed and ill-prepared to deal with demand. That’s complicated the scramble led by Walmart, Kroger and Safeway to fill hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
► From HuffPost — Top pork producer shuts major plant after coronavirus sickens workers — Smithfield, the world’s biggest pork producer, has indefinitely shuttered its sprawling pork processing facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after more than 230 workers tested positive for the coronavirus. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said the sickened plant employees accounted for more than half of the active coronavirus cases in the state.
► From Reuters — ‘Elbow to elbow:’ North America meat plant workers fall ill, walk off jobs — At a Wayne Farms chicken processing plant in Alabama, workers recently had to pay the company 10 cents a day to buy masks to protect themselves from the new coronavirus, according to a meat inspector. In Colorado, nearly a third of the workers at a JBS USA beef plant stayed home amid safety concerns for the last two weeks as a 30-year employee of the facility died following complications from the virus. And since an Olymel pork plant in Quebec shut on March 29, the number of workers who tested positive for the coronavirus quintupled to more than 50, according to their union. The facility and at least 10 others in North America have temporarily closed or reduced production in about the last two weeks because of the pandemic, disrupting food supply chains that have struggled to keep pace with surging demand at grocery stores.
► In the WSJ — U.S. pilots, flight attendants fear coronavirus on the job
► In the NY Times — Transit workers risking lives with little protective gear
► In the Washington Post — He’s delivering your groceries to you. He’s also risking his life.
► In the NY Times — I was fired because of the coronavirus (by , a home care aide) — I considered myself to be part of her family. It hurt. My boss viewed me as an outsider — as a risk to her own health… The virus highlights how much domestic workers need protections, just like everyone else. Nannies, house cleaners and other domestic workers are not entitled to severance pay, paid sick leave, health and unemployment insurance or other benefits that would help us survive this pandemic… We need everyone to treat domestic workers like human beings. We deserve respect and a seat at the table. Our work has value. Without us, you cannot do your jobs. Just as we need you to survive, you need us.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.