Wednesday, April 22, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, April 22 — The most recent count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 12,282 infections and 682 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
► From the Tri-City Herald — All Tyson workers at plant near Tri-Cities to be tested for coronavirus. Cases reach 100 — All workers at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant near the Tri-Cities will be tested for COVID-19 and then sent home to self isolate until test results come back. “This may require the plant to close for a day or two, depending on when the testing can take place and how long it takes to get results back,” said Meghan DeBolt, director of the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health. The decision to test all employees was announced on Tuesday as the number of known confirmed and probable cases associated with the plant reach 100 in four counties and two states.
TYSON DEATHWATCH — So, there are now 100 COVID-19 cases linked to this plant and they STILL won’t shut it down. By all accounts, this is Washington’s biggest single COVID-19 hotspot. This report says that local health officials plan to “start testing within the next week,” but didn’t explain “how they planned to obtain testing supplies amid a nationwide testing supply shortage,” other than a statement that “they hope to have more testing capacity available in the weeks to come.” Unacceptable! Every day that this plant remains open puts these 1,400 workers and the surrounding communities in danger. The “plans” and “hopes” of ever-pliant local health officials to test all workers — eventually — will guarantee more infections than if they shut the plant down until testing can commence. And by the way, here’s why Tyson’s existing policy of simply sending folks home who have a fever was never sufficient to stop the COVID-19 outbreak at their plant…
► From the Wenatchee World — 36 asymptomatic Stemilt employees test positive for COVID-19 — Half of the 71 agricultural workers in a Stemilt Ag Services housing facility near East Wenatchee have tested positive for COVID-19. All 36 were asymptomatic prior to testing and are now isolated in the housing facility. It’s one of the first wide-scale tests of asymptomatic people in North Central Washington and believed to be the first of agriculture workers.
► From KUOW — Coronavirus crisis could put a $300 million hole in Seattle’s finances for this year — State law mandates that Seattle cannot run a deficit. Durkan said the city may get help from the federal government. But a hiring freeze, dipping into rainy day funds, and taking out debt are among the choices on the table.
► From KING 5 — City of Kent on the brink of ‘unprecedented’ layoffs and budget cuts — Dana Ralph, the mayor of Kent, is warning residents that state coronavirus restrictions and closures will soon result in massive layoffs and budget cuts far beyond anything the city experienced during the Great Recession.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Wary Boeing workers return to the assembly lines in Everett — After a three-week shutdown, thousands of Boeing workers are returning to their jobs at the sprawling south Everett campus and other locations in Washington. By the end of the week, more than 27,000 Boeing employees will have resumed production of the 747, 767, KC-46 tanker, 787 and 777 models, all built at Paine Field in Everett, and at 737 facilities in Renton and Moses Lake. Workers with a fever of 100 degrees or greater will be sent home, according to leaders of the Machinists District 751, who held a video conference on Monday.
The Stand (April 17) — As Boeing resumes work, unions say safety comes first
► From the Washington Post — Boeing workers return to their factories to find hand-washing stations and a new sense of worry — Machinists 751 President Jon Holden called the new safety features a positive development, but he remained skeptical. “I’m not going to say I’m satisfied,” he said. “I’m going to say that I look forward to our members ensuring that their environment is safe.”
► From the AP — Work resuming at Boeing plants following virus shutdown — Representatives from the Machinists union at Boeing spent Monday walking through each of factories to see what safeguards had been put in place. Shop stewards were attending an online conference to learn about what safety issues they should watch for, said union spokeswoman Connie Kelliher.
► From The Guardian — ‘I’m not essential’: Boeing employees return to work despite pandemic — Many workers express fear as about 27,000 prepare to resume production in Washington state amid coronavirus pandemic.
► From the Seattle Times — Boeing shrinks and reshuffles its top leadership team, says it’s preparing for ‘the post-pandemic industry footprint’ — Boeing reduced the size of its top leadership team Tuesday and enlarged the already extensive authority of No. 2 executive Greg Smith.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Governor: Many COVID-19 restrictions to linger after May 4 — Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday mapped a course for reopening the state and reviving the economy — but cautioned that many restrictions related to COVID-19 will remain past May 4.
TODAY at The Stand — Inslee issues recovery plan to gradually, safely return to work
► From the AP — Inslee: 1,500 workers will track, trace virus by mid-May — The governor also said that he hopes to soon implement a plan that would allow a limited return to residential construction. Inslee’s chief of staff, David Postman, said that it was possible those activities mentioned by the governor could resume before May 5.
The Stand (April 16) — Labor, business outline plan for limited restart of construction
► From the Spokesman-Review — 4 GOP lawmakers call for a special session to deal with pandemic’s effects — Four Republican legislators made a pitch Tuesday for a special session in the near future, arguing that lawmakers should call themselves back to the Capitol if Gov. Jay Inslee won’t. “We have to go to Olympia and protect the people we represent,” said Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale). Legislative leaders of both parties said Tuesday that’s unlikely.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Why does anyone take Double-Dipping Doug seriously? Regarding virus tracking efforts, he wrote that “the deep state is proposing Communist Chinese style, freedom destroying, liberty crushing techniques to fight the Communist China Virus.” Also, he should be considered Least Likely to Maintain Social Distancing from Lobbyists.
► From the Washington Post — CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating — Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season. Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system, he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This morning, Trump tweets that this is “fake news” and says the CDC director will issue a statement clarifying his data- and experience-driven diversion from Trump’s talking points.
► From the AFL-CIO — AFL-CIO unveils working people’s plan for reopening the economy the right way — “We must do what the federal government has refused to: protect America’s workers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We should not be focusing on when we can reopen the economy but rather on how we should reopen it to ensure the health and safety of working people.”
► From Roll Call — AFL-CIO’s Trumka rejects reopening without safety measures — Trumka criticized the White House for pushing to reopen the economy without regard for worker safety and warned that premature action could raise the death toll.
► From the NY Times — Trump halts new green cards, but backs off broader immigration ban — After pledging on Twitter to end immigration during the pandemic, Trump moved to block new green cards but stopped short of ending all work visas.
► From the NY Times — Senate approves aid for small-business loan program, hospitals and testing — The Senate passed a $484 billion relief package, after Democrats and Trump administration officials finalized an agreement. that includes $25 billion for testing.
► From The Hill — Battle heats up for phase-four coronavirus relief bill — It could rival the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress last month. The legislation would funnel tens of billions if not hundreds of billions to state and local governments and could address infrastructure spending and election security. Democrats also cited the need for funds for election reform, hazard pay for essential workers, including doctors, nurses and grocery store clerks, and funding for the U.S. Postal Service.
► From Politico — McConnell slams brakes on next round of coronavirus aid
► From The Hill — USPS is hanging on by a thread (by Kimberly Wehle) — America’s greatness stems in part from its noble traditions. Since the founding of the republic, those traditions have included a federal postal service whose mission is to serve the American public — not generate revenue. America’s greatness also depends on the ability of each eligible voter to participate in democracy on Nov. 4. The lethal coronavirus has made the USPS a key to making that happen.
The Stand (April 13) — Tell Congress to support our Postal Service!
► From the Washington Post — In front of White House, nurses read names of colleagues killed by coronavirus — Wearing masks and standing six feet apart, the nurses held up photographs of the deceased as Melody Jones, a member of the National Nurses United union, addressed the news media in an otherwise empty Lafayette Square. The protest stood in stark contrast to demonstrations in recent days in some parts of the country in which protesters have demanded the reopening of nonessential businesses. Nurses have been spotted at those gatherings, too, standing arms crossed, in opposition to demonstrators, many of whom are unmasked and milling in crowds.
► From Reuters — How Trump allies have organized and promoted anti-lockdown protests — Republican politicians and individuals affiliated with President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign are organizing or promoting anti-lockdown protests across key electoral battleground states, despite the White House’s own cautious guidance on relaxing restrictions… A bipartisan majority of Americans – 88% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans – also want to continue to shelter in place despite the impact on the economy, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.
► From GoIAM.org — Machinists join bipartisan call for electronic union representation elections — In an effort to protect workers’ rights during the current pandemic, the IAM is calling for electronic voting in union representation elections. U.S. Reps. Andy Levin (D-MI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) recently led a group of 168 members of Congress in a letter to House leadership supporting the measure. The members of Congress are requesting that the next COVID-19 legislative package include funding and a directive to the NLRB to develop a system to conduct union representation elections electronically.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The above-referenced letter to House leadership was signed by Reps. Suzan DelBene, Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith of Washington.
The Stand (April 20) — Labor demands NLRB restore right to vote — More than 60 unions tell NLRB to stop dragging its feet and do its job conducting union elections.
► From the Argus Leader — Second Smithfield Foods worker dies from COVID-19 — A second Smithfield Foods worker has died from COVID-19 complications after a coronavirus outbreak at the Sioux Falls-based meatpacking plant erupted earlier this month.
► In the NY Daily News — Ohio man dies from COVID-19 after criticizing governor’s coronavirus lockdown as ‘madness’ — John W. McDaniel, 60, died from complications related to COVID-19 on Wednesday in Columbus, exactly one month after reportedly calling Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order “madness.”
► From ESPN — Thousands of stadium workers not covered by pledges of financial support from athletes, teams — Public gestures of support don’t extend to many stadium workers employed by third-party contractors nationwide. They are joining the ranks of more than 22 million people who have filed for unemployment since the crisis began.
► From the NY Daily News — In a pandemic, unionization protects health: A coronavirus lesson (by LIUNA’s No one should have to risk dying to earn a paycheck, and no one should be compelled to stay silent while observing co-workers exposed to lethal danger. The situation is much different at workplaces where employees are represented by unions. Unionized workers can use the power of collective bargaining to demand safety and other improvements that are absent from nonunion workplaces. Indeed, when bosses are legally required to bargain in good faith, workers get heard… All levels of government should be making it easier for workers to organize and join unions, especially the workers who have served on the front lines of this pandemic.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.