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Anger over Alcoa closure ● Phase 1 of 4 ● 92% say: Save USPS!

Monday, May 4, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, May 4 — The most recent count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 15,185 infections (up 182 from yesterday) and 834 deaths (up 4), according to the state Department of Health.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Cities cut events, jobs and services to brace for tax losses — With businesses closed and commerce stymied, sales are down. Sales tax comprises a large share of cities’ general fund, which covers fire, planning and police and other administrative positions in a city. Snohomish County, projecting a shortfall of $26 million, froze hiring in all departments for 60 days. The Everett City Council approved about $2.5 million in cuts in every department except fire/emergency medical services and police.

► From the Olympian — Projected Olympia budget shortfall caused by COVID-19 exceeds $10 million — The city has already made $2.7 million in cuts to discretionary spending out of the general fund by implementing a hiring freeze. More cuts may be needed.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand Tell Congress to provide state COVID-19 aid — Begin Public Service Recognition Week by supporting state and local public employees.

► From the Seattle Times — State members of Congress blast Trump over Alcoa smelter closure in Ferndale, tariff war with China — Local U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to President Trump on Friday describing the pending closure of the Alcoa aluminum smelter near Ferndale as a failure of his trade war with China and calling for a harder line on curbing that nation’s overproduction. “We have a shared interest in addressing unfair trading practices and protecting American jobs in the domestic aluminum industry, but it is clear that your current policies are not working,” the letter says. It’s signed by Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Reps. Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen.

The Stand (April 29) — IAM seeks federal help to save Intalco Works

► From the Tri-City Herald — Testing at Tyson plant near Tri-Cities finds nearly 1 in 8 with coronavirus. 2 have died. — Some 144 workers at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant near the Tri-Cities have tested positive for COVID-19 in testing done at the plant near the Tri-Cities in recent days, as a second worker there may have died… Tyson workers were falling ill through April, with 104 COVID-19 cases linked to the outbreak in residents of four counties — Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla and Umatilla, Ore. — just before testing of workers at the plant began. Tyson Foods is still considering when to reopen the plant after it closed for testing.

ALSO at The Stand:

(April 29) — UFCW: Trump meatpacking order needs worker protections

(April 28) — Murray rips Tyson Foods over worker safety, delayed response

(April 23) — The Union Difference: A tale of two plants — Teamsters at the Lamb Weston potato plant in Pasco have workplace safety and respect on the job. Nonunion workers at the Tyson beef plant down the road have Washington’s biggest COVID-19 hotspot.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Even in a pandemic, buses and transit keeps rolling — Millions in federal CARES Act funding is marked for Community and Everett transit agencies.

► From the AP — Inside the county with the highest rate of COVID cases on the West Coast — The highest rate of coronavirus cases of any county on the U.S. West Coast is in Washington state’s Yakima County. Health experts point to a large number of essential workers, a large number of cases in long-term care facilities and a large agricultural workforce living and working in close quarters as the causes. The county has about 250,000 residents. “We just haven’t been as much down as the rest of the state because our workforce is going to work,” said Lilian Bravo, a spokeswoman for the Yakima Health District. “Physically going to work every day is going to put you at a higher risk than others.”

► From the Spokesman-Review — At long last, Idaho Freedom Foundation’s karmic backlash arrives (by Shawn Vestal) — After a campaign by the group to organize protests defying Gov. Brad Little’s stay-home order – and after helping to instigate a protest at a Meridian police officer’s home led by the wannabe patriot hero Ammon Bundy – the intensity of criticism flowing toward the IFF from conservatives has been remarkable. It seems that long-simmering resentment of the group, which likes to throw its weight around the Statehouse, has burst into the open at last after IFF’s irresponsible effort to turn viral ignorance into a wingnut battle for freedom.

The Stand (May 1) — Lifting stay-home orders too soon is an attack on workers (by Peter Starzynski) — The same right-wing groups that oppose unions are backing the “reopen” protests.




► From the AP — Inslee announces 4-step plan for lifting virus restrictions — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday that the state’s coronavirus stay-at-home order would be extended through at least May 31 and said there will be a four-stage phase in for lifting of restrictions, starting with allowing retail curbside pickup, automobile sales and car washes by mid-May.

► From the Seattle Times — Restaurants? Libraries? Sports? Here’s when things in Washington might reopen according to Inslee’s 4-phase plan

► From the (Everett) Herald — Lost jobs mean lost health care for 1,000s in Everett area — Thousands of Snohomish County residents are losing their health insurance along with their jobs. From mid-March to mid-April, the rate of uninsured people in Washington surged from about 6.7% to more than 10%… The influx of uninsured is bound to put additional stress on a health care network that has been battered by the COVID-19 crisis, providers say. Some clinics that serve those without insurance now face the risk of closure because of financial losses they’ve suffered during the statewide shutdown.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Lost health coverage? Here’s what you need to know

► From the Seattle Times — Washington hospitals, community health centers face a new crisis: red ink — Hospitals’ budget shortfalls could swell to $900 million for March and April in the state. Federal funds are supposed to put these institutions on more stable financial footing, but the Washington State Hospital Association said it’s not likely enough.

► From the Spokesman-Review — State’s top election official says Postal Service critical to Washington elections — An underfunded or broke USPS could threaten the freedom and fairness of Washington’s elections, said Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican. She urged Congress to provide emergency funding to ensure the agency’s survival.




► From Government Executive — Americans support Postal Service bailout, polls show — In one survey, 92% of American voters said they supported financial relief for USPS as part of the next coronavirus relief bill. In another, two-thirds of respondents said Congress should directly appropriate funds to the Postal Service, while just 15% rejected the idea. The Postal Service has stressed the dire need for assistance, asking Congress for $75 billion through various means to avoid running out of cash by Sept 30.

The Stand (April 13) — Tell Congress to support our Postal Service!

► From Democracy Now — Trump attacks post office while carriers, clerks die from COVID-19 — Trump claims the agency is only losing money because it is undercharging Amazon and other companies for shipping. “It just isn’t true,” says American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein.

► From Politico — Union drops $1 million to push Congress for state worker coronavirus relief — AFSCME is spending more than $1 million on a campaign urging Congress to supply more money to states and cities in its next relief package, according to a person familiar with the buy. “Front-line health care workers, corrections officers, home and child care providers, sanitation workers and other public service workers put their lives on the line every day to save ours. America refuses to thank them with pink slips,” said Lee Saunders, AFSCME president.

ALSO TODAY at The StandTell Congress to provide state COVID-19 aid — Begin Public Service Recognition Week by supporting state and local public employees.

► From The Hill — Trump says next coronavirus relief bill has to include payroll tax cut — Trump on Sunday said he won’t support another round of coronavirus stimulus legislation unless it includes a payroll tax cut, a measure that has muted support among lawmakers in Congress.

EDITOR’S NOTE — “Payroll tax cut” means cutting what employers and workers pay into Social Security and Medicare. People this wouldn’t help amid COVID-19: 30 million unemployed people, millions more whose hours have been cut, tipped workers, and anybody who wants to maintain or strengthen Social Security and Medicare.

► From HuffPost — Congress will extend unemployment boost ‘over our dead bodies,’ vows GOP Sen. Graham — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) insisted that extending enhanced benefits would incentivize people to stay home rather than return to work.

► From the NY Times — One of Amazon’s most powerful critics lives in its backyard — Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington tried to keep her concerns about the company private. Now she’s going public. Jayapal’s changing approach reflects the increasing criticism of Amazon. On Friday, she joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers who called for Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, to testify before Congress… No other national elected official with Jayapal’s liberal politics has a district filled with Amazon’s corporate employees, who could be skeptical of her criticism but have become increasingly concerned about the company’s treatment of workers in its supply chain.

► From The Hill — Trump rips George W. Bush after he calls for unity amid COVID-19 outbreak




► From the NY Times — How a new breed of union activists is changing the rules (and newsrooms) — Since 2015, a frenzy of organizing — first at high-profile new media outlets, then at troubled chain-owned newspapers — energized the union and brought in a new generation of activists. These millennial leaders’ experiences differed sharply from those of the veteran newspaper men who had long run the unions. The new leaders had come of age in the great recession and had been battered by layoffs at start-ups. Their sensibility was shaped not only by social media but by the progressive political moment… And their message has been overwhelmingly embraced by newsrooms: The NewsGuild and its rival, the Writers Guild of America, East, have won virtually every organizing battle they’ve taken on, including some in Southern states with anti-union laws. The two unions together have organized more than 90 newsrooms and more than 5,000 journalists since 2015.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Tired of being disrespected? Get a union! Find out more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► From the NY Times — Three hospital workers gave out masks. Weeks later, they all were dead. — The pandemic has taken an undisputed toll on doctors, nurses and other front-line health care workers. But it has also ravaged the often-invisible army of nonmedical workers in hospitals, many of whom have fallen ill or died with little public recognition of their roles.




► From the News Tribune — Coronavirus, and May Day, expose America’s working-class struggles (by UW-Tacoma labor professor Michael Honey) — This time of pandemic reveals vast socio-economic and racial inequalities. It also shows how much we need working people to make this country run. None of us can survive without the home health care and other workers who don’t make enough to live and don’t have health care themselves. All of us need to secure worker union rights and labor rights as human rights… This pandemic is a wake-up call. Can we learn from our current experiences and by looking back at our history? Or will we simply remain, as the writer Gore Vidal once said, “the United States of Amnesia”? The jury on those questions is out. However, Americans specialize in hope. Our history, especially our labor and civil rights history, show that even in the worst of times, it remains possible that we shall overcome.


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!