Monday, May 11, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, May 11 — The most recent count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 16,891 infections (up 217 from yesterday) and 931 deaths (up 10), according to the state Department of Health.
► From the Yakima H-R — Groups distribute masks to farmworkers, as workplace concerns continue — At 8 a.m. Wednesday, Dulce Gutierrez and her colleague at the Washington State Labor Council stepped out of their respective cars in Granger, carrying donated masks to distribute to farmworkers. Gutierrez, who works as the council’s union, community and naturalization organizer, received calls from workers concerned about workplace conditions they said did not protect them from the coronavirus. “We were seeing they are in dire need of resources or are sick, and they don’t know where to go if they are mistreated at work,” Gutierrez said. “We are advocating for personal protective equipment for all workers as well as stronger emergency rules.”
► From the Seattle Times — In Yakima County, tensions grow as some want life back to normal while agricultural workers want more protection amid coronavirus — Some 50 men and women walked off the job Thursday at Allan Brothers, an apple packing plant north of Yakima. They cited a scarcity of masks, and bore placards crafted from cardboard boxes calling for hazard pay as they labor through the pandemic.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Solidarity actions continue in support of Allan Brothers workers, including this morning. Follow the Familias Unidos Facebook page for the latest.
► From NBC News — Unions push back on Kroger notice to eliminate hero pay — “We have been working hard from day one of this crisis, putting our own health at risk to serve our community, and now Kroger’s response is to say that they are going to take away our pay. Meanwhile in many stores they are still dropping the ball on limiting the number of people in the store at one time to allow proper social distancing,” said Chuck Svac, a member of UFCW 21 from the Fred Meyer store in Port Orchard.
The Stand (May 8) — Stand with grocery heroes against pay cut
► From KNKX — Taxi drivers at Sea-Tac say airport fees are unfair during COVID-19 times — Taxi drivers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are upset with the Port of Seattle. They say the port indicated in March that the airport fees they pay would be waived during the COVID-19 crisis. But now, the drivers have received a letter notifying them that fees are only being deferred and will have to be paid back in January.
The Stand (May 7) — Teamsters 117: Port of Seattle’s taxi debt plan ‘unconscionable’
► From the Seattle Times — They care for people ’round the clock in Washington state during the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s not forget them. (by Naomi Ishisaka) — Since the pandemic began, attention, praise and cheers of appreciation have rightly focused on the health care workers who courageously show up to hospitals and medical centers each day — at great risk to themselves and their families. But outside the view of most of us, there’s another group that shows up each day as well, behind closed doors and without fanfare, to provide critical health care to older adults and people with disabilities: home care workers… Since the coronavirus outbreak, these workers have struggled to do their work safely, with little access to personal protective equipment, or PPE, despite caring for some of the most high risk and vulnerable populations.
► From the NY Times — The airline business is terrible. It will probably get even worse. — An industry that is intimately familiar with failure confronts a crisis unlike any other. Executives say they have no idea when passengers will return… Payrolls have largely been spared the ax, for now, because Congress set aside $25 billion to pay workers through September as long as airlines refrain from imposing furloughs or pay cuts. But some airlines have already tested those limits, and executives have signaled that layoffs will come when those protections expire.
► From the News Tribune — Testing fiasco shows Western State Hospital COVID-19 response needs close scrutiny (editorial) — Ensuring staff safety at WSH is often a talking point for politicians, including Gov. Jay Inslee. Now, more than ever, it has to be more than talk. Lives are on the line. The 2,700 staff and contract workers don’t have the privilege of self-quarantining or social distancing and neither do the 704 patients; infections are bound to emerge… What about masks? Staff were initially told not to wear them for fear they could frighten patients or create a false sense of security, which is why it should surprise no one that union nurses are calling for the removal of five top administrators at WSH for lack of oversight… Credit should go to the hospital staff who put themselves at risk to care for psychiatric patients during such a challenging time. For that, they are owed nothing less than the utmost protection in return.
► From SEIU Healthcare 1199NW (April 24) — Nurses at Western State Hospital vote “No Confidence” in nurse administrators
► From the Spokesman-Review — As gas tax revenue drops, Washington Department of Transportation could face 40% funding decline, delay projects — When people drive less, they buy less gas. And when people buy less gas, they pay less in gas taxes. And when people spend less in gas taxes, the coffers of the Transportation Department – not to mention those of local governments and the state Legislature – start running on empty. The department hasn’t quite measured the full scale of the fallout, says one DOT official, but as of late last week, his back-of-the-envelope calculations indicated the department will be $100 million short on revenue – per month.
► From the Stranger — Washington Republicans block extension of domestic violence protections — On Saturday Republican leadership in the statehouse — particularly Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler — blocked the extension of an emergency proclamation regarding protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The proclamation, set to expire May 11, allows victims to file no-contact orders online… When the legislature is not in session, all four caucus leaders have to sign off on extensions of emergency powers that the legislature has granted to the governor. So far, Republicans have blocked two other extensions; one giving officers more discretion over sending probation violators to jail, and another temporarily lifting fingerprint background checks for child care workers.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Lawsuits not path to reopening state’s economy (editorial) — Repeatedly, polls have shown an acceptance of the due caution the governor’s “stay home” orders have put in place. With a few exceptions, most in Washington state are not going to be convinced by empty declarations of victory or unverified assurances that the threat has passed. Washingtonians are acting — not out of fear — but out of common sense.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Gov. Inslee is not a ‘tyrant.’ Legislature gave him emergency powers (editorial) — Inslee has a decades-old statute backing his authority. If he had not been able to use his executive powers as quickly as he did at the beginning of the outbreak, we hate to think what the state’s death count would be right now.
► From the Seattle Times — Washington candidate filing week arrives, with signature requirement waived because of coronavirus — Washington’s 2020 election season kicks off officially this week, as candidates for governor, Congress, the Legislature and other elected offices must file paperwork to get on the Aug. 4 primary ballot.
► From the News Tribune — Cash and endorsements likely to cull crowded race for Denny Heck’s congressional seat — The three candidates for the 10th Congressional District seat who have showed the most fundraising prowess are former state Rep. Kristine Reeves of Federal Way, former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, and state Rep. Beth Doglio of Olympia. The three also have announced major endorsements in recent weeks.
► From the Seattle Times — Mail carriers are essential — and so is a bailout of the Postal Service (by APWU’s David Yao) — As Congress bails out airlines, hotels and cruise lines, it’s disgraceful that a critical public service like the Postal Service would be left out to die. The loss of this service would ravage vulnerable communities and businesses, particularly in rural America… Postal workers have delivered mail through wars, natural disasters and now a pandemic. The public now has the opportunity to show its appreciation by urging lawmakers to preserve the Postal Service, a vital part of the nation’s infrastructure.
The Stand (April 13) — Tell Congress to support our Postal Service!
► From CNBC — Plans to reopen U.S. economy must ‘talk about worker safety,’ says AFL-CIO president — “Don’t talk about tough restrictions and guidelines. Talk about worker safety,” Trumka said. “We want them to open up, but we want them to open up consistent with the health and safety of those workers.” He said the U.S. needs to continue expanding its testing capacity and the availability of PPE to adequately protect workers. “There are shortages of both now,” he added.
► From the NY Intelligencer — Hearst loses big at the National Labor Relations Board — On Friday, Hearst’s anti-union campaign received a major blow. The National Labor Relations Board ruled against each objection it raised to the bargaining unit proposed by the Writers Guild of America-East and ordered a union election. It’s a total loss for Hearst Magazines, made doubly resonant by the fact that conservatives currently control the NLRB.
► From Roll Call — House Democrats outline immigration priorities for next coronavirus relief measure — They acknowledge they’ll need more help from Republican allies if they want to get any signed into law. “We have to get Republicans to support this and to push for it. Democrats only control one chamber,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).
► From the Guardian — Up to 43 million Americans could lose health insurance amid pandemic, report says — Prior to the pandemic, 160 million Americans, or roughly half the population, received their medical insurance through their job. The tidal wave of layoffs triggered by quarantine measures now threatens that coverage for millions. Such enormous insurance losses could dramatically alter America’s healthcare landscape, and will probably result in more deaths as people avoid unaffordable healthcare.
► From the Guardian — Nursing homes account for ‘staggering’ share of US deaths from COVID-19, data show — Privately compiled data shows such deaths now account for more than half of all fatalities in 14 states, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only 33 states report nursing home-related deaths. Experts say limited testing and a lack of PPE such as masks hampered efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in care homes.
► From Reuters — As U.S. meat workers fall sick and supplies dwindle, exports to China soar — Trump ordered meat processing plants to stay open to protect the nation’s food supply even as workers got sick and died. Yet the plants have increasingly been exporting to China while U.S. consumers face shortages, a Reuters analysis of government data showed.
► From CNN — Elon Musk threatens to move Tesla headquarters out of California following extended shelter-in-place rules — Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he would file a lawsuit “immediately” against Alameda County, California, after the county refused to let the company reopen its Fremont factory. He then threatened to move the company’s headquarters to Texas or Nevada, where shelter-in-place rules are less restrictive.
► From HuffPost — Starbucks workers confront the big question: Should I go back to work? — HuffPost spoke with a dozen Starbucks workers around the country who wish the coffee chain wasn’t opening its doors yet, even in a limited capacity.
► From Variety — Adam Schiff to Join SAG-AFTRA’s Gabrielle Carteris, IATSE’s Matt Loeb for virtual town hall — The 10-term congressman whose district includes Hollywood, will take questions on May 12 from the unions’ members about their concerns regarding the pandemic and its impact on their day-to-day lives and economic future.
► From the NY Times — Union garment workers fear ‘an opportunity to get rid of us’ — Union-busting — practices undertaken to prevent or disrupt the formation of trade unions or attempts to expand membership — has been serious problem across the fashion supply chain for decades. But with the global spread of Covid-19 placing fresh pressures on the industry, it is a particular issue in South Asia, where about 40 million garment workers have long grappled with poor working conditions and wages.
► From Reuters — China releases five prominent labor rights activists
► From the Seattle Times — Trayvon, Tamir, Michael, Philando, John, Amadou, Ahmaud … enough (by Leonard Pitts) — It was not until Thursday, two days after release of the video of Ahmaud Arbery being shot and killed by Travis McMichael triggered a national chorus of condemnation raining down on the tiny south Georgia county, that the McMichaels were finally jailed. It had taken 74 days. Seventy-four days. And will that bring justice? This is America, so don’t hold your breath. If that sounds bitter, well, bitterness seems an entirely appropriate response to what was captured in that video. Meaning not just another murder of another unarmed man, but yet another iteration of the eternal, infernal arrogance that infects so much of white America, this notion that a white man or woman has the divine right to require any given black person to justify their presence and activities… Ask yourself: What am I doing to dismantle a system of privilege that oppresses others while advantaging me every waking day from cradle to grave? What am I doing to help my brothers and sisters be free? Black people are dying to know.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.