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Retaliation in Yakima ● Bogus benefits ● #DieForTheDow ● Good Riddance

Friday, May 22, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, May 22 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 19,117 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 192) and 1,044 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 9).

► From the Yakima H-R — Worker complaint filed with NLRB alleges Allan Bros. retaliated against strikers during COVID-19 pandemic — The complaint alleges that Allan Bros. interrogated and threatened workers who chose to strike and disciplined an employee who brought strikers water. The strike at Allan Bros. started May 7, with workers walking out to demand increased transparency about COVID-19 cases, improved safety, and hazard pay. It was the first in a series of walkouts at seven fruit packing plants in the Yakima Valley, where employees made similar requests… Protests at Allan Bros. continued Thursday, with two employees continuing a hunger strike they started Tuesday.

The Stand (May 20) — How you can support strikers in Yakima — DONATE! Please make a contribution to support the Strike Fund set up for striking workers and their families who are experiencing financial distress. Also, please consider making a contribution to FUJ, the small union that is supporting the organizing on the ground. CONTACT THE COMPANIES! Get details.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Hanford workers to return to the nuclear site after 9 weeks at home — A phased return to work at the Hanford nuclear reservation will start the day after Memorial Day weekend, the Department of Energy announced Thursday. About 60% of about 11,000 Hanford employees are working from home, and 10% to 15% have been reporting to the site to do mostly work considered essential for the safety of the public, workers and the environment.

► From the Campaign Legal System — Changing our voting system helped my city represent a diversifying electorate (by WSLC’s Dulce Gutiérrez) — On Jan. 15, Campaign Legal Center and OneAmerica sent a letter on my behalf to the Yakima County Commission to put it on notice. The current system for electing candidates to the County Commission violates the Washington Voting Rights Act by denying Latino voters an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to the commission. The WVRA allows voters like me to file a lawsuit to enforce my rights in court if no solution can be found within 180 days of the letter being filed. I hope that Yakima County will voluntarily change their electoral systems to make sure they are complying with the law. All we ask is that we have equal opportunity to elect candidates of our choice.

► From The Intercept — Columbia Sportswear sought to crush a warehouse union drive as the pandemic approached — Back in December, warehouse workers at Columbia’s Portland, Ore., distribution center had marched into their manager’s office and delivered a petition demanding that the company remain neutral as they sought to form a union with the Teamsters… Appropriating the workers’ slogan was one in a long string of moves Columbia has made to demoralize and intimidate employees into ceasing union organizing, say several people involved in the effort.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Peter Zieve wants to keep low-income people out of Mukilteo — The controversial aerospace owner and failed council candidate has launched another mailer campaign.




► From the AP — ‘Hundreds of millions’ in bogus jobless benefits paid out — Impostors have used the stolen information of tens of thousands of people in Washington to fraudulently receive hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits, the head of the state’s Employment Security Department said Thursday. Commissioner Suzi LeVine said that countermeasures taken by the state have “prevented hundreds of millions of additional dollars from going out to criminals and have prevented thousands of fraudulent claims being filed.” A U.S. Secret Service alert issued last week identified Washington as the top target so far of a Nigerian fraud ring seeking to commit large-scale fraud against state unemployment insurance programs. LeVine has said that there have been no data breaches at the agency, and that recent fraud attempts are cases where someone’s personal information has been previously stolen from other sources — like during the 2017 Equifax breach — and is now being used to filed for benefits.

► From the Seattle Times — Crisis reveals need for better state tech (editorial) — Fuller explanation is needed to assure residents that state systems handling sensitive information are truly secure and less vulnerable to being spoofed. The public also needs to know if its government erred and what corrective measures are needed. Then the Legislature can focus broadly on what’s needed to improve the performance and efficiency of the state’s sprawling technology infrastructure.

► From the AP — GOP lawmakers are getting tired of Inslee’s pandemic powers — Some Republicans want a special legislative session now, saying “it is time for the legislative branch to intervene.” Democratic officials say a June special session could be too early because the state won’t get an official budget forecast until mid-June, and it remains unclear if — or how much — the federal government will help with state budget shortfalls.

► From KING 5 — In Washington state, Trump numbers at historic low ahead of presidential election — An exclusive KING 5 News poll suggests Trump could be the first Republican presidential candidate to earn less than 35% of the popular vote in Washington in 108 years. In 1912, William Howard Taft earned 23% of the vote.




► From The Hill — AFL-CIO president: Trump considers workers ‘expendable’ — “In his bum’s rush to get everybody back to work, he’s considered workers expendable,” Trumka said. “In this whole thing, I’d say while he’s looked very strongly at getting the economy back, that’s been his whole focus, and he’s been willing to sacrifice workers and make us expendable in the process.”

► From The Hill — Unions worry Congress is one step closer to a liability shieldLabor unions are growing increasingly concerned about GOP efforts to implement a coronavirus liability shield for businesses after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she has no red lines on the next COVID-19 relief bill… “Any attempt to shield companies from liability is a potential death sentence for front-line essential workers — putting all Americans at risk in the long term,” said UFCW 7 President Kim Cordova, who represents workers at the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley, Colo., where eight workers have died from COVID-19.

► From The Hill — States, companies set up their own COVID-19 legal shields — Many states have granted some form of liability immunity to health care workers and facilities. Utah and North Carolina have gone the farthest, passing laws that offer the strongest immunities yet for a range of industries as stay-at-home orders and business closures are eased.

► From The Hill — Congress headed toward unemployment showdown — A debate over whether to extend enhanced unemployment benefits is emerging as a significant obstacle to getting a deal on another round of coronavirus relief legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says that Senate Republicans don’t have any interest in doing so. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Democrats “absolutely” will insist on extending the federal plus-up of state unemployment benefits.

► From The Hill — McConnell: Next coronavirus bill ‘not too far off’ — “I think there’s a high likelihood that we’ll do another rescue package. … We’re not quite ready to intelligently lay down the next step, but it’s not too far off,” McConnell said. He didn’t rule out passing new aid for state and local governments as part of the next package, but signaled that it was too soon to make a decision.




► From TPM — Hedge fund chief says it’s time to go for herd immunity (by Josh Marshall) — One of the most remarkable dimensions of the COVID19 Crisis is the way the most garish or clownish versions of class division and privilege are pushed so aggressively to the fore. As we’ve discussed earlier, billionaires are eager to get back to work or rather eager to get you back to work. No less remarkable, they’re eager to talk to reporters or go on TV and make their argument. Now we have hedge fund chief Ricky Sandler, CEO of Eminence Capital, who has announced that America needs to get behind herd immunity, which means attempting to halt the spread of the disease by letting everyone get sick.

► From The Hill — Over 100 police officers have died from COVID-19, FOP says — The Fraternal Order of Police said in total, 111 police officers in the U.S. have died from the disease since the onset of the pandemic.

► From The Hill — Eighth Amazon warehouse worker dies of coronavirus — The employee who passed was a woman who had been with the company since November 2018. She was staffed at Amazon’s fulfillment center just outside of Cleveland in North Randall, Ohio… The company received flak for its poor working conditions before the pandemic began, and those complaints have only increased as the virus has ravaged the country.

► From Vox — Why “essential” workers are treated as disposable — SEIU President Mary Kay Henry: “People are fed up in a way that I have never seen in my lifetime. I think workers are going to be unwilling to accept anything less than real change in the value of their work and structural change in the economy that transforms these jobs once and for all into jobs that are valued by society, but also jobs that people can live on and provide a decent life for their families. ”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Fed up yet? Good — and safe — family-wage jobs don’t just happen, they are demanded! Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for a safe workplace and a fair return for your hard work. Or just go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► From Law 360 — ‘Unprecedented’ worker unrest tees up union surge — Labor unions have been inundated with calls for help from nonunion workers fearful of contracting the coronavirus on the job, setting the stage for a wave of organizing, labor leaders say.




“Help! Help! I’m being repressed!” Watch.

► From the Washington Post — Prince Charles wants furloughed workers to pick berries. Farmers wonder if Brits are up to the task. — Like much of the agriculture in the developed world, British fruit and vegetable growers are dependent on migrant workers, and in England’s case, they come mostly from Bulgaria and Romania. But amid the pandemic, they aren’t coming… Picking soft berries and leafy greens requires considerable skill and backbreaking physical toil for low pay. Farmers are worried that of the thousands of Brits who have forwarded applications in response to the “pick for Britain” plea from Prince Charles, many won’t show up or won’t last the season, especially after they get their hands dirty.




► This year has sucked for all of us — except, maybe, Jeff Bezos — but it has especially sucked for graduating seniors. So today’s TGIF video goes out to our cousin/neighbor Priya Niehaus, to Harry Azcrac, to this guy, and to the entire Class of 2020. This 1997 song was written by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong as a spiteful ballad to an ex-girlfriend, but it was embraced as a prom/graduation anthem. Armstrong said that he had no problem with that interpretation: “The people that you grew up and braved the trials of high school with will always hold a special place. Through all the BS of high school you hope that your friends had the time of their life, and that’s what the song is talking about.” Congratulations to Priya, and all who have braved the BS!


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!