Friday, May 29, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, May 29 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 20,764 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 235) and 1,106 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 9).
► From the Yakima H-R — Striking workers returning to jobs Monday after reaching deal with Allan Bros. — The workers striking at Allan Bros. in Naches started Thursday with a prayer, just as they have done each day over the past three weeks. At noon, they prayed again, this time expressing gratitude for the end of a three-week strike over coronavirus protections and pay. “¡Sí se pudo!” the workers yelled at the end of the prayer, which means “yes, we did it!” The critical component of the agreement is that a committee that represented the workers would be able to continue negotiating on various requests, such as wages, workers said. Allan Bros. implemented a $1 an hour bonus for those working during the coronavirus pandemic, but striking workers had sought $100 a week. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” said Agustin Lopez, a member of the workers’ committee.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Strikes continue at Matson and Columbia Reach.
TODAY at The Stand — Solidarity caravan to join Yakima strikers on Saturday, May 30
► From WFSE — Hazard pay victory! WFSE Local 304 members make history in Washington state — Essential workers at several community colleges in King County fought for and won hazard pay, a first for public service workers in Washington state during the COVID-19 pandemic.
► From KNKX — Janitors say it’s dehumanizing not to be recognized for essential work — Recently, a small group of janitors gathered outside a downtown Seattle high-rise around 10 p.m. Standing socially distant from each other, they lit candles to honor a member of their union, SEIU 6, who had died from COVID-19. The janitors say it highlights the dangers they face on the job. They say while their work is essential, it isn’t being recognized as such. Carmen Loreto-Hays, who cleans the building where Goggle has offices in Seattle, was in attendance at the vigil. She said her job is extra stressful right now because of the pressure to make sure every inch of a space is completely clean… The janitors say they want recognition in the form of policies and laws, including extra pay as essential workers and better sick leave.
► From Crosscut — Unemployment in King County hits communities of color hardest — Jobless rate hits 40% in some immigrant neighborhoods near Sea-Tac.
► From the Ellensburg Daily Record — CWU, faculty extend collective bargaining agreement — Central Washington University and the United Faculty of Central have agreed to extend the current three-year collective bargaining agreement, which expires on Aug. 31, 2020, for another year.
► From the Seattle Times — Sonny Quitlong, grocery store and Post Office employee who ‘saw the best in everyone,’ dies of coronavirus — For decades, Mr. Quitlong worked as a checker at a Safeway on Rainier Avenue, and as a mail handler at the U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Tukwila. Even after he was hired full time at the Post Office, he kept working a few days a month at the grocery store because he liked seeing and talking to customers, family members said. “Everyone knew Sonny,” His union, UFCW 21, wrote after his April 6 death. “Customers went out of their way to get in his line, or just to come say hi if he wasn’t the one ringing them up.”
► From the News Tribune — Inslee announces additional COVID-19 safety standards for agricultural workers — The governor issued a proclamation that he said would improve the state’s health and safety standards for farmworkers through physical distancing, increased handwashing, training and education. Those requirements apply to orchards, fields, dairies, fruit and vegetable-packing warehouses, as well as employer-provided transportation and housing.
The Stand (May 27) — Yakima strikers call on L&I, Inslee to address work safety
► A related story from Bloomberg — Every single worker has COVID-19 at one U.S. farm on eve of harvest — All of the roughly 200 employees on a produce farm in Tennessee tested positive for COVID-19 this month. In New Jersey, more than 50 workers had the virus at a farm in Gloucester County, adding to nearly 60 who fell ill in neighboring Salem County. Almost 170 were reported to get the disease at a tomato and strawberry greenhouse complex in Oneida, New York. The outbreaks underscore the latest coronavirus threat to America’s food supply: Farm workers are getting sick and spreading the illness just as the U.S. heads into the peak of the summer produce season. In all likelihood, the cases will keep climbing as more than half a million seasonal employees crowd onto buses to move among farms across the country and get housed together in cramped bunkhouse-style dormitories.
► From the AP — Coronavirus outbreak sickens dozens at Townsend Farms
► From the (Everett) Herald — Inslee wants nursing home residents, staff tested by June 12 — Nursing homes and many assisted living facilities across the state will finally get blanket testing for the new coronavirus under an order that Gov. Jay Inslee issued Thursday.
► From the AP — Washington recovers $300M in fraudulent unemployment claims
► From the News Tribune — State makes gains against false jobless claims but troubles persist for many seeking aid
► From the People’s World — Unions: $500 billion went to corporations, Postal Service got nothing — APWU President Mark Dimondstein and other postal union leaders are calling for $25 billion in cash to the financially beleaguered USPS in the next economic stimulus bill. The money would not only aid the 600,000 people USPS employs, most of them women, people of color, veterans, union members, or combinations of those characteristics. It would aid the country, too, they declared.
The Stand (May 26) — Letter carriers: Our link to the outside world
TAKE A STAND — The USPS is playing a critical role for our nation, particularly in the time of COVID-19. USPS is in danger of running out of money within months, threatening a disruption in service and a loss of income to letter carriers and other postal workers. Americans from all walks of life need politicians in Washington to step up to support the Postal Service and its letter carriers. Take action at HeroesDelivering.org and urge your representatives and senators to support immediate funding for our U.S. postal workers.
► From the Washington Post — Democrat accuses OSHA of being ‘invisible’ while infections rise among essential workers — Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been “invisible” during what she called the worst worker-safety crisis of the agency’s 50-year history.
► From The Hill — COVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration — A surge in coronavirus-related workplace complaints is fueling criticism from unions and Democratic lawmakers that the Labor Department is ill-equipped to ensure workers are safe as more businesses reopen. OSHA, a division of the DOL, has received more than 5,000 complaints pertaining to COVID-19… Democrats, unions, and worker rights advocates have called for an emergency safety standard, but OSHA has instead issued guidance, which allows for flexibly and lets the administration officials change it as they see fit. “We need clear, effective, and comprehensive requirements to ensure employees who continue to come into work across the country are kept safe,” said Sen. Patty Murray. “Now more than ever, we need to make sure corporations are following the law and doing everything possible to protect their employees from this virus—not only because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s what we need in order to reopen the economy safely.”
► From The Hill — Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks — Some Senate Democrats want the next round of coronavirus relief to be more focused on the households that have been hardest hit by the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic.
► From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune — Minneapolis police station set on fire; protesters march downtown — An angry crowd broke into the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct headquarters Thursday night and set fire to the building, capping another day of protests, many of them violent, across the Twin Cities. The police station on E. Lake Street has been the epicenter of protests this week for people demanding justice after the death of George Floyd, who died Monday when a Minneapolis police officer set his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Nearby, Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits, the target of looters the night before, also was set ablaze. As flames leapt, sharp explosions sounded as people threw bottles filled with accelerants or fired bullets into the fires. Protests had been taking place across the metro all day, both peaceful and violent.
► From the Washington Post — Twitter flags Trump, White House for ‘glorifying violence’ after tweeting Minneapolis looting will lead to ‘shooting’ — Trump took to Twitter early Friday to condemn Minneapolis demonstrators as “THUGS,” threaten military intervention and suggest it could lead to “shooting,” prompting the social-media company to take the unprecedented step of limiting the public’s ability to view his tweet.
► From the Washington Post — Seven shot in Louisville as protests turn violent nationwide overnight
EDITOR’S NOTE — Watch as a black reporter from CNN, who respectfully identified himself while legally covering the protests in Minneapolis, is arrested live on the air. A white reporter nearby was not arrested.
— New Day (@NewDay) May 29, 2020
► From the Washington Post — My fellow brothers and sisters in blue, what the hell are you doing? (by Rep. Val Demings) — As law enforcement officers, we took an oath to protect and serve. And those who forgot — or who never understood that oath in the first place — must go. That includes those who would stand by as they witness misconduct by a fellow officer. Everyone wants to live in safer communities and to support law enforcement and the tough job they do every day. But this can’t go on. The senseless deaths of America’s sons and daughters — particularly African American men — is a stain on our country. Let’s work to remove it.
► From the Washington Post — Black lives remain expendable (by Eugene Robinson) — Do you want to prevent the kind of rioting, looting and arson we have seen in Minneapolis this week? Then stop police officers and racist vigilantes from killing black men, like George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. Stop treating African Americans like human trash and start treating us like citizens.
► Minneapolis Goddam.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.