The Stand

‘¡Sí se pudo!’ ● COVID at Coyote Ridge ● OSHA off the hook ● Gonna be alright

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Friday, June 12, 2020

 


LOCAL

 

► From the Yakima H-R — ‘THE POWER TO CHANGE’ — Chants of “¡Sí se pudo!” filled the air Thursday afternoon outside Columbia Reach Pack. The chant, which can be translated as “Yes, we did!” marked the end of a series of strikes at fruit plants in the Yakima Valley over coronavirus protections. Columbia Reach workers and the company reached a deal Thursday afternoon. The company agreed to provide personal protective equipment at no charge, comply with all government standards and implement best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to address a concern that workers expressed during the entire strike, the company said there would be no retaliation against workers. “I feel like we have to the power to change things,” said Rosalinda Gonzalez, who has worked for the company for 19 years and was part of the worker-appointed committee…

 

Columbia Reach Pack was the last plant with workers on strike after the protests began at Allan Bros. in Naches on May 7. Signed agreements were reached at four plants — Columbia Reach, Allan Bros., Matson Fruit and Monson Fruit, both in Selah. Frosty Packing employees returned to work after the company offered a bonus program. Most of the employees who participated in a strike in Hansen Fruit also returned to work.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Lamb Weston lays off 660 Mid-Columbia workers as demand for french fries fizzles –Lamb Weston is closing two of its potato processing plants north of the Tri-Cities for three months and temporarily laying off 660 workers. It is furloughing 360 workers at its Connell plant and 300 workers at its Warden plant for about 90 days starting Monday, June 15.

► From the Seattle Times — King County Metro will cut bus service 15% this fall

► From the High County News — How a Washington ski patrol learned to unionize — When Vail Resorts added Stevens Pass to its empire, ski patrollers feared becoming fungible parts in a corporate machine. So they organized.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Tired of being fungible? 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!

 


POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY

 

► From the Hill — Labor leaders under pressure to oust police unions — In Seattle, a labor coalition has threatened to oust the police union if it didn’t change its contract to allow for greater accountability. “Not only have we witnessed labor at large support reforming policing but we’ve seen them leading on holding police unions accountable at this critical moment in our communities and across the country,” said Chris Evan, a spokesman for Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA, 7th). “It’s especially important because the King County Labor Council is also saying that if [the Seattle Police Officers Guild] fails to take the steps outlined and implement new reforms to address institutional racism and unconstitutional policing, they will be expelled from the council and lose their protections.” For some reform proponents, pressure from within the labor movement is a better way to take on police unions, especially if the other option is legislation.

The Stand (June 5) — MLK Labor demands changes from Seattle mayor, police union

The Stand (June 10) — AFL-CIO board takes action on racism, police violence — AFL-CIO backs MLK Labor on Seattle Police Guild demands, but will not oust IUPA. The federation says this moment “requires building a better labor movement from within.”

► From Labor Notes — West Coast dockers stop work to honor George Floyd — At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, ports across the U.S. West Coast ground to a halt as longshore workers stopped work to mourn the death of George Floyd. For nine minutes—the amount of time police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck—members of the Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) performed no work, from Southern California to northern Washington state.

► From The Nation — Dockworkers to shut down West Coast ports in memory of George Floyd for Juneteenth — On Friday, June 19, members of the ILWU will shut down 29 ports across the West coast in solidarity with ongoing protests over the murder of George Floyd. The day of action is slated for Juneteenth, the day celebrating the heralding of the emancipation proclamation to Texan slaves more than two years after the proclamation took effect in 1863.

FROM The Calendar at The Stand — The ILWU is planning a Shutdown of all Pacific Ports at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 19. All are invited to join longshore workers and APRI Seattle at a march beginning at 10 a.m. from Seattle’s Pier 46 (401 Alaskan Way) to the Reynolds Work Release facility (410 4th Ave. in Pioneer Square) to demand human rights and COVID protections for prisoners, and then continue to City Hall. Get details.

► From Crosscut — Protests ‘like the world’s never seen.’ What comes next in Seattle? — Local leaders call the current demonstrations a new era for civil rights.

FROM The Calendar at The Stand — Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County is calling for a statewide Day of Action TODAY in support of all Black lives in Washington state. Meet and rally at 1 p.m. at Seattle’s Judkins Park, 2150 S Norman St. A Silent March will leave there at 2 p.m. and proceed down 23rd 1.8 miles to Jefferson Park, 3801 Beacon Ave. S. Get details.

► From the Washington Post — Gen. Milley’s apology shows respect for the principles Trump tramples on (editorial) — Ten days after walking in combat fatigues through Lafayette Square with President Trump, just after the park was cleared of peaceful protesters, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, has apologized for getting involved in domestic politics. The general is on target. He should never have been there, and it is to his great credit to admit the mistake. It may encourage others always to respect the Constitution, even when a president is beckoning to cross the line.

► From HuffPost — The Black Lives Matter protests are working. Here’s proof. — From cities defunding police departments to monuments to racists coming down, significant changes have already emerged from the nationwide anti-racism protests.

► From HuffPost — Most Americans want police reform but don’t back ‘Defund the Police’ — A near-universal majority of Americans, including Republicans, support at least some changes to policing in the United States following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, a new poll finds. There is majority support for proposals circulating in Congress to ban chokeholds and make it easier to track and charge officers accused of misconduct. But the idea of “defunding the police” has little support from the public.

► From The Hill — Starbucks bans employees from wearing anything in support of Black Lives Matter — The memo reminds staffers that such messages are prohibited under the company’s policy against accessories that “advocated a political, religious or personal issue.” Numerous employees say that the company regularly allows or even encourages employees to wear pins in support of LGBTQ equality, especially during Pride Month every June.

 


THIS WASHINGTON

 

► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, June 12 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 24,779 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 287) and 1,194 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 6)

► From the Spokesman-Review — Over 100 COVID-19 cases reported among Coyote Ridge inmates, staff — More than 100 incarcerated individuals and staff members at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center have contracted COVID-19 . The Connell-based facility has the largest outbreak in a state corrections facility. Only 114 inmates have been tested, and 71 of them (or 62% of those tested) have tested positive, as of Thursday. Thirty staff members have tested positive for the virus. The Washington Department of Corrections restricted movement at the Medium Security Complex on Thursday as a result of the spike of cases. The department does not plan to test all inmates, despite the vast majority of inmates – 1,815 of 2,248 – being in quarantine.

► From the Wenatchee World — Five agricultural workers test positive for COVID-19

► From the Seattle Times — Why are Washington state’s coronavirus cases on the rise again? — The state’s most populous counties — King, Pierce and Snohomish — have seen new cases of COVID-19 begin to level off, while the number of infected people is growing in Southwest and Eastern Washington.

► From the Daily News — Cowiltz County postpones Phase 3 application due to increase in cases

► From the Seattle Times — Washington schools expected to reopen this fall with in-person learning after long coronavirus closures — Washington’s schools chief said Thursday that he expects school districts to reopen buildings and return to in-person learning next school year, as long as public health guidelines allow them to do so. It won’t be school as usual. Desks will be spaced 6 feet apart. Students may attend class in gymnasiums or lunch rooms. Schools are expected to screen students and staff for coronavirus symptoms before they enter school buildings. “Everyone’s going to need to wear face coverings,” said state schools chief Chris Reykdal.

► From the AP — Washington state taps National Guard for jobless aid backlog — Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said that Gov. Jay Inslee approved the deployment of troops who will start assisting her team next week as it tries to reduce the unemployment claim backlog. Details about the number of National Guard soldiers, their precise tasks and the length of their assistance are still being finalized but they will for the most part perform desk jobs.

► From the Washington Post — Unemployed workers face new delays and paused payments as states race to stamp out massive nationwide scam — Aggressive interventions in Maine, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington to stop the scammers have also swept up many people who have nothing to do with the scams. Some out-of-work Americans who had properly filed for help — and weathered long delays to obtain checks in the first place — have been baffled and frustrated to find their benefits are now unexpectedly paused. For Karen Womack, her first unemployment check arrived in April, and not a moment too soon. The 49-year-old Tukwila, Wash., resident had bills to pay, a family to support and bigger dreams to chase. In May, though, an ominous notice arrived from the state, asking Womack to verify her identity. She did as she was told, submitting her identification and Social Security cards to Washington officials. But the state’s unemployment office has cut off her jobless aid anyway, leaving her with no cash — and no answers — for the past four weeks.

► From the Seattle Times — Chopp proposes coronavirus recovery plan with new taxes on capital gains and large employers — State Rep. Frank Chopp on Thursday proposed a $2 billion revenue and spending package — including new taxes on capital gains and large corporations — to confront Washington’s staggering economic downturn amid the coronavirus pandemic. The “Progressive Priorities and Progressive Revenues Plan” would boost spending on public health services, child care and early learning, workforce education, affordable housing and other programs. “We can’t simply cut our way out of a recession,” Chopp said. “It’s better to invest in our people and lay the groundwork for the economy and people in the future.”

 


THAT WASHINGTON

 

► From The Hill — Appeals court rejects AFL-CIO lawsuit over lack of COVID-19 labor protections — A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected the AFL-CIO’s emergency lawsuit against the Trump administration for failing to enact stronger labor protections amid the coronavirus crisis. A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a two-page order saying that the Department of Labor’s OSHA has the authority to decide whether to issue new rules during the pandemic. “The OSHA reasonably determined that an ETS [emergency temporary standard] is not necessary at this time,” the panel said.

The response from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s post-it length response to our petition acknowledges the ‘unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic’ but repeats the false claim by Big Business that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration already has done what is needed to protect workers. In fact, none of the other ‘regulatory tools,’ short of an ETS, require employers to do anything at all. More than 2 million of America’s working people are infected, and more than 110,000 have died. An unprecedented pandemic calls for unprecedented action, and the court’s action today fell woefully short of fulfilling its duty to ensure that the Occupational Safety and Health Act is enforced.”

The response from the Entire Staff of The Stand:

This kind of decision is exactly why Moscow Mitch is so busy stacking courts with right-wing judges — as opposed to responding to state and local needs amid the pandemic. Next up: Mitch’s lickspittle inexperienced 37-year-old protege is about to be confirmed to the nation’s second-highest court. He calls the Affordable Care Act “indefensible” and the Alliance for Justice calls him an “extremist judge.”

► From NPR — Thousands of workers say their jobs are unsafe as the economy reopens — Tyson Foods says its safety measures “meet or exceed” federal safety guidelines from the CDC and OSHA. But therein lies the heart of a big problem, according to safety advocates. The federal government has issued guidelines for employers during the outbreak — but those aren’t mandatory or enforceable.

► From the Washington Post — Trump administration won’t say who got $511 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus loans — Federal officials responsible for spending $660 billion in taxpayer-backed small-business assistance said Wednesday that they will not disclose amounts or recipients of subsidized loans, backtracking on an earlier commitment to release individual loan data. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza are declining to disclose specific borrowers.

► From the CBPP — SSA needs more funding to support essential services — Even before the pandemic, SSA’s customer service suffered from over a decade of underinvestment. From 2010 to 2020, the agency’s operating budget fell 12 percent in inflation-adjusted terms — even as the number of Social Security beneficiaries grew by 21 percent. These cuts have hampered the agency’s ability to perform its essential services, such as determining eligibility in a timely manner for retirement, survivor, and disability benefits; paying benefits accurately and on time; responding to questions from the public; and updating benefits promptly when circumstances change.

► From The Hill — Trump says June 19 rally date not chosen on purpose — He claims the decision to hold his first rally in three months on June 19, the annual Juneteenth holiday that marks the end of slavery, was not purposeful. Tulsa, Okla., where the rally will take place, was the site of one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the country’s history in 1921 when mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses.

► From NBC News — Blacks ‘probably ought to be’ shot more by police, a top Tulsa officer said

► From the Washington Post — Trump’s Tulsa campaign rally sign-up page includes coronavirus liability disclaimer

EDITOR’S NOTE — More than 115,000 Americans killed by COVID-19. The economy in a death spiral. Protests against police violence are met with police violence. And just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse…

► From The Hill — Republicans start bracing for shutdown fight in run-up to election

► From the NY Times — On the future, Americans can agree: It doesn’t look good — In interviews with more than two dozen voters in key political battleground states, Republicans, Democrats and independents of diverse ages, races and social classes expressed worries that their nation had careened off track, with problems no election could easily solve. Fiercely polarized over public health, public safety and, perhaps, truth itself, many people are united only in their collective anxiety.

 


NATIONAL

 

► From The Hill — COVID-19 spikes, but most governors signal they’re staying the course — The coronavirus is spiking across more than a dozen states, but many governors are signaling they have no interest in bringing back restrictive stay-at-home orders almost regardless of what happens. The average number of confirmed cases over a two-week period has doubled or more in Arizona, Arkansas, Oregon and Utah. South Carolina, Nevada, North Carolina and Florida have all set new highs over a seven-day rolling average.

► From the Washington Post — Oregon pauses its reopening plans for one week after coronavirus cases hit new high — Oregon governor Kate Brown announced a one-week “pause” to reopening plans, calling for “a statewide yellow light” after the state reported 177 new cases of covid-19 and two deaths on Thursday. The plan halts new applications for reopening in the Portland area, which had been expected to enter the first phase.

► From The Intercept — Facebook pitched new tool allowing employers to suppress words like ‘unionize’ in workplace chat product — Facebook Workplace, an intranet-style chat and office collaboration product similar to Slack, is currently used by major employers such as Walmart, which is notorious for its active efforts to suppress labor organizing. The application is also used by the Singapore government, Discovery Communications, Starbucks, and Campbell Soup Corporation. The suggestion that Facebook is actively building tools designed to suppress labor organizing quickly caused a stir at the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company. Facebook employees sparked a flurry of posts denouncing the feature, with several commenting in disbelief that the company would overtly pitch “unionize” as a topic to be blacklisted.

► From the AP — Mexico labor lawyer to be held pending trial on riot charges — A judge has ordered a labor lawyer jailed pending trial on charges that prosecutors say stem from a protest this year and not from her leadership of strikes last year that won higher pay for workers at “maquiladora” assembly plants in the border city of Matamoros. “Susana Prieto is a fierce advocate whose tireless advocacy on behalf of workers in Mexico’s maquiladoras has made her a thorn in the side of powerful companies and corrupt officials,” wrote AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Her arrest on trumped-up charges of ‘inciting riots’ is an outrage. The AFL-CIO calls for her immediate and unconditional release.”

 


T.G.I.F.

 

► WARNING: Explicit language. But there’s a reason this man is the first hip-hop artist to win a Pultizer Prize.

 


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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