Monday, June 22, 2020
► ICYMI — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO hosted a Juneteenth Lunch & Learn featuring Black labor leaders discussing lessons from our past, a call to action for our present, and hope for our future.
► From KING 5 — Thousands celebrate Juneteenth in Seattle with march and rallies for racial justice — Crowds of people marched through Seattle’s Central District Friday for Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in America.
► From the News Tribune — Juneteenth march through downtown Tacoma (photo gallery)
► From Crosscut — Stevens Pass ski patrol union shreds Vail’s unfair labor practices — When the multibillion dollar resort empire came to Washington, seasonal workers united for fair pay and protections. The unionization effort they commenced — learning as they went — wasn’t just about sustainable wages, but about demanding a voice to speak to management as co-equal stakeholders in their resort.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work and respect on the job. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
► From the AP — Layoffs climb in Washington aviation industry amid pandemic — “There’s no good news coming out of Boeing right now,” one company’s vice president of aerospace sales said.
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, June 22 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 28,680 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 354) and 1,270 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 8)
► From the Spokesman-Review — Controlling the virus in food processing plants — Lay Paw wants to be a biologist or a virologist. She plans to study biology this fall at Seattle Pacific University. The 18-year-old just graduated from Kennewick High School, despite just a month earlier, confronting COVID-19 personally, which her whole family has since recovered from, and using her voice to advocate for the safety of workers at the Tyson meat plant in Wallula… It took several weeks, 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases and the death of one worker before Tyson officials decided to shut the plant down on April 23, although the Walla Walla Department of Community Health had the authority to shut it down sooner and chose not to. Eventually, 277 of the more than 1,000 workers tested would test positive. Three workers died due to the outbreak. … Food processing plants have been ravished by the virus in many parts of the United States – but not all of them. Fifteen miles down the road from Tyson in Pasco, there is a Lamb Weston french fry plant. Workers at this plant are represented by Teamsters Local 839, and so far, the plant has not had a significant outbreak.
The Stand (April 23) — The Union Difference: A tale of two plants
EDITOR’S NOTE — Since Tyson closed the plant and tested all workers, local health districts have stopped reporting COVID-19 cases there. Was that part of the deal? The community no longer gets to know if it’s still a hot spot?
► From the Seattle Times — In Yakima, as cases soar, community spread increasingly drives the pandemic — State COVID-19 agricultural rules, in place since June 3, require all employees, except those who labor alone, to wear masks, including the crews thinning apples and now picking cherries in Central Washington’s orchards. Still, the novel coronavirus has continued to rage through the ranks of Yakima’s agricultural workers and the broader county population in a pandemic that health district officials believe to be increasingly driven by what happens outside of the workplace.
► From the AP — Inslee to require masks in Yakima County as virus cases spike
► From Bloomberg Law — AFL-CIO asks full D.C. Circuit to review virus-standard ruling — The AFL-CIO has requested that the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit review a three-judge panel’s decision to reject the labor federation’s call for OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from the novel coronavirus.
► From the NY Times — Why Is OSHA AWOL? (editorial) — Worker protections are critical during the pandemic — yet the Trump administration has issued only voluntary guidance instead of enforceable rules.
► LIVE from the Washington Post — More than two dozen states report coronavirus surges as Trump administration prepares for possible second wave
► From HuffPost — Second wave of coronavirus cases? Experts say we’re still in the first. — “When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave?” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health.
► From HuffPost — The Senate must act: End the nursing home crisis now (by Alex Lawson) — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his caucus of Senate Republicans must take immediate action to end the nursing home crisis of COVID-19 infections and deaths. They must hold nursing home corporations accountable, not give them legal immunity.
► From the Washington Post — Democrats, public health experts decry Trump for saying he asked officials to slow down coronavirus testing — Even members of his own administration expressed concern about Trump’s comments.
► From Roll Call — COVID-19 cases climbing among front-line workers in Congress
► From HuffPost — Trump uses racist terms ‘kung flu’ and ‘Chinese virus’
► From the Seattle Times — Washington state must tax the rich, like me, not slash its budget (by Nick Hanauer) — On Wednesday, Washington’s chief economist forecast that state revenue will drop by $8.8 billion through 2023. If history is any guide, some will respond by somberly arguing that we simply have no other choice than to make deep, painful and immediate cuts to the state budget. But these people would be wrong. No state is better positioned to invest in a quick and robust recovery than Washington. Our secret weapon? Taxing the rich. Most states, including all our neighbors, already tax their wealthy citizens. We do not. But at this moment of unprecedented economic crisis, this weakness can become a strength. By sensibly reforming our tax code to tap into our state’s immense reserves of untaxed income and wealth, we could raise the billions necessary to help working families and small businesses get back on their feet, without increasing taxes on 99% of Washingtonians.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Stuck on hold, 81,000 in state await first unemployment payments — Some 81,000 Washingtonians are waiting for their first unemployment payments, Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi Levine said during a Thursday call with reporters. More than a third of those people — some 33,000 — filed their initial unemployment claims before May 1. “We take this very seriously,” she said. “We know they are increasingly desperate. We are not going to rest until we get this solved.”
► From the (Everett) Herald — Expect long ferry lines due to crew shortage from COVID-19 — Mukilteo and Edmonds routes will have reduced boat service. Saturday’s wait was 3 hours from Clinton. A Washington State Ferries spokesman said a combination of aging workers, vessel maintenance and funding led to the need to limit service: “We are down 100 to 150 workers just because they are in the high-risk category. Previous cuts over the years have us down to where we are a skeleton crew. We are really challenged right now.”
► From the News Tribune — Referendum to repeal sex-ed law gets twice the needed signatures to put it on ballot — A referendum to repeal a law mandating sex education in schools had garnered more than 264,000 verified signatures, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
► From Crosscut — Washington students don’t need cops. They need counselors, teachers and nurses. (by Lin Trinh) — By now school districts should know: Police presence in schools has negative consequences for marginalized students.
► From the Seattle Times — Tacoma police killing of Manuel Ellis spotlights failures of new I-940 police-reform law — Even as the investigation continues, a Seattle Times examination of the case shows troubling weaknesses in the new police accountability law, undermining its objectives as Washington state and some of its municipalities push for still more police reforms.
► From the Seattle Times — Listen, learn and act on police reform (editorial) — Arbitration clauses in police contracts weaken accountability and should be prohibited by the Legislature… The nation is engaged in a critically important and overdue conversation about how to confront systemic racism and end abhorrent, disproportionate police violence against people of color. Leadership across Washington should listen, learn and act boldly on reforms.
► From HuffPost — How we can reform police unions to address systemic racism — Stripping away collective bargaining rights for police presents a risk to other public sector workers. After all, conservatives who have led a legal assault on public sector bargaining argue that teacher unions exist to protect bad teachers.
► From Roll Call — Policing overhaul hinges on compromise — Republicans and Democrats say they want to act quickly, but political considerations could get in the way.
► From the (Everett) Herald — DACA preserved, but the ‘Dream’ remains deferred (editorial) — Congress and president must still act to make its protections for young immigrants permanent.
► From the Washington Post — Betsy DeVos is an abysmal failure and our nation’s schoolchildren are paying the price (by ) — Over the past 3½ years, DeVos has done yeoman work supporting the nihilistic approach of the Trump administration, backing budgets that would take away money from everything from after-school activities to the Special Olympics. Time and again her pet causes have taken precedence over what’s best for teachers and students. Now, facing an unprecedented crisis for education, DeVos has again abandoned the field. She deserves an F for her time in office.
► From Politico — Trump expected to extend limits on foreign workers — The executive order, blocking most people from getting permanent residency, will stretch restrictions through the end of the year.
► From the AP — Lower-than-expected turnout at Tulsa rally leaves Trump fuming
► From Bloomberg — U.S. ranked worst for workers’ rights among major economies — The U.S. has the worst record among major developed countries when it comes to workers’ rights, according to a survey of labor unions. The world’s largest economy is ranked a 4 in a scale by the International Trade Union Congress, meaning there are “systematic violations of rights.” Every other Group of Seven country ranks 3 or better.
► From the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald — Bath Iron Works’ largest union votes to strike — Bath Iron Works’ largest union (IAM S6) voted to go on strike at midnight Sunday for the first time in 20 years in a dispute over proposals involving the hiring of subcontractors and changes to seniority at a time when shipyard production has fallen six months behind schedule.
► From the WSJ — T-Mobile and AT&T are cutting thousands of jobs — T-Mobile cuts jobs faster than initially planned after Sprint merger; AT&T informs union of more layoffs in telecom unit.
► From Jacobin — Workers at No Evil Foods say the vegan, progressive company busted their union drive — No Evil Foods markets itself as a left-wing, “revolutionary” food company. But its workers say the company recently busted their union drive and fired organizers.
► From HuffPost — Millions are unemployed. Crises abound. Is it time to guarantee public service jobs? (by Alexander Kaufman) — The environment is degrading, an aging population needs care, and wages are stagnant. And that was before COVID-19. A job guarantee could address it all.
► From the Washington Post — ‘Heroes, right?’ (by New York City paramedic Anthony Almojera) — I woke up this morning to about 60 new text messages from paramedics who are barely holding it together. Some are still sick with the virus. At one point we had 25 percent of EMTs in the city out sick. Others are living in their cars so they don’t risk bringing it home to their families. They’re depressed. They’re emotionally exhausted. They’re drinking too much. They’re lashing out at their kids. They’re having night terrors and panic attacks and all kinds of outbursts. I’ve got five paramedics in the ground from this virus already and a few more on ventilators. Another rookie EMT just committed suicide. He was having trouble coping with what he was seeing. He was a kid — 23 years old. He won’t be the last. I have medics who come to me every day and say, “Is this PTSD I’m feeling?” But technically PTSD comes after the event, and we’re not there yet. It’s ongoing stress and trauma, and we might have months to go.
Do you know how much EMTs make in New York City? We start at $35,000. We top out at $48,000 after five years. That’s nothing. That’s a middle finger. It’s about 40 percent less than fire, police and corrections — and those guys deserve what they get. But we have three times the call volume of fire. There are EMTs on my team who’ve been pulling double shifts in a pandemic and performing life support for 16 hours, and then they go home and they have to drive Uber to pay their rent. I’m more than 15 years on the job, and I still work two side gigs. One of my guys does part-time at a grocery store.
Heroes, right? The anger is blinding.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.