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Who’s at risk ● Hannity kills ● WA’s worst (again) ● NLRB vs. unions (again)

Thursday, June 25, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, June 25 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 29,869 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 373) and 1,293 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 7)

► From the Stranger — Here are the occupations most affected by coronavirus — The Washington State Department of Labor Health has released new data on the occupations and industries most affected by coronavirus, and the news isn’t great for people who work in health care and agriculture. People in the healthcare field are at alarming risk, with 37% of the positive cases working in that industry… In general, workers in essential jobs who couldn’t work from home appear to be bearing the brunt of the disease.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Local hospitals treating record number of COVID patients

► From the Bellingham Herald — Surge in COVID cases overwhelming Whatcom health officials

► From the Tri-City Herald — 2nd Washington state inmate dies of COVID-19. Both at Connell prison — As of Wednesday night, 43 state employees have tested positive at the facility, as well as 110 inmates.

► From the Yakima H-R — Yakima County jail reports 40 inmates, 5 staff infected with COVID-19

► From the Seattle Times — COVID-19 spread at Yakima jail while some guards went without masks — It reflects a strong resistance among many in Yakima to wear a mask, which extends to some county officials and has persisted deep into a runaway trajectory of the coronavirus. This is likely to complicate efforts to enforce Inslee’s proclamation — which will take effect Friday — requiring masks be worn in Yakima stores and other public spaces.

The Stand (June 24) — Masks required in public starting Friday

► From the NY Times — Arizona ‘overwhelmed’ with demand for tests as U.S. system shows strain — American coronavirus testing remains fragmented, as in the early days of the pandemic, and the bottlenecks are the same ones, too.

► From The Guardian — Trump plan to cut federal support for COVID-19 testing sites sparks alarm — Funding for 13 testing sites, including seven in Texas, will end this month – a move officials warn could cause further spread.

► From the Washington Post — Trump promised to pay for COVID-19 care. But patients with long-term symptoms see huge bills. — The Trump administration’s pledge to protect COVID-19 patients from massive medical bills is falling short for a growing number of survivors who experience long-term complications from the virus.

► From the Washington Post — Dozens of Secret Service officers and agents told to self-quarantine after Trump’s Tulsa rally — Two of their colleagues tested positive for the novel coronavirus, part of the fallout from Trump’s insistence on holding the mass gathering over the objections of public health officials.

► From the Washington Post — With ‘kung flu,’ Trump sparks backlash over racist language — and a rallying cry for supporters

► From the Washington Post — New research explores how conservative media misinformation may have intensified the severity of the pandemic — The three studies paint a picture of a media ecosystem that entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking steps to protect themselves and others. The end result, according to one of the studies, is that infection and mortality rates are higher in places where one pundit who initially downplayed the severity of the pandemic — Fox News’ Sean Hannity — reaches the largest audiences.




► From the Seattle P-I — Report calls Washington the most regressive tax structure… again — In Washington, the less money you make the larger your percentage of state taxes is. That’s because the Evergreen State has one of the most regressive tax structures in the country — in fact, according to a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, it’s the most regressive. “When all state and local taxes are tallied, Washington’s poor families pay 17.8 percent of their income in state and local taxes,” the report read. “Compare that to neighboring Idaho and Oregon, where the poor pay 9.2 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.”

TODAY at The Stand — Washington can’t afford austerity; tax the rich to save jobs, services (by Marilyn Watkins) — Cutting important services now will cause immediate suffering, prolong the recession, and deepen racial and economic inequity. We need our state legislators and other elected officials to have the courage to raise new taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, then reinvest that money in health care, secure housing, child care, educational opportunity, and income support for people and small businesses who are struggling for survival.

► From KNKX — Washington’s community and technical colleges brace for big budget cuts — About 360,000 people attend the state’s community and technical colleges, which are a launching pad for many first-generation college students and people of color to gain post-secondary degrees and certificates. But those students may face a smaller selection of classes soon. The governor asked public agencies, including higher education, to map out a possible 15 percent budget cut… “We are one of the major economic engines of the state,” said Michele Johnson, chancellor and chief executive officer of Pierce College. “If you think about what we’re facing right now, where we’ve got individuals who are unemployed and who are trying to get back to work, that’s precisely who it is that we serve.”

The Stand (June 15) — Petition: Protect Washington’s community college students

► From the AP — Inslee announces options for higher education in-person instruction — The guidance gives universities, colleges, technical schools and apprenticeship programs options to consider as they prepare for the return of students as early as Aug. 1, depending on their academic calendar. Those recommendations include ensuring proper physical distancing, face coverings and limits on classes and gatherings.




► From the Daily Record — Ellensburg schools looking at staff cuts — Staffing reductions have already taken the form of positions not being filled when staff leaves. President of the ESD teacher’s union Donna Grassel said, “Some of these eliminated positions drastically affect programming and will have far reaching effects in the years to come.”

► From the Spokesman-Review — SPS teacher salaries cross $100,000 mark — Spokane Public Schools teachers at the top end of the scale will earn $94,246 in base salary, plus $7,236 in “enrichment” pay – compensation for extra hours worked outside the classroom – for a total of $101,482. A beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience is scheduled to earn $50,424. That jumps to $79,275 for a teacher with a master’s and 10 years in the classroom.

► From the Spokesman-Review — Spokane school board defers new superintendent decision as union pushes pick — The board is still weighing its options on how to proceed following the resignation Tuesday of Superintendent Shelley Redinger. The Spokane Education Association is urging it to quickly name an interim superintendent in order to focus on preparation for the fall. “We must have an experienced leader at the helm who will be here to implement the agreements we reach,” read a letter signed by SEA President Jeremy Shay and Vice President Brad Read. That person would be Associate Superintendent Adam Swinyard, the union said.

► From the Spokesman-Review — ‘A band-aid solution’: Supreme Court decision provides relief, not fix, for area DACA recipients

► From the Olympian — McDonald’s says it’s hiring 3,900 workers this summer in state

EDITOR’S NOTE — But be warned: Trump’s NLRB has granted McDonald’s legal immunity for how its franchises treat employees. So if you get fired for supporting unionization, which is illegal in this country, McDonald’s is not responsible. So you can imagine how you and your McDonald’s co-workers will get treated if you complain about insufficient COVID-19 protections. Good luck with that new job.




► From the Seattle Times — Boeing reacts to racist incident at Everett plant — A Black manager at Boeing’s Everett jet assembly plant found racist symbols on his desk when he arrived for work Tuesday, prompting Boeing to launch an internal investigation and refer the incident to law enforcement… On Wednesday, IAM District 751 president Jon Holden called the incident in Everett “appalling.” He added, “We condemn this behavior and will work to provide a safe, discrimination-free workplace everywhere the IAM represents workers.”

► From the Seattle Times — Foreign regulators demand substantial new changes to Boeing 737 MAX flight controls — Aviation safety regulators in Europe and Canada, and the FAA, have agreed Boeing will be required to make these additional design changes and retrofit the worldwide fleet only after the MAX returns to service.




► From The Hill — House to pass sweeping police reform legislation — House Democrats are poised to pass historic police reforms on Thursday, setting the stage for a showdown with Republicans in the Senate where efforts to strike a bipartisan deal are dwindling.

EDITOR’S NOTE — AFL-CIO tweets: The AFL-CIO urges a vote for the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (#HR7120), legislation that addresses longstanding structural racism and the need for accountability in American law enforcement. While not perfect, #HR7120 is an important first step in taking overdue action to redesign policing to address the lack of accountability and systemic racism that continues to plague our nation. America is in pain. People of color have suffered far too long. All of us want answers for George Floyd and every other victim of police violence. This is a moment to do what is right. We urge a vote for the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. 

► From the Washington Post — ‘We are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them’: Three cops fired after racist talk of killing black residents — Sitting in his patrol car in Wilmington, N.C., Officer Michael “Kevin” Piner predicted Black Lives Matter protests would soon lead to civil war. “I’m ready,” Piner told another officer, adding that he planned to buy an assault rifle. “We are just going to go out and start slaughtering them f—— n——,” he said.

► From the NY Times — Tucson police in turmoil after death of Latino man in custody — The police chief of Tucson, Ariz., offered to step down after the release of a video depicting the death of a handcuffed man. Three officers involved have already resigned.

► From the Seattle Times — Police presence at Seattle Public Schools halted indefinitely

► From the (Everett) Herald — Edmonds School Board cuts school resource officer contracts




► From Law 360 — NLRB to reconsider ‘contract bar’ blocking union removals — The NLRB is reviewing its so-called contract bar doctrine, which shields unions from removal during the terms of their collective bargaining agreements, at the request of a worker seeking to cut ties with a UFCW local at a poultry processing plant in Delaware. Tuesday’s decision means the board may add the contract bar doctrine to the long list of union-friendly policies it has modified or discarded via case law during the Trump administration.

► From Roll Call — The very American Postal Service is now a partisan pawn, with democracy at stake (by Mary C. Curtis) — The post office has been a pathway to the middle class for many hardworking families of every race, and has delivered in urban centers and rural outposts without fear or favor, in snow and rain and heat and gloom of night and … you know the rest, to bring mail, medicine and more. Connections forged with letter carriers could be more personal than businesslike. What’s not to like? A lot, to listen to some of our country’s leaders, who seem determined to sabotage something that has been integral to the country’s development. This is at a time when the Postal Service could be crucial to the right to vote, which might explain one reason for the controversy — the No. 1 reason, perhaps.

► From the Washington Post — Virginia poised to create first pandemic workplace safety mandates in nation, as Trump labor agency sits on sidelines — The governor’s office said the rules were prompted in large part by the lack of enforcement by OSHA, the federal agency tasked with upholding workplace safety.

► From The Hill — Trump faces ObamaCare court deadline as political ground shifts — The Trump administration is expected by Thursday to file a legal brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down ObamaCare, even as coronavirus cases climb across the U.S. and soaring unemployment forces millions off employer-based health plans.

► From the Washington Post — Treasury sent more than 1 million coronavirus stimulus payments to dead people, congressional watchdog finds — The checks sent to dead people as of April 30 totaled nearly $1.4 billion, according to the GAO.




► From The Street — Amazon faces high risk of workers unionizing, says analyst — Despite substantial investments in a COVID-19 response, which Amazon announced in its first quarter earnings release, reports of worker infections and deaths have shone an unflattering spotlight on Amazon’s labor practices. And a unionized workforce may be inevitable, said D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Work at Amazon? (Or anywhere else where the bosses get super-rich while the workers get sick?) Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for a safe, healthy workplace and fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► From the NY Times — Amazon workers urge Bezos to match his words on race with actions — From racist graffiti to missed promotions, employees say a “systemic pattern of racial bias” permeates the company.

► From the NY Times — The black-white wage gap is as big as it was in 1950 (by David Leonhardt) — Despite decades of political change — the end of enforced segregation across the South, the legalization of interracial marriage, the passage of multiple civil rights laws and more — the wages of black men trail those of white men by as much as when Harry Truman was president. That gap indicates that there have also been powerful forces pushing against racial equality… History points to some of the likely solutions for closing the racial wage gap. An end to mass incarceration would help. So would policies that attempt to reverse decades of government-encouraged racism — especially in housing. But it’s possible that nothing would have a bigger impact than policies that lifted the pay of all working-class families, across races.




► From the NY Times — When bosses shared their profits (by Robert Reich) — Since the 1980s, profit-sharing has almost disappeared from large corporations. That’s largely because of a change in the American corporation that began with a wave of hostile takeovers and corporate restructurings in the 1980s. Raiders like Carl Icahn, Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken targeted companies they thought could deliver higher returns if their costs were cut. Since payrolls were the highest cost, raiders set about firing workers, cutting pay, automating as many jobs as possible, fighting unions, moving jobs to states with lower labor costs and outsourcing jobs abroad. To prevent being taken over, CEOs began doing the same… It’s impossible to predict what kind of America will emerge from the crises we’re now experiencing, but the four-decade trend toward higher profits and lower wages is unsustainable, economically and politically. Sharing the profits with all workers is a logical and necessary first step to making capitalism work for the many, not the few.


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!