Monday, July 27, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, July 27 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 52,635 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 856) and 1,501 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 5)
► From the Seattle Times — Farmworker death draws state scrutiny in Okanogan County, where COVID-19 cases are spiking — After a Mexican orchard worker died earlier this month from COVID 19 complications, L&I is demanding changes in the farm labor camps at Gebbers Farms, a major eastern Washington fruit grower that employed the man in Okanogan County. The “order and notice of restraint” requires Gebbers to either remove bunk beds in this and other company labor camps, or comply with a state rule that requires camp workers to be in groups that live, travel and labor together. The state investigation of Gebbers began after the United Farm Workers received reports from about a half dozen company workers about the spread of COVID-19 at a labor camp near Brewster.
► From the Spokesman-Review — ‘Farmworkers are not disposable:’ Latino activists lead marches, boycotts for farmworkers rights — Bryan Vazquez and Eduardo Castañeda Diaz, a state representative candidate from Quincy and WSU graduate, planned a series of marches this week to bring to light the lack of protections for farmworkers and stand in solidarity with agricultural workers.
► From the Wenatchee World — As pandemic rages, farmworkers say employers are ‘prioritizing production over … lives’ — As of early July, 87 workers and 58 family members, 23 of them children, had tested positive at a Primex Farms pistachio processing facility in Wasco, Calif., according to data compiled by the UFW.
► From the Washington Post — About 4,000 federal employees say they contracted the coronavirus at work — and 60 have died — The total number of disability claims is expected to increase to 6,000 within weeks, according to a report that amounts to one of the first accountings of the pandemic’s impact on the health of the federal workforce.
► From the NY Times — Transit workers were NYC’s lifeline. These 3 paid a price. — As riders trickle back, these workers are facing the prospect of a second wave — even as they are coping with the trauma from the peak of the outbreak.
► From Politico — Poll: Support for Trump’s handling of pandemic hits new low
► From The Stranger — Women’s organizations denounce sexist ad supporting Sen. Mark Mullet — A corporate PAC called East King County Jobs Enterprise Washington is running a pro-Mullet ad online that dismisses nurse Ingrid Anderson’s candidacy as political hobbyism, saying she’d “rather make a point than make a difference.” … WSNA President Lynnette Vehrs said Anderson’s perspective as a nurse will serve her and her community well as a lawmaker. She also slammed Mullet for voting to water down a bill ensuring rest breaks for health care workers.
The Stand (July 20) — Big business funds Republican-led attack on nurse
► From the (Everett) Herald — 10th LD, House, Pos. 1: Suzanne Woodard will draw from experience (letter) — In this time of concern for how Olympia will respond to COVID-19’s economic and public health challenges, and where understanding of the science behind legislation is essential, Suzanne Woodard’s 30-plus years as a nurse is invaluable. We need her experience in Olympia.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Both Anderson and Woodard are endorsed by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. See the full list of WSLC endorsements in races for Congress, Washington State Legislature, and statewide offices and judicial races.
► From the Seattle Times — Hard decisions in Olympia amid COVID-19 crisis for winners of this year’s Legislature races — When they return as scheduled in January, lawmakers will likely face excruciating decisions on taxes and spending to balance an $8.8 billion projected state budget shortfall through 2023. The new class of legislators will also consider policing reforms in light of the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd. They must also grapple with Washington’s persistent preexisting problems, such as homelessness and housing affordability, and continuing to rebuild the state’s struggling mental-health care system.
► From the (Longview) Daily News — Local parents support in-person classes, teacher unions call to go remote — In a virtual town hall, WEA President Larry Delaney said he had heard plenty of concerns from educators about a lack of plans, inadequate sick leave for staff and and inability to socially distance in classes. “The science is clear. We can see where this virus is trending,” Delaney said, adding that the “time is now to prepare for quality distance learning.”
The Stand (July 24) — WEA demands safety first in any plans to return to school this fall — The Washington Education Association calls on Governor Inslee to continue leading with science and safety and declare that schools will open remotely this fall.
► From the Washington Post — Schools are moving toward closing for the fall. That is not their fault. (editorial) — The actual decisions on whether to allow children back into the classroom are thankfully being made not by a president hellbent on making a political point, but by school officials who are listening to public health experts and consulting with members of their communities.
► From Jacobin — Billionaires want to reopen schools amid a pandemic. They might unleash a teacher strike wave. — Business interests are eager to reopen schools so they can get the economy running again and turn a profit. But teachers across the country are insisting that schools should only be reopened when it can be done safely — and they might just go on strike to fight back against the billionaires.
► From the Seattle Times — As Seattle protests resume Sunday, demonstrators and police trade allegations about Saturday’s violence — After intense confrontations between demonstrators and police on Saturday, protests Sunday got off to a calmer start as police, demonstrators and observers traded allegations over violent acts the day prior.
► BREAKING from the Washington Post — Senate Republicans, White House seek to reduce weekly unemployment benefit from $600 to $200 — Senate Republicans will propose cutting weekly emergency unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 until states can bring a more complicated program online, according to two sources. The $600 weekly jobless benefit expires in a few days, and House Democrats have proposed extending it until January because the unemployment rate remains very high.
► From the — “Mitch better have my money”: Protesters march to McConnell’s home as he weighs 80% unemployment cut — Protesters marched to the Washington home of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to call for an extension of federal pandemic unemployment benefits before they expire.
► From Common Dreams — GOP coronavirus relief package to include Romney bill that would ‘fast-track Social Security and Medicare cuts’ — Shortly after publicly ditching one attack on Social Security—the payroll tax cut—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed Thursday that the Republican coronavirus relief package will include legislation sponsored by Sen. Mitt Romney that one advocacy group described as an “equally menacing” threat to the New Deal program. The TRUST Act would initiate a secretive process that could result in cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits.
► From The Hill on Jan. 18, 2020 — Romney’s TRUST Act is a plot to gut Social Security behind closed doors (by Alex Lawson of Social Security Works)
EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington’s Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers have all previously supported legislation that would require benefit cuts for Social Security and Medicare. Do they also support Romney’s TRUST Act? Call them and find out: Herrera Beutler (202-225-3536 or 360-695-6292), Newhouse (202-225-5816 or 509-452-3243) and McMorris Rodgers (202-225-2006 or 509-353-2374).
► From Roll Call — Cities, advocates sue Trump to block census immigrant memo — Lawsuit says president’s memo to exclude undocumented immigrants from census results is unconstitutional.
The Stand (July 22) — Trumka on Census exclusion: Every human being counts
► From Roll Call — USCIS postpones plans to furlough 13,400 employees, for now — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Friday it would postpone for a month its plans to furlough more than 13,000 employees, giving Congress more time to act on the agency’s $1.2 billion emergency funding request. AFGE 1924 President Michael Knowles applauded the reprieve but called on Congress to come through with the agency’s funding request.
► From Politico — 40 million Americans face student loan cliff — Unless Congress or the administration intervenes, monthly loan payments paused due to the pandemic will come due for tens of millions of borrowers.
► From The Hill — 100 days out, parties fear chaotic election — A little more than three months before November’s election, partisans who back both Trump and Biden are growing anxious over what they see as the mounting potential for a chaotic contest marred by disenfranchised voters, administration errors and mountains of litigation.
► From HuffPost — Sen. Tom Cotton calls slavery nation’s ‘necessary evil’ in shocking interview — Slavery “was the necessary evil upon which the union was built,” the Arkansas Republican said.
► From the Portland Press-Herald — Bath shipyard union rallies as strike enters sixth week — Local S6 leaders and Maine lawmakers addressed hundreds of union members, now approaching their six week on strike, during a rally Saturday morning. Speakers reaffirmed the union’s call for Bath Iron Works to negotiate a fair contract for its largest union.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.