A death per minute ● GOP ‘disdain’ as UI runs out ● Are you operating leverage?

Thursday, July 30, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, July 30 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 54,985 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 853) and 1,555 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 10)

► From the Spokesman-Review — As anti-mask billboards go up in Spokane, area officials urge people to follow recommendations — A conservative group has put up a pair of anti-mask billboards in the Spokane area that advocate against following public health recommendations, leading health officials and experts to argue media literacy is key to combating misinformation.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The man behind the billboards is Caleb Collier, a longtime associate of state Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley).

► From the Washington Post — COVID’s toll so far: Nearly 150,000 dead Americans

► From Reuters — U.S. records a new coronavirus death every single minute — U.S. coronavirus deaths are rising at their fastest rate in two months and have increased by 10,000 in the past 11 days.

► BREAKING from HuffPost — Herman Cain, 2012 GOP presidential candidate, dies from coronavirus — His diagnosis came less than two weeks after he attended Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla.




► From the (Everett) Herald — Local leaders react to Boeing’s grim news about cuts, delays — Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA, 2nd) called Boeing’s planned production cuts and delays to the 747, 777 and 787 models a disappointment — “yet another devastating blow to the workers and local communities I represent who are absorbing the COVID-19 pandemic, a historic drop in air travel and the uncertainty of 787 production in Northwest Washington.”

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — IAM 751 on latest Boeing cuts: We’re still #1 — Machinists’ Jon Holden urges members to stay strong and continue proving Washington is the best aerospace manufacturing hub in the world.




► From Crosscut — As $600 unemployment checks expire, WA’s safety net could strain — The federal government’s added benefits are set to expire at week’s end, and many expect Washington residents will once again turn to the state in droves for help — where they may not find what they’re looking for.




► From the Washington Post — Coronavirus relief talks hit impasse on Capitol Hill — Negotiations on a new coronavirus relief bill hit an impasse on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, leaving no clear path forward even as millions of Americans face a sudden drop in unemployment benefits, and the economy teeters on the brink. A meeting between top White House officials and Democratic leaders ended with no agreement on extending emergency unemployment benefits that expire Friday or on reviving a moratorium on evictions that lapsed last week. That means some 20 million jobless Americans will lose $600 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits that Congress approved in March, which could send the economy reeling.

► From the NY Times — The gulf between Republicans and Democrats on coronavirus aid, in 9 charts

► From The Hill — Pelosi: Republicans have a ‘disdain’ for working Americans — “They have a disdain or sort of a condescension toward working people it seems because they don’t trust how they might use the $600 (in unemployment benefits). That kind of thing. ‘Oh, they have money to pay the rent. They are just not paying the rent’,” the House Speaker said.

► From the Washington Post — By threatening unemployment benefits, Republicans risk sending the economy over a cliff (editorial) — The worst outcome would be for the $600 supplement to lapse on July 31 with nothing to replace it, sending workers, and the economy, over a cliff. As matters now stand, the country is dangerously close to the edge.

► From the LA Times — In GOP plan, you can’t sue your employers for giving you COVID — but they can sue you (by Michael Hiltzik) — The GOP proposal would erect almost insurmountable obstacles to lawsuits by workers who become infected with the coronavirus at their workplaces. It would absolve employers of responsibility for taking any but the most minimal steps to make their workplaces safe. It would preempt tough state workplace safety laws (not that there are very many of them). And while shutting the courthouse door to workers, it would allow employers to sue workers for demanding safer conditions. It reflects a long-term conservative goal of absolving businesses from responsibility for conditions in their workplaces.

► From the Seattle Times — Sen. Murray, Rep. Smith seek expanded benefits for Hanford workers provided faulty respirators — A group of Hanford cleanup workers who were provided faulty respirators and potentially exposed to harmful vapors would gain a pathway to federal benefits if they become sick under proposed legislation introduced Wednesday by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA, 9th).

► From HuffPost — Postal Service reaches deal over terms of $10 billion coronavirus loan — The loan was initially authorized under the CARES Act passed by Congress in March and comes as the Postal Service warned it could run out of money by September without government support. The Trump donor recently appointed postmaster general said the USPS still remains on an “unstable path” that would need to be addressed by “improving operational efficiency and pursuing other reforms.”

► From MarketWatch — Postal Service may close offices, cut service ahead of election — The U.S. Postal Service is considering closing post offices across the country, sparking concerns ahead of an anticipated surge of mail-in ballots in the 2020 elections, U.S. Sen Joe Manchin and a union leader said Wednesday.




► From the AP — Trump floats November election delay – but he can’t do that — Trump is for the first time floating a “delay” to the Nov. 3 presidential election, as he makes unsubstantiated allegations that increased mail-in voting will result in fraud. The dates of presidential elections — the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every fourth year — are enshrined in federal law and would require an act of Congress to change. The Constitution makes no provisions for a delay to the Jan. 20, 2021 presidential inauguration.

► From The Stranger — King County, you need to vote! — Currently in King County only around 15 percent of registered voters have returned their ballots. That’s around three to four percentage points below where King County Elections thought return rates would be at this stage. Guys, c’mon. We’re better than this. Vote!

EDITOR’S NOTE — That goes for the rest of you in other counties, too. Vote! And while you’re filling out that ballot, check out the complete list of endorsements by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Union members can find out why many of these candidates earned labor’s support at the WSLC election information page.

► From The Stranger — Vote for Jesse Johnson (editorial) — There’s really only one option in this race, and it’s Jesse Johnson. If reelected, he plans to continue focusing on health care, education, affordable housing, and supporting small businesses—all good things!




► From the Spokesman-Review — DACA attacks seem never-ending, advocate says — A month ago, the future for DACA recipients like 26-year-old Sarahi Gutierrez brightened as the U.S. Supreme Court upheld challenges to the Trump’s plan to terminate it. On Tuesday it darkened again as the administration announced DACA will not accept new applications and will require current recipients to renew their applications yearly instead of every two years. Gutierrez said it’s disappointing to see continued attempts to eliminate the DACA program and other protections for immigrants and bolster the racist rhetoric that they aren’t valuable. “Immigrants are the most essential workers right now, during this pandemic,” said Gutierrez, who renewed her eligibility for the program last year.

► From NBC News — Lured to America — then trapped — Visas for farmworkers have surged under Trump. But the program has subjected some workers to horrific abuse.




► From the Washington Post — ‘If you can talk, you can breathe,’ Arkansas officer tells man who later dies in police custody — On Wednesday, the officers involved in Lionel Morris’s death were cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the Arkansas State Police and prosecutors.

► From the Washington Post — He held a BLM sign in what he called ‘America’s most racist town.’ The result? A viral video of abuse.




► From the Washington Post — U.S. economy suffers historic contraction as virus hits jobs, businesses — Between April and June, the nation’s gross domestic product plunged by 9.5 percent — or an annual rate of 32.9 percent.

► From The Hill — AFL-CIO says companies juiced CEO pay with stocks as COVID-19 hit— The AFL-CIO is accusing some of the nation’s largest companies of juicing executive pay with cheap stocks as the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, even as they proclaimed they were cutting salaries.

The Stand (July 29) — Washington state’s CEO-to-worker pay ratio is 207-to-1

► From the NY Times — As the pandemic forced layoffs, CEOs gave up little — Some corporate bosses offered to cut their pay, but most did not. Those who did gave up less than 10 percent of what they received last year. “These salary cuts were more window dressing than anything else,” said Liz Shuler, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.

► From CNBC — Lots of companies are saying they have ‘operating leverage’ — that’s just code for firing people — Wall Street believes many corporations are going to fire a lot of people and replace them with technology that will make the companies more efficient and improve profits. There’s a fancy accounting term that is being used a lot these days to describe this trend: “operating leverage.” Simply put, it means that if you can reduce a variable cost, such as labor, you can make more money once sales recover. A lot more money. That’s why analysts and strategists love using the term. It’s like a magic pixie dust: Saying “operating leverage is improving” implies more profits, and the company is heading in the right direction. Usually, the right direction means firing a lot of people.


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

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