PRIMARY ELECTION DAY
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
► From the (Everett) Herald — Tuesday is your last chance to cast a ballot in the primary — Voters will decide school measures and determine the November match-ups for local, state and federal offices.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — It’s Primary Election Day in Washington! — Fill out and send in your ballot today (after you check labor’s endorsements, of course).
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Aug. 4 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 58,715 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 784) and 1,600 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 11)
► From the Seattle Times — Alaska Airlines warns nearly 1,600 Washington employees of COVID-19-driven fall layoffs — Alaska Airlines filed notice Monday with Washington state of almost 1,600 permanent layoffs starting on Oct. 1, the day after the government’s Payroll Support Program (PSP) ends. Companywide, 4,200 employees received WARN notices or were laid off, the company said. The local layoffs represent about 20% of the airline’s employees in Washington state, and includes customer service agents, flight attendants and maintenance technicians, Alaska said. Most of those affected are from the airline’s 6,000 flight attendants.
The Stand (July 27) — Aviation unions urge extension of Payroll Support Program — TAKE A STAND: Click here to send a message to Congress to extend the Payroll Support Program protecting hundreds of thousands of aviation workers from layoffs on Oct. 1.
► From CNN — Trump on COVID-19 death toll: ‘It is what it is’
EDITOR’S NOTE — More than 155,000 Americans have died from coronavirus. Another 19,000 are expected to die in the next 20 days. As CNN reports, “If two large planes crashed every day in the U.S., killing everyone on board, the nation would be despondent. If the U.S. suffered a loss of life on the scale of the 9/11 attacks — 50 times over — the tragedy would be incomprehensible. But that’s how many lives coronavirus has claimed in the U.S. since this pandemic started just six months ago.” But the President of the United States just says, “It is what it is.”
► From the Washington Post — ‘Shame on all of you’: Viral obit blames Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for man’s COVID-19 death — “Family members believe David’s death was needless,” reads David W. Nagy’s obituary. “They blame his death and the deaths of all the other innocent people, on Trump, Abbott and all the politicians who did not take this pandemic seriously and were more concerned with their popularity and votes than lives.”
► From the Spokesman-Review — Parents react with concern, relief to Spokane Public Schools’ plan to keep fall classes online — When Spokane Public Schools announced plans Monday to begin the school year online, parents found themselves worried about the quality of online-only learning, a potential for unequal distribution of resources, and balancing their abilities to earn paychecks with ensuring their children are learning at home.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The alternative is to Be Like Georgia. Its largest school district just started “pre-planning days” for reopening schools and already 260 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus or are in quarantine because of possible exposure. The photo above (from Twitter) is of the first day of school in Paulding County, Georgia. (As John Mayer sings, “Why, Georgia, why?)
The Stand (July 24) — WEA demands safety first in any plans to return to school this fall
► From KUOW — Calling for better working conditions, PAC-12 athletes say #WeAreUnited (audio) — Last night, PAC-12 athletes issued a set of demands that were sparked by, but not limited to, COVID. The letter was a perfect storm of the racial inequity, health disparities, and vast economic imbalance that college sports perpetuate.
► From Reuters — FAA lays plan for Boeing 737 MAX’s return; hurdles remain — While the FAA directives align with those expected by Boeing and aerospace analysts for months, the announcement comes after a series of delays and sets in motion the final sequence of events that could lead to the FAA lifting a grounding order on the plane later this year.
► From the AP — FAA spells out design changes needed in grounded Boeing jet
► From the AP — State working through secondary unemployment benefit backlog — The state Employment Security Department said an initial backlog of unemployment claims has been cleared and added fraud measures are in place. The agency is now working through about 30,000 other cases of people who have applied since mid-June and haven’t received payment or had previously been paid and had their payments halted.
► From KUOW — State proposes new unemployment benefits formula as federal dollars dry up — With the $600 supplement, the average benefit Washingtonians had been receiving was $974 a week. Without the federal supplement, the average Washingtonian would only receive $374 a week. Republicans have proposed replacing the $600/week federal supplement with a formula to provide people with 70% of the income they received while working. The problem, according to Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine, is that it could take “four or five months” for the state to calculate that amount for each unemployed Washingtonian. About 1.3 million people have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic shutdowns began in March. Nearly a million people have qualified for payment.
► From the Seattle Times — Agency: Nearly 87,000 bogus unemployment claims filed in state
► From the News Tribune — $100 million in rent aid coming to Washington counties — The state Department of Commerce is releasing $100 million of federal CARES act funding earmarked for rent assistance to counties. It will be administered by existing county-level organizations that provide homeless prevention services. The money can cover up to three months of past owed, current, or future rent through December 2020, and will be paid directly to landlords.
► From the News Tribune — Tacoma Public Schools saves $45 million for taxpayers in COVID-impacted bond market — Tacoma Public Schools saved taxpayers $45 million when the district refinanced its school construction bonds last month. Rosalind Medina, chief financial officer for the district, said the savings was almost “an unheard of number.”
► From NPR — States are broke and many are eyeing massive cuts. Here’s how yours is doing. — The COVID-19 pandemic could swipe roughly $200 billion from state coffers by June of next year, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute. Record-high unemployment has wreaked havoc on personal income taxes and sales taxes, two of the biggest sources of revenue for states. Those drops directly affect state budgets, so NPR asked member station reporters to fill us in on what’s going on in nearly every state across the United States.
► From the NY Times — The unemployed stare into the abyss. Republicans look away. (by Paul Krugman) — House Democrats passed a bill specifically designed to deal with this mess two and a half months ago. The Trump administration and Senate Republicans had plenty of time to propose an alternative. Instead, they didn’t even focus on the issue until days before the benefits ended. And even now they’re refusing to offer anything that might significantly alleviate workers’ plight. This is an astonishing failure of governance, right up there with the mishandling of the pandemic itself.
► From The Hill — Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions — A looming floor fight over unemployment insurance is putting a spotlight on GOP divisions about how to replace the $600-per week federal benefit… With McConnell saying “no progress is being made anywhere else” on the negotiations, Republicans are now eager to hold votes and show they are trying to advance reduced unemployment benefits legislation, even if it’s destined to fail, as the economic fallout from the virus inflicts even steeper financial pain for jobless Americans.
► From the Washington Post — The myth of unemployment benefits depressing work (by Catherine Rampell) — Republicans have essentially accused these desperate families of being lazy welfare queens, choosing to remain on cushy government benefits rather than savor the dignity of work. But five recent economic studies find no such thing is happening.
► From Roll Call — Legality of potential payroll tax move seen as ‘dubious’ — Allies push Trump to suspend payroll tax by executive order if Congress won’t. Experts from both the right and left say they’d be on shaky legal ground to do so.
The Stand (July 21) — GOP now backs payroll tax cut to raid, undermine Social Security
► From The Washington Post — The commerce clause was a GOP bogeyman. Now it’s being used to authorize pandemic liability protections. (by ) — A liability shield would give businesses added security in reopening — albeit at the expense of the rights of workers. It would also make a mockery of the Republican Party’s opposition to expansive congressional power, and trespass far into the domain of traditional state authority.
► From the Washington Post — Census Bureau says counting will end a month earlier than planned — The Census Bureau announced late Monday that door-knocking and other field activities for the 2020 Census will cease a month earlier than planned on Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 31. The deadline for field activities, including online and telephone reporting, had been adjusted earlier this year in anticipation that the decennial tally would be extended because of complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic. Plans to shut down the count earlier drew fierce criticism from Democrats and civil rights groups, which have pushed back against a broader effort by the Trump administration to change how the population is counted and how the data is used.
The Stand (May 5) — Be counted: Participate in the 2020 Census by mail, phone or online — All U.S. households have received a notice or form explaining what to do. Can’t find it? No matter. here’s how you can go ahead and participate:
● MAIL — Fill out and return the census form you received in the mail, OR
● PHONE — Participate by calling 1-844-330-2020 toll free (click here for other phone numbers with your preferred language), OR
● ONLINE — Get counted at my2020census.gov online. Your mailed notice included a Census ID number on it, but that number is not necessary to go ahead and fill it out online.
► From Roll Call — Highway work at risk as Congress considers next recovery bill — With fuel-tax revenue down as people drive less during the pandemic, state transportation officials fear prospects for highway projects.
► From the WSJ — Beleaguered public pension funds make record gains in 2nd quarter — Public pension funds set a 22-year performance record in the second quarter, recovering some but not all of their losses from the first quarter.
► From The Baffler — The new face of union busting (by Kim Kelly) — Over the years, the anti-union industrial complex has evolved into a lucrative field unto itself; it’s not all brash targeted firings and stuffy, captive audience meetings anymore. Some solutions are quieter, sneakier, and more suited to the image that outwardly progressive or even “social justice”-oriented organizations seek to convey. Whether it’s hiring a very specific kind of law firm, chiseling away at a new union’s bargaining unit to lessen its impact, or forcing workers to jump through the hoop of holding a secret ballot election instead of just voluntarily recognizing their union, these more genteel tactics can be just as effective as those wielded by old-fashioned strikebreakers, even if they’re no longer quite as violent. A recent spate of union-busting tussles and general bad boss behavior has thrown a harsh spotlight on the rot at the top of various nonprofits, liberal political organizations, and beloved cultural institutions. While the myth of the progressive boss has gone some way toward shielding these leaders from scrutiny, that glossy veneer can only hide so much. Now, many workplace battles are playing out in the boardroom or courthouse instead of in the streets or on the job site, but they’re happening for the same nefarious reasons they always have.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.