Monday, August 31, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Aug. 31 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 74,320 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 490) and 1,905 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 11)
► From the Wenatchee World — After streak of cases, all employees at a McDougall packing plant are being tested — Nine COVID-19 cases were reported within 14 days at a McDougall & Sons packing facility in Monitor, Wash., triggering a new state regulation that all on-site employees be tested for the virus.
► From KING 5 — 37 at SeaTac federal detention center infected with coronavirus
► LIVE from the NY Times — Cases in the U.S. have topped 6 million — On a day that saw yet another milestone in cases, Trump retweeted fringe theories about the virus.
► From the Washington Post — New Trump pandemic adviser pushes controversial ‘herd immunity’ strategy, worrying public health officials — One of President Trump’s top medical advisers is urging the White House to embrace a controversial “herd immunity” strategy to combat the pandemic, which would entail allowing the coronavirus to spread through most of the population to quickly build resistance to the virus.
► From the LA Times — Foster Farms to temporarily close poultry plant after 8 workers die of COVID-19 — Foster Farms announced Saturday that it would comply with a Merced County health department order and temporarily close one of its poultry plants in Livingston, Calif., the site of a coronavirus outbreak that has left eight workers dead.
► From Salon — Death on the job: Workers have never been more expendable than they are now (by Bob Hennelly) — Many of the people celebrated as “essential workers” will have been laid off, as cities, counties, states, school districts and transit authorities add them to the list of 1.5 million public sector workers already laid off — all because Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked efforts by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to provide the local aid so badly needed. And those folks will be the lucky ones. Thousands of other essential workers will have already died from the virus that Trump has done all he could do to spread as far and wide as possible, thanks to his inaction at the federal level and inability to coordinate a national public health response.
► From the Columbian — Battle Ground school officials approve furloughing 107 classified employees — The north Clark County school district will temporarily reduce its classified staff of 685 people by about 16 percent in preparation for a remote start to the school year. The furloughs include 73 special education assistants, 28 crossing guards, and early childhood and community education employees.
► From the (Longview) Daily News — Kelso School Board to discuss potential cuts in classified staff hours — In an Aug. 17 meeting, the Longview School Board unanimously approved temporary layoff of 236 employees from SEIU 925 and the Longview Classified Public Education Association while the district is in remote learning. Those layoffs include nurses, most food service workers and bus drivers, custodians, secretaries and many paraeducators.
► From KNKX — Report confirms what many parents already know: affordable child care is hard to come by — A new report from the state Department of Commerce shows that affordable child care in Washington is out of reach for many working parents. And the problem has only gotten worse.
► From the Seattle Times — Quality, affordable child care is an economic necessity (editorial) — This is about more than child well-being and family finances; it’s about the health of Washington’s economy. We’re all hurt when parents can’t work and be assured children are well cared for while they do. In the near term, Congress must act swiftly to stabilize this fragile and vital industry by greenlighting the $50 billion child-care stabilization fund proposed by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Moving forward will require more substantive, sustainable change.
► From the Seattle Times — Police oversight is Legislature’s duty (editorial) — The list of needed reforms is long and will require determined lawmakers. The vast majority of Washington’s 11,400 law officers would feel no harm with improved oversight. But the lack of strong accountability allows even bad officers to keep a credential the state has a duty to guard carefully.
► From the Washington Post — As clashes between armed groups and leftist protesters turn deadly, police face complaints of tolerating vigilantes — As protesters march against racism and police violence in cities and towns across the nation, they are being confronted by groups of armed civilians who claim to be assisting and showing support for police battered and overwhelmed by the protests. The confrontations have left at least three people dead in recent days: In addition to the two protesters killed Tuesday in Kenosha, a man thought to be associated with a far-right group called Patriot Prayer was fatally shot late Saturday in Portland, Ore. Both incidents have drawn complaints that local authorities abetted the violence by tolerating the presence of these self-appointed enforcers with no uniforms, varied training and limited accountability. The stated motives of these vigilante actors, who are virtually indistinguishable from one another once massed on the streets, range from protecting storefronts and free speech to furthering White supremacy and fomenting civil war.
► From the Washington Post — Trump cannot be allowed to incite his way to reelection (by Max Boot) — Trump and his cronies are like the cartoon villains in movies who not only unleash dastardly plots but then helpfully explain them to the audience. Thus on Thursday, the president’s outgoing counselor, Kellyanne Conway, told Fox News: “The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order.” Seldom has a more cynical or sordid thought been publicly expressed by such a senior White House aide. As Democratic nominee Joe Biden said, Trump is “rooting for more violence, not less,” because he views it as politically beneficial in his quest to scare White America into voting for him.
► From Roll Call — Critical deadlines loom for highways, airlines and transit — With just weeks left in the legislative year, Congress faces two big transportation deadlines on Sept. 30, a transportation to-do list and potentially dire consequences if it does not act. Without congressional involvement, airlines have signaled they will lay off thousands of workers this fall. State highway departments could grind projects to a halt, and transit agencies could slash services. With the economy already teetering, analysts fear inaction on these crises, all caused or made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, could hinder eventual recovery.
The Stand (July 27) — Aviation unions urge extension of Payroll Support Program
► From the AP — Trump rule on transgender health blocked at the 11th hour — A federal judge blocked the Trump administration on Monday from enforcing a new regulation that would roll back health care protections for transgender people.
► From Roll Call — How American aluminum can help us build back better (by Mike Bless) — As the pandemic has shown, we can’t rely on foreign production when it comes to critical industries.
► From EPI — Why unions are good for workers—especially in a crisis like COVID-19 — The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored both the importance of unions in giving workers a collective voice in the workplace and the urgent need to reform U.S. labor laws to arrest the erosion of those rights. During the crisis, unionized workers have been able to secure enhanced safety measures, additional premium pay, paid sick time, and a say in the terms of furloughs or work-share arrangements to save jobs. These pandemic-specific benefits build on the many ways unions help workers. Following are just a few of the benefits, according to the latest data:
- Unionized workers (workers covered by a union contract) earn on average 11.2% more in wages than nonunionized peers (workers in the same industry and occupation with similar education and experience).
- Black and Hispanic workers get a larger boost from unionization. Black workers represented by a union are paid 13.7% more than their nonunionized peers. Hispanic workers represented by unions are paid 20.1% more than their nonunionized peers.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.