Tuesday, September 15, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Sept. 15 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 80,138 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 423) and 2,006 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 7)
► From KUOW — 2,000 have died of coronavirus in Washington state. That’s halfway to China’s total death toll — Health officials have warned about cases spreading among younger populations and then passing onto the older population, or people with pre-existing health conditions, where the virus is far more deadly. About half of all deaths in the state are linked to a long-term care facility – people who lived or worked at a place like a nursing home, for example. There are also considerable racial disparities among the numbers. Pacific Islanders, Hispanic people, American Indians and Alaska Natives are dying from Covid-19 at the highest rates in Washington state.
► From the Kitsap Sun — Three deaths linked to St. Michael’s COVID-19 outbreak, Kitsap Public Health reports — The three deaths, all among patients at the Bremerton hospital, include two Kitsap County residents and a person from another county… Since its start in early August, the outbreak at St. Michael has infected 73 people, making it the largest to date out of any general hospital in the Puget Sound, if not the state.
► ICYMI from the News Tribune (Aug. 26) — ‘Taped up plastic face guards’: Nurses, union describe COVID-19 outbreak at hospital — In a news conference organized by UFCW 21, a litany of concerns were raised by health care workers at CHI Franciscan’s St. Michael Medical Center in Bremerton, including a dire shortage of PPE, employees risking asymptomatic illness, and a lack of transparency from CHI Franciscan in communicating information on everything from supplies to outbreak updates to workers.
► From Crosscut — As WA restaurants struggle, workers weigh physical and economic survival — By the end of April, nearly 200,000 leisure and hospitality workers across the state (more than half of the sector’s workforce, which is disproportionately made up of women and people of color) had lost their jobs, and employment levels in the sector are still down 32%, compared with 25.6% nationwide… Between 85% and 90% of UNITE HERE Local 8 members, which represents more than 1,500 hotel workers in Washington state, have lost their jobs, a representative said, and staffing levels have not yet bounced back… Beyond coronavirus exposure and making rent, these workers are likely coping with long-lasting mental health effects.
► From the Columbian — 8 virus cases linked to Clark County schools — Clark County Public Health confirmed eight cases of the novel coronavirus connected to area schools, but officials say there’s no evidence of transmission within the affected campuses.
► From Crosscut — Child care was already dysfunctional. COVID-19 could break it completely — As Washington state pushes through the pandemic, a shortage of child care options forces parents and providers to make difficult choices.
► From the Washington Post — Under Trump, OSHA’s COVID-19 response is failing workers (editorial) — Just $15,615. That’s how much a $52 billion meatpacking company was fined by the federal government for unsafe conditions that led to the deaths of eight workers. Even as the dangers and virulence of the coronavirus have become more glaring, infecting 6.5 million Americans and killing nearly 200,000, the nation’s top worker protection arm has been asleep at the wheel. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued only guidelines, rather than establish enforceable rules, for businesses that rushed to reopen when they were deemed essential early in the pandemic, putting hundreds of thousands of employees in workplaces where the virus could easily spread.
► From ProPublica — Emails show the meatpacking industry drafted an executive order to keep plants open — Hundreds of emails offer a rare look at the meat industry’s influence and access to the highest levels of government. The draft was submitted a week before Trump’s executive order, which bore striking similarities.
► From Crosscut — Migrant workers leave WA farms, risking poverty instead of coronavirus — Worried about a lack of COVID-19 safety precautions, visiting workers say they are prioritizing their lives in the midst of the pandemic.
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Wildfire daily news update, Sept. 15 — Destructive wildfires continue to rip through the state, with firefighters battling some 30 fires in Washington and Oregon. With the fires has come thick smoke that has settled over the region and could linger until Friday.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Latest smoke forecast. Hazardous air here to stay ‘til Friday — Most Hanford workers are being told to stay home again Tuesday for a second day.
► From the Seattle Times — ‘Crisis within a crisis’: Already endangered by COVID-19, Washington farms and farmworkers face new threat from wildfires — It underscores the vulnerability of farmworkers, including those from other countries without any local support system, amid frighteningly fast-moving fires hitting during the apple harvest.
► From Vox — “Unprecedented”: What’s behind the California, Oregon, and Washington wildfires — Wildfires are a natural part of many ecosystems in these western states, serving to rejuvenate forests and grasslands. But the scale, intensity, speed, location, and timing of the recent infernos stand out. They are a part of a pattern of growing fire risk, emerging from a confluence of factors exacerbated by humans.
► From the NY Times — As Trump again rejects science, Biden calls him a ‘climate arsonist’ — When confronted by California’s governor and other state officials, Trump insisted on attributing the crisis solely to poor forest management, not climate change… “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch,” Trump insisted. “I wish science agreed with you,” replied California’s secretary for natural resources. “Well, I don’t think science knows, actually,” Trump retorted. Meanwhile, Joe Biden said: “If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires?” Biden asked. “How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms? If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze?”
► From the PS Business Journal — Analyst: Trouble at Boeing’s South Carolina 787 plant could hinder consolidation — Boeing’s South Carolina 787 assembly plant is plagued by so many woes that consolidating Dreamliner production in one location doesn’t make sense over the long term, a veteran aerospace analysts said. “Everett’s workers are unionized by the International Association of Machinists District 751, but this isn’t a union story,” wrote aerospace analyst Scott Hamilton. “This is a story about better performance in assembling airplanes and serving customers. Not that Everett hasn’t had its own quality control issues. But they pale in comparison with Boeing South Carolina.” He added: “Some airlines refuse to take delivery of airplanes assembled in Charleston.”
The Stand (Aug. 24) — Déjà vu: Boeing seeks concessions from Machinists indirectly — IAM District 751 President Jon Holden:
“Clearly, these jobs mean a lot to us and are critical to our community. We feel strongly that our membership and our community have already earned these jobs. We lobbied for tax incentives in support of landing the 787 final assembly for Washington in 2003. Our members worked through the problems associated with Boeing’s far-flung supply chain in order to support the 787’s entry into service in 2011. For generations, our community has supported investments in infrastructure and training programs designed to provide the workforce of the future, and we continue to meet every production goal placed before us. After all this effort, investment, and support, it is wrong for Boeing to place these jobs in jeopardy once again, attempting to leverage even more from those who have already sacrificed so much.”
The Stand (July 30) — Machinists District 751 on latest Boeing cuts: We’re still #1
► From the Seattle Times — Boeing 737 MAX program leaders who approved flight control system say they didn’t know key details — In testimony to congressional investigators probing the fatal crashes of two 737 MAX jets, Michael Teal, the chief engineer on Boeing’s 737 MAX program who signed off on the jet’s technical configuration, said he was unaware of crucial technical details of the flight control system that triggered inadvertently and caused the crashes.
► From the Seattle Times — The Times recommends: U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier for the 8th Congressional District (editorial) — Since winning a hard fight for Congress in 2018, U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier has demonstrated commitment to the interests of both the blue-leaning Tacoma and Seattle suburbs, and the conservative agricultural towns east of the mountains. She should be reelected to a second term in the House of Representatives. Her opponent, Republican Jesse Jensen, fully supports Trump’s reelection, showing that he’s willing to adopt the same misguided fealty that has hijacked the national Republican Party. And his attempt to paint Schrier as a hard-left liberal misrepresents the record of her service.
The Stand (TODAY) — A clear choice for workers in the 10th CD (by April Sims and Joe Mizrahi) — Beth Doglio sides with working people; Marilyn Strickland sides with corporate interests.
► From the Columbian — Biden endorses Carolyn Long for 3rd Congressional District — “Carolyn Long will bolster infrastructure and create jobs, improve crumbling roads, bridges, and highways, and expand broadband access to rural communities so students can learn remotely and small businesses can succeed,” Biden said.
The Stand (July 30, 2019) — WSLC endorses Carolyn Long for Congress — It was the first and only endorsement action taken by the WSLC for the 2020 election, and the vote was unanimous.
► From the Columbian — Herrera Beutler, Long agree to debate — It will be hosted by the League of Women Voters and broadcast on Clark/Vancouver Television at 2 p.m. Oct. 9.
► From the Yakima H-R — Washington election official: No need to request mail-in ballot, despite Postal Service mailer –Secretary of State Kim Wyman said residents can ignore a postcard coming from the U.S. Postal Service encouraging voters to request an absentee or mail-in ballot 15 days before the election, since the state already sends mail-in ballots to all registered voters 18 days before an election day. The Postal Service is sending out postcards advising people to “plan ahead” and request absentee ballots 15 days in advance and mail them back at least seven days before the Nov. 3 election to ensure they arrive in time to be counted.
► From KNKX — Pierce County auditor says ‘flurry of phone calls’ followed confusing USPS mailer — Her staff is busy reassuring people they’ll automatically receive a ballot in the mail, and don’t need to request one individually.
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle, contractors will be investigated in Pier 58 collapse by state and federal safety inspectors — Federal and state workplace safety inspectors have opened investigations into the partial collapse of Seattle’s Pier 58 as demolition crews worked Sunday to remove the city-owned structure also known as Waterfront Park. The inspectors will investigate the city and Orion Marine Contractors and Evergreen Concrete Cutting.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Everett company faces $230,000 fine for safety violations — State inspectors allege that Chilos Builders exposed workers to hazards at area construction sites.
► From the Washington Post — A Washington lawmaker shared conspiracy theories. She threatened a reporter who wrote about it. — Daniel Walters was surprised to see an incoming call from state Rep. Jenny Graham (R-Spokane) on Aug. 27. The journalist wrote a story that day about Graham sharing false articles on Facebook, including a story claiming thousands of missing children are kept in dungeons and raped by demons. But Walters was unable to pick up in time. When he called the state representative back, she unleashed a barrage of hateful insults. “You c———!” Graham said twice. “Don’t ever call me again.”
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle is shortchanging bridge maintenance, council audit says — Seattle’s bridge-maintenance spending, which averages $6.6 million per year, is inadequate and a reason why “the condition of the city’s bridges has worsened over the last ten years,” a new audit report released Monday says. The city’s own transportation managers told auditors that bridge investment should be five times as high.
► From The Hill — Pelosi digs in as pressure builds for COVID-19 deal — Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is standing firm on Democrats’ demands for broad COVID-19 relief, shrugging off mounting pressure from Senate Republicans and a small but vocal group of moderate lawmakers in her caucus to pass a slimmer bill… House Democrats in May passed the HEROES Act, which would provide $3.4 trillion in relief, including roughly $1 trillion for cash-starved cities, counties and states. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not allowed a vote on it. Pelosi has since said Democrats could agree to a $2.2 trillion package but go no lower.
► From the NY Times — 400,000 immigrants can be forced to leave the U.S., court rules — People from countries like El Salvador and Haiti who won temporary protected status after fleeing natural disaster and war can be forced to return home, a federal appeals court ruled.
The Stand (TODAY) — Allowing Trump to deport TPS immigrants destabilizes U.S. — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “Trump’s decision to end TPS was cruel and wrong, and its harmful impact will be even greater amid this pandemic. We are disappointed that the court allowed the termination of protections that have helped to raise wages, support a stable workforce and reduce exploitation in our country.”
► From HuffPost — Legal group sues USPS to force release of Louis DeJoy’s calendar — The postmaster general also faces a congressional subpoena demanding documents about his meetings.
► From CBS News — The price of inequality? Lost annual income of $42,000 for typical worker, study finds — Income inequality has given the rich a greater share of the economic spoils than middle- and low-income earners. That’s resulted in a very real impact on the incomes of middle- and low-income households, with the typical full-time American worker now earning $42,000 less than they would have if inequality hadn’t surged over the last four decades. In 2018, the typical full-time worker earned about $50,000 — but if that same worker had kept up with the economy’s expansion since the 1970’s, they would have earned $92,000 annually, a Rand analysis has found.
The Stand (July 30, 2015) — Something scary happened in 1975 – to wages (by Stan Sorscher) — Economics does not explain what happened in the mid-70s. It was not the oil shock. Not interest rates. Not the Fed, or monetary policy. Not robots, or the decline of the Soviet Union, or globalization, or the internet… In the mid-70’s, we traded in our post-World War II social contract for a new one, where “greed is good.” In the new moral narrative I can succeed at your expense. I will take a bigger piece of a smaller pie. Our new heroes are billionaires, hedge fund managers, and CEO’s.
► From HuffPost — White workers are getting hired back twice as fast as Black workers — Digging deeper into the jobs report, you’ll find nearly all the improvement in the unemployment rate over the past few months has been for white workers. The Black unemployment rate is still in double digits at 13%. The rate for white workers is 7.3%, nearly half of what it is for Black workers.
► From Politico — Poll: Americans united on a slew of issues, despite contentious election season — A new survey conducted for Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights and Institute of Politics found that most Americans hold an expansive view of their rights beyond those explicitly laid out in the Constitution, but which they say are under threat… Several of the rights and freedoms that an overwhelming bipartisan majority viewed as essential to being an American go far beyond those provided directly by the Constitution, like freedom of speech and religion. The right to clean air and water, for example, was considered important by 93 percent of those surveyed; protection of personal data, by 93 percent; the right to a quality education, by 92 percent; racial equality, by 92 percent; affordable health care, by 89 percent; and the right to a job, by 85 percent. Of 16 rights and values polled, a majority considered every single one either very or somewhat important to being American today. Even issues like immigration (66 percent) and protecting a woman’s right to choose and make decisions affecting her body and personal life (72 percent) — typically viewed as highly divisive — garnered bipartisan support, though with more of a partisan divide.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.