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The Toll of Neglect ● Harvest over health ● Amazon is watching you ● Justice Handmaid

Wednesday, October 7, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Oct. 7 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 90,663 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 534) and 2,165 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 7)

► From The Hill — Fauci: As many as 400,000 Americans could die from coronavirus — The nation’s leading infectious disease expert said that as many as 400,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 if action isn’t taken in the fall and winter. Fauci’s prediction goes beyond a University of Washington study from August that said as many as 300,000 people could die of COVID-19 by Dec. 1. Fauci also asserted that a vaccine will probably not be available to most Americans until next summer or the fall.

► From The Guardian — Texas doctor, 28, dies of COVID: ‘She wore the same mask for weeks, if not months’ — The physician tested positive for the virus in early July and died on 19 September after spending over two months in hospital. She had worked in a Houston emergency department, and a family member says she reused PPE day after day due to shortages.

The Stand (TODAY) — MultiCare docs plan Thursday picket over unsafe conditions

► From the AFL-CIO — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, AFL-CIO releases its annual ‘Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect’ reportAs the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, affecting more than 7.4. million Americans, with more than 210,000 deaths in the United States, the AFL-CIO on Tuesday released its annual Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect report, which contains data showing how the current administration’s failure to act in the past has been a main contributor to the gravity of the current public health crisis. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said: “For nearly four years, President Trump has downplayed the role of safety agencies tasked with protecting workers and let corporate profit, rather than science, influence the protections we need to keep us safe from this disastrous pandemic. Now hardworking families are paying the price. We all deserve the best protections available. It is time to change course. Our lives and the future of the country depend on it.”

► From Mother Jones — Where was the Labor Department during the White House COVID outbreak? — After doing precious little to protect workers as the coronavirus has blitzed places like meatpacking plants and Amazon warehouses since March, the Trump administration’s OSHA has a new workplace COVID-19 hotspot to (not) contend with: the White House.

► From the Spokesman-Review — Local firefighters’ union tweet goes viral encouraging mask wearing — A Spokane County firefighters union pushed back against conservative commentator Tomi Lahren’s snarky post about mask wearing Tuesday, garnering thousands of likes on Twitter.




► From the NY Times — Trump abruptly ends stimulus talks after Fed chair urges economic support — Hours after the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, warned that the economy could see “tragic” results without robust government support, Trump abruptly cut off stimulus talks, sending the stock market sliding and delivering a final blow to any chance of getting additional pandemic aid to struggling Americans before the election.

► From the AFL-CIO — Trump once again gives up on working people — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

“To every single working person out there: Your president has given up on you. America’s labor movement never will. Donald Trump has ordered everyone to stop negotiations on the HEROES Act, which would extend unemployment benefits to millions, implement a strong federal workplace infectious disease standard and provide money to states for critical services. Donald Trump’s ship is sinking. And he wants to take the rest of the country down with him. Working people deserve leaders who will fight for us in the toughest of times; and the entire Trump administration, every Republican in the Senate and all their anti-worker allies have shown us exactly how they feel about working families. They’re willing to let us suffer for political theater. I have never seen such dereliction of duty in my life.”

► From the Washington Post — Trump’s erratic tweets on economic relief — over several hours — leave strategy unclear — Trump called on Congress to approve federal economic relief late Tuesday night mere hours after publicly terminating negotiations with Democrats, posting tweets that appeared to contradict his own declarations from earlier the same day.

► From Reuters — Airlines warn of more bankruptcies as wage support ends — Global airlines warned on Tuesday that the coronavirus-stricken industry was on course to burn through another $77 billion in cash in the second half of 2020, calling on governments to renew expiring wage support programs. The call for increased support came as U.S. airlines begin furloughs of more than 32,000 workers amid fading hopes for a new federal bailout package.

► From the AP — Boeing says pandemic will cut demand for planes for a decade




► From Crosscut — During wildfires, West Coast farmworkers forced to put harvest over health — With many farmworkers facing precarious employment and unsteady immigration situations, they can’t easily demand better working conditions. As monthslong wildfires increasingly become the norm in the U.S., these essential, vulnerable workers are risking their lives to keep our food system intact. “There’s no protection for farmworkers whatsoever, and even if it does come, it’s always last minute and in crisis mode, and there’s never anything prepared beforehand until it happens again. Then we start all over,” says Rosalinda Guillen, a longtime farmworker advocate who leads Community to Community Development. “That’s always been the case with farmworkers and wildfires. The only difference is now [the wildfires are] increasing.”

► From the Seattle Times — Police reform bill could bring Washington to forefront of accountability movement — A proposal being circulated by Sen. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle) would give more power to civilian overseers than law enforcement representatives, and would expand the criteria for decertification to include the use of excessive force — which the state has never decertified an officer for… The bill’s supporters say reforms have a better chance at overcoming union opposition in Olympia this year. “My working assumption is that we will not have a united labor movement protecting police unions, the way that in the past has sometimes been the case,” Pedersen said.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Inslee loosens rules for bars, libraries and movie theaters — Gov. Jay Inslee eased a slew of restrictions Tuesday that will allow dining indoors with friends, browsing book racks in libraries and getting served in bars a little bit later into the night.




► From the NY Times — Elect Joe Biden, America (editorial) — Biden has also vowed to “restore the soul of America.” It is a painful reminder that the country is weaker, angrier, less hopeful and more divided than it was four years ago. With this promise, Biden is assuring the public that he recognizes the magnitude of what the next president is being called upon to do. Thankfully, he is well suited to the challenge — perhaps particularly so. In the midst of unrelenting chaos, Biden is offering an anxious, exhausted nation something beyond policy or ideology. His campaign is rooted in steadiness, experience, compassion and decency.

► MUST-READ from the NY Times — For Trump, a pattern of denial, from the virus to Russia to climate change — Still sick and dependent on a potent cocktail of antiviral drugs and steroids, President Trump turned his highly choreographed return to the White House into another vivid example of the recurrent theme of his presidency: the denial of obvious facts when they don’t meet his political needs. The president’s preoccupation with demonstrating strength or rearranging facts to reinforce his worldview has led him, time and again, to downplay, ignore or mock serious issues.




► From The Hill — Poll: 74 percent of voters want Senate to take on COVID-19 relief before SCOTUS nominee — An overwhelming majority of voters believe the Senate should prioritize coronavirus relief over confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, a new poll finds.

► From the Washington Post — Amy Coney Barrett served as a ‘handmaid’ in Christian group People of Praise — Barrett lived at the South Bend home of People of Praise’s influential co-founder Kevin Ranaghan and his wife, Dorothy, who together helped establish the group’s male-dominated hierarchy and view of gender roles. The group was one of many to grow out of the charismatic Christian movement, which sought a more intense and communal religious experience by embracing such practices as shared living, faith healing and speaking in tongues. A 2010 People of Praise directory states that Barrett held the title of “handmaid,” a leadership position for women in the community.

► From Newsweek — How groups like Barrett’s People of Praise inspired ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ — The charismatic Christian parachurch organization teaches that men have authority over their wives and is the type of Christian religious group that served as inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Really? This is who Senate Republicans plan to risk life and limb to rush through as the Supreme Court replacement for one of the nation’s greatest-ever advocates for women’s rights?

► From Vox — How chicken plants became more dangerous places to work than coal mines — U.S. chicken plants process 140 birds a minute. The Trump administration thinks that’s too slow.

► From The Hill — Trump administration to impose new rules targeting H-1B visas — The Trump administration announced additional immigration reforms on Tuesday aimed at making it more difficult for skilled foreign workers to acquire visas.




► From Recode — Leaked: Confidential Amazon memo reveals new software to track unions — Amazon has long opposed the idea of its warehouse employees forming a union, though much of its anti-union strategies have stayed under wraps. But a confidential Amazon internal memo viewed by Recode reveals how the company is making significant investments in technology to track and counter the threat of unionization… The memo offers evidence of how Amazon is dedicating significant time and resources to reduce the likelihood of unionization among its front-line workforce, which totaled nearly 1.4 million people across Amazon and Whole Foods.

EDITOR’S NOTE — If you work at Amazon, your boss is getting unimaginably rich while you work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. You can either shut up and take that abuse, or you can get more information about your legal right as an American to join together with your co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work and safe conditions. Do yourself a favor and contact a union organizer today!

► From Bloomberg — Amazon study of workers’ COVID-19 infection rates is faulted over lack of key data — Last week, Amazon said that almost 20,000 of its U.S. workers had tested positive for the coronavirus during a 6 ½-month period. But three experts interviewed by Bloomberg said the data was unhelpful because it failed to reveal whether the infection rate was improving or growing worse. One said Amazon’s comparison of its workforce to the general population is fundamentally flawed and reveals a lack of understanding of epidemiology.

► From the Montana Standard — Jim Murry, Montana labor leader and political kingmaker, dies at 85 — Jim Murry, who went from bare-knuckle brawler to astute political kingmaker and never wavered in his fierce advocacy for working Montanans, drew praise from across the state Tuesday. Murry, 85, died in Helena on Monday.” Jim Murry wasn’t driven by fortune. He wasn’t driven by fame, or power. That wasn’t what Jim was after. He didn’t care about any of those things. He was driven by working families,” former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said.




► From the Spokesman-Review — Tax cops chase the poor and all but ignore the rich, because it’s easier (by Shawn Vestal) — Every year, tax dodgers and cheats cost the U.S. Treasury more than $381 billion, according to one estimate. So it is perversely off-task that the IRS – decimated by a decade’s worth of budget cuts – conducts fewer audits every year of the wealthiest taxpayers with the most complicated incomes, while auditing the working poor with zeal. The IRS says: It’s just easier to audit the poor… Over the past decade, the IRS has steadily been starved of the resources needed to audit taxpayers with high incomes and complicated financial lives – the result of budget-cutting put forth, chiefly, by Republicans with a range of political concerns about the agency that have resulted in greater and greater freedom for tax cheats.


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

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FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!