Tuesday, November 17, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Nov. 17 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 131,532 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,584) and 2,548 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 12)
► From KUOW — Hospital workers are tired, and frustrated by lax COVID-prevention behavior — With coronavirus cases surging in Washington state and across the country, Gov. Jay Inslee issued new restrictions for the next four weeks. Says Cassie Sauer, President and CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association:
“The biggest challenge is qualified staff, people who can work in the intensive care units and critical care units taking care of the sickest patients. Our staff are exhausted. I think that’s a really important thing for listeners to hear. We’ve had so many statements of support for frontline health care workers. The most important thing you can do to support your frontline health care workers is to not get sick, so you don’t need their care. By staying home, canceling your Thanksgiving plans, that is a strongest statement of support, strongest action of support you can do for your frontline health care workers.“
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, some essential workers cannot stay home. In fact, some are being threatened with firing if they do…
► From the (Everett) Herald — Monroe teachers who resist in-person classes could be fired — Some Monroe first-graders are to resume in-person learning Tuesday, although the school district and the Monroe Education Association have yet to reach agreement on safety protocols for bringing more students back to campuses amid a steep rise in COVID activity. If the educators don’t show, they could be fired, according to a letter to staff from Superintendent Justin Blasko. “Monday’s threat to our teachers is simply an attempt at bullying and intimidation by district leaders who know those behaviors are prohibited in our public schools,” union President Robyn Hayashi said. “The district apparently has become more focused on proving that ‘the school board is the boss’ than caring about students, families or employees.” On Monday, some parents in Monroe protested the reopening plan outside the district’s offices. But the district is moving ahead with its plan, spokesperson Tamara Krache said.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Grocers preparing for surge in demand as new statewide restrictions, busy holiday season approach — UFCW Local 1439, a union representing grocery workers in Washington and North Idaho, will be sending letters to grocers asking how they plan to enforce the 25% occupancy requirement as overcrowding in stores is a concern for employees, said UFCW 1439 president Eric Renner. The union will also be joining a national union effort to restore “hero pay,” a $2 hourly premium for employees who continue to work at grocery stores during the pandemic, Renner said.
► From KUOW — Washington restaurants brace for thousands of layoffs with statewide ban on indoor service — Restaurant officials call it a sad day for the industry. Washington state is shutting down indoor service at restaurants, bars, and gyms for the next four weeks at least — possibly longer. A third, record-breaking surge of new COVID-19 cases led Gov. Jay Inslee to announce the new restrictions on Sunday.
► From Reuters — Strict new limits imposed coast to coast in U.S. as COVID-19 surge continues — Health experts warn the coming holiday travel season and the onset of colder weather will only exacerbate the nationwide spike in coronavirus infections.
► LIVE from the Washington Post — Iowa governor, who disparaged mask mandates as ‘feel-good’ measures, reverses course — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced a statewide mask mandate on Monday, months after dismissing such orders as “feel-good” measures with little impact. Coronavirus infections in the state have doubled over the past month, and the number of hospitalized patients reached a new high on Monday.
► From HuffPost — North Dakota hits highest COVID-19 mortality rate in the world — South Dakota is close behind as residents of both states also have the lowest rate of face mask use.
► From the Washington Post — South Dakota nurse says many patients deny the coronavirus exists — right up until death — Jodi Doering, an emergency room nurse in South Dakota, was overwhelmed Saturday night. Her patients were dying of covid-19, yet were still in denial about the pandemic’s existence. It’s like “horror movie that never ends,” Doering wrote on Twitter. Her anxiety and despair is shared by many health-care workers who are facing a dramatic surge in COVID-19 patients. But some front-line workers, like Doering, also face the emotional toll of treating patients who, despite being severely ill, are reluctant to acknowledge that they have been infected with a virus that Trump has said will simply disappear. Doering said she has covid-19 patients who need 100 percent-oxygen breathing assistance who will also swear that they don’t have the illness that has ended the lives of nearly a quarter-million people in the United States since February. “Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening. It’s not real,” Doering said.
► From CNBC — Boeing’s 737 MAX is set to return to the skies as industry reels from the pandemic — The Boeing 737 MAX is nearing clearance to fly again after a 20-month ban prompted by two fatal crashes that sent the company into a crisis, but the planes are returning to a different problem. The coronavirus pandemic has roiled airline finances around the world, hurting demand for new planes and helping to drive up cancellations and deferrals.
► From FlightGlobal — Boeing 737 MAX will be inspected for foreign object debris prior to service return — All Boeing 737 MAX jets will be inspected for foreign object debris (FOD) prior to returning to revenue service, according to Boeing.
► From the PSBJ — Aerospace suppliers brace for hardships, new wave of consolidations — There will be failures and fresh rounds of consolidation among beleaguered aerospace suppliers in the aftermath of COVID-19, a top manufacturing management consultant predicts.
► From the Seattle Times — Some Washington residents told they have to repay jobless benefits — Over the last several weeks, thousands of Washingtonians have been notified by ESD that their unemployment benefits were being changed, suspended or even reduced — and, in some cases, had to be repaid entirely. ESD officials said the problems are largely temporary and stem from federal regulations requiring the agency to move some recipients from a federal relief program to the regular state unemployment program. The agency said many of the affected workers can restart suspended benefits and avoid repayment simply by filing a new claim with ESD.
► From the Seattle Times — As Tim Eyman trial begins, lawyer says Eyman had ‘no responsibility to report anything’ — The state of Washington on Monday began its court case against Tim Eyman, alleging that over the better part of a decade, the serial initiative filer and conservative activist solicited kickbacks, laundered political donations and flouted campaign finance law in an ongoing scheme to enrich himself and deceive his political donors and the public.
► From the Olympian — Tacoma’s Rep. Jinkins reelected state House Speaker, caucuses start to choose leaders — With less than two months to go before the 2021 legislative session begins, Washington state legislators are choosing the core leaders who will guide them through law-making and budget-writing while in the throes of a pandemic.
► From the Seattle Times — After four years of Betsy DeVos, what a Biden presidency will mean for education in Washington
► From the Washington Post — The longer Republicans cower to Trump, the more damage they do to democracy (editorial) — Every day that Republicans dignify Trump’s sore-loser tantrum, the notion that the election was stolen gets further entrenched among his supporters. The only plausible outcome, as they well understand, is that a large portion of the electorate will view President-elect Joe Biden — and the nation’s electoral system — as illegitimate.
► From the Washington Post — Georgia secretary of state says fellow Republicans are pressuring him to find ways to exclude ballots — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that he has come under increasing pressure in recent days from fellow Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), who he said questioned the validity of legally cast absentee ballots, in an effort to reverse Trump’s narrow loss in the state. Raffensperger expressed exasperation over a string of baseless allegations coming from Trump and his allies about the integrity of the Georgia results. The atmosphere has grown so contentious, Raffensperger said, that he and his wife, Tricia, have received death threats in recent days, including a text to him that read: “You better not botch this recount. Your life depends on it.”
► From the Washington Post — We need an investigation into Lindsey Graham’s intervention in Georgia (by Jennifer Rubin) — Stephen I. Vladeck, an election law guru and University of Texas law professor, tells me, “At least as relayed in the Post story, Sen. Graham appears to have been attempting to convince Secretary Raffensperger to alter the valid results of Georgia’s election — in a manner that may run afoul of numerous provisions of Georgia election law.” He adds, “At the very least, it’s a serious matter that might warrant further investigation — and that is grossly unbecoming of any United States senator, let alone the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
► From Politico — Trump blocks Biden’s incoming staff in unprecedented ways — It’s a situation without parallel since at least 1963, when a federal law implemented the modern presidential transition process, mandating the sharing of office space and the spending of money for the process. The posture threatens to leave Biden’s team unprepared in January when it takes over a millions-strong federal workforce.
► From Politico — Health officials sound alarm over impact of Trump’s transition blockade — As coronavirus cases spike, those on both sides of the aisle say the president’s refusal to concede the election could cripple the nation’s ability to control the pandemic.
► From The Hill — Biden urges Congress to pass Democrats’ COVID-19 relief package — “Right now, Congress should come together and pass a COVID relief package like the HEROES Act that the House passed six months ago,” Biden said. House Democrats passed a $3 trillion version of the HEROES Act in May and passed a $2.2 trillion, slimmed-down version of the package in October. Both versions of the package include money for state and local governments, enhanced unemployment benefits, and a second round of stimulus payments.
► From the Seattle Times — Shutdowns increase need for federal relief (editorial) — What’s mostly needed is Republicans and Democrats in Congress to negotiate in earnest on a relief package, now, and provide crisis leadership that’s not coming from the lame-duck, pouting president. The urgency is underlined by the virus resurgence, prompting Washington’s new shutdown and similar measures in other states.
► From The Hill — Biden meets with top CEOs, labor union leaders — President-elect Joe Biden held a virtual meeting with major industry CEOs and labor union leaders on Monday to discuss the economic recovery during the coronavirus pandemic. Participants included the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka, SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry, UAW’s Rory Gamble, UFCW’s Marc Perrone, and AFSCME’s Lee Saunders. Trumka said “the most important thing” is that a future Occupational Safety and Health Administration protects workers.
TODAY at The Stand — Trumka urges Biden, Harris to ‘reestablish OSHA’s mission’
From Fox Business — Biden pledges that unions will have ‘increased power’ under his administration — “I made it clear to the corporate leaders,” Biden said during remarks about the U.S. economy. “I said ‘I want you to know I’m a union guy. Unions are going to have increased power.’ They just nodded. They understand. It’s not anti-business. It’s about economic growth.”
► From Politico — Unions disagree over Biden’s Labor secretary pick — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and some of his organization’s largest affiliate unions are singing the praises of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who previously led the city’s Building and Construction Trades Council and could appeal to construction workers who supported President Donald Trump. But other unions in the federation are publicly pushing Rep. Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat who worked as a labor organizer and ran the state’s job training program before he was elected… The early division over potential candidates could make it difficult for Biden to choose someone who would win support from all sides of the labor movement. It’s also unclear whether any of the white male candidates whom unions are supporting would appeal to the Biden camp, which is trying to build a diverse Cabinet.
► From Politico — Biden win revives immigration talk — Talk of a potential agreement under Biden comes as Congress has tried and failed in recent years to clinch a deal related to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. GOP senators pointed to immigration as one area of potential compromise under a government likely to be divided next year.
► From Roll Call — Biden will support Amtrak; can he convince GOP? — The president-elect’s ability to build up Amtrak will largely rest on which party controls the Senate after the Georgia runoffs.
► From the Washington Post — The lowest-paid workers in higher education are suffering the highest job losses — Colleges and universities are shedding jobs at an unprecedented rate. And some of the lowest-paid workers in higher education are bearing the brunt of the layoffs, mirroring broader trends of the most unequal recession in modern U.S. history. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact number of job losses tied to higher education. But the financial crisis gripping the sector has far-reaching implications for the people and communities relying on colleges and universities to earn a living.
► From Vox — The Supreme Court will hear a new attack on unions. The implications are profound. — The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would hear Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, a case targeting a 45-year-old California regulation that allows union organizers to briefly enter agricultural workplaces to speak to farmworkers. But the case has implications that stretch well beyond labor organizing. Among other things, Cedar Point could potentially allow businesses to deny entry to health inspectors and other government officials who ensure that those businesses are being operated safely.
► A Special Report from Reuters — A cop shoots a Black man, and a police union flexes its muscle — Silvon Simmons was shot three times in an upstate New York city. Then he was accused of trying to kill the cop who fired at him. His story is a study in the kinds of police practices that have sparked protests across America – and it shows the enormous challenge cities face when trying to enact change… struggles to give communities greater oversight are playing out in much of America, where – with few exceptions – police are left to police themselves. That power to ward off outside scrutiny derives from union contracts and state labor laws. Reuters analyzed labor contracts signed or extended over the last five years by 100 of the nation’s largest cities. Most – 88 – set strict limits on how civilian complaints are investigated or how cops are punished. Even with policing under intense scrutiny nationwide, unions in some cities recently have won new rights that make oversight even harder. Such protections enable cops with histories of misconduct complaints, like Ferrigno, to remain on the beat.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.