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COVID cases spike for Latinos ● Deal in Bellevue? ● Biden: Buy American

Monday, January 25, 2021




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Jan. 25 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 300,198 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 2,076) and 4,114 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 15)


► From the Seattle Times — COVID-19 spikes fourfold among Washington’s Latinos, and it’s reaching almost every corner of the population — Amid the deadliest wave of the pandemic yet, the coronavirus seemingly racing to claim as many casualties as it can while vaccination gradually rolls out, it is hitting Latinos harder than ever — far more than whites.

► From KUOW — U.K. COVID-19 variant discovered in Snohomish, Pierce

► From the Spokesman-Review — Union: COVID-19 mask mandates at Spokane-area grocery stores ‘not rampantly violated’ — Spokane Valley sheriff’s deputies are still looking for a man who allegedly threw a bottle at a local grocery store worker after the Sprague Avenue Grocery Outlet refused him service for not wearing a mask. Mask mandates at Spokane-area grocery stores have occasionally led to similarly heated encounters in the months since COVID-19 restrictions took effect, said UFCW 1439 President Eric Renner. “For the most part, we’ve been able to control,” Renner said. “These instances, they’re not really commonplace, but they do happen. … It may be worse in rural areas than the metropolitan areas. It’s not rampantly violated, but it is violated.”

► From the AP — 2 in 5 Americans live in areas running out of hospital ICU beds due to COVID — Since November, the share of U.S. hospitals nearing the breaking point has doubled, an AP analysis found.

► From the NY Times — Why vaccines alone will not end the pandemic — The arrival of highly effective vaccines in December lifted hopes that they would eventually slow or stop the spread of the disease through the rest of the population. But vaccines alone are not enough, according to a new model by scientists at Columbia University. And if precautions like working remotely, limiting travel and wearing masks are relaxed too soon, it could mean millions more infections and thousands more deaths.

The Stand (Jan. 22) — WSLC offers vaccination resource for unions

► From The Hill — More than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden’s coronavirus response: poll — The ABC News/Ipsos poll determined that 69 percent of respondents approved of Biden’s handling of the pandemic in his first few days as president. His approval includes 40 percent of Republicans, 97 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents. Specifically, the administration received 81 percent approval for an executive order signed on Inauguration Day mandating masks and social distancing in federal buildings and on federal land.

► From the Washington Post — Numerous Capitol Police officers who responded to riot test positive for coronavirus




► From KING 5 — Bellevue School District cancels class Monday to finalize agreement with teachers — The Bellevue School District and Bellevue Education Association jointly agreed to cancel classes for Monday, Jan. 25, in order to finalize an agreement.

► From the Bellevue EA — Bellevue educators vote to stay the courseMembers of the Bellevue Education Association (BEA) overwhelmingly voted Friday night to continue the course they have taken this week. Without a proposed tentative agreement being reached with the school district, Bellevue educators will continue to provide uninterrupted instruction and fill job responsibilities through independent asynchronous work.

The Stand (Jan. 21) — Bellevue teachers: Pause school openings until vaccines available

► From the Columbian — Clark County education leaders join state teachers union to press for vaccineAs more teachers and school staffers return to classrooms for in-person instruction, their COVID-19 eligibility timeline can be confusing.

► From the Washington Post — Chicago Teachers Union votes to refuse in-person classes and continue remote instruction — The Chicago Teachers Union voted to refuse in-person instruction Sunday and directed educators to work remotely starting Monday. The decision comes two weeks after the nation’s third-largest school district called teachers and staff into classrooms and started to lock them out from remote work.

► From the Washington Post — A teacher died of COVID-19. Asked to wear masks in his honor, school board members silently refused. — For Patrick Key’s family in Cobb County, Ga., the inaction came across as indifference to the community’s loss, prompting them to speak out against the board’s mute reaction.

► From the NY Times — Biden is vowing to reopen schools quickly. It won’t be easy. — The slow vaccine rollout, and local fights between districts and unions, could make it hard for the president to fulfill his promise.




► From the PSBJ — Analyst: Boeing may boost 767 production in Everett after landing KC-46 tanker orders — Boeing may announce plans to modestly increase production of 767 widebody jets at its Everett factory next week when it reports its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings. The rate increase might be necessary to meet customer commitments for the jets, suggested Mathew George, an aerospace and defense analyst at GlobalData, a London-based data and analytics company.

► From the Seattle Times — Stop cruel immigration detention: Close the Northwest Processing Center (by Thomas Antkowiak and Alejandra Gonza) — As COVID-19 cases surge to all-time highs across the nation, we cannot trust the lives of detained immigrants to ICE and profit-seeking corporations. Their “deliberate indifference,” in the words of federal judges in California and Massachusetts, has been proven time and time again. While the population has dwindled at the immigrant jail in Tacoma — now euphemistically named the Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC) — hundreds continue to be exposed to senseless hazards and suffering.

► From the South Seattle Emerald — Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda: Finding commonality in division — When Mosqueda reflects on her past four years in office, she celebrates hard-fought wins for healthier families, worker protections, and small businesses. Yet COVID-19 hit and reversed the progression. For this reason, Mosqueda is running for a second term on the City Council, believing her work is not yet done. “I don’t want us to recover to what we were before,” she said. “I want to recover to a more equitable Seattle, and that drives me to stay in the legislative branch and fight for those longer-term policies that, once we [pass them] into law, will make dramatic improvements for people’s lives over the long haul.”




► From the Spokesman-Review — House transportation proposal hefty at $25.8 billion, but needed for multimodal improvements — Yes, the proposal is hefty. It’s a lot of money and it would help put the state on track to a multimodal, more environmentally minded transportation system, even considering the highway dollars. “It’s a big package. It’s bold. And I think it’s good for Washington state,” said Rep. Marcus Riccelli, a Democrat from Spokane who sits on the House transportation committee. “I’m glad we set the bar where it is for a really robust conversation.”

► From the (Everett) Herald — Inslee pauses local highway projects to fund culverts fix — Lawmakers and civic leaders were peeved. The move slows work on Highway 9 in Lake Stevens and I-5 in Everett.

► From Crosscut — Washington state unveils $2.2 billion COVID relief plan — State lawmakers want to help struggling renters, small businesses and other people find a way back from the pandemic-induced economic downturn.

► From the Olympian — Formerly incarcerated Washington lawmaker leads drive to restore felons’ voting rights — If it passes the full Legislature, the bill would restore that right as soon as a person is no longer spending 24 hours a day in a corrections facility. Its passage could restore voting rights for about 26,000 people. Its prime sponsor, Rep. Tarra Simmons (D-Bremerton) is believed to be the first person convicted of a felony ever elected to the Washington state legislature.

► From the Seattle Times — Legislators in Washington state sink their teeth into pandemic-era issues for schools — More than 60 bills related to K-12 schools are in the works already, including proposals to maximize the role of school counselors, change truancy policies and reopen school buildings. Heading into the session, lawmakers and state executives said their priorities would be focusing on supporting student mental health, granting financial flexibility to school districts and expanding access to the internet.




► From the Washington Post — Biden to sign order aimed at pushing federal government to buy American-made products — President Biden on Monday will sign an executive order aimed at pushing the federal government to buy more goods produced in the United States, a key part of his campaign pledge to revive domestic manufacturing. The executive order will call for increasing the amount of U.S. content that must be in a product for it to be considered made in America under existing “Buy American” requirements. It will also create a website where American businesses can see what contracts are being awarded to foreign vendors, and a position at the White House Office of Management and Budget tasked with implementing Biden’s push on federal procurement, among other measures.

► From the Washington Post — Fight over the rules grinds the Senate to a halt, imperiling Biden’s legislative agenda — Democrats and Republicans are unable to agree on even basic rules for how the evenly divided body should operate. This reality could force Democrats to choose within a matter of weeks whether they will continue to pursue the sort of bipartisan cooperation that Biden — and many senators of both parties — have preached, or whether to pursue procedural shortcuts or rule changes that would sideline the GOP but also are likely to divide their caucus.

► From Vox — 9 questions about budget reconciliation you were too afraid to ask — Democrats can pass a big bill through the Senate without any Republican votes. Here’s how.

► From the Washington Post — Democrats press ahead with second impeachment trial, as GOP is divided on how to defend Trump — The fractures within the Republican Party were evident Sunday as GOP senators appeared split over whether it was constitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a president who had already left office.

► From the AP — AP source: Lawmakers threatened ahead of impeachment trial

► From Politico — There isn’t a single Black woman on House Dems’ leadership team. It’s not new. — Kamala Harris made history last week, but Black women in the House haven’t held elected positions in leadership in more than four decades.




► From Time — Union membership declined again last year. But here’s why 2021 could be good for organized labor — Labor unions in the United States haven’t had much good news in recent years, but this week may have provided some reasons for optimism. The rate of unionization in the U.S. increased in 2020 for the first time in over a decade, according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Jan. 22, the same day as President Joe Biden announced two new executive orders aimed at increasing worker protections. (The new figures) show that workers belonging to a union saw fewer job losses amid the pandemic than nonunion workers. This is likely due in part to unions’ strong engagement amid the pandemic, labor experts say. In industries ranging from health care to retail to food service to tech, workers banded together and frequently demanded better working conditions last year as COVID-19 devastated the economy and forced millions of businesses to close or change their strategies.

► From the AFL-CIO — Increase in union density part of a national groundswellIn 2020, America saw working people in a new light, as the true engines of our economy and the trusted servants who can carry us through a crisis. While last year was filled with unemployment and economic pain because of a deadly pandemic and the incompetent federal response to it, union density rose. We believe this increase is part of a national groundswell. The popularity of unions is at 65%, one of the highest marks in a half-century, and research shows that more than 60 million workers would vote to join a union today if given the chance. The inauguration of President Joe Biden, who showed on his first day he is willing to fight for working people’s safety and to get union busters out of government, presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to finally create an environment where what workers desire truly drives union density. And that requires passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act so that our labor laws support and protect the freedom to form a union.

ALSO TODAY at The StandWashington state remains ‘Union Strong’

► From the NY Times — Strike ends at largest U.S. wholesale produce market — Members of a powerful Teamsters local at the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx ended their strike on the seventh day of their walkout, ratifying a new three-year contract that provides the biggest pay increase in over 30 years, union officials said. Under the terms of the deal, the hourly wage will rise by 70 cents the first year, 50 cents the second and 65 cents the third year.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Want a real raise? Get a union! Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► From the NY Times — Amazon union drive takes hold in unlikely place — The unionizing campaign at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer, Ala., has moved faster and further than just about anyone has expected. By late December, more than 2,000 workers signed cards indicating they wanted an election, the union said The National Labor Relations Board then determined there was “sufficient” interest in a union election among the warehouse’s roughly 5,800 workers, which is a significant bar to hit with the government agency that oversees the voting process. About a week ago, the board announced that voting by mail would start next month and continue through the end of March… “I am telling them they are part of a movement that is world wide,” said Michael Foster, a Black organizer in Bessemer, who works in a poultry plant “I want them to know that we are important and we do matter.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story notes that the attorneys hired by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, to thwart unionization are still trying to stop the vote, filing a motion on Friday that the vote should be at their warehouse — despite the COVID-19 risk — rather than by mail.

► From Politico — State Republicans push new voting restrictions after Trump’s loss — Georgia will be the focal point of the GOP push to change state election laws, after Democrats narrowly took both Senate seats there and President Joe Biden carried the state by an even smaller margin. But state Republicans in deep-red states and battlegrounds alike are citing Trump’s meritless claims of voter fraud in 2020 — and the declining trust in election integrity Trump helped drive — as an excuse to tighten access to the polls.




► From Jacobin — The PRO Act could transform the labor landscape — As Joe Biden enters the White House with slim majorities in the House and Senate, organized labor is making a concerted push for a major piece of legislation: the PRO Act. The bill is a wide-ranging labor law reform that would help workers fight back after decades of retreat in the face of aggressive employers. The AFL-CIO recently declared the PRO Act one of its top priorities. The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) is leading the push for the PRO Act. The painters’ union organized its electoral work around the bill and has been holding public events on the legislation. Now, IUPAT is building up allies as it prepares to push the new presidential administration and Congress to pass the act. Recently, the union organized a town hall on the PRO Act, featuring IUPAT’s Jim Williams, vice president and director of organizing, along with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, CWA Secretary Treasurer Sara Steffens, House Education and Labor chair Bobby Scott, and Congressman Conor Lamb, among other speakers. Jacobin’s Alex N. Press spoke to Williams about the campaign.


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

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

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!