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COVID’s toll on Filipino workers ● Hazard pay in Seattle ● Tech workers aren’t done

Tuesday, January 26, 2021




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Jan. 26 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 302,141 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,868) and 4,148 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 12)

► From the Seattle Times — How to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Seattle, King County and Washington state — Before you begin your vaccination process, the top thing to know right now is that you’ll need plenty of patience. The vaccine rollout has encountered all sorts of snags and slowdowns, and even if with clear messaging, the supply of vaccines still wouldn’t be enough to cover everyone. Inslee said the state is shifting its strategy to create the infrastructure for mass vaccination without waiting for the volume of doses to match.

The Stand (Jan. 22) — WSLC offers vaccination resource for unions — Website and workshop focus on protecting members by educating them about COVID-19 vaccination.

► From the South Seattle Emerald — Filipino health care workers and their battle against COVID-19 — Nearly one-third of U.S. nurses who have died from COVID-19 are Filipino even though they make up just 4% of the nation’s total nursing population, according to a report from National Nurses United, the largest nurses’ union in the country. “I feel like I’m putting my own health and my family’s health at risk just by stepping through the hospital doors to do the job that I normally do, and that brings a whole different level of stress to me,” said one Filipino nurse who has worked at the UW Medical Center in Montlake since 2017 and asked to remain anonymous. “It hits closer to home when you know that one-third of the friends and family that you know that work in healthcare might be part of that statistic.”

► From the Washington Post — Biden to reopen ACA insurance marketplaces as pandemic has cost millions of Americans their coverage — Biden is scheduled to take executive actions as early as Thursday to reopen federal marketplaces selling Affordable Care Act health plans and to lower recent barriers to joining Medicaid. The orders will be Biden’s first steps since taking office to help Americans gain health insurance, a prominent campaign goal that has assumed escalating significance as the pandemic has dramatized the need for affordable health care — and deprived millions of Americans coverage as they have lost jobs in the economic fallout.

► From The Hill — In huge step, California governor lifts stay-at-home orders across the state — Businesses like restaurants can now resume outdoor operations, but local officials can implement their own restrictions.

► From The Hill — Coronavirus pandemic cost equivalent of 255 million jobs: UN report — The coronavirus pandemic cost the equivalent of 255 million jobs worldwide, quadruple the losses during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, according to new research by the United Nations’ International Labor Organization. The report, released Monday, puts the losses as a result of restrictions at 8.8 percent of work hours worldwide.




► From the Seattle Times — Seattle City Council approves $4 per hour mandatory pay boost for grocery workers during COVID-19 pandemic — Grocery store workers in Seattle should soon get an extra $4 an hour for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, as the Seattle City Council approved legislation Monday requiring large grocers to immediately start offering hazard pay. The legislation, introduced just last week, passed 8-0 Monday, clearing a requirement that it receive a three-quarter supermajority in order to go into effect immediately. Mayor Jenny Durkan called the policy “a strong step forward in Seattle’s recovery.”

ALSO TODAY at The StandUFCW 21 celebrates victory on $4/hour hazard pay in Seattle — Help the union fight for grocery workers’ hazard pay in YOUR city!

► From KING 5 — Bellevue educators reach agreement with school district for modified in-person learning plan — The Bellevue Education Association (BEA) approved an agreement with the Bellevue School District late Monday for a “modified in-person expansion plan.” Exact terms of the agreement are still being finalized. According to the BEA, second graders will return to class on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Kindergarten and first-grade students will tentatively start in February. BEA said in a statement:

“After more than three hours of discussion filled with emotion and tough questions, the vote passed by a slim margin and concerns remained. Key terms of the agreement include building-based control over any further expansion services, health-based triggers for delaying expansion for returning to remote instruction, and clearer procedures for ensuring safety protocols are followed and violations are documented and reported.”

► From the Columbia Basin Herald — Fire destroys Washington Potato Company, triggers evacuation — A fire erupted inside Washington Potato Company in Warden Thursday night and likely was going to burn for several hours, officials said. It also triggered a Level 3 Evacuation and possible ammonia tank explosion.

► From the Columbia Basin Herald — State to provide unemployment assistance to Potato Company workers — The Washington State Employment Security Department will have a series of emergency orientations Thursday and Friday for those who are jobless as a result of the fire at the Washington Potato Company processing plant in Warden. An estimated “more than 200 people,” full-time and temporary from Best Human Resource Solutions, worked at the facility.

► From the News Tribune — When a Tacoma cop barreled his SUV through a crowd, public trust took another hit (by Matt Driscoll) — One key commonality between the death of Manuel Ellis while in police custody and the unsettling events that transpired on Saturday should not be overlooked: In a city where the trust between law enforcement and the community has been painfully frayed, both events undermine efforts to restore it while also underscoring the urgent need to do so.




► From the PSBJ — Alaska Airlines takes delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX — Alaska Airlines has taken delivery of the first of dozens of new Boeing 737 Max 9 airplanes, marking the first step in the airline’s fleet modernization plans to be carried out over the next three years.

► From My Northwest — Whistleblower concerned that ‘potential defects’ remain in 737 MAX — Former Boeing senior manager Ed Pierson, who testified as a whistleblower before Congress in 2019 during the MAX crash hearings, believes problems with the electrical system as a whole, and potential defects in the “angle of attack” sensor might be more to blame than the MCAS flight control system. These are issues, Pierson wrote, that have yet to be addressed.




► From the Washington State Wire — Labor advocates are concerned with SB 5061 in its current form — There is concern among labor advocates that SB 5061 — a bill that would provide unemployment insurance tax relief for businesses and increase the minimum weekly unemployment benefit for workers — could leave some workers worse off than before. One of my concerns about the amendment is that there had been no analysis of the impact that had been made available to the committee,” said Joe Kendo, WSLC Government Affairs Director.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Yes to gas tax hike, but this has to be the last (editorial)

► From the Columbian — Proposed 18-cent gas tax hike worth considering (editorial)




► From NPR — Trumka praises Biden’s early moves, says unions are key to preparing for uncertain future — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is lobbying for the passage of the “Protecting the Right to Organize,” or PRO, Act, which aims to strengthen organized labor. The measure would give workers more power to unionize and to resolve disputes with their employer. Trumka likened the bill to a civil rights measure. “This pandemic has demonstrated and laid bare the fact that our economy is not fair towards people of color or women, that they need to be protected more,” he said.

► From the Seattle Times — Biden signs executive order bolstering ‘Buy American’ provisions — President Joe iden signed an executive order Monday aimed at strengthening “Buy American” provisions that encourage the federal government to purchase goods and services from U.S. companies.

► From the AFL-CIO — Biden’s ‘Buy American’ executive order will boost economy — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “This executive order will close loopholes that allow agencies to sidestep Buy American requirements and increase the thresholds for domestic content. We know that when America’s workers are given a level playing field, we can compete with anyone. This order is a good first step in revitalizing U.S. manufacturing, which Trump’s policies failed to do over the past four years.”

► From the Washington Post — McConnell relents on Senate rules, signals power-sharing deal with Democrats — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday night signaled he would step back from an ultimatum over Senate rules that sparked a partisan showdown and threatened to obstruct President Biden’s early legislative agenda. McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement that he was ready to move forward with a power-sharing accord with Democrats on how to operate the evenly divided Senate, defusing a potentially explosive clash over the minority’s rights to block partisan legislation.

► From The Hill — Biden’s bipartisan push hits wall on COVID-19 relief bill — Biden must decide whether to go it alone by trying to pass his bill through the budget reconciliation process, likely with only Democratic support, or try to negotiate a deal with Republicans that would likely be substantially smaller than what he and most Democrats favor, a move that could spark progressive criticism but also increase the odds of being able to claim an early bipartisan victory.

► From Politico — Biden open to breaking his immigration bill into pieces — Sources close to the administration said they expect the White House will let Congress take the lead on forging reform — even though Biden introduced his own bill.

► From The Guardian — Sanders in new push for $15 minimum wage under Biden: ‘For me, it’s morally imperative’ — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says the widespread suffering caused by the pandemic-induced economic crisis has made it “morally imperative” to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.




► From the AP — ‘THIS IS ME’: Rioters flaunt involvement in Capitol siege — In dozens of cases, Trump supporters downright flaunted their activity on social media on the day of the deadly insurrection. Some, apparently realizing they were in trouble with the law, deleted their accounts only to discover their friends and family members had already taken screenshots of their selfies, videos and comments and sent them to the FBI. Their total lack of concern over getting caught and their friends’ willingness to turn them in has helped authorities charge about 150 people as of Monday with federal crimes.

► From the AP — Trump impeachment goes to Senate, testing his sway over GOP — House Democrats delivered the impeachment case against Donald Trump to the Senate for the start of his historic trial, but Republican senators were easing off their criticism of the former president and shunning calls to convict him over the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol. It’s an early sign of Trump’s enduring sway over the party. The nine House prosecutors carried the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” across the Capitol on Monday night in a solemn and ceremonial march to the Senate along the same halls the rioters ransacked just weeks ago.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Eastern WA GOP leaders demand Newhouse resign over impeachment vote — Six Republican leaders in the district that elected Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA, 4th) called on him Monday to resign over his vote to impeach Trump. Newhouse was one of 10 U.S. House Republicans to vote to impeach on Jan. 13. “I am not resigning,” Newhouse said in a statement Monday afternoon.

► From the Washington Post — Oregon Republican Party falsely calls U.S. Capitol riot a ‘false flag’ meant to ‘discredit President Trump’ — Three weeks after hundreds of people stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent rampage that left one police officer and four rioters dead and so far led to more than 100 arrests of the pro-Trump rioters, the state Republican Party in Oregon isn’t just backing Trump — its official position falsely claims the entire episode was a “false flag” staged to discredit the GOP and silence Trump’s supporters.

► From the Oregonian — Leaders of Oregon progressive groups and labor unions call on Legislature to expel Rep. Mike Nearman — Leaders and representatives of various Oregon progressive groups, the Eugene/Springfield NAACP and public employee unions on Monday publicly called for the state Legislature to expel Republican Rep. Mike Nearman who let violent far-right extremists into the state Capitol during a Dec. 21, 2020 special session.




► From Vice — NFL Players endorse Amazon warehouse workers unionizationThe National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the union that represents more than 2,000 NFL players in the United States, has endorsed a union drive at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, where workers are scheduled to begin voting in a historic union election on February 8.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The WSLC is proud to include the NFLPA’s Seattle Seahawks unit among its affiliated unions.

► From The Guardian — U.S. billionaires “have received $1.1 trillion windfall in COVID pandemic” — The richest 660 people in the U.S. have collected a $1.1 trillion “windfall of wealth” since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies. The report found that the collective wealth of America’s 660 billionaires has risen by 39% since the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 was a pandemic virus in March 2020.

The Stand (Dec. 9) — U.S. billionaires gain $1 trillion during pandemic, recession

EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos has hired union-busting attorneys to quash the Alabama warehouse workers’ unionization drive. They are still trying to delay the election and force employees to come to the warehouse during the pandemic to vote, rather than vote by mail.

► From The Onion — Disguised Amazon drone sneaks into worker meeting to disrupt union talk — “Hey guys, I don’t know about all this union stuff — doesn’t it feel like it could impact Amazon’s competitiveness in the global market?” said the aerial vehicle.




► From PR Newswire — OPEIU launches Tech Workers Union Local 1010 to raise standards for tech industry employees — “OPEIU has been investing resources in supporting tech workers as they organize to gain rights and raise standards in the workplace for many years, but now we’re focusing and strengthening that effort by having an organization dedicated to, created for and run by tech workers who understand the unique challenges facing the industry,” OPEIU President Richard Lanigan said. “We’re proud to be building solidarity with working people across the sector so together we can ensure tech workers have a strong voice in their workplaces.”




► From the NY Times — Silicon Valley’s white-collar workers aren’t done yet (by Ben Tarnoff and With Trump’s departure from office, the sense of crisis that proved so mobilizing — and unifying — may fade. But the contracts and conditions that workers have protested remain in place, as do the networks they have formed… For better or worse, in an era of extreme corporate concentration, organized workers within the ranks of a company like Google may be the strongest lever the public has for forcing tech executives to be transparent and accountable. In the ongoing debates over platform power, one set of voices will be coming from inside the house.

The Stand (Jan. 5) — New union at Google invites all Alphabet employees to join

EDITOR’S NOTE — Do you want the power to make change at work? Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and demand a voice on the job (and negotiate a fair return for your hard work). Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!


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!