Wednesday, January 27, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Jan. 27 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 303,482 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,803) and 4,167 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 12)
► From the Seattle Times — Washington state will soon get more COVID-19 vaccines, Inslee says — The federal government is increasing the weekly allotment of COVID-19 vaccines to Washington and other states by 16% for the coming weeks, Inslee announced Tuesday.
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 HuffPost — Infectious disease expert warns next 6 to 14 weeks may be ‘darkest’ of COVID-19 pandemic — The director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who served on Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board during the presidential transition, said that there could be another potential explosion in new cases if mutated, more contagious variants of the virus take hold nationwide.
► From KUOW — Bellevue School District, teachers union reach in-person learning deal, but tensions linger — After days of intense negotiations, the union and district on Monday reached a tentative agreement that union members “barely passed” after hours of debate, said Bellevue Education Association President Allison Snow. The agreement also gives school staff more voice in further reopening decisions through teams that will evaluate health and safety issues. Still, Snow said, it was “a painful compromise.”
The Stand (Jan. 21) — Bellevue teachers: Pause school openings until vaccines available
► From KIRO — Gov. Inslee: Asking educators to return isn’t ‘asking more than we’ve asked for our grocery clerks’ — Gov. Inslee: “It’s a decision that we’re doing to save lives, and the way to save lives is to vaccinate the people whose lives actually are in danger. Nine out of 10 of the deceased are over 60 years of age. We are vaccinating teachers who are over 65, and those over 50 in multigenerational households today, but that’s the people who die. And it seems to me, I think the educators I know, think that we ought to vaccinate the people whose lives are at risk today, and that’s these people.” He added:
“We’ve asked our grocery clerks to go on site, and do their job, and as a result we have food to eat. We’re not asking any more than we ask of bus drivers, who have now gone into buses to make sure that we can commute. It’s not anything more than we’ve asked from our child care providers, and they’ve stepped up to the plate, or the firefighters, or the police officers. So to the extent that communities do make the decision to go back to onsite learning, they’re asking educators no more than they have asked for the other parts of our community that keep us safe, and help our community thrive.”
► From the Seattle Times — Who is doing the vaccines right, Washington or Oregon? You be the judge. (by Danny Westneat) — Washington state is like Dr. Science. The people prioritized here for the next round of shots, seniors age 65 and over, are the ones who are mathematically the most at risk of death. Oregon went more with its gut. Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, decided to put K-12 teachers ahead of 65-and-over seniors in the queue — and also ahead of most other essential workers, such as grocery clerks or farmworkers. Medical ethicists are slamming Oregon for this, arguing, bluntly, that it will kill people. About 80% of COVID-19’s 425,000 U.S. deaths were among people 65 and older. Also not thrilled: some of the state’s seniors… The debate is complicated by the conflicting findings around the danger of coronavirus in schools. Example: In America, the CDC just came out with a study finding there is relatively little coronavirus spread in schools, if precautions are in place. While in Europe, scientists have begun finding the opposite, and schools have been forced to shutter again in the U.K., Germany, Austria and elsewhere. Bottom line: Conflicts like what happened in Bellevue schools this past week, with some schools reopening but teachers balking and even walking out, are going to happen again in other districts. Plus that was just for grades K-2; we also need to get the other 10 grades open, too. It would sure be nice to have the vaccine in the mix to try to help save a lost school year.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Spokane schools chief: Lack of vaccines alone won’t stop return of secondary students — A shortage of COVID-19 vaccines for teachers would not be a deal breaker for returning Spokane Public Schools secondary students to buildings five weeks from now, Superintendent Adam Swinyard said Tuesday.
► From KING 5 — Tulalip Tribes to vaccinate Marysville teachers who otherwise might not be eligible — The Marysville School District is getting help from the Tulalip Tribes to vaccinate its teachers against COVID-19, likely weeks before many teachers in other parts of the state will have a chance to get the vaccine. Tribes in Washington follow their own guidelines and are not bound by the state’s vaccine phases.
► From the Washington Post — Teachers are moving to the front of the vaccine line (in some states) — but that doesn’t mean all schools will reopen right away — Adding to the confusion, some officials are explicitly refusing to link vaccination and reopening.
► From the Seattle Times — Boeing suffers massive $11.9 billion loss in 2020, largest in its history — Hit both by the grounding of the 737 MAX and the global pandemic that paralyzed its airline customers, Boeing suffered a massive net loss last year of $11.9 billion, the largest in its history. In a message to employees, chief executive Dave Calhoun called 2020 “a year of profound societal and global disruption, which significantly impacted our industry.” The loss was amplified by a $6.5 billion write-off on the 777X program.
► From Reuters — Boeing to delay 777X again as it posts record annual loss — Boeing said it now expects the 777X to enter service by late 2023, delaying the jet’s entry for the third time, due to tougher certification requirements after the 737 MAX safety crisis and plummeting demand.
► From he Hill — EU regulator clears Boeing MAX jets for return to flights
► From the Seattle Times — New Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance lobbies for changes at Legislature after a year of protests and organizing — Organized in part by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, the alliance is looking far beyond police reform. It is now urging legislators to address equity across society. The group is seeking a statewide declaration from Gov. Jay Inslee that racism is a public health crisis; an end to Washington’s ban on affirmative action; changes in police tactics and law enforcement accountability; investments in Black arts and culture; and more education funding through a new tax on capital gains.
► From the News Tribune — State Corrections Secretary Stephen Sinclair announces his retirement — Sinclair announced his retirement Tuesday morning. It will be effective May 1. Sinclair led the department’s efforts to fight against COVID-19 in the state’s prisons and other correctional facilities which, like the communities around them, have dealt with an onslaught of cases.
► From the NY Times — Republicans rally against impeachment trial, signaling likely acquittal for Trump — All but five Republican senators voted to challenge the constitutionality of the trial, suggesting that Democrats were unlikely to find the 17 they would need to join them in convicting the former president.
► From the Washington Post — Yes, ex-presidents can be impeached (editorial) — The theory that impeachment applies only to sitting officials is not beyond the pale. But it runs against the weight of scholarship, historical practice and common sense. Many Republicans may be embracing the theory nonetheless because it gives them an excuse to avoid any responsibility: They do not have to condone the former president’s incitement of the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion, but they also do not have to anger his supporters. Put briefly: They continue to indulge Trump’s toxic influence on their party.
► From the Washington Post — U.S. prosecutors eye 400 potential suspects, expect sedition charges ‘very soon’ in Jan. 6 Capitol breach — In charging papers, prosecutors have already identified a dozen members or affiliates of militant right-wing groups, including the nativist Proud Boys and the anti-government Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, the latter two of which recruit heavily among former military and law enforcement personnel.
► From the Washington Post — Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas blocks Biden’s deportation ‘pause’ — Judge Drew Tipton, a Trump appointee, blocked President Biden’s 100-day deportation “pause” on Tuesday in a ruling that may point to a new phase of conservative legal challenges to his administration’s immigration agenda. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a close Trump ally who sought the temporary restraining order, celebrated the ruling as a “victory” on Twitter and described Biden’s deportation pause as “a seditious left-wing insurrection,” repeating a term used by lawmakers of both parties to describe the Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.
EDITOR’S NOTE — And this is why Trump and McConnell stocked the federal courts with loyal federal judges — mostly white men, and many of them unqualified.
► From the NY Times — The reality behind Biden’s plan to legalize 11 million immigrants — The proposal for a path to citizenship for undocumented residents has been called “the boldest immigration agenda any administration has put forward in generations.” But is it possible?
► From AFGE — Union for federal prison employees applauds Biden’s order to end federal use of private prisons — “Profiting from the incarceration of American citizens transcends our moral conscience,” says Shane Fausey, President of the AFGE Council of Prison Locals.
► From the Washington Post — Biden to place environmental justice at center of sweeping climate plan — The president plans far-reaching actions to cut carbon emissions, aid polluted communities and shift the nation away from fossil fuels. The administration will treat climate change ‘as the emergency that it is,’ one top adviser says.
► From The Guardian — U.S. companies using pandemic as a tool to break unions, workers claim — Dalroy Connell has worked as a stagehand for the Portland Trailblazers since 1995 when the basketball team began playing games at the Rose Garden Arena. When the pandemic hit the U.S. in March 2020, public events were shut down and NBA games were briefly suspended before the season moved to a “bubble” in Orlando, Florida, and the season recommenced without fans in July 2020. Connell and his colleagues have been on unemployment ever since, but when the 2020-2021 NBA season began in December 2020, instead of bringing back several of these workers, the Portland Trailblazers replaced most of the unionized crew who work their games with non-union workers, even as their jobs running the sound and lighting equipment are required whether or not fans are in attendance. Like many workers around the U.S., Connell believes he has been locked out from his job by a company that has used the coronavirus pandemic as a tool to break unions. “It’s a blatant slap in the face,” said Connell. “They’re using positions in the house, people who already work there to do things we normally do.”
► From Reuters — Google workers to form global union alliance — Google employees from across the globe are forming a union alliance, weeks after workers at the search engine giant and other units of parent company Alphabet Inc formed a labor union for U.S. and Canadian offices.
The Stand (Jan. 5) — New union at Google invites all Alphabet employees to join
Billionaires gained $3.9 trillion and workers lost $3.7 trillion… but that must just be a coincidence ? pic.twitter.com/4oDZNBYuiF
— Paris Marx ☭ (@parismarx) January 27, 2021
► From the Washington Post — Robots are disinfecting hotels during the pandemic. It’s the tip of a hospitality revolution. — The cleaning routines at most busy airports and hotels had remained relatively unchanged for decades. But as the pandemic rages into its second year, major brands are increasingly turning to the world of high-tech disinfection to strengthen their cleaning protocols. It’s a trend that’s slowly transforming housekeeping — and accelerating the pace of automation in hospitality.
► From CNN Business — What Biden and Congress can do to support unions (by Richard Trumka) — In the last Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the U.S. House of Representatives passed the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression by creating a much fairer process for forming a union. It is called the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act. After an anti-worker majority blocked it in the Senate, reintroducing the PRO Act, passing it in both chambers of Congress and getting Biden’s signature is vital to our economic recovery…
Democrats can’t afford to leave workers out to dry and repeat the missed opportunities of previous administrations and congresses. Workers know that too many Democratic candidates in the past were quick to cash our checks and court our votes, but they postponed our priorities — especially labor law reform — when they assumed power. This time must be different. The PRO Act is a generational opportunity that will transform America’s labor landscape and marshal economic recovery for working people….
I was in the meeting where Biden, just days after he was elected, looked a group of CEOs in the eye and said that in his administration, “unions are going to have increased power.” The CEOs just nodded, completely shocked to hear such a clear pro-worker message directly from an incoming president. Biden, who proudly calls himself “a union guy,” rightfully pointed out that worker power is “not anti-business. It’s about creating economic growth [and] creating good-paying jobs.”
I could not agree more, Mr. President. And that’s why we need to make the PRO Act the law of the land.
► From the AFL-CIO — The unfinished story of women at work: 9to5 yesterday, today the PRO Act (Liz Shuler and Karen Nussbaum) — A new documentary, 9to5: The Story of a Movement, captures the history of an organization started by a group of secretaries in the 1970s, and their sister union, SEIU District 925, and offers powerful insight for us today… if we’re going to learn anything from history, it’s this: We need labor empowerment laws for the 21st century. A bill in Congress called the PRO Act will remove barriers to organizing and make it easier for the millions of working women who want to join and form unions.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.