Tuesday, January 12, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Jan. 12 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 276,686 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 2,774) and 3,699 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 11)
► From the (Aberdeen) Daily World — Second inmate at Stafford Creek dies from COVID — A second inmate at Stafford Creek Corrections Center has died from COVID-19 and more than half the inmates in the prison have tested positive for the virus.
► From NPR — For health care workers, the pandemic is fueling renewed interest in unions — For months now, front-line health workers across the country have faced a perpetual lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE, and inconsistent safety measures. Studies show they’re more likely to be infected by the coronavirus than the general population, and hundreds have died. Many workers say employers and government systems that are meant to protect them have failed. Research shows that health facilities with unions have better patient outcomes and are more likely to have inspections that can find and correct workplace hazards. One study found New York nursing homes with unionized workers had lower COVID-19 mortality rates, as well as better access to PPE and stronger infection control measures, than nonunion facilities. Recognizing that, some workers are forming new unions or thinking about organizing for the first time. Others, who already belong to a union, are taking more active leadership roles, voting to strike, launching public information campaigns and filing lawsuits against employers.
TODAY at The Stand — Take care of nurses, so they can care for us (by WSNA’s Sally Watkins and Rep. Eileen Cody) — Washington’s hospitals can — and must — do better by their nurses and health care workers if we want to keep them amid this COVID-19 shortage.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Want safe working conditions? Get a union! Learn more about how you can join together with co-workers to demand safe and healthy conditions — and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
► From the Seattle Times — Rep. Pramila Jayapal tests positive for coronavirus after being locked down with lawmakers who wouldn’t wear masks — Rep. Pramila Jayapal tested positive for coronavirus Monday night, her office said, after she was in lockdown during Wednesday’s siege of the Capitol with “Republican lawmakers who cruelly and selfishly refused to wear masks.” Jayapal’s office said she was locked in a secure room, as a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, for “multiple hours” and several Republican colleagues “not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.”
► From the Washington Post — Congresswoman tests positive for coronavirus after sheltering with some maskless lawmakers during siege of Capitol — Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a 75-year-old cancer survivor, has tested positive for the coronavirus after taking shelter in a room with other lawmakers, some of whom refused to wear masks.
► From Roll Call — Concern grows over potential COVID-19 superspreader event during Capitol riot — About 300 people were evacuated to the lockdown area so crowded it was difficult to walk, while sharing a single bathroom. Experts in indoor air pollution say COVID-19 thrives in crowds in stuffy, older buildings like that one. A video surfaced over the weekend of some Republicans in the space ignoring the CDC’s recommendations to protect public health by wearing masks.
► From the AP — ‘Atmospheric river’ brings threat of floods, landslides — The Pacific Northwest is bracing for flooding and landslides, while the mountains will see heavy snow and possible avalanches on Tuesday and Wednesday as an atmospheric river collides with Washington and Oregon.
► From the Seattle Times — City Council members call for Seattle police union president to resign after Capitol remarks — Pressure continues to mount on Mike Solan, the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, as eight of the nine members of the Seattle City Council called for his resignation Monday morning, following comments he made blaming, in part, Black Lives Matter activists for the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. Mayor Jenny Durkan called last week for Solan to retract his words and apologize, or resign. The Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council, which expelled the police union from its ranks in June during the mass protests against police brutality, called for Solan’s resignation. So did Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County. And the Black Law Enforcement Association of Washington.
► From KING 5 — Gay teacher sues Seattle Pacific University after being denied full-time position — A nursing instructor is suing Seattle Pacific University, alleging he was denied a full-time job because he’s gay.
► From the Olympian — Tight security but few incidents surround opening of 2021 Legislature — Washington state’s elected legislators met masked in a fortified Capitol building in Olympia on Monday to kick off the 2021 legislative session. The environment reflected the convergence of challenges they’ll face while crafting laws this year.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Virtual session should be easier to testify and no harder to track from home (by Jim Camden) — This virtual session will have at least some pluses for people around the state who want to participate in some parts of the legislative process, or just keep track of what lawmakers are up to, without having to cross a mountain pass or get caught in Interstate 5 traffic.
TODAY at The Stand — How you can support pro-worker agenda during remote session
► From the NY Times — State Capitols ‘on high alert,’ fearing more violence — Officials around the country are bracing for any spillover from last week’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol. State legislatures already have become targets for protesters in recent days.
► From Crosscut — Threats against journalists feel more dangerous in 2021 — It’s hard to look away from the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and armed protests in Olympia, especially if you’re a journalist under attack.
► From KNKX — Washington’s new chief justice vows to ‘follow through’ and eradicate bias in the justice system — Chief Justice Steven González was sworn in Monday as the court began its new term in Olympia. González, who is Latino, becomes the first chief justice of color in state history. He’s also the first Jewish chief justice. González was sworn in during a virtual ceremony. “We promise to follow through with our commitment to eradicate bias in the justice system,” he said after taking his oath of office. “Not just to point it out and recognize that it exists, but to come up with actual solutions and changes, structural and small, so that we actually can do this thing that we say we care about.”
► From the Seattle Times — Here’s what you can and can’t do under Inslee’s COVID-19 ‘Healthy Washington’ plan to reopen the state — unlike the state’s previous “Safe Start” plan, “Healthy Washington” consists of two phases instead of four, with the state divided into eight regions. Every region is now in Phase 1, and reopenings will happen by region rather than county. Additionally, regions do not have to apply to move forward to the next phase. The state Department of Health (DOH) will promote regions based on whether they hit four key metrics. The DOH will examine data every Friday to determine if each region can move forward on the following Monday.
MEANWHILE, IN OREGON
► From the Salem S-J — Video shows Rep. Mike Nearman opening door to protesters at Oregon Capitol — Republican state Rep. Mike Nearman of Independence let demonstrators into the Oregon State Capitol Building during a one-day special session in December, starting a riot, surveillance camera video from the Capitol shows. Protesters had been looking for a way to get into the Capitol on Dec. 21 while the Oregon Legislature was in session. The open door ultimately allowed at least 50 people to access the Capitol’s vestibule and led to six Salem and Oregon State police officers getting pepper-sprayed.
► Today from the Oregonian — Rep. Nearman fined, told to resign by House speaker after letting rioters into Capitol — Speaker Tina Kotek has already stripped Nearman of his many of his legislative duties, and fined him for building damage.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Rep. Nearman is a senior fellow for the anti-union Freedom Foundation, an organization with a history of staffers involved in right-wing fringe activities. The Northwest Accountability Project is calling on Oregon legislative leaders to expel Rep. Nearman immediately.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s purge of thousands of accounts affiliated with QAnon following the U.S. Capitol riot has cost the Freedom Foundation about 15% of its Twitter followers. The tax-exempt group funded by anti-union billionaire industrialists like the Koch brothers, reports that it lost more than 800 followers after Twitter’s crackdown. QAnon is a far right-wing community of people who believe that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles consisting of Democrats, journalists, Hollywood actors and others control the so-called “deep state” government and have conspired to undermine Donald Trump.
► LIVE from the NY Times — House plans vote tonight demanding Pence seize Trump’s powers — The resolution calls on Vice President Mike Pence to wrest the powers of the office from Trump. If Pence fails to act, an impeachment vote is expected Wednesday.
► From Politico — House to vote Wednesday as Pelosi gets the votes to impeach Trump — The House will vote Wednesday to impeach Trump for inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week, just seven days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Impeachment is scheduled for consideration at 9 a.m. (ET) Wednesday, if Trump refuses to resign and Vice President Mike Pence won’t initiate other procedures to remove him.
The Stand (Jan. 8) — AFL-CIO General Board: Trump must resign or be removed
► MUST-READ from the NY Times — Impeach Trump again (editorial) — Trump’s efforts to remain in office in defiance of democracy cannot be allowed to go unanswered, lest they invite more lawlessness from this president or those who follow. The attack on the Capitol on Wednesday was not a spontaneous eruption of violence. It was the culmination of a campaign waged by the president of the United States and his allies in Congress and the right-wing media to overturn the results of a free and fair election that began even before the ballots began to be counted on Election Day. That campaign involved a barrage of lies about the integrity of the voting process from the president, his allies and other elected Republicans. It included farcical legal challenges that were laughed out of court even as they sowed doubt in the minds of a majority of Republicans about whether Joe Biden won fairly. It involved the president and his allies strong-arming state election officials to change the vote count outright. When it all failed, the president held a rally on the National Mall and sent the angry crowd to march on the Capitol and stop Congress from declaring Biden the winner of the presidency. The riot came at the cost of at least five lives and shook the confidence of the nation and the world in the stability of American democracy. Each of these efforts amounts to an unprecedented assault on the rule of law. Taken together, they constitute a crime so brazen that it demands the highest form of accountability that the legislature can deliver. As regrettable as this moment is for the nation, there is no other option but to vote to impeach the president for a second time.
► From Politico — ‘Supremely self-absorbed’: Isolated Trump unlikely to mount an aggressive impeachment defense — He’s not doing much governing, aides said. Instead, Trump has surrounded himself with a handful of loyalists who were with him since the start.
► From the News Tribune — Sen. Patty Murray wants Trump out now and punishment for his Senate enablers
► From The Hill — Hawley, Cruz face rising anger, possible censure — Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are facing a possible vote on a censure resolution in the Senate as Democrats and some Republicans blame them for the mob that attacked the Capitol last week. Several Democratic senators have called on Hawley and Cruz to resign and Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have called for them to be expelled if they don’t step down voluntarily.
► From the NY Times — Before Capitol riot, Republican lawmakers fanned the flames — A “1776 moment”: Several of the president’s closest allies in Congress used bellicose language to urge their supporters to attend the Jan. 6 rally that turned into a deadly riot.
► From The Hill — House GOP leader tells members to quit spreading lies on riot, antifa — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told members of his GOP conference on a call Monday that the riot at the Capitol was not caused by antifa, urging lawmakers not to further spread misinformation about the pro-Trump mob that stormed the House and Senate last week.
► From The Hill — Wave of companies cut off donations — much of it to GOP — A wave of corporations on Monday said they would cut off donations to any politicians who opposed the Electoral College results, putting new pressure on Republicans to break with Trump and end their attacks on the election.
► From The Hill — Trump impeachment collides with Biden’s agenda — The potential for another Trump impeachment trial is threatening to upend quick action in the Senate on President-elect Joe Biden‘s Cabinet picks and legislative agenda.
► From the AFL-CIO — AFL-CIO launches Technology Institute — Today, the AFL-CIO launched its Technology Institute, which will leverage the power of technology and innovation for the labor movement. Leading this cutting-edge initiative is Institute Director Amanda Ballantyne, who brings diverse experience in labor and economic justice work. As executive director of the Main Street Alliance, she grew a groundbreaking project into a powerful, national organization… Technology and innovation can and must raise standards and wages, yet as we are seeing today, many technologies are being developed simply to replace working people during a time when inequality is raging. Rapid transformation raises questions on the future of work—about jobs and profits, training and reskilling, innovation policy, algorithm bias and data privacy, and democracy and power. The Technology Institute will serve as the labor movement’s think tank, to help us solve issues created by technology in collective bargaining and in any place it arises.
► From The Verge — The Google union just passed 700 members — The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) passed 700 members on Monday, growing from roughly 230 at launch on January 4th. The group, which is open to employees and contractors at Google’s parent company, includes workers from 35 offices in the U.S. and Canada.
The Stand (Jan. 5) — New union at Google invites all Alphabet employees to join
► From the Chicago Sun-Times — CTU notches huge victory in bid to expand bargaining power — Illinois Senators voted to repeal a section of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act that limited issues CTU could bargain over. It now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk, although the governor has not said if he plans to sign it.
► From the Guardian — What can Biden do to reverse Trump’s assault on labor rights? (by Steven Greenhouse) — Soon after Joe Biden is inaugurated as the next U.S. president, he is expected to take several strong steps on the labor front aimed at reversing or remedying the policies of Donald Trump – who promised workers a lot and delivered little. But Biden’s number one priority will be to tackle the issues left in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh – the Mayor of Boston and before that a labor leader for decades – is likely to help advance Biden’s promises to help unions expand. Walsh, who had headed Boston’s federation of building trades unions, is expected to support increased spending on infrastructure to upgrade roads and bridges, strengthen the economy and create good-paying jobs. As mayor, he pushed for construction contractors to hire more workers of color.
With COVID-19 still raging across the U.S., many job safety experts say it’s urgent for Biden to do something that the Trump administration has failed to do: issue nationwide regulations directing businesses to take specific steps to protect their workers from the coronavirus, whether retail, restaurant, factory or construction workers. Trump’s business-friendly OSHA repeatedly rejected labor unions’ pleas to adopt such safety standards.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.