The Stand

Vaccine pop-up | WA State Wealth Tax | Amazon vs. mail-in voting

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Monday, February 1, 2021

 


COVID-19

 

► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Feb. 1 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 311,597 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,699) and 4,285 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 15)

► From KING 5 — Puget Sound, West regions advance to Phase 2 of reopening

► From the Seattle Times — Seattle pop-up clinic vaccinates qualified grocery workers against COVID-19 — In a nondescript union hall (UFCW 21) in South Seattle, between an auto-parts store and a lot of empty tractor trailers, the city inched slowly, ever-so-slowly, toward curbing the coronavirus pandemic. Grocery store workers trickled in at appointed times. Union officials directed them inside. Temporary city employees registered them. Seattle Fire Department medics and technicians filled syringes and administered vaccines to grocery workers who meet the current state requirements — over age 65, or over age 50 and living in a multigenerational household, like grandparents with grandchildren. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said:

“I know there’s been so much frustration, everywhere in Seattle, everywhere in the state and the country about the lack of vaccinations, and the supply really has been the limiting factor… Grocery stores have been a lifeline during the pandemic. Many people go to the grocery store and they try to get in and out as quickly as possible because to them it feels risky. And yet our workers show up day-in, day-out, eight-, 10-hour shifts serving anybody who comes through the doors.”

The Stand (Jan. 26) — UFCW 21 celebrates victory on $4/hour hazard pay in Seattle — Help the union fight for grocery workers’ hazard pay in YOUR city!

► From the Columbian — Washington schools officials announce plan to vaccinate teachers — The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, announced Friday what they’re calling a bold plan to help vaccinate all Washington school teachers and staff once the state advances into the next COVID-19 vaccination phase. The “Get Ready” plan does not allow teachers and school staff to jump ahead in the vaccination phases, but rather, state Superintendent Chris Reykdal said during a media briefing Friday the intent is to vaccinate educators more efficiently.

► From KUOW — Plan to vaccinate teachers, reopen schools gets mixed reviews

► From the Washington Post — Essential workers get lost in the vaccine scrum as states prioritize the elderly — “I want the elderly to get it because I know they’re in need of it, but we also need to get it, because we’re out there serving them. If we’re not healthy, our community’s not healthy,” said one. Delaying vaccinations for front-line workers, especially food and grocery workers, has stark consequences for communities of color disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

LEARN MORE at WSLC.org — COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Union Members

► From the Washington Post (Feb. 1) — Many who have received the coronavirus vaccine wonder: What can I safely do? — The arrival of coronavirus vaccines is beginning to have an impact on everyday life, with millions of newly inoculated Americans eagerly anticipating a return to long-postponed activities and visits with sorely missed relatives and friends. But with Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, warning that vaccinations are not a “pass,” the recently inoculated are engaged in a new round of complicated risk-benefit assessments. What can I safely do? Where can I go? And how do I interact with people who are not vaccinated?

 


LOCAL

 

► From the Seattle Times — ‘Week of Action’ calls for ethnic studies, more Black teachers in Washington schools — To kick off Black History Month, organizers and advocates of the Black Lives Matter At School movement are calling for a “Week of Action” to spur more concrete efforts to ensure racial equity, human rights justice and new opportunities to advance all students in the nation’s schools.

TODAY at The StandPoor People’s Campaign hosts Moral Monday events today

► From the Spokesman-Review — Then and now: Kaiser Trentwood — For the 50 years after World War II, Kaiser Aluminum would be Spokane’s largest industrial employer, employing more than 2,000 workers at Trentwood and Mead. Generations of Spokane families were raised on Kaiser paychecks. Today, the massive Trentwood complex, with more than 900 workers, still produces aluminum products for aerospace and other industries.

► From the News Tribune — MultiCare turns to outside physician provider network to serve three more of its hospitals by April — A business deal announced earlier this month between Tacoma-based MultiCare and Sound Physicians has raised concerns over a shakeup affecting providers who’ve served in local hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic and now face the task of applying for new jobs or looking for work elsewhere.

 


THIS WASHINGTON

 

► From KNKX — Legislature sees record diversity as majority Democrats pledge focus on equity — The increasing diversity among state legislators comes in the wake of last year’s civil rights protests and amid ongoing demands for police accountability and racial justice. It also comes as Gov. Jay Inslee and majority Democrats in the Legislature are pledging to apply an “equity lens” to their budgeting and policy making.

► From the Seattle Times — The billionaires’ tax may be absurd, but that makes it right at home for these times (by Danny Westneat) — HB 1406 would make Washington the first state in the nation to impose a wealth tax. It’s an annual 1% levy not on income or business revenue, but on what it calls “extraordinary intangible financial assets.” It exempts the first $1 billion of your wealth — meaning that only the state’s true billionaires, those owning stocks and other investments totaling more than $1 billion, would owe any tax at all. This is really a proposed tax on just 10 people. In fact, four of them — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and MacKenzie Scott — are so otherworldly superrich that they would effectively owe all of the wealth tax.

► From the WA State Wire — Q&A: Rep. Noel Frame on her WA State Wealth Tax

► From the Seattle Times — State lawmakers approve a big unemployment tax cut and a boost in jobless benefits — State lawmakers approved legislation that would save employers nearly $1 billion in unemployment taxes this year, raise the minimum weekly jobless benefit, and provide benefits to some workers who quit for health reasons. But some worker advocates said SB 5061, which passed the House on Friday and now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee for a signature, didn’t go far enough to address workers affected by the pandemic.

► From the Seattle Times — Legislature takes up excessive force by law enforcement — The issue of police accountability has been playing out in the Legislature over the last two weeks with bills being discussed in both the House and Senate. Discussions continue Monday, as a bill that would compel officers to intervene and stop excessive force by other officers goes before the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

► From Post Alley — Embarrassing injustice: Proposed state education law omits teaching Duwamish history (by David Buerge) — SB 5161 requires school districts to make the recognized tribes arbiters in planning social studies curricula. An improvement surely, but the act should be amended to allow the Duwamish, Seattle’s first people, equal participation.

 


THAT WASHINGTON

 

► From Roll Call — Sweeping budget blueprint for pandemic aid readied for floor action — Democrats on Monday will kick off a convoluted process to try to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue package, through a budget resolution that would direct two dozen House and Senate committees to draft pieces of a filibuster-proof reconciliation bill.

► From the AP — Biden to meet Republicans proposing $618 billion virus aid

► From The Hill — Biden’s push for stimulus checks sparks income eligibility debate — Many Republicans and some centrist Democrats say any additional payments need to be more targeted toward lower-income households.

► From the NY Times — Effort to include $15 minimum wage in relief bill poses test for Democrats — Whether the effort by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) succeeds will not only affect the jobs and wages of millions of American workers, but also help define the limits of Democrats’ willingness and ability to use procedural maneuvers to shepherd major policy proposals past entrenched Republican opposition in an evenly divided Senate.

► From The Hill — Biden reverses Trump last-minute attempt to freeze $27.4 billion of programs — Trump had moved, with less than a week left in his term, to freeze the billions in federal funding using a budget maneuver called rescission.

► From NPR — Calls mount for Biden to shake up Postal Service’s leadership — Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) wants Biden to “clean house,” meaning everyone — the six current members of the board of governors and the Postal Service’s top leadership, including Postmaster General Louis DeJoy — should be removed. APWU President Mark Dimondstein isn’t calling for the entire board to be replaced, but at the very least he says the open positions should be filled. “It should become a 5-to-4 … majority choices of the Democratic Party,” he says… It will be up to the board of governors, not Biden, to determine DeJoy’s future. And any nominations to the board would have to be approved by the Senate, a process that could take months.

► From Politico — Trump left Biden a $30 billion fund used for trade wars. Biden has other plans for it. — A Depression-era financial institution was used by the Trump administration to dole out billions to farmers. Now the Biden team has their own ideas about how the money should be spent: to tackle climate change, support restaurants and kickstart other programs without waiting for Congress.

► From Politico — Biden toughens workplace safety guidelines but lets stand DPA meat production order — Trump in April ordered meat-processing plants to continue operating, declaring them critical infrastructure under the Defense Production Act. Several meat companies have cited the executive order in court to challenge lawsuits over Covid-19-related worker illnesses and deaths. One union spokesperson also told POLITICO that labor groups are working with the administration on “a wide range of priorities on COVID safety and protections for meatpacking workers” including reversing the Trump executive order.

 


INSURRECTION

 

► From the NY Times — 77 days: Trump’s campaign to subvert the election — A New York Times examination of the 77 democracy-bending days between election and inauguration shows how, with conspiratorial belief rife in a country ravaged by pandemic, a lie that Mr. Trump had been grooming for years finally overwhelmed the Republican Party and, as brake after brake fell away, was propelled forward by new and more radical lawyers, political organizers, financiers and the surround-sound right-wing media.

► From the NY Times — An emboldened extremist wing flexes its power in a leaderless GOP — As more far-right Republicans take office and exercise power, party officials are promoting unity and neutrality rather than confronting dangerous messages and disinformation.

► From the NY Times — As Trump raked in cash denying his loss, little went to actual legal fight — The picture that emerged in new campaign finance reports was of Donald J. Trump waging a public relations effort to falsely argue that he had won the election rather than mounting a serious legal push.

► From the NY Times — If Marjorie Taylor Greene isn’t beyond the pale, who is? (editorial) — The Georgia freshman is best known for endorsing QAnon, the right-wing movement convinced of the fiction that Donald Trump is a messiah sent to defeat a cabal of Satan-worshiping, child-abusing, deep-state villains. But this is just one of the bizarre lies she has peddled, including blaming the 2018 Camp Fire wildfire in California on a space laser controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family… Greene does not draw the line at promoting bigotry and disinformation. Videos and social media posts from before she ran for Congress show her endorsing violence against those she sees as enemy combatants in an ongoing civil war. The silence from Republican leaders has been deafening. That can’t continue if the party has any hope of reclaiming conservatism from nihilistic rot — something every American should be rooting for to maintain a healthy two-party system.

 


NATIONAL

 

► From CNBC — How the coronavirus pandemic may be causing support of labor unions to rise –As wealth inequality accelerates, essential workers organize for pandemic protections and President-elect Biden makes promises to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” public support for unions is rising. In 2018, researchers at MIT found that approximately 48% of nonunion workers would join a union if they could — representing some 58 million workers and nearly half of the nonunion workforce. Gallup estimates that as of 2020, 65% of all Americans approve of labor unions; including 83% of Democrats, 64% of independents and 45% of Republicans.

► From Business Insider — Aviation unions are asking congress for $15 billion to extend furlough protections — A coalition of aviation unions has asked Congress for a $15 billion extension for a furlough protection program, warning a lack of funding would lead to layoffs. The funding would extend the current Payroll Support Program through September 30. Otherwise, it would expire on March 31.

► From CNBC — United Airlines warns thousands of employees that their jobs are again at risk, labor unions seek more government aid

► From ABC 7 Chicago — CPS, CTU still without deal; in-person learning pushed back to Tuesday — There is still no deal between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union as of Sunday evening as the district instructs all students to continue remote learning for Monday. Both sides claimed they were waiting on the other to start negotiations Sunday but did agree on their willingness to continue talks throughout the night.

► From the NY Times — Worker deaths put big tech in China under scrutiny — A string of deaths and protests has reopened a national debate around the power of China’s biggest technology companies and the expectations they impose on their employees, at a time when internet giants around the world are under fierce scrutiny.

 


TODAY’S MUST-READ

 

► From the NY Times — Amazon’s cynical, anti-union attack on mail voting (by Craig Becker and Amy Dru Stanley) — A battle over voting by mail is again being waged in an electoral contest. But now it’s Amazon that opposes a mail-ballot election in order to thwart a unionization effort at an Alabama fulfillment center. The company’s opposition to mail balloting threatens to undermine workplace democracy, and in the era of COVID-19, it also endangers public health… Amazon’s cynical attack on mail voting makes all the more pressing congressional reform of union election law (the PRO Act) that would undo the unfairness of balloting on company property. Not only workplace democracy is at risk. In lending credence to deadly lies about mail-ballot election fraud, Amazon’s arguments strike a blow at political democracy.

 


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

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