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Raises at Trader Joe’s | Manuel Ellis: Say his name | Wealth tax widely popular

Wednesday, February 3, 2021




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Feb. 3 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 314,692 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,617) and 4,316 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 10)

► From the Seattle Times — Trader Joe’s responds to Seattle pay hike mandate by raising pay, temporarily, nationwide — Trader Joe’s has responded to the Seattle City Council’s recently passed mandate for large grocery stores within the city to raise pay by $4 for their front-line employees. The raise at, least partially, undercuts arguments from business leaders and the grocery industry that Seattle’s legislation was untenable in a business with slim profit margins.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Trader Joe’s workers: Your well-earned raise comes courtesy of the power of a union. UFCW 21’s advocacy is what led to the Seattle mandate. But if you want the better wages and benefits permanently, contact a union organizer today about how you can join together with your co-workers to negotiate for a fair return on your hard work.

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 NY Times — AstraZeneca vaccine shown to drastically cut transmission of the virus — The vaccine not only protects people from serious illness and death but also substantially slows the transmission of the virus, according to a new study — a finding that underscores the importance of mass vaccination as a path out of the pandemic. The study by researchers at the University of Oxford is the first to document evidence that any coronavirus vaccine can reduce transmission of the virus.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This is an early study and more data is needed. But if the vaccine truly stifles transmission, this is huge news.

► From the AP — Fauci warns against Super Bowl parties to avoid virus spread




► From the Seattle Times — Full investigation of Manuel Ellis’ death casts new doubts on Tacoma officers’ stories — Three days after Manuel Ellis died of oxygen deprivation after a chance meeting in a dark intersection with Tacoma police, an officer involved in the minutes-long chaotic scrum said he never noticed Ellis struggling to breathe. “Not that I recall,” Tacoma police Officer Christopher Burbank told a detective investigating Ellis’ death. “No.” But eyewitness statements and video recordings of the March 3 incident later surfaced, showing that Ellis said he couldn’t breathe at least four times — three of them in Burbank’s presence. As a man who lived nearby wandered up to ask police if they needed help, Ellis gasped once more, “I can’t breathe, sir.” A recording from a Ring camera nearby recording the response from one of the officers: “Shut the (expletive) up!” Burbank’s contradiction is just one example of the mounting inconsistencies in the Washington State Patrol’s investigative report on Ellis’ death, a case that has become the Pacific Northwest’s touchstone in the national reckoning over racial inequities in police use of force.

► From the South Seattle Emerald — Healthcare workers at Carolyn Downs protest executive director reinstatement despite allegations of racism — On Jan. 28, two dozen doctors, nurses, and support staff walked out of Central District’s Carolyn Downs Family Medical Center in protest of the announcement that the clinic’s white male executive director, Raleigh Watts, would be reinstated on February 1 after being on paid administrative leave since October 2020. Dating back to October 2020, Watts was under an ongoing internal investigation into allegations of microaggressions, workplace abuse, and preferential treatment based on race.

► From the Seattle Times — Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González is running for mayor — A member of the City Council since 2016, and council president since 2020, González has twice been elected to her citywide seat, winning with more than 70% of the vote in 2015 and 2017. González, whose parents were undocumented migrant farm workers in the Yakima Valley, stressed her personal history in announcing her campaign and called for “bold and progressive action that overcomes the status quo.”




► From the Seattle Times — Proposed ‘billionaire tax’ comes to Olympia, as Washington Democrats seek to revamp tax system — Sponsored by Rep. Noel Frame (D-Seattle), HB 1406 would apply a 1% tax on a state resident’s taxable intangible wealth above $1 billion. If passed, the tax, which would impact fewer than 100 people — but would raise a torrent of money. A fiscal analysis of the bill estimates it would bring in $4.95 billion in the 2023-35 budget cycle.

► From the AP — Washington state eyes ‘billionaire tax’ on the ultra rich — Rep. Frame said the measure isn’t an attack on the state’s richest residents: “It actually really isn’t about them, it’s about the working people of Washington who right now are disproportionally paying for community investments like public education, public health, you name it. This is about equity in the tax code.”

The Stand (Feb. 2) — Support the state wealth tax on billionaires

► From the Tri-City Herald — WA farmers sue state for relief from ‘arbitrary’ COVID restrictions — The frustration with Gov. Jay Inslee’s third renewal of statewide emergency rules has boiled over into a lawsuit by the Washington Farm Labor Association and the Washington State Farm Bureau Federation. The suit comes as thousands of farm workers are beginning to apply for the federal H-2A guest worker program… Elizabeth Strater with the United Food Workers said they fought with the state to have more stringent rules put in place to protect workers. The laborers need those protections or face the danger of dying without medical attention thousands of miles from home, she said.

► From the Spokesman-Review — New research shows wildfire smoke can contain potentially hazardous microorganisms — While it’s documented that wildfire smoke can cause respiratory issues and worsen preexisting conditions, a new theory coauthored by a University of Idaho researcher suggests smoke particulates also may carry potentially harmful microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi.

► From the Olympian — Auditor’s Office contractor was using 20-year-old software when security breach occurred — Washington State Auditor Pat McCarthy said she had no indication that a third-party file-transfer software used by her office wasn’t secure.

► From the Seattle Times — What you need to know about the massive hack of unemployment data

► From the Spokesman-Review — Unemployment chief’s terrible, horrible, very bad year somehow lands her a federal appointment (by Shawn Vestal) — Suzi LeVine’s record as commissioner of the Employment Security Department would not have made you bet on a call-up to the big leagues.




► From The Hill — Biden calls Democrats, urges big COVID-19 relief bill — President Biden urged Senate Democrats in a call Tuesday to “go big” and move quickly on a COVID-19 relief bill, signaling that he is rejecting a $618 billion proposal sponsored by 10 GOP senators as “too small” even though he is open to some of their ideas. Biden told Democrats that his clear preference is for Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion package.

► From Roll Call — Relief bill starts to take shape as budget votes approach The Senate voted to move forward with debate Tuesday on a budget blueprint that will set the stage for filibuster-proof passage of a massive coronavirus relief package. The 50-49 vote opens debate on the Democrats’ budget resolution, which would carve out room for up to $1.9 trillion in additional spending, as proposed by President Joe Biden… Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has expressed concern about the size of the additional $1,400 rebate checks in Biden’s plan and on Tuesday he said he would support a higher minimum wage, perhaps $11 per hour, but not the $15 hourly wage Democrats have promised. Biden quickly tweeted his support for the $15 minimum wage, for which Democrats are hoping for a favorable ruling from the Congressional Budget Office. The question has been whether it would have a substantial budgetary impact in order to comply with reconciliation rules.

► From Politico — Sanders amasses budget arsenal to enact $15 minimum wage — The Congressional Budget Office is expected to soon release a report at the behest of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that will make a persuasive fiscal case for hiking the federal minimum wage within President Joe Biden’s pandemic aid package, according to a senior Democratic aide.

► From HuffPost — Warren to join Senate Finance Committee, immediately introduce wealth tax bill — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pledged Tuesday that she will “press giant corporations, the wealthy, and the well-connected to finally pay their fair share in taxes” while on the committee, which oversees the Internal Revenue Service and the nation’s taxation policies.

► From the NY Times — Biden administration faces backlog of 380,000 waiting to immigrate — The suspension of most legal immigration, combined with the pandemic, has left visa applicants in limbo. Even if President Biden ends the bans, it could take years to process everyone.

► From Roll Call — Senate confirms Alejandro Mayorkas as first Latino Homeland Security secretaryMayorkas will be the first Senate-confirmed leader of DHS since April 2019.

► From the Seattle Times — Buttigieg confirmed as Biden’s Transportation secretary

► From the Washington Post — Senate Republicans move against ‘nutty’ House member in widening GOP rift — A growing number of Republicans took sides Tuesday in a brewing House battle over the shape of the GOP after the Donald Trump presidency, amplifying pressure on Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as he decides this week whether to sideline conspiracy theorists and secure a place for anti-Trump voices in party leadership.

► From The Hill — Two major teachers’ unions call on GOP leadership to remove Greene from Education Committee — The NEA and AFT released a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) imploring him to remove Greene from the Education Committee, saying she lacked the “judgment, empathy or wisdom” to have responsibility over learning environments.

► From the AP — Capitol police officer who died after far-right riot lies in honor — Slain Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died after defending the Capitol on Jan. 6 against the mob that stormed the building.




► From the American Prospect — The man who realigned labor (by Steven Greenhouse) — By the time he became president of the AFL-CIO in 1995, John Sweeney looked a good deal like the Park Avenue doormen—Irish and portly—who’d joined New York’s Building Service union when Sweeney was growing up in a very working-class neighborhood in the Bronx… Sweeney always looked like a classic old-time labor leader, but if ever an appearance deceived, it was his. In his years at the helm of SEIU, and then as president of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2009, Sweeney proved to be one of American labor’s most progressive leaders—a change agent in disguise. Like Joe Biden, he appeared to personify an ancien régime marked by hyphenated descriptors: old-school center-left working-class Irish American Catholicism. But he managed to reconcile that heritage with distinctly more progressive traditions and initiatives.

► From the AFL-CIO — John J. Sweeney, 1934-2021

The Stand (Feb. 2) — John Sweeney, former President of the AFL-CIO, dies at 86

► From the AP — FTC says Amazon took $62 million in tips from drivers — Amazon is paying nearly $62 million to settle charges that it took tips from its delivery drivers. The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that Amazon didn’t pass on tips to drivers for more than two years, even though it promised shoppers and drivers it would do so. The FTC said Amazon didn’t stop taking the tips until 2019, when the company found out about the FTC’s investigation.

► From the Seattle Times — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to step down as CEO — By October, Bezos will step down as CEO, to be replaced by deputy Andy Jassy, 53, who leads Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company’s cloud-computing unit. Bezos, 57, will transition to the role of executive chair of Amazon’s board of directors.


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

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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!