Monday, February 15, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Feb. 15 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 328,047 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,175) and 4,675 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 13)
► From the Seattle Times — State’s COVID-19 vaccine planning fell short on logistics, sowing disorder and mistrust — In the months leading up to the first COVID-19 vaccine shipments, state health officials agonized over which residents should be vaccinated before others. They surveyed 18,000 people and convened focus groups, debating race, age and essential occupations. But unlike some other states, the state Department of Health neglected to plan for basic logistics that would have allowed for quick vaccination of those most vulnerable to the disease.
The Stand (Jan. 22) — WSLC offers COVID vaccination resource for union members
► From the PS Business Journal — The Waiting Game — Outside of health care settings, restaurants have the highest outbreak numbers in the state, according to the Washington State Department of Health. It’s for this reason that restaurant owners want their employees to be grouped with the other essential workers in the state’s Phase 1B timeline for the COVID-19 vaccine. Continued closures and other state coronavirus regulations hamstring businesses from turning a profit, or even breaking even. Surviving on government funds and dwindling savings, the state’s restaurateurs are pinning their financial hopes on the COVID-19 vaccine.
► From Newsweek — Biden scores major win with teachers unions after CDC recommends they get priority for COVID vaccine — Although the CDC said vaccines are not mandatory for reopening, they stated that teachers should be given priority.
► From Vox — Child care workers are getting left behind in the vaccine rollout — They’ve been caring for America’s kids throughout the pandemic. Now many can’t get vaccinated.
► From the Washington Post — The CDC’s plan to reopen schools seems to prioritize expediency over teachers’ health (by Leana S. Wen) — As a physician and parent, I agree that every effort must be made to get our children back to the classroom, especially younger children and those with special needs. But the right way to do it isn’t to forgo evidence-based, common-sense requirements. Doing so raises the same question that plagued the CDC under the Trump administration: Is it science or expediency that’s driving its decisions? The Biden team has said they want to rebuild trust. These school reopening guidelines could do precisely the opposite.
► From the Washington Post — Four reasons experts say coronavirus cases are dropping in the United States — Every explanation is appended with two significant caveats: The country is still in a bad place, continuing to notch more than 90,000 new cases every day, and recent progress could still be imperiled, either by new fast-spreading virus variants or by relaxed social distancing measures… The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts 152,000 more COVID-19 deaths by June 1, but projects that the vaccine rollout will save 114,000 lives.
► From the Seattle Times — Essential grocery-store workers deserve hazard pay (by Sharelle Claiborne and Joe Mizrahi) — We still need better enforcement of masks and shopper limits to make our stores safer, but at least Seattle and Burien workers are getting extra pay for the hazards we face. More local governments need to pass hazard pay. If the companies want to get ahead of this, they could simply reinstate hazard pay that they cut last summer instead of supporting lawsuits against the communities we call home.
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 Ellensburg Daily Record — City, IBEW Local 77 negioations headed to mediation — The two sides have been meeting since August trying to hammer out a new contract for the next three years, but have not been able to agree to suitable terms, IBEW business manager Brian Gray.
► From the Seattle Times — Sound Transit faces a $11.5 billion shortfall. Now what’s it going to do? — The shortfall is caused by soaring land costs, alignments in sloppy soils, community requests for add-ons and a projected $6 billion reduction in tax revenue due to the COVID-19 recession. Transit board members face difficult decisions to close the budget gap, such as delaying lines or stations, raising taxes within Seattle or amassing more debt for a half-century.
► From the AP — Washington state trooper’s death linked to toxic on-the job exposure — Trooper S. Renee Padgett 2018 death at age 50 has been reclassified as occurring in the line of duty after an investigation determined the cause of her fatal cancer was exposure to toxic chemicals during an illegal auto-wrecking investigation.
► From WFSE — Toward a new solidarity: WFSE celebrates Black History Month (by Andrea Vaughn) — Black History Month is a chance for us to learn, celebrate, grieve, and aspire. Black organizers, workers, unionists, artists, and creators have shaped our movement’s past and laid paths to freedom, collective liberation, and justice in our future — and today.
► From the P.S> Business Journal — Boeing’s Everett factory could be good fit for new fighter jets (by Alex Krutz) — Boeing is well positioned to use the Digital Century Series model to develop and produce the NGAD sixth-generation fighter jet program in their Everett factory for three reasons. First, Boeing has defense experience and engineering talent in the Pacific Northwest due to the KC-46 tanker program and the P-8 Poseidon. Second, the Everett facility is the largest building in the world by volume at 472 million cubic feet on 98 acres. The remaining 787 production in Everett is being consolidated at the South Carolina facility and the 747 program is being retired. The space from these two production lines will be open for use in the factory. Third, Boeing has the opportunity to optimize its supply chain.
► From the Seattle Times — The road to recovery: A healthy, equitable economy starts with investments in transportation (by Larry Brown, Alex Hudson Steve Mullin) — Our coalition — business leaders, labor unions, local governments, and environmental and transit advocates — has worked together for more than 15 years. We know a healthy transportation system is essential to economic activity, jobs and opportunity, healthy communities, equity and quality of life… Washingtonians deserve jobs that allow them to support themselves and their families. They deserve safe and reliable options for getting to and from work, school and recreation. They deserve to live in neighborhoods free from pollution and preventable traffic fatalities. They deserve a chance to get back up and rebuild, together. We look forward to working with legislators to push forward on new transportation investments and build the road to that recovery.
The Stand (Jan. 29) — How we can build back a better Washington
► From Crosscut — WA jobless benefits lag while unemployment taxes loom — The state is trying to fix some of the system’s most pressing issues to deal with the ongoing unemployment crisis.
► From the News Tribune — A COVID-19 no-brainer: Don’t leave Washington health workers exposed without benefits (editorial) — Providing front-line caregivers with secure wages and other presumptive benefits during this nearly year-long health public-health emergency should be a no-brainer. That some infected workers have exhausted their personal-leave banks is unacceptable. That’s why Washington lawmakers should approve SB 5190 with strong bipartisan accord.
► From the Tri-City Herald — COVID has derailed too many dreams. Lawmakers must not derail our economic future (editorial) — Higher education leaders around the state are worried that with pressure to funnel money toward short-term needs, the budget for the state’s colleges and universities could be targeted for devastating cuts by the Legislature. State lawmakers must think longer term and protect the budgets of our colleges, technical schools and four-year universities.
► From the Seattle Times — Tim Eyman had said losing his court case would end his career in politics. Now he proclaims: ‘full steam ahead.’ — Eyman says he will remove his name from his political committee, Permanent Offense, and it will be run by its two other officers, but “the rest will remain the same.” As of Friday evening, he had not removed his name from the committee. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson says Eyman still “can conceive of initiatives, draft an initiative, promote an initiative, speak about an initiative. He just can no longer be involved in the financial affairs of the initiative because he’s demonstrated repeatedly that he will engage in illegal kickbacks.”
► From the (Everett) Herald — Judge’s rebuke of Eyman protects initiative process (editorial) — If Eyman is a guru, he has been the swami of directing his supporters’ ire against the courts and state officials who defeat or overturn his flawed initiatives, then unceasingly using that exasperation to raise money for his campaigns and himself. Eyman insists that the judge’s ruling has placed unconstitutional restrictions on his First Amendment rights. It hasn’t. The judge put up guardrails that Eyman can no longer ignore. Those guardrails should keep him from concealing campaign financing and from using a vital public process for his own benefit.
► From Roll Call — Senate votes to acquit Trump for incitement of Jan. 6 insurrection — Seven Republicans voted with all Democrats, but fell 10 short of the votes needed to convict.
► From The Hill — Nearly 60% say Trump should have been convicted
► From the Washington Post — Trump’s acquittal further polarizes factions within the GOP — One day after the Senate acquitted former president Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, Republicans continued to diverge in what the future of their party should be, with a chasm widening between those who want nothing to do with the former president and those who openly embrace him. The division is playing out as Trump promises a return to politics and as both factions within the GOP vow they will prevail in the 2022 midterm elections.
► From the Seattle Times — GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler stepped into the spotlight in Trump impeachment trial. What happens now? — Herrera Beutler lit the national news cycle afire Friday night when she shared an account of a purported exchange between the former president and GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as a violent mob ransacked the Capitol. The account briefly upended Trump’s second impeachment trial as Democrats scrambled to call her as a witness. They later backtracked, instead entering her statement into the record. On Saturday, Clark County Republican Party Chair Joel Mattila said, “The reaction that I’m seeing from local Republicans … is that she’s only digging her hole deeper… I think that it’s more than certain she’s going to have a primary opponent.”
► From the NY Times — Biden takes center stage with ambitious agenda as Trump’s trial ends — The president plans to quickly press for his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, and then move on to infrastructure, immigration, climate change and other major priorities.
► From the Washington Post — Biden is winning Republican support for his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan. Just not in Washington. — Republicans in Congress overwhelmingly oppose the relief bill, casting it as bloated and budget-busting, with some heaping particular scorn on a measure to send $350 billion in assistance to states and cities. But to many Republicans at city halls and statehouses across the country, the relief package looks very different. Instead of the “blue-state bailout” derided by GOP lawmakers, Republican mayors and governors say they see badly needed federal aid to keep police on the beat, to prevent battered Main Street businesses from going under and to help care for the growing ranks of the homeless and the hungry.
► From Senate.gov — Sen. Murray, top Democrats introduce FAMILY Act, urge Congress to pass permanent paid leave solution to spur economic recovery — Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the chair of the Senate labor committee, along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT, 3rd), introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, legislation to create a permanent, national paid family and medical leave program.
► From CNN — We need to yell and scream for paid family and medical leave (by Seth and Lauren Rogen) — It was through our caregiving experience (with Lauren’s mother who had Alzheimer’s disease) that we learned that government and most employers provide people — especially young people — with little to no caregiving resources. We learned the ugly truth that the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid family leave policy to help people balance care for older loved ones while working. President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal, currently before Congress, includes an expansion of paid leave, and would make at least two weeks of paid leave mandatory for every American employee, “plus an additional 12 weeks to take care of children or family members for coronavirus-related reasons at two-thirds of their pay,” the Washington Post reported. That’s a critical first step, and Congress must pass it — and make it permanent.
► From The Hill — Duckworth urges Biden to oust entire Postal Service board — Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Friday urged President Biden to replace every member on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) board of governors. In a letter, Duckworth specifically cited “recent and abject failure of leadership at the top of the USPS,” under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a GOP fundraiser who attracted criticism last year after he implemented systemwide cost-cutting measures in the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
► From The Intercept — Amazon hired Koch-backed anti-union consultant to fight Alabama warehouse organizing — The head of the Center for Independent Employees is paid $3,200 per day to thwart what could become Amazon’s first unionized facility in the U.S.
► From the AP — Is President Biden to blame for 9,000 layoffs at Shell? No — A post circulating on Facebook falsely links Shell layoffs to the Biden administration. But energy producer Royal Dutch Shell announced in September, before Biden was even elected, that the company would cut up to 9,000 jobs worldwide.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.