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Labor celebrates BHM | UberCheats | GOP vs. fair taxes, COVID relief

Monday, February 22, 2021




Each day during Black History Month, the unions that comprise the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO are honoring Black leaders, past and present. Today, we honor Gabriel Prawl, President of the Seattle Chapter of the APRI. Please share the following post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as #LaborCelebratesBHM!

► From the Olympian — Black History Month has us learning about racial equity, but can we make real change? (editorial) — So this year, Black History Month has never felt more alive and immediate — especially for white people, who largely comprise its newest students.




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Feb. 22 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 333,794 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,001) and 4,822 deaths.

► From the (Everett) Herald — State health leader: We have a plan, we don’t have the supply — Two months after the COVID vaccine landed in Washington, many still struggle to secure their shots.

► From the Seattle Times — This bus driver has steered through a lot of change over 33 years behind the wheel — Veteran Metro bus driver Barbara Wright-Young places her hand over her heart often as she tells me how her job of 33 years has changed during the coronavirus pandemic… The appreciation from her regular passengers means a lot to her. So does the MASKS REQUIRED message that now flashes across her coach. She won’t even open the door for anyone who isn’t wearing one. “People refuse to wear masks because they think this thing is a joke. It’s not a joke. This is serious; this is about life and death,” says Wright-Young, whose sister, Mary, tested positive for COVID-19 and passed away in June.

► From the Spokesman-Review — How COVID-19 changed the lives of one 38-year-old farmworker and his family — When he got to Sacred Heart Medical Center, Eduardo Muñoz was tested for COVID-19. His positive result came back shortly after he got out of surgery. Preliminary research has tied COVID-19 infections to neurological symptoms and an increase in the risk of stroke. Doctors said that COVID-19’s pro-thrombotic state likely caused his stroke. For Muñoz, his stroke meant a long hospital stay, then rehabilitation at St. Luke’s, then a second brain surgery… Compounding the family’s problems is that Washington Fruit denied Eduardo Muñoz’s worker’s compensation claim for his wrist and ankle injuries, which meant he went unpaid for several months. In December, when he was able to submit another claim, he asked Washington Fruit to compensate him for his COVID-19 illness and subsequent stroke care. This legal battle is ongoing.

► From the AP — U.S. coronavirus death toll approaches milestone of 500,000

EDITOR’S NOTE — That’s more than seven Husky Stadiums filled to capacity.

► From Politico — Teachers union leader on reopening schools: ‘If the NFL could figure out how to do this, let’s do it’ — “I want to debunk this myth that teacher unions, at least our union, doesn’t want to reopen schools,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Teachers know that in-person education is really important. We would have said that pre-pandemic. We knew remote education is not a good substitute.”




► From the Seattle Times — Older Boeing 777s grounded for inspections following engine explosion over Denver — A day after the dangerous explosion of an engine on United Airlines flight 328 shortly after takeoff from Denver, the older Boeing 777-200 models involved were effectively grounded worldwide. The FAA ordered immediate stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777-200 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney engines on Sunday, as airlines operating such jets in the U.S. and Japan suspended flights.

► From Reuters — Regulators probe engine blow-outs as older Boeing 777s suspended — Showers of jet engine parts over residential areas on both sides of the Atlantic have caught regulators’ attention and prompted the suspension of some older Boeing planes from service.




► From the Seattle Times — UberEats driver pleaded for help and better tipping practices in a viral video. The Sounders and soccer fans answered the call. — Seated in his slowly deteriorating 2012 Honda, Riley Elliot decided to document a dark moment for a TikTok video. Through tears, he unleashed his frustrations as a food delivery driver struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A trick bag where gig economy companies can pay low wages if tips are part of an employee’s income, but customers don’t always tip.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story focuses on tips, and some people’s refusal to pay them. But it begs the question: how the hell is a company allowed to pay $2.50 for 45 minutes of work?!

► From the (Everett) Herald — Cost increase can’t risk ST3’s ‘spine’ to Everett jobs (editorial) — A $11.5 billion shortfall shouldn’t be used to justify cuts that would limit light rail service here.

► From the Spokesman-Review — Details of tentative agreement between Spokane, city police officers released — The tentative agreement quickly received the praise of Spokane City Council members, the mayor and representatives of the Police Guild, a union representing the city’s police officers. It would provide a long overdue replacement to a contract that expired at the end of 2016.

► From the Columbian — Vancouver schools former superintendent getting $455,000 retirement payoutVancouver Public Schools agreed to pay former superintendent Steve Webb $455,000 when Webb and the school board agreed to part ways last week.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The boss/CEO/Superintendent ALWAYS has a contract to protect their interests at work. So should YOU!  Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a contract the protects your wages and working conditions. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► From the Yakima H-R — Latino voters have higher-than-average ballot signature rejection rates in Washington — In the eight Washington counties with the largest share of potential Latino voters, Hispanic-sounding names, like Marissa Reyes, are nearly four times more likely than other voters to have their ballot rejected for a signature mismatch, according to an InvestigateWest analysis of four recent elections.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Latino voters being silenced in Franklin commission races, voting rights group claims — It’s been four months since Franklin County commissioners were told that their three voting districts are unfair to Latino voters. Now they have just two months left before a voting rights group intends to sue.

► From the Seattle Times — The horrific attacks on Asian American elders cannot lead us to the same old solutions (by Naomi Ishisaka) — The videos are horrifying to watch. Asian American elders — the very people we are taught to most respect and protect — shoved to the ground, with cavalier cruelty. Over the past few weeks, a spate of attacks on Asian American elders across the country led to desperate calls for the wider public to pay attention.




► From the Seattle Times — As debate over capital gains tax returns, Republicans insist no new taxes needed for Washington — After years of debate, it seemed notable last week when lawmakers on the Senate Ways and Means Committee voted to approve SB 5096. Sponsored by Sen. June Robinson (D-Everett), the bill would implement a 7% tax on the capital gains of the sale of assets — like stocks and bonds — above $250,000. It includes a host of exemptions, such as retirement accounts, sales of real estate, livestock, timbers and certain agricultural lands. Republicans say the tax increase is not needed.

EDITOR’S NOTE — We don’t need more affordable child care? We don’t need a better mental health system? We don’t need money to bolster our struggling community and technical college system? What we truly don’t need is lawmakers who prioritize the interests of the ultra-rich — the only people who would ever pay this tax — over the needs of Washington’s working people.

The Stand (Feb. 17) — Senate panel advances capital gains tax to fund child care

► From Crosscut — How $1 billion in pot taxes gets spent in Washington state — Money from legal cannabis sales amounts to about 2% of the state operating budget.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Fraud safeguard freezes aid for Lake Stevens mom, others — Washington’s imperfect ID verification system has stalled unemployment checks for people who need it.




► From the AFL-CIO — Now is the time to expand rights for all — In response to the introduction of the U.S. Citizenship Act, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says:

“Unions are fiercely committed to transforming the lives of working people through bold, structural changes that remove all barriers to the right to organize. For decades, our unjust immigration system has forced millions of people to live and work in fear and enabled employers to exploit workers with impunity. In order to build worker power and keep our workplaces safe and fair, we must finally enact meaningful immigration and labor law reforms.”

► From The Hill — GOP not worried about voting against popular relief bill — Republicans are dismissing the idea that they’ll be punished at the ballot box for voting against President Biden‘s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The relief measure is expected to get few, if any, GOP votes as it moves through Congress in the coming weeks. Democrats are trying to pressure Republicans into voting for the package, touting polls that show it’s popular with the public. The Quinnipiac poll found that 68 percent of adults back Biden’s proposal, while 24 percent are opposed.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Well, if you feel like your family could use the $1,400 stimulus check, that child tax credits should be increased, that pandemic unemployment provisions should be extended, that public schools need additional funding to make sure kids can safely return to classes, that aid to struggling small businesses should be extended, that state and local governments should get help maintaining basic services, and hospitals and vaccination efforts should get a funding boost (among other things), then now would be the time to call your GOP representative:

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-3rd) — 202-225-3536
Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-4th) — 202-225-5816
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th) — 202-225-2006

► From Politico — Biden squeezed between promises to go green and bolster unions — As the renewable energy industry expands, unions and their allies in Congress are determined to unionize more of the jobs or, at the very least, require the payment of union-equivalent wages. But the industry says such moves would cripple some of their operations. While both sides are eager to push clean energy projects forward and make them a bigger part of the nation’s electrical grid, their disagreements will test Biden’s vow to be both the greenest and the most pro-union president in history.

EDITOR’S NOTE — An industry complains about having to pay decent wages. Not exactly “man bites dog,” is it?

► From The Guardian — Minimum wage activists face unlikely foe: Democrat Joe Manchin — The party’s most conservative senator, from one of the poorest states, has advocated for a rise only to $11 an hour — but workers say it’s not enough.

► From the WV Center on Budget & Policy — Raising minimum wage to $15 an hour would lift pay for 255,000 West Virginia workers — Fully 93 percent of those benefiting from the wage increase would be age 30 or older — not teenagers.

► From the AP — Merrick Garland, snubbed as Supreme Court pick, headed for easy confirmation as attorney general — The last time Merrick Garland was nominated by the White House for a job, Republicans wouldn’t even meet with him.

EDITOR’S NOTE — At press time, there was no word on whether Moscow Mitch McConnell thinks its to close to the 2024 election to confirm the president’s pick for Attorney General.

► From Politico — ‘Exceedingly deep convictions’: Inside Xavier Becerra’s quest for health care for immigrants — Biden’s HHS nominee would have multiple levers to help undocumented workers obtain medical coverage.




► From the AP — Enrollment at U.S. community colleges plummets amid pandemic — Nationwide, enrollment at community colleges dropped 10% from fall 2019 to fall 2020, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. They were hit the hardest amid all colleges and four-year universities experienced only slight declines, beating many predictions that the outcome would be worse.

► From the Wall Street Journal — U.S. retirement crisis hits Black Americans hard — Many Black Americans are hampered in saving for retirement by such factors as less intergenerational wealth, more college debt, lower incomes and lower homeownership rates than white Americans.

► From The Hill — Poll: Overwhelming majority say unemployment is a problem — Almost 9 in 10 voters say unemployment in the U.S. is either a “big” or “moderate” problem, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. Fifty-one percent of registered voters in the Feb. 12-15 survey said unemployment in the country is a big problem while 37 percent said it’s a moderate problem.


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

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

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!