Thursday, February 25, 2021
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
► Each day during Black History Month, the unions that comprise the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO are honoring Black leaders, past and present, including Frederick Simmons of IBEW Local 46! Please share his graphic via Facebook and Twitter as #LaborCelebratesBHM!
We celebrate Frederick Simmons, who was a Seattle-based IBEW Local 46 electrician and a leader in the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus. Thanks to LELO-Seattle for lifting up the leadership of Tyree Scott & Frederick Simmons. #LaborCelebratesBHM #BHM #1u pic.twitter.com/0CxbFYQTR0
— Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO (@WAAFLCIO) February 25, 2021
Today we’re honoring Tasha West Baker and Verlene Jones Davis as #LaborCelebratesBHM Tasha is a young labor leader and organizer who credits Verlene Jones Davis as her inspiration. It’s clear to see how Verlene’s advocacy and passion live on through Tasha’s work. #1u #BHM pic.twitter.com/LBGXBSlHdB
— Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO (@WAAFLCIO) February 24, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Feb. 25 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 336,565 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 851) and 4,912 deaths.
► From the Washington Post — ‘If not us, then who?’ These doctors and nurses battle COVID all day. Then they go online and fight misinformation. — Dr. Atul Nakhasi is one of countless health-care workers who have found themselves combating the coronavirus on two fronts during a global pandemic that is now stretching into its 12th month. Beyond spending their working hours in hospitals and clinics, many doctors and nurses have also voluntarily entrenched themselves in “the information war,” as Nakhasi calls it. It’s a fight Nakhasi and other medical professionals say feels overwhelming. Baseless claims often spread faster than facts, and purveyors of misinformation are quick to retaliate with vitriol and threats. And yet, health-care workers, many of whom are already experiencing burnout and the emotional toll of witnessing COVID ravage their patients, haven’t backed down. “It’s never-ending,” Nakhasi said. “There’s not a moment where I don’t feel some level of duty or responsibility” to take action.
► From The Stranger — Major worker protection bill narrowly passes committee, will likely head to the House floor — A bill that would empower workers to help enforce state labor laws against wage theft and the like narrowly escaped the House Appropriations committee earlier this week and will head to the floor soon. The Worker Protection Act (HB 1076), sponsored by Rep. Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island), would allow workers to sue bosses on behalf of coworkers and the state when companies violate some labor laws… Washington is one step closure to joining California in offering workers the whistleblower protections that so many of them said they wanted during testimony on this bill. And the number of freaky bosses who insist on violating health and safety laws during the pandemic only add urgency to the need for this legislation as states continue to fight against an increasingly deranged Supreme Court captured by corporate interests.
TODAY at The Stand — HB 1076 ready and waiting for a House vote
TAKE A STAND — Please click here to send a message to your state legislators urging them to pass HB 1076, the Worker Protection Act. When you’re done, please share this action with your co-workers, friends and family who live in Washington and on social media using #PassTheWPA.
► From KNKX — Washington House aims to close Tacoma immigration detention center — The Washington House of Representatives voted Tuesday to ban for-profit, private detention facilities in the state, in a move aimed at shutting down the Northwest immigration detention center in Tacoma. The 1,575-bed immigration lockup is operated by the GEO Group under a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (D-Mukilteo), passed 76-21 and now advances to the state Senate.
► From KNKX — State Senate OKs bill requiring police to intervene if they see officer using excessive force — SB 5066, sponsored by Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), passed 28-21 Tuesday over opposition from Republicans.
► From the Columbian — Clark County Republican Party censures Herrera Beutler — Members of the Clark County Republican Party voted Tuesday to formally censure Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground) over her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump. In a rowdy gathering at a church Tuesday, the group pledged to withhold funds from Herrera Beutler’s future campaigns unless she appears in person at the next CCRP Central Committee meeting in May to “explain her action to this body.” … Though a video recording of the event showed a limited frame of the full room, a pan of the camera at one point showed approximately a hundred people gathered. Virtually all of the attendees filmed were not wearing face masks. Joey Gibson, founder of the right-wing activist group Patriot Prayer and a precinct committee officer in the CCRP, can be seen in the video among the meeting’s attendees. Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, a prominent local member of the Proud Boys, served as the meeting’s sergeant at arms.
► From Crosscut — Hazard pay isn’t to blame for Kroger closing two Seattle QFCs (by Katie Wilson) — It’s tempting to call the QFC store closures (in response to Seattle’s hazard pay ordinance) a political move, pure and simple. There’s little doubt that this is a political move. Tom Geiger of UFCW 21 notes that Kroger doesn’t habitually issue press releases when it closes down a store. “It really seems to me a shot across the bow to other communities across the state and across the nation,” he says… It’s worth noting that advocates first preferred and fought for publicly funded hazard pay for all frontline essential workers nationwide. And, as much as Kroger/QFC might pretend that these laws were sprung on them unawares, UFCW has been trying to engage the grocery companies in dialogue, urging them to reinstate $2 hazard pay since it was discontinued last spring. If the unionized chains had done so voluntarily when COVID-19 caseloads began rising again and the U.S. entered its “second wave,” my guess is we wouldn’t be having this fight now.
The Stand (Feb. 17) — UFCW 21 decries Kroger/QFC’s ‘greed, bullying’ in Seattle
► From the Seattle Times — For immigrants in Washington state, Biden’s sweeping changes bring relief, caution, confusion — From day one, Biden launched a complete turnaround in immigration policy. And yet, Mario Rodríguez, who is appealing an asylum denial with the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, is not unpacking his suitcases. Since his ICE detention, he has kept several filled with his belongings, taking out a rotating selection to air them out. He views his future, even with Biden in office, as unsettled. And he’s absolutely right.
► From the News Tribune — Charging decision on Tacoma officers involved in Manuel Ellis’ death to come by April — A decision about whether Tacoma police officers will face criminal charges for the death of Manuel Ellis is expected by April, according to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. The State Patrol turned over its 2,169-page investigation in November. That’s how the public learned that a fifth officer had been involved in restraining Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man who died from lack of oxygen March 3 after a moments-long struggle with police. Video captured him telling officers, “I can’t breathe, sir, I can’t breathe,” shortly before losing consciousness.
► From the Seattle Times — Court blocks release of records about Seattle officers who attended Trump rally on day of Capitol siege
► From the U.S. News & World Report – Court ruling may make it harder to cut train crew sizes to 1 — An appeals court has rejected the Trump administration’s decision to drop a proposal requiring freight trains to have at least two crew members that was drafted after several fiery crude oil train derailments.
TODAY at The Stand — Railroad unions win major decision on train crew sizes
► From Politico — USPS’ DeJoy to Congress: ‘Get used to me’ — The postmaster general has faced intense criticism amid mail delays but said he has no plans to leave.
► BREAKING from the AP — Biden nominates 3 to Postal Service Board Of Governors, putting pressure on postmaster general — Biden on Wednesday nominated three postal experts to the governing board of the U.S. Postal Service, a move that could alter the course of an agency grappling with delivery delays and rumored cuts under its embattled Republican leader. If confirmed by the Senate, the Board of Governors nominees would bring additional Democratic scrutiny on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor whose tenure has been mired by slow service and politicization.
► From Law 360 — COVID-19 relief bill could rescue union retirees’ pensions — It contains a provision to save struggling union pension plans that experts say has a good shot at passing, forecasting a possible end to a $65 billion funding crisis that threatens one million retirees’ pensions.
► From the AP — House poised to vote on legal safeguards for LGBTQ people
► From the NY Times — Biden looks to a consensus builder to heal a Democratic rift on trade — Katherine Tai, the Biden administration’s nominee for trade representative, will set the course for the Democrats’ worker-focused approach to trade. In negotiations throughout 2019, Tai calmly helped to assemble an unlikely coalition to support the USMCA, ultimately mollifying the concerns of both business lobbyists and labor unions, forging ties between Democrats and Republicans, and helping to persuade Mexican officials to accept strict new oversight of their factories, her former colleagues say.
► From the NY Times — Biden revokes Trump’s pause on green cards — Since taking office, President Biden has issued several executive orders and directives aimed at lifting restrictions on immigrants put in place over the past four years.
► From Vox — A single Trump judge is already sabotaging Biden’s efforts to slow deportations — Biden is likely to spend his presidency fighting Republican judges who block his policies for legally dubious reasons.
► From the NY Times — We still have to worry about the Supreme Court and elections (by Linda Greenhouse) — The justices are about to consider whether the Voting Rights Act applies to policies that restrict the vote.
► From HuffPost — Social Security boss canceled telework for others but wouldn’t come to the office — Labor and advocacy groups want Joe Biden to get rid of Trump holdover Andrew Saul.
► From The Motley Fool — Could a $15 minimum wage save Social Security? — While a more robust minimum wage would no doubt work wonders for a lot of households, it could also serve a secondary purpose that’s extremely important — saving Social Security. If the minimum wage is increased, workers and employers alike will begin to pay more in Social Security tax. That could, in turn, provide a lot more revenue for Social Security in the coming years, thereby shoring up its finances.
► From The Onion — Sen. Joe Manchin claims West Virginians too deficient in character, grit to deserve $15 minimum wage — “Frankly, Mountain Staters have never shown the work ethic or drive necessary to merit $15 an hour, so what makes them think they have any right to that kind of money?” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).
► From the Washington Post — Nation’s most populous county mandates extra $5 in pandemic ‘hero pay’ for some grocery workers — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted this week to give grocery workers a $5-an-hour pay increase, the latest local government to adopt a “hero pay” measure during the pandemic even as retailers have warned stores could close as a result. The temporary increase, approved Tuesday in a 4-to-1 vote, will go into effect Friday for some grocery and drug retail stores in unincorporated parts of the county, a 120-day pay bump that county officials say will benefit about 2,000 workers.
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 Politico — U.S. jobless claims fall to 730,000 but layoffs remain high — The latest figures come as the job market has made scant progress in the past three months.
► From HuffPost — Amazon workers’ fight to unionize draws help from around the world — Labor groups across the country and beyond are joining the effort to create a union at an Amazon facility in Alabama, which would be a first in the United States. The organizing effort extends well beyond the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which would represent the facility’s employees. The phone campaign includes around 20 organizers on loan from the AFL-CIO, the influential labor federation that includes 55 unions. A dozen nurses who recently unionized their hospital in North Carolina also have been pitching on the effort, calling workers to tell them large-scale labor victories are possible in the South.
► From Politico — ‘Union guy’ Joe Biden keeps his distance from Amazon union fight — The White House on Wednesday declined to directly endorse the union election at the e-commerce giant Amazon’s Alabama warehouse, telling Politico that it’s the president’s position — and the policy of the U.S. government — to encourage union organizing and collective bargaining. “President Biden has urged employers not to run anti-union campaigns or interfere with organizing and bargaining, and has called for holding employers accountable and increasing penalties when they do,” a White House spokeswoman said.
► From Reuters — More than 1.3 million Texans still facing issues with water supply — More than 1.3 million people across over 200 counties in Texas still had issues with their water supply by Wednesday, but that was down sharply from recent days.
► From the NY Times — Texas is a rich state in a rich country, and look what happened (by Ezra Klein) — We don’t realize how fragile the basic infrastructure of our civilization is.
► From the NY Times — The breaking of American nursing (by Theresa Brown) — I’ve worked as a nurse for a decade and written about what my fellow nurses experience on the job. I worry for America’s nurses, and I am angry. The problems they face are inflicting a deep and lasting wound… The profession has to change if we want to have enough nurses in the future. Federally mandated staffing ratios or other legislation for safe staffing needs to become law. We also need to find creative ways to bring more nurses into the work force, as SEIU, a union whose members include health care workers, has done in Washington state. The union partners with job training programs and hospitals to help minimally skilled health care workers become nurses. “We are looking at career pathways. How can a housekeeper become a nurse?” said Jane Hopkins, a nurse and executive vice president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.
People go to the hospital because they need the care of nurses. Without them, there is no care. But nurses are not an infinitely elastic resource; they’re people, many of whom are exhausted, traumatized, barely holding themselves together. It’s time to really see and care for them.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.