Monday, March 15, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 15 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 349,425 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 699) and 5,123 deaths.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Most restaurant workers in Washington probably aren’t vaccinated. Here’s why. — When Gov. Jay Inslee expanded vaccine eligibility of essential workers to include employees over the age of 16 in other food sectors like grocery stores and agriculture, restaurants remained out of the loop.
► From the AP — U.S. prison guards refusing vaccine despite COVID-19 outbreaks — As states have begun COVID-19 inoculations at prisons across the country, corrections employees are refusing vaccines at alarming rates, causing some public health experts to worry about the prospect of controlling the pandemic both inside and outside… The resistance to the vaccine is not unique to correctional officers. Health care workers, caretakers in nursing homes and police officers — who have witnessed the worst effects of the pandemic — have declined to be vaccinated at unexpectedly high rates.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Check out the WSLC’s Vaccination Information for Union Members page, where union members can get all the facts they need to make an informed choice when they have the opportunity to get vaccinated.
► From Crosscut — Inslee tells school districts to reopen classrooms –All of Washington’s public school districts will have to offer students a chance to learn in person at least part-time by mid-April, Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Friday. The governor’s emergency proclamation will come early this week, less than two weeks after he invited teachers and other school employees to get in line for a COVID-19 vaccine.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Legislation to address child care shortages statewide moves forward as funding questions remains — A broad legislative proposal that would address child care shortages and prices across the state passed its first major hurdle last week. The bill would expand child care access for families and improve support and subsidy rates for providers through a newly created funding account.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is calling on legislators to address Washington’s child care crisis. The pandemic has driven home the critical role that affordable, accessible child care plays in a functioning economy. Pre-pandemic, Washington’s child care system was already broken, with 63% of the state in a care desert, families burdened with yearly costs rivaling yearly tuition, and child care professionals making less than dog walkers. The pandemic has only increased the inequities: child care workers have been classified as essential workers, but most have no access to health insurance, let alone other benefits that stabilize a workforce. The state must make bold, audacious investments in expanding subsidy access, increasing subsidy rates to meet the cost of care, and immediate financial relief so that these essential businesses will survive the pandemic and support our economic recovery. Download the WSLC’s PDF one-pager on this issue.
► From the Seattle Times — With the Legislature halfway through its session, here’s where policing bills stand — A sampling of the bills that have passed either the House or Senate: one to ban chokeholds, neck restraints and no-knock warrants, another to strengthen the ability to investigate and decertify officers for misconduct and a third to create an independent office to investigate law enforcement use of deadly force.
The Stand (March 11) — Cops-corrections coalition backs police accountability efforts
► From the (Everett) Herald — AG wants additional $2.8M in legal fees from Tim Eyman — State Attorney General Bob Ferguson wants an additional $2.8 million in legal fees and costs related to his lawsuit against anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman. The lawsuit dragged on because of what Ferguson called Eyman’s “cost-inflating, frivolous, obstructive and defiant litigation tactics.”
► From Politico — Immigration up next on Capitol Hill — It is a big week for immigration. The House is poised to vote on two immigration bills this week, both narrower pieces of legislation while Democrats weigh how ambitious to go with President Joe Biden’s comprehensive immigration plan.
TODAY at The Stand — Tell Congress to begin fixing our unjust immigration system
► From the NY Intelligencer — The PRO Act could do more than revive unions — Americans like unions, but very few belong to one, a discrepancy that places the U.S. labor movement in a precarious state. In 2017, only 10.7 percent of all Americans belonged to a union, but that same year, a PBS NewsHour poll found that nearly half of all Americans said they’d join a union if they could. Union membership hasn’t budged much since then, even as overall support for unions reached its highest level in a decade — 65 percent of Americans polled by Gallup in 2020 said they approved of unions, up from a low of 48 percent in 2010. A gap this wide indicates a serious problem. If Americans like unions and want to join them but aren’t, it’s likely because they can’t. Fortunately, a possible fix awaits: The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would mark the biggest expansion of collective-bargaining rights in decades. President Biden has said he supports the bill, and he may soon be in a position to make good on that support. The bill passed the House with bipartisan support late on Tuesday evening, and is headed now to the Senate.
► From the Washington Post — Sanders brings Amazon union battle to D.C., calling warehouse worker to testify at income inequality hearing — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will bring the high-stakes labor battle against Amazon to Washington on Wednesday, when a union-supporting worker will testify before the Senate Budget Committee. Sanders also invited Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person, to testify at the hearing, but he declined the offer Friday.
► From The Hill — Oregon senator takes center stage in Democratic filibuster debate — Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is at the center of the caucus’s increasingly public debate over whether to reform the 60-vote legislative filibuster, a decision that will have deep ramifications for how many of President Biden’s big campaign promises can get through the evenly split 50-50 Senate.
► ICYMI from Politico — ‘A creature of white supremacy’: AFL-CIO targets filibuster — The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of unions, called on Democrats Thursday to reform the filibuster, the Senate rule standing in the way of enactment of some of their top priorities for the Biden administration. In a statement, the AFL-CIO Executive Board wrote:
“The very survival of our democratic republic is at stake. And standing in its way is an archaic Senate procedure that allows the minority to block the majority—the filibuster. An artifact of Jim Crow. A creature of white supremacy. A procedure that was said to encourage robust debate but has turned into an instrument of government paralysis.”
► From the Washington Post — Labor board withdraws rule to quash graduate students’ right to organize as employees — The NLRB said Friday it will withdraw a proposed rule to deny teaching and research assistants at private universities the legal protection to form unions, upholding a 2016 decision that cleared the way for collective bargaining at elite schools. Although President Biden named Lauren McFerran, a Democrat, to serve as board chair in January, Republicans still hold a 3-to-1 majority on the panel. Given the majority’s stance, some labor experts say abandoning the proposed rule was unexpected.
► From Politico — Trump’s false claims of voter fraud inspire flurry of voting restriction bills — In statehouses around the country — most notably, in Georgia — lawmakers are rolling out legislation that would make it a lot harder to vote.
► From the NY Times — For voting rights advocates, a ‘once in a generation moment’ looms — Opposition to restrictive Republican voting laws — and support for a sweeping Democratic bill — fuels a movement like none in decades. But can it succeed?
The Stand (March 4) — AFL-CIO hails voting rights bill, urges swift Senate action
► From Bloomberg — Biden eyes first major tax hike since 1993 in next economic plan — For the Biden administration, the planned changes are an opportunity not just to fund key initiatives like infrastructure, climate and expanded help for poorer Americans, but also to address what Democrats argue are inequities in the tax system itself. The tax hikes included in any broader infrastructure and jobs package are likely to include repealing portions of Trump’s 2017 tax law that benefit corporations and wealthy individuals, as well as making other changes to make the tax code more progressive.
► From the Washington Post — Yellen pushes global minimum tax as White House eyes new spending plan — The Biden administration seeks to reverse decades-long “race to the bottom” in corporate taxation — but obstacles loom large.
► From Vice — Five common anti-union myths, busted — Between the time workers leading a union drive start building support internally and the time they vote through the National Labor Review Board, the government agency that regulates unions, one thing is certain: management will spread anti-union rhetoric throughout that process. Luckily, that rhetoric is predictable, which means it can be fought with some pretty basic tactics. Anti-union rhetoric might come from managers, manager’s managers, a website with slick graphic design, a consultant or by a lawyer, or during a “captive audience meeting,” an anti-union session that’s as creepy as the name suggests. That’s why it’s essential to get ahead of management’s campaign and “inoculating” workers against these lines of attack. “From the first worker I talk to when they form a union, to the first committee meeting, and to every meeting and every single conversation from there on out, I am talking about what you should expect next from the employer,” said author and union organizer Jane McAlevey. “That way, the workers understand: Oh, this is actually not about the boss trying to be nice to us, because they’re going to do this over and over, everywhere in the country.” Here are a few evergreen attacks deployed against union drives, and why experts in the field say they don’t hold water.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.