Thursday, March 18, 2021
ANTI-ASIAN RACISM AND VIOLENCE
► From the AP — Asian Americans grieve, organize in wake of Atlanta attacks — Asian Americans were already worn down by a year of pandemic-fueled racist attacks when a white gunman was charged with attacking three Atlanta-area massage parlors and killing eight people, most of them Asian women. Hundreds of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders turned to social media to air their anger, sadness, fear and hopelessness. The hashtag #StopAsianHate was a top trending topic on Twitter hours after the shootings that happened Tuesday evening.
The Stand (March 17) — Labor condemns Atlanta shootings, racism
The Stand (March 17) — APALA Seattle Gala is Saturday; get tickets to support their work — The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) Seattle Chapter invites all union members to join its 2021 Virtual Gala this Saturday, March 20 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions, this 22nd annual banquet will be held virtually via Zoom. The purchase of a $35 ticket to the gala ($15 for students/retirees) will include an annual membership to APALA. Get your tickets here.
► From the Seattle Times — Asian American Seattle residents speak out after Georgia shootings — The incident was triggering for many Asian American women in Seattle, particularly during a time of increased attacks against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Between March 2020 to February, the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate received reports of 3,800 hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
► From The Hill — Crowds in multiple cities protest violence against Asian Americans
► From the Washington Post — Asian Americans see shooting as a culmination of a year of racism — The gunman’s intent seemed crystal clear to Asians living in Atlanta and across the nation who have long had to confront stereotyping, hateful harassment and even violence — and who say things have gotten even worse amid the coronavirus pandemic.
► From The Guardian — ‘A specific kind of racism’: Atlanta shootings fuel fears over anti-sex-work ideology — Though it is not yet known whether any of the victims of Tuesday’s shooting provided sexual services at their workplaces, the shooter told police that the spas he opened fire on represented a “temptation he wanted to eliminate,” suggesting that he at least believed that they did. Advocates say this reveals the way racism, sexism, and anti-sex-work sentiment work together to produce anti-Asian violence: no matter what, they say, his crime was ultimately one against sex workers.
► From HuffPost — Stoked by Trump, paranoia about china is fueling anti-Asian racism — Before a series of shootings in the Atlanta area this week that disproportionately targeted people of Asian descent, members of the Asian American community spent months expressing alarm that high-profile figures — including then-President Donald Trump — were inciting violence by telling Americans to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic. Their warnings largely went unheeded.
► From the Washington Post — Sheriff’s official who said spa shooting suspect had ‘bad day’ posted shirts blaming ‘CHY-NA’ for virus — Cherokee County sheriff’s office Capt. Jay Baker’s comments and social media history fueled long-running concerns about racism in law enforcement, capping a year in which many warned that phrases like “China virus” were inciting sometimes violent prejudice against Asian Americans.
► From the Washington Post — The long, ugly history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S. — Anti-Asian hate crimes have spiked 150 percent since the pandemic began, according to a recent study. People of Asian descent have been living in the United States for more than 160 years, and have long been the target of bigotry. Here is a look at the violence and racism that Asian immigrants and Asian Americans have faced since before the Civil War.
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 18 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 353,012 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 700) and 5,156 deaths.
► From the Yakima H-R — Agriculture industry, farmworker advocates craft efforts to get workers vaccinated — The United Farm Workers union and the UFW Foundation, a sister organization, have been conducting vaccine clinics in California, including one in California’s Central Valley agricultural region over several weekends. The organization will use the experience to organize more streamlined and efficient clinics in Washington state, said UFW’s Elizabeth Strater. That would include holding clinics on Sundays and the evenings, when workers would be more available to receive vaccinations and finding centralized locations easily accessible by workers. Having bilingual staff and volunteers available to provide information and put workers at ease is crucial.
► From the Seattle Times — Tribal governments in Washington help speed teacher vaccination effort — The Lummi Nation is one of several tribal governments in Washington state helping hasten the vaccine rollout for local educators. “It’s our moral obligation to take care of each other,” said Lawrence Solomon, chairperson of the Lummi Indian Business Council.
► From the People’s World — OSHA targets coronavirus inspections to health care, meatpacking firms — Carrying out Biden’s executive order, OSHA inspectors will put health care firms—including hospitals and nursing homes—and meat and poultry packers at the top of its inspections and enforcement list in the war against the coronavirus. It’s especially going to focus its ire on employers who retaliate against whistleblowers.
► From the Washington Post — Older people especially vulnerable to coronavirus reinfection without vaccine, study says — Most people who have contracted the coronavirus are protected against reinfection for at least six months — but that immunity diminishes significantly with age, according to a new study.
► From the News Tribune — COVID-19 shows too many Washington workers unsafe, under pressure to stay silent (editorial) — The public health crisis has also made clear that our state must do more to shield whistleblowers from retaliation. COVID-19-related complaints comprised about 150 of the 350 total retaliation complaints filed last year with L&I. That’s why Washington lawmakers should heed the message trumpeted by healthcare employees, farmworker advocates and others this year and move decisively to enact worker protection legislation.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This editorial specifically supports HB 1097, a labor-supported bill by Sen. Mike Sells (D-Everett), that would give L&I more tools to stop unsafe work situations, including imposing a daily civil penalty for stop-work-order violations. But the News Tribune’s strong case for new protections and sense of urgency should also apply to the Worker Protection Act (HB 1076), which would allow workers to blow the whistle on employers in court if they violate work safety, wage and discrimination laws. Learn more.
► From the AP — Washington lawmakers get good news on state revenues — Washington’s economy continues to improve, with the latest state revenue forecast showing that lawmakers will have more than $3 billion more to work with as they prepare to unveil budget plans next week.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Increased state tax collections are happening on the backs of our state’s lowest-income residents who pay a nation-leading 17 percent of their income in taxes. This “good news” doesn’t lessen the need for fixing Washington’s upside-down tax code, it should provide more incentive to do so!
► From the Seattle Times — Now that Washington’s drug possession law has been struck down, swamped legal system faces massive do-over — Reverberations are spreading from a state Supreme Court opinion that last month struck down Washington’s decades-old drug possession statute as unconstitutional, sending ripple effects through a legal system that’s grappling with how to remedy past harm while facing an unprecedented backlog of criminal cases created by the coronavirus pandemic.
► From The Stranger — New data analysis shows the astonishing breadth of the racial disparity in Washington’s drug possession convictions — Though we know that Black and white people use and sell drugs at similar rates, a new analysis of state sentencing data shows that Black people were convicted of simple drug possession at disproportionally high rates relative to their population in nearly every county in Washington. The same is true for Native Americans. Conversely, in the vast majority of counties, white people were convicted of possession at much lower rates relative to their population.
► From the Bellingham Herald — Sen. Doug Ericksen missed floor votes during travel to El Salvador — State Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) has missed more votes on the final passage of bills out of the Senate this session than any other senator, records show. For some of those missed votes, he was in El Salvador, where he was observing elections that took place Feb. 28… The report on Ericksen’s trip may sound familiar. He observed Cambodia’s 2018 elections at the invitation of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government. Ericksen praised those widely condemned elections. He’s a registered foreign agent for Cambodia, and the company he launched with former state Rep. Jay Rodne has a $500,000 contract with the country’s government.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Washington Post reports that the sweeping victory of El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, who had close ties to the Trump administration, has the country sliding toward authoritarian rule. Here’s the not-voting-Senator Ericksen praising El Salvador’s “large military and police presence” at polling places as “reassuring” rather than “intimidating.” He adds that “the United States could learn a few things” from the great election there.
BONUS: Also watch as the enterprising senator comically starts to hand this reporter a business card for his company Pac Rim Bridges, before swapping it out with his “official” business card. That’s the company he and Rodne started that took $500,000 from Cambodia’s strongman president to legitimize the election there in 2018. Hey, with Double-Dippin’ Doug’s EPA gig long gone, a guy’s gotta make a living, right?
► From the Seattle Times — Union drive at Amazon warehouse in Alabama could spur ‘domino effect,’ Washington state labor leaders say — Win or lose, the union vote, which began in early February and ends March 29, could energize the labor movement, in part because of the steep odds stacked against organizers, said Nicole Grant, who leads King County’s MLK Labor Council. “It could have a domino effect,” Grant said. “Everything that’s happened in Bessemer makes things better for Amazon warehouse workers in Seattle and across the country.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story also includes comments from UFCW 21 President Faye Guenther, Teamsters 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy, and WSLC President Larry Brown.
► From In These Times — The Teamsters hint at a combative national project to organize Amazon — The Teamsters, who see Amazon as a direct threat to their historic work organizing the trucking industry, are engaged in a concerted project targeting Amazon — and though they’re tight-lipped about the details, they appear committed to a long-term, nationwide effort that could make them one of the company’s most formidable union foes. Teamsters organizer Randy Korgan is particularly angered by Amazon’s ongoing effort to portray itself as a good corporate citizen because it pays a $15 per hour minimum wage to its employees — a wage lower than what Korgan himself made as a union warehouse worker more than 30 years ago. Amazon itself is the primary driver of a process that is changing warehouse jobs that once paid a living wage into low-income, tenuous, temporary work.
► From The Intercept — Amazon retaliated against Chicago workers following spring COVID-19 protests, NLRB finds — Following the strikes, DCH1 Amazon workers said they faced retaliation in the form of intimidation and disciplinary write-ups. The NLRB has told the workers that “Amazon has stated its intent to settle” and that the agency was working with the company to clarify an agreement… One of the workers who filed the charge, said that the most significant thing to him about the NLRB’s decision is “the message that we have rights, we should know them, and we should know how to use the NLRB as a tool to make more room for us to organize.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Amazon warehouse workers: because of the physical demands and high-speed expectations at your jobs, you are more likely to suffer expensive, debilitating injuries than even loggers and meatpackers. Without change, nothing changes. Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for better working conditions and a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
► From the AP — Despite headwinds, House set to OK Dems’ immigration bills — Democrats seem poised to claim victory in the House’s first votes this year on immigration, but moving legislation on the divisive issue all the way through Congress to President Joe Biden is an uphill fight. The House was set to vote Thursday on one bill giving over 2 million young “Dreamer” immigrants and others legal status and a chance for citizenship. A second measure would do the same for around 1 million immigrant farm workers. Both seemed certain to pass.
The Stand (March 15) — Tell Congress to begin fixing our unjust immigration system
ALSO from the UFW — Farm Workforce Modernization Act Fact Sheet
► From the Wall Street Journal — Katherine Tai confirmed as Biden’s trade representative — She is the first Asian-American and the first woman of color to be appointed to the job, and the only cabinet nominee of Biden so far to get a unanimous confirmation vote from the Senate. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka tweeted that Tai’s confirmation was a “win for working people.”
► From the Washington Post — Goodbye and good riddance to the filibuster (by E.J. Dionne) — Change is on the way. President Biden has signaled that the days of the Senate filibuster’s stranglehold on majority rule are numbered. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is scared to death that he’s right.
► From Politico — ‘Behave like grown-ups’: Conservative rebellion boils over in House — The ongoing dispute over floor procedures is a wonky but critical one for House leaders of both parties. If GOP lawmakers refuse to relent in their delay tactics, it would mean a slog of roll-call votes on the most mundane of issues — forcing lawmakers into a new way of life where half of their days are spent shuffling on and off the House floor.
► From CNBC — The pandemic accelerated job automation and Black and Latino workers are most likely to be replaced — “Both advances in automation and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affect Black and Latino workers. These workers are more likely to be employed in jobs that are at high risk of being automated in the next two decades and that cannot be done remotely,” reads a new Brookings report. “Of the five occupations that employ the highest number of Black and Latino workers, four have experienced the highest losses during the pandemic: retail salespersons, cashiers, cooks, and waiters and waitresses.”
► From The Hill — Union warns Ohio workers that Ford plans to move new vehicle construction to Mexico — UAW Vice President Gerald Kariem addressed a letter to Ford workers in Avon Lake, Ohio, in which he accused the automaker of violating a contract agreement with the union with its plans to build a next-generation vehicle in Mexico instead of the Ohio Assembly Plant.
► From the BBC — Uber ‘willing to change’ as drivers get minimum wage, holiday pay and pensions — Uber has insisted its fares will not rise after saying that its 70,000 UK drivers will be guaranteed a minimum wage, holiday pay and pensions. It comes a month after it lost a legal battle in the UK over drivers’ status.
EDITOR’S NOTE — More like, Uber is “willing” to comply with the law. But it’s noteworthy that the company admits it can provide basic worker protections without increasing its fares. There’s no reason why they couldn’t do the same in the United States, if the government compels them to stop exploiting gig workers.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.