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Hotline becomes lifeline | SSAboteurs | Your job or your life?

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Thursday, March 25, 2021

 


COVID-19

 

► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 25 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 357,499 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 757) and 5,200 deaths.

► From the Washington Post — Washingtonians 16 and up will be eligible for COVID vaccines by May 1, state says; here’s how we get there — The anxious wait for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility will end by May 1 for all adult Washingtonians, when everyone 16 and older can get in line for a shot, state officials confirmed Wednesday.

► From KUOW — This hotline gave immigrants a lifeline as COVID ripped through the Seattle area — The Washington Immigrant Solidary Network (WAISN) is a coalition of organizations that came together after Donald Trump’s election in 2016. At that time, the hotline was a place people could turn – for example – to report immigration enforcement agents in their neighborhood and to summon witnesses if someone was being deported. When the pandemic hit, these groups that had been working together for years were well positioned to pivot to new needs, and the established trusting relationship with the community paid off. “They knew that they could call us when immigration was out there,” WAISN’s Monserrat Padilla said. “They had someone to finally talk to.”

► From KING 5 — Hospital workers ‘traumatized’ by pandemic work, new study says — Like others across the country, Washington hospital employees are working long hours and more shifts causing time away from families and increased responsibilities.

► From the Washington Post — Total U.S. coronavirus cases set to hit 30 million mark as infections rise in most states — Cases rose by 4 percent nationwide over the past week with states such as Michigan, Colorado and Connecticut all reporting spikes of more than 30 percent. The growing number of U.S. infections comes as cases surge around the globe, an uptick health experts say is due to the rapid spread of new variants of the virus.

► From the NY Times…

 

► From Reuters — Primary teachers’ union calls for strike in Paris as COVID-19 surges — The main trade union representing French primary school teachers called on Thursday for a strike in Paris over what it says is the government’s failure to protect staff and pupils from a third wave of coronavirus infections tearing through the country.

 


LOCAL

 

► From the Kitsap Sun — Bainbridge Island approves hazard pay hike requirement for grocery store workers — A hazard pay ordinance approved by Bainbridge Island’s City Council on Tuesday night will require the island’s two grocery stores to maintain hourly pay bumps for employees. Citing the pandemic and the risks grocery store workers face in their jobs and buoyed by the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging a similar requirement in Seattle, council members went on to approve the mandate, which goes into effect immediately, on a unanimous vote.

► From the Spokesman-Review — Durham faces second L&I investigation and management changes over COVID-19 issues — Durham School Services is changing its local management team as L&I has opened a second investigation into the safety practices of the company that provides transportation for thousands of students at Spokane Public Schools. Durham is already facing an investigation following the death last month of Dave Simpson, a 62-year-old bus attendant, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Feb. 22 and died several days later.

 


THIS WASHINGTON

 

► From the Spokesman-Review — Some Washington lawmakers wonder if federal stimulus will be enough for transportation projects — The state’s transportation budget for the next two years will be tight, despite federal money potentially filling a revenue hole left by the COVID-19 pandemic. Transportation revenue faced significant loss during the COVID-19 pandemic with fewer people driving, meaning fewer people buying gas, paying tolls or taking ferries. Some lawmakers have said the federal stimulus money can make up for that loss, but others don’t think it will be enough.

► From the News Tribune — Drug possession bills emerge to address wide-reaching state Supreme Court ruling — Democratic majorities in each chamber are proposing budgets this week that will likely consider requests related to the impacts of the Blake decision.

 


SOCIAL SECURITY

 

► From HuffPost — Democrats say agency run by Trump holdover is delaying stimulus checks — Millions of disabled and retired Americans are still waiting for their $1,400 stimulus payments because of a holdup at the Social Security Administration, House Democrats said Wednesday. Social Security hasn’t handed over payment information that the IRS needs to send the coronavirus relief checks to nearly 30 million people receiving retirement or disability benefits. Several Democrats have previously urged Biden to fire Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, a Trump appointee whose term doesn’t expire until 2025. Biden has hesitated to do so even though he’s fired other Trump holdovers in other agencies before their terms have ended.

► From the LA Times (Jan. 29) — Biden needs to clean house at the Social Security Administration, and fast (by Michael Hiltzik) — Since their appointments, SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul and Deputy Commissioner David Black have been viewed as hostile to Social Security’s goals. They’ve taken steps to politicize Social Security disability and place new burdens on its beneficiaries. They canceled the agency’s successful telework initiative, which facilitated working from home — in the teeth of the pandemic. They’ve undercut the staff’s unions in numerous ways — allegedly flouting contractual rights, discriminating against employees for protected union activities and denying unions information they have a right to receive. In the words of Melissa McIntosh, president of the union representing the agency’s administrative law judges, who preside over appeals of disability claim denials, Saul and Black “have engaged in no-holds-barred union busting.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Social Security Works has urged all to sign this petition urging Biden to fire Saul and Black.

 


THAT WASHINGTON

 

► From the NY Times — Biden may be the most pro-labor president ever; that may not save unions — Labor advocates confess to a gnawing anxiety: Despite Biden’s remarkable support for their movement, unions may not be much better off when he leaves office than when he entered it. That’s because labor law gives employers considerable power to fend off union organizing, which is one reason that union membership has sunk to record lows in recent decades. And Senate Republicans will seek to thwart any legislative attempts — such as the PRO Act, which the House passed this month — to reverse the trend. “The PRO Act is vital,” said Steve Rosenthal, a former political director for the AFL-CIO. “But what happens now in terms of Republicans in Congress, the Senate filibuster, is anyone’s guess.”

TODAY at The Stand No, the PRO Act doesn’t threaten freelancers and contractors — A recent poll found that when the provisions of the PRO Act are described to voters, there is strong support (51-36) for reforming Senate rules so that a simple majority could pass it. That might explain why corporate interests opposed to restoring Americans’ freedom to unionize are resorting to fearmongering and misinformation. They are criticizing the PRO Act by falsely saying it threatens the independence of freelancers and independent contractors.

► From The Intercept — Chuck Schumer tells labor leaders PRO Act gets a floor vote with 50 co-sponsors — The sweeping labor reform for a floor vote in the Senate if its backers can round up at least 50 co-sponsors, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently told AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, according to sources. President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have praised the measure and called for its swift passage. The bill currently has 45 backers, leaving it five short of the target of 50.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is the lead sponsor and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) is a co-sponsor. The holdouts: Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Angus King, an Independent with caucuses with Democrats.

► From CBS News — Many Americans who meet with Biden have something in common: union memberships — The mutual affection between the president and organized labor is no secret; many major unions early on endorsed him in his 2020 bid for the White House. “When labor does well, the whole country does well,” Biden was fond of saying on the campaign trail.

► From Politico — ‘They are, in effect, supporting racism’: Black leaders zero in on Dems’ filibuster holdouts — Black civil rights leaders, voting rights advocates and elected officials are ramping up their lobbying of Senate Democrats to nix the filibuster, arguing that they can keep the rule in place or pass voting rights legislation, but not both.

► From the Seattle Times — Legalize America’s essential immigrant farmworkers (editorial) — The Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed the U.S. House last week with bipartisan support. But it faces an uphill challenge in an evenly divided Senate, where a similar bill passed the House two years ago and died quietly in the Senate. Ideally, Democrats and Republicans would work together, compromise and pass comprehensive immigration reform. In the real world, a partisan chasm between the two major parties is preventing that. Congress might not be able to do the big fix, but it can do this small one.

► From Politico — Biden makes Harris the point person on immigration issues amid border surge — The role puts Harris front and center at one of the most politically risky issues for the White House.

► From the Washington Post — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says only 0.1 percent of Trump administration’s COVID farm relief went to Black farmers — Black farmers received only $20.8 million of nearly $26 billion in two rounds of payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program announced by the Trump administration last April, he said.

 


NATIONAL

 

► From HuffPost — Government layoffs pummeled Black workers. The American Rescue Plan could bring those jobs back. — The public sector employs roughly one out of every five Black workers in normal times, making this one more way the pain of the COVID-19 pandemic — which had wiped out nearly 1.4 million public sector jobs — has fallen disproportionately on Black families. President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan, dedicates $350 billion to reversing the damage, and with no time to spare: State and local government job losses during the pandemic are already three times greater than they were during the Great Recession.

► From Reuters — In 2020 the ultra-rich got richer. Now they’re bracing for the backlash. — In 2020, as the world convulsed under COVID-19 and the global economy faced its worst recession since World War II, billionaires saw their riches reach new heights. Now some are talking to their wealth managers about how to keep a hold of and consolidate their fortunes amid the global debris of the pandemic. Others are discussing how to preempt and navigate demands from governments, and the wider public, to pick up their share of the recovery costs.

► From the NY Times — Riders are abandoning buses and trains. That’s a problem for climate change. — Public transit offers a simple way for cities to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but the pandemic has pushed ridership, and revenue, off a cliff in many big systems.

► From The Guardian — Georgia worker receives $915 in oily pennies as final wages — Andreas Flaten said he left his job at A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree City, Georgia, in November. In mid-March, Flaten said 90,000 oil- or grease-covered pennies were left at the end of his driveway, along with an envelope containing his final pay slip and an explicit parting message.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Tired of being disrespected? Get a union! Find out more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

 


TODAY’S MUST-READ

 

► From the Inlander — Idaho saved more jobs during the pandemic, but Washington prevented more deaths — Washington and Idaho have both emerged as champions during the pandemic. It’s just that they’ve been competing in different events. On the economic front, Idaho is the clear winner. This month, the New York Times heaped praise upon Idaho for having the biggest revenue recovery of any state, at least in the calculation of Brookings Institution. But when it comes to battling the virus itself, Idaho has experienced twice the infection rate as Washington and a 58 percent higher death rate. Last week, the New York Times marveled at how Seattle — site of the first major coronavirus outbreak in the country — managed to do so much better fighting the coronavirus than the other biggest cities. If the rest of the country managed to do what Seattle did, the Times calculated, the U.S. would have had 300,000 fewer coronavirus deaths… So far, at least 1,931 COVID-positive Idahoans have died. If Idaho had managed to match Washington state’s results, 716 of them could still be alive.

 


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

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