Monday, March 29, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 29 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 361,115 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 843) and 5,218 deaths.
► From KNKX — Fourth wave of COVID still a concern, says King County health official — Dr. Jeff Duchin says COVID-19 cases have risen steadily in the county throughout March, and they’re rising fastest among younger people, many of whom are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
► From the AP — Southwest Airlines orders 100 Boeing 737 MAX planes — Southwest Airlines said Monday it’s expanding its all-Boeing fleet with an order for 100 737 MAX airplanes. The MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes that killed 346 people.
► From the PS Business Journal — Boeing engineer works to address racism, discrimination by speaking up — After the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last year, Boeing Seattle flight systems engineer Theryl “TJ” Johnson pushed for her union, SPEEA/IFPTE Local 2001, to say something. She’s a member of its diversity committee and has been a top leader in years past. “Everything that happened last summer was so frustrating and so exhausting,” Johnson said. “I have three brothers and nephews, and when things like that come up, I worry about them and I wonder, ‘What if, what if, what if.’”
► From KING 5 — Seattle teachers union approves memorandum of understanding with school district — The agreement paves the way for students up through fifth grade to learn in-person.
► From the PS Business Journal — Amazon, Skanska underway on Bellevue office tower projects — Downtown Bellevue feels like Seattle’s South Lake Union in the late 2000s when construction was going full bore on Amazon’s huge campus. Construction fencing is up around two more office tower projects: the first phase of Amazon’s Bellevue 600 and Skanska’s the Eight. Together, the towers total around 1.5 million square feet and join three other large developments under construction. Groundbreaking for another tower is scheduled for next quarter.
► From the Wenatchee World — What we know about Microsoft’s $409 million arrival in East Wenatchee — Microsoft has spent $19.3 million to purchase 170 acres of undeveloped land north of Pangborn Memorial Airport. But that’s just the beginning of what could be an investment of more than $1 billion over the next five years to construct a multi-phase data center campus. If completed as proposed, that would make it by far the most valuable property in Douglas County.
► From the Seattle Times — Republicans in Washington state still pushing the election conspiracy that won’t die (by Danny Westneat) — This (King County GOP) push to undo vote-by-mail is a sign that the party has digested the defeat of Donald Trump, pondered it for a few months — and then opted to plunge after the disgraced former president along a maze of unfounded conspiracy theories… We need a sane Republican Party. Careening after Trump’s ghost and the tatters of his most damaging lie is not a rebuilding plan. It’s a teardown — and it’s trying to take democracy down with it.
► From the AP — Biden economic plan to focus 1st on infrastructure this week — President Joe Biden will lay out the first part of his multitrillion-dollar economic recovery package this week, focusing on rebuilding roads, bridges and other infrastructure, followed by a separate plan later in April addressing child and health care.
► From The Hill — Schumer eyes bypassing filibuster for third bill — Typically, Congress can only pass one bill under reconciliation, an arcane budget process that lets Democrats avoid the legislative filibuster, per fiscal year. Democrats have already used the 2021 budget to set up and pass their $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan. They are likely to use the fiscal 2022 budget to pass the Build Back Better plan, which addresses infrastructure, jobs and climate change. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is looking at whether he could pass a third bill this year through reconciliation.
► From the Washington Post — A law has empowered farmworkers for 46 years. The Supreme Court must let it be. (by Jerry Brown and Miles Reiter) — This week, in the case of Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about a historic California law that gave farmworkers the right to vote in secret ballot elections on whether they wanted to be represented by a union. We know that law — the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act — well. Forty-six years ago, one of us was signing it as governor of California and the other was a strawberry farmer along the Central Coast of California. We came from different perspectives then but share a common view now: The law has fulfilled its promise to bring about labor peace by giving voice to California’s farmworkers. That law, and the self-determination it brings, should not be weakened or undermined.
► From the Washington Post — Amazon union voting ends Monday, but expect a long and contentious count — The balloting in the high-stakes, high-profile union election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama ends Monday, but the final tally may take days, or even weeks or months, to determine. The first step is to count the votes, and there are several opportunities in that process for both Amazon and the union to contest results. They could challenge whether a ballot was properly signed, whether it’s real or even if the worker who cast it is legitimate.
► From Politico — ‘Bellwether’ for unions: Amazon battle could transform Biden’s labor revival — The union drive could become a lightning rod for Democrats’ efforts to push through one of the broadest expansions of collective bargaining rights in nearly a century.
► From The Hill — Union president: Amazon’s ‘progressive workplace’ claims are ‘outrageous’ and ‘tone deaf’ — “It’s so outrageous, it’s nonsense and it demonstrates how tone deaf Amazon is about what their own employees feel and think,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “What Amazon is saying is, ‘If we give people a $15 wage, that gives us license to treat them any way we want to, to disregard their health and safety to dehumanize them’.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — As The Police teach us, you have the power to Re-Humanize Yourself! “I work all day at the factory / I’m building a machine that’s not for me / There must be a reason that I can’t see / You’ve got to humanize yourself!” Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for more humane working conditions and a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
► From the Washington Post — After surviving the pandemic, workers at a Boulder supermarket felt hopeful. Then, a gunman walked in. — For more than a year, the pandemic had been the menace hanging over the heads of the employees at King Soopers, as it did for grocery store workers across the country. After what seemed like an impossibly difficult year — one marked repeatedly by difficult encounters with mask-refusing customers — the sudden, bloody assault on King Soopers seemed bewildering. How could colleagues and customers die this way after all they had survived? “The pandemic feels like a decade ago after all of this,” said King Soopers employee Darcy Lopez. Among the 10 people killed by the gunman were three grocery employees: Denny Stong, 20, Teri Leiker, 51, and Rikki Olds, 25. (All UFCW 7 members.)
► From Jacobin — Arby’s says it helped kill the $15 minimum wage — Inspire Brands — which owns Jimmy John’s, Arby’s, Sonic, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Dunkin’ — bragged in internal documents about its role preventing workers from getting a living wage. $15 an hour and a union is the least we should be demanding from predatory corporations.
► From Politico — The $15 minimum wage isn’t the only way to raise worker pay (by Katie Bach and Zeynep Ton) — There’s a business maxim that goes, “What gets measured, gets managed.” If it’s not possible to pass legislation to impose higher minimum wages, the administration can still put upward pressure on wages by requiring companies to disclose data on their workers’ take-home pay. Pay disclosures would let employers, employees and investors all know if workers are earning enough to support themselves and their families.
► From the Washington Post — Georgia Republicans were quiet about their attack on voting rights, but, oh, did they laugh (by Georgia Sen. Michelle Au) — This hastily sewn-together bill is a broad attack on voting rights. It includes imposing limits on the use of mobile polling places and drop boxes; raising voter identification requirements for casting absentee ballots; barring state officials from mailing unsolicited absentee ballots to voters; and preventing voter mobilization groups from sending absentee ballot applications to voters or returning their completed applications. The list goes on. In perhaps the most petty, direct attack on voters of color — who disproportionately are forced to stand in long lines to vote in Georgia — the measure, supposedly to prevent undue influence, outlaws providing food or drinks to voters waiting to exercise their democratic rights.
One by one, we tried our hardest. Speakers pointed out the bill’s dubious legality, its de facto permission for the state to wrest control of county elections, its crippling cost burden, its blatant disenfranchisement of minority, immigrant, working-class voters… From the back of the room, at my desk, I could see a sea of empty Republican seats — for senators who couldn’t even bother to sit in the room and pay even the tiniest respect to a discussion fundamental to the rights and interests of those they purport to represent. But it wasn’t quiet everywhere. In the Senate anteroom, a small, clubby space off to the side of the chamber, filled with tufted leather furniture, I could hear plenty of noise from behind the heavy wood doors. Laughter, hearty conversation, an occasional jovially raised voice. This was where the Republicans’ noise was, this was where their attention lived — in a small, exclusive room, its walls lined with decades of photos of past legislators who looked so much like them.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.