Tuesday, March 30, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 30 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 362,385 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 855) and 5,226 deaths.
► From the Kitsap Sun — COVID-19 cases surge 18.2% in Washington state — New coronavirus cases leaped in Washington state in the week ending Sunday, rising 18.2% as 6,333 cases were reported. The previous week had 5,357 new cases of the virus.
► From the AP — Western Washington University reports COVID-19 outbreak
► From the AP — WSU to students: ‘Do better’ on stopping COVID as cases surge
► From the NY Times — Biden pushes mask mandate as CDC Director warns of ‘impending doom’ — President Biden, facing a rise in coronavirus cases around the country, called on Monday for governors and mayors to reinstate mask mandates as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of “impending doom” from a potential fourth surge of the pandemic.
► From the NY Times — As mask mandates lift, retail workers again feel vulnerable — “It’s no different now than it was a year ago,” one Kroger employee said, as states like Texas and Mississippi end mask requirements.
► From KUOW — Janitors and security guards worry they are left behind by vaccination efforts — Frontline workers are vying for a vaccine dose to protect themselves against COVID-19 as new cases rise in the Puget Sound area, yet again. Union advocates say these guidelines leave out roughly 6,000 janitors and security guards around the Seattle region. SEIU 6 (the union that represents workers like janitors and security guards) has appealed to Governor Jay Inslee and the state Department of Health to expedite access for these workers.
The Stand (March 3) — WSLC: Vaccinate all public-facing workers — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which represents some 500,000 union members across the state, strongly believes that all of Washington’s essential workers who must work in congregate settings should be prioritized in the state’s vaccination distribution plan. Right now, there are many essential frontline workers who are putting themselves — and their families — in harm’s way every single day just by going to work.
TODAY at The Stand — Teamsters 117 hosts mass vaccination event — “I’m over the moon that my union is doing this.”
► From the PS Business Journal — Boeing: Big Southwest order ‘brings more stability’ to Renton plant, supply chain — The new agreement is good news for Boeing and its suppliers. If all the options are all executed, the Chicago-based jet maker could build more than 600 new 737 Max jets for Southwest through 2031, helping the Renton 737 factory and the ailing Washington state aerospace supply chain.
► From the AP — Biden wants infrastructure package approved over summer — President Joe Biden is aiming for summer passage of an infrastructure plan that is expected to cost more than $3 trillion, and the White House hopes to take a more deliberate and collaborative approach with the contentious Congress than it did on the COVID-19 rescue package, officials said Monday. The president will announce parts of his “Build Back Better” package Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
► From Reuters — Americans want the government to buy U.S.-made goods, even if they cost more — A year of pandemic-driven shortages of vital safety goods and medicines — not to mention consumer items like bikes and electronics — has not made Americans more willing to pay extra for U.S.-made goods. Yet a large majority think the government should do so. A new Reuters-Ipsos poll found 63% of Americans want U.S. agencies to buy American-made products in general.
The Stand (March 2) — Invest in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, Buy American — The labor movement and business community are calling for a sense of urgency on a bold investment in the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. And the best way to create family-wage jobs and maximize the positive economic impact of that investment is to include Buy American preferences.
► From Reuters — Analysis: Corporations, wealthy pay in Biden infrastructure plan, not drivers and riders — Biden’s plans to spend billions of dollars on the United States’ crumbling roads and mass transit include a novel twist — making companies and wealthy households, rather than drivers and riders, pay the cost.
► From Rolling Stone — ‘It rescued our entire plan overnight.’ How Joe Biden will help rockers retire. — Last month, bassist Tony Garnier was worried — and not just because there were still no 2021 tour dates on the books with Bob Dylan, his boss of more than 30 years. Garnier, who’s been a member of the American Federation of Musicians since 1973, had heard — correctly — that the union’s pension fund would be drained by 2035. “Musicians have been out of work for a year and the ones who contributed to a pension are looking at [one] that is possibly insolvent,” he said at the time. “Musicians are so screwed.” What a difference an election and subsequent relief plan make. President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan will benefit, among other things, state and local governments, small businesses, people living in poverty and, it turns out, professional musicians hoping to retire at some point in their lives.
► From The Hill — Child care tax credit can end no-win choice for working parents (by Gabrielle Pepin) — A provision of the American Rescue Plan expanded the Child and Dependent Care Credit and made it available to the lowest-earning families. The CDCC expansion offers much-needed relief, up to $8,000 for working parents when they file their 2021 tax returns.
► From the Washington Post — Biden’s first slate of judicial nominees aims to quickly boost diversity in federal courts — President Biden announced his first slate of judicial nominees on Tuesday, elevating U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the influential appeals court in Washington to succeed Merrick Garland as part of the largest and earliest batch of court picks by a new administration in decades.
► From EHS Today — Walsh heads already active Labor Department — “Millions of workers still do not have the strong COVID-19 protections they need to be safe at work,” declared Rebecca Reindel, AFL-CIO safety and health director. “Marty Walsh’s strong leadership will be needed to urgently issue a strong, comprehensive OSHA COVID-19 emergency temporary standard to set workplace safety rules, accompanied by strong enforcement to ensure workers are protected.”
► From Business Insider — I was fired for trying to unionize my workplace. I want Congress to pass the PRO Act so that never happens again. (by Jasmine Snyder) — With the PRO Act, instead of losing my job and income when I was fired, I would have been able to continue to work and be paid throughout the entire ULP process. PenFed wouldn’t have been incentivized to drag out the proceedings, which ultimately forced me to accept a financial settlement rather than getting my job back, which was my intention.
The Stand (March 10) — Historic labor law reform passes U.S. House of Representatives
► From Bloomberg — Wage data show U.S. workers earn 19% less than federal estimates — U.S. workers earn a median weekly wage of $797, or $41,456 a year, according to the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity, which analyzed data up until 2020. That’s 19% below official estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a widely-used measure of pay… The non-profit group’s analysis includes data on part-time workers and the unemployed. The Ludwig Institute says including a broader swath of employment shows a more accurate picture of the labor market.
► From the Washington Post — The soft underbelly to a looming economic boom: Millions will miss out — The leisure and hospitality sector — which largely employs people of color and women — is down almost 3.5 million jobs, or roughly 20 percent of its pre-pandemic level. Workers who had been in the bottom 25 percent of earners faced an unemployment rate of around 22 percent in February, compared with the overall rate of 6.2 percent.
► From the Guardian — AT&T said Trump’s tax cut would create jobs – now it’s laying off thousands of workers — Since the coronavirus pandemic began, AT&T has announced permanent closures of hundreds of company-owned retail stores and the layoffs of an estimated 3,400 employees.
► From HuffPost — The Amazon union election results could get really messy — Everyone wants to know who wins, but be ready for challenged ballots, days or weeks of waiting for results and a protracted legal fight.
► From Politico — For union battling Amazon, victory could bring a stalemate — For the union trying to organize nearly 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, a successful election in the coming weeks could only be the beginning of the struggle to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the company… Initial collective bargaining agreements usually take years to hammer out at the negotiating table. More than half of workplaces that form unions are unable to reach an initial contract within a year, according to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, and 37 percent of newly formed private-sector unions still have no contract after two years.
EDITOR’S NOTE — There’s a PRO Act for that. It would establish a mediation and arbitration process for reaching an initial agreement. The more you know…
► From Vox — What Americans really think about billionaires during the pandemic — A new, exclusive poll pulls back the curtain on how Americans feel about the exploding net worth of billionaires during the pandemic… The data suggests that gone are the days when the ultra-wealthy could count on widespread admiration as job creators, titans of industry, and thought leaders. Now they confront a skeptical public, shaped in part by a year of the pandemic that has entrenched their power.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.