Friday, April 9, 2021
The Entire Staff of The Stand is taking next week off. So expect only light posting until we return on Monday, April 19.
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, April 9 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 373,212 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,047) and 5,316 deaths.
► From the AP — Inslee to announce possible new COVID restrictions Monday — Gov. Jay Inslee will announce Monday whether some counties in Washington state will have to roll back to Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan because of rising cases. At a news conference Thursday Inslee said “we’ve let our guard down to some degree.” … On April 15 all state residents over age 16 will be eligible for a coronavirus vaccination.
► BREAKING from the Seattle Times — Amazon defeats union push in Alabama, but Seattle-area labor leaders say the fight’s not over — Labor leaders have emphasized that workers deserve a more even playing field when they’re attempting to organize, something they say a bill being debated in Congress, the PRO Act, could create. The PRO Act, which passed the House in February but faces an uphill battle in the Senate, would make it easier for workers to organize and add penalties for employers who seek to thwart unionization attempts. “Any worker that has a sense of what’s at risk feels those threats,” said Larry Brown, the president of the Washington State Labor Council, referring to the threat of retaliation from an employer. “Those threats are real. That’s why we need the PRO Act.” … UFCW 21 President Faye Guenther said she’s optimistic about future organizing at Amazon facilities. It often takes multiple attempts for workers to successfully organize a union, she said. “Once workers start organizing, they never stop.”
► From Reuters — Amazon union drive facing long odds as final votes counted — The union hoping to change U.S. labor history by organizing Amazon.com warehouse employees in Alabama faces a steep uphill slog when vote counting resumes on Friday. Amazon workers at the warehouse in Bessemer were on track to reject unionization by a 2-1 margin, with almost half the 3,215 ballots counted on Thursday. Some 1,100 ballots were voted against forming a union, with 463 ballots in favor.
TODAY at The Stand — The Bamazon workers have already won (by David Groves) — They have exposed Amazon’s dangerous jobs, its desperation to silence workers, and America’s broken labor laws. That’s why we need to pass the PRO Act.
► BREAKING from RWDSU — Amazon illegally interfered in union vote; RWDSU to file objections and related ULP charges to hold Amazon accountable — The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union announced today it is filing Objections to the conduct of the Election and related Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board charging that Amazon interfered with the right of its Bessemer, Alabama, employees to vote in a free and fair election; a right protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.
► From the AFL-CIO — Blasting Amazon’s anti-worker attacks, labor movement urges PRO Act passage — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “Amazon’s outrageous behavior is only the latest reminder that our rights have been steadily eroded by a handful of powerful elites. We can’t allow this societal failure to deprive one more worker of the freedom to organize. This is the fight of our time, and it starts with passing the PRO Act.”
► From the Washington Post — Emails show Amazon pressed Postal Service for mailbox outside warehouse before union vote — The union has complained about the mailbox, which the Postal Service installed just before the start of mail-in balloting for the union election in early February. It has argued that the mailbox could lead workers to think Amazon has some role in collecting and counting ballots, which could influence their votes.
As we documented with @GrimKim, Amazon had the ballot dropbox installed in violation of explicit guidance from the federal government.
The box is installed the evening of Feb 9th, late at night, under cover of darkness.pic.twitter.com/6Eypmu886u
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) April 8, 2021
► From the Spokesman-Review — Amazon worker union effort in Alabama could spread to Spokane — Even as a union vote by Amazon workers was trending toward failure Thursday in Alabama, a Spokane-area labor organizer said he believes a similar effort to organize could be coming to Spokane. Eric Renner, president of the UFCW Local 1439, said he’s already heard from some Spokane-based Amazon employees who are among about 5,000 workers at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Airway Heights that opened in June. “I think if you have a win (in Alabama), it increases momentum,” Renner said. “But at the same time, we are going to organize workers. They need to be represented, and the pandemic showed us that.” He noted Local 1439 recently won concessions for local grocery store workers, including better pay, more sick time and enhanced retirement benefits.
EDITOR’S NOTE — How does “better pay, more sick time and enhanced retirement benefits” sound to you? Who says you can’t have those things? Get 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!
► From the (Everett) Herald — 1,000 jobs: Amazon to open warehouse in Arlington
► From the Seattle Times — Amazon is eyeing 3 Seattle spots for new warehouses, documents show
► From the Seattle Times — Uber’s gig workers to be treated like employees in U.K., but here it’s a different story (by Jon Talton) — Uber also has about 1 million drivers in the United States, 3 to 4 million worldwide. They are the backbone of the company’s revenues. But they are not considered employees. They are so-called gig workers, independent contractors, and make about $9 an hour after expenses. No wonder in 2020 Seattle passed a $16.39 minimum wage for drivers at ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber. (An ordinance passed here in 2015 allowing drivers to unionize faced years of legal challenges, forcing the City Council to water it down)… This funny new world is coming to resemble the old world of piecework, where workers had few if any benefits or protections.
From the (Everett) Herald — Renovated Port of Everett terminal gets first cargo customer — Carl Wollebek, the port’s chief operating officer called it an historic milestone that “brings years of planning and $57 million in strategic capital investment to fruition. This new terminal allows us to market our facilities to larger ships and heavier cargoes to keep our region competitive and support the port’s cargo diversification and economic recovery efforts.”
► From the News Tribune — Pacific Lutheran University will cut 36 positions, eliminate majors to fill budget hole — Pacific Lutheran University will cut 36 full-time positions to stabilize its budget after a months-long review by faculty of potential reductions.
► From the Seattle Times — Sale of National Archives in Seattle halted by Biden administration — On Thursday, the Office of Management and Budget, which administers the federal budget and had approved the sale of the 10-acre Sand Point facility during the Trump administration, reversed course. Northwest tribes were part of a 14-month campaign to stop the sale that included letters from Northwest congressional representatives, a bill introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) targeting the sale, and a federal lawsuit by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson along with 29 tribes and various groups.
► From the Bloomberg — Boeing grounds dozens of 737 MAX jets months after comeback — Boeing Co. grounded dozens of 737 MAX jets to repair an electrical flaw that emerged just months after the planes were cleared to return to the skies, forcing airlines to cancel flights and line up replacement aircraft.
► From the News Tribune — Public employees’ pensions to remain whole despite pandemic furloughs — Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law Wednesday aimed at ensuring public employees’ retirement benefits won’t be reduced due to pandemic-related furloughs or their participation in an unemployment insurance support program. “Our state employees have gone through a lot, like the rest of us have, in the past year,” said Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), the bill’s prime sponsor. “They’ve seen furloughs, they’ve seen job sharing, they’ve seen working remotely and trying to adjust their whole work schedule. This bill is a little effort to level the playing field in terms of retirement benefits, so that a state employee will not receive a reduction in payments into the retirement system or have a negative impact on his or her retirement when that occurs.”
► From the (Everett) Herald — Capital budget a bipartisan boost for communities (editorial) — House and Senate proposals are substantial and needed, but final talks should secure an EvCC project.
► From Common Dreams — ‘Passing the PRO Act is not a spectator sport’: AFL-CIO leads National Day of Action — Passage of the PRO Act would result in corporations being penalized for union-busting as well as a repeal of so-called “right to work” laws in states across the nation. As the Economic Policy Institute has documented, the decline in union membership since the middle of the 20th century has been mirrored by a growing share of income being taken by the top 10%.
TAKE A STAND — It’s not too late to make the call! Click to call your senators or go ahead and dial 866-832-1560, and tell them to support working people by voting YES on the PRO Act. Let’s show the Senate that people are pro-union across the country and across party lines. Both Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell support the PRO Act, but please call anyway to thank them and tell them how important this is. Even if you’ve previously emailed/called on this critically important legislation, please do so again today!
► From Roll Call — Pelosi backs two-bill infrastructure strategy amid progressives’ push for one — Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday backed the White House’s pitch to split its infrastructure plans into two packages — one emphasizing tangible assets like roads, bridges and broadband and another focused on “human” infrastructure — despite progressives’ push for a bundled approach.
► From The Hill — Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start — Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close Biden ally, says there will be only one month set aside to hammer out a deal with Republicans and right now it’s nowhere near to happening.
► From Politico — ‘Damn it… I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced’: Biden defends corporate tax hike — Biden slammed former President Donald Trump’s corporate tax rate cuts, which he said mostly benefited the ultra-wealthy.
► From the Washington Post — Republicans are learning that there’s more to capitalism than tax cuts (by Catherine Rampell) — Turns out successful capitalists also need to keep their customers happy. Corporate America is criticizing Republicans, and for something unrelated: legislation in Georgia, Texas and other states that threatens to strip Americans of their voting rights. And Republicans are furious that corporations appear so ungrateful.
► The Entire Staff of The Stand would like to apologize. Last week, while we were TGIF-gushing (again) about Brandi Carlile and her new book, we totally ignored the birthday of true legend: Terry Jacks. This Canadian environmentalist recorded one of the worst songs of the 1970s, or perhaps of all time. But then, “Seasons in the Sun” was quite the ear worm and became one of the biggest selling Canadian singles ever. Originally intended for the Beach Boys with Jacks producing, the band recorded it but didn’t release it. So Jacks recorded his own version — scene of this crime: Vancouver, BC — and released it independently. People generally hate this song because of its sappy sentimentality, sung in the voice of a dying man saying goodbye to his loved ones. (TESOTS apologizes in advance.)
Apparently, those who know the origins of the song hate Jacks’ version even more. It was translated from 1961’s “Le Moribond” (The Dying Man) by legendary Belgian singer Jacques Brel, a song described as “cynical, wistful, sad, loving, angry, and hilarious, with surprising twists.” Columnist Robert J. Elisberg writes that in “Le Moribond”…
“A middle-aged man, with a pounding rhythm and forceful voice is saying goodbye to those he knew in his life. Goodbye to his best friend, goodbye to the priest — to each of them, “I liked you very much. Take care of my wife when I’m gone.” And almost in defiance of death, spitting in its face, “I want everyone to sing, dance and act like fools when they put me in the grave.” And then in the third verse, the song takes its twist: he says goodbye to Antoine… and suddenly the tone of his voice changes. You can hear the sneer in his voice as he says, “I didn’t like you very much.” And then, rather than ask Antoine to take care of his wife, he sings, “Since you were her lover, when I was alive, I figure you’re going to keep taking care of her when I’m gone anyway.” And then the song closes with him saying goodbye to his wife, how much he loved her, even though he kept his eyes closed, like he will be doing now. And the final chorus is more aggressively pounding than ever, more defiant of death than ever, a heavy drum-beat in the background, “I want everyone to sing, dance and act like fools when they put me in the grave!!!!!!!!!” And then suddenly, BAM, the song cuts off.”
Bonus TGIF: The original…
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.