Friday, April 23, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, April 23— The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 391,839 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,331) and 5,428 deaths.
► From the (Longview) Daily News — COVID-19 outbreak at WestRock infects at least 10 employees, 1 has died — At least 10 WestRock pulp and paper mill employees have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, and one employee died from complications of the virus, according to Cowlitz County Health and Human Services.
► From the Seattle Times — Inslee: Washington has entered its fourth wave of COVID-19 — Washington state has entered its fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as cases continue to rise, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday. In a news conference where he was joined by health care officials from Pierce County and Spokane, Inslee pointed to data showing an increase in cases, a rise in hospitalizations and the spread of new virus variants. Calling the situation “simply too dangerous to persist,” Inslee called on people to get vaccinated, wear masks and keep their distance.
ALSO at The Stand — WSLC, UFW hosting vaccine event on Saturday in Yakima
► From the Seattle Times — ‘It’s devastating’: As a QFC store winds down, neighbors and politicians thank employees, criticize closure — Saturday will be the final day for the QFC in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood, and on Thursday afternoon, a somber crowd of soon-to-be former customers and neighbors, along with TV crews and a few political officials, gathered for a bittersweet send off for the store’s 51 employees. “I’m not going to support a business that’s going to give up on their customers like that,” said Alice Hall, a customer of 10 years at the Wedgwood store, who decided not to shop at QFC or Fred Meyer, which are both owned by Kroger, because of the closure. “I don’t understand. They’re a mega corporation — and they can’t support the people once in a while?”
PREVIOUSLY at The Stand:
► From the (Everett) Herald — Marysville teachers vote ‘no confidence’ in their school board — Dozens of students, parents and teachers in the Marysville School District spoke out against racism Wednesday in response to the district’s handling of death threats against minority students. About 85% of members of the teachers union who voted expressed “no confidence” in the Board of Directors, MEA President Becky Roberts said at a school district meeting later that evening.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Child care proposal approved by Legislature, but capital gains tax to fund it still in negotiations — A broad legislative proposal that aims to address child care shortages and prices across the state passed the Legislature on Thursday. The bill creates a new funding account for child care and early learning. It also expands eligibility and decreases co-payments for the state’s subsidy programs. It increases rates, training and supports for providers, too. One sticking point: the funding mechanism to pay for the changes outlined in the bill. In the short term, federal stimulus funds will help the state pay for child care priorities. In the long-term, however, Democrats have proposed using revenue from a capital gains tax. The proposal passed the state House of Representatives on Wednesday but is now stuck in negotiations between the two chambers.
► From Crosscut — Why new taxes are likely even as Washington is flush with cash — Democratic lawmakers say now is the moment to fix the state’s regressive tax code, which they say unfairly burdens low-income people.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Legislature unanimously approves bill to increase wildfire fighting capabilities, forest health funding — The bill, which provides $125 million every two years for wildfire response, forest restoration and community resilience, passed unanimously in both chambers. It now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk. The proposal is something Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, legislators and advocates have pushed for years. The biggest question on the proposal was where funding was coming from, with some calling for a dedicated source of revenue while others called for using the general fund.
► ICYMI, from the (Everett) Herald — Make preventing, fighting wildfires a priority (editorial, March 22) — State Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is seeking an investment of $125 million over the coming two-year budget cycle to bolster state and local fire response, make private homes, properties and communities more fire resilient and limit the spread of fires in forests, as well as a dedicated revenue source that will continue and speed up that work for the long haul… While limiting such losses is worth the investment itself, there are other benefits in the eyes of people such as WSLC President Larry Brown, who sees the legislation and budget request as an opportunity, beyond making forests more resilient and strengthening the response to fires. “We need economic development in the communities across the state that aren’t necessarily in Seattle, Everett and Tacoma,” Brown said. “This is a great investment in our communities.”
► From KING 5 — State lawmakers OK proposal easing decertification of law enforcement officers — Final approval of the bill came a day after an ex-Minneapolis officer was convicted of murdering George Floyd. It heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Lawmakers OK tenants’ civil right to counsel bill. Will it be ready to stop an eviction cliff? — A bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday makes Washington the first state in the country to guarantee legal representation to low-income tenants facing eviction.
► From the PSBJ — Washington collected $469M from pot sales in 2020 — Washington state ranked No. 2 in cannabis sales among states with legal recreational use laws. In all, Washington brought in $469 million in tax revenue from cannabis sales in 2020, which made up 1.7% of the state’s 2020 revenue, according to a study.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Lawmakers reach deal that would restrict use of tear gas unless elected officials OK it
► From The Hill — Tensions rise as Democrats face Senate bottleneck on agenda — Frustrations are building among congressional Democrats as the party’s priorities pile up in the Senate. Legislation granting statehood to Washington, D.C., approved by the House on Thursday, is just the latest big agenda item that is set to stall out on the other side of Capitol Hill. In the majority-run House, Democrats are passing the party’s big priorities along party lines. In the Senate, Republicans can block most legislation with the filibuster, putting the focus on approving President Biden‘s nominees and moving smaller bipartisan measures.
► From Senate.gov — Sen. Murray introduces Child Care for Working Families Act, highlights need for quality affordable child care — On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) held a video press call with Washington state child care providers and working parents to highlight the depth of the child care crisis in Washington state and preview her Child Care for Working Families Act, which was reintroduced Thursday. It is a comprehensive early learning and child care bill to ensure affordable, high-quality child care for working families.
► From the Washington Post — Bill would create aviation response plan for pandemics and study disease transmission on airplanes — The Healthy Flights Act of 2021 — introduced by Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) — also makes clear that the Federal Aviation Administration has the authority to impose requirements to protect passengers and airline workers during public health emergencies.
► From Roll Call — Democrats unimpressed by GOP’s $568 billion infrastructure plan — Senate Republicans characterize their newly unveiled five-year, $568 billion counteroffer to President Joe Biden’s eight-year, $2 trillion infrastructure proposal as a starting point to serious negotiations. Democrats dismissed the proposal as not serious at all.
► From the AFL-CIO — NEW REPORT: Labor, environmental advocates call for high-paying electric vehicle jobs — ahead of the Leaders Summit on Climate, the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council and BlueGreen Alliance, along with the UAW and United Steelworkers, released a report highlighting the need to preserve high-paying union jobs in the U.S. auto industry as part of any equitable clean energy transition. The report, available here, reviews the economic impacts of the transition to electric vehicles as well as policy options for creating and preserving good union jobs.
The Stand (April 22) — Clean manufacturing is a climate priority (by Jessica Koski)
► From the AP — Restoring service central to Biden’s postal board nominees — Biden’s nominees to the governing board of the U.S. Postal Service pledged Thursday to rebuild trust with the American public through prompt deliveries, as they outlined a vison for the agency in their first formal statements to lawmakers.
► From Reuters — Biden plans ‘real money’ for jobs training, unions, economic adviser says — “What we’re trying to do here is put some real money where our mouths are,” Jared Bernstein, who serves on the White House Council of Economic Advisers. “You don’t just train somebody for a job that might or might not exist. Instead, you look around the corner and see where labor demand is going to be next year.”
► From The Hill — Female Republicans ‘horrified’ by male GOP lawmaker’s description of Cheney: report — Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) reportedly equated Cheney voting to impeach Trump to a football game, telling the conference, “You look up into the stands and see your girlfriend on the opposition’s side — that’s one hell of a tough thing to swallow.”
► From the NY Times — New York Times tells tech workers to put union effort to a vote — The New York Times Company said on Thursday that it would not voluntarily recognize a newly formed union of tech and digital employees, instructing the group to put the matter to a formal vote through the National Labor Relations Board. A NewsGuild spokesman said that The Times’s decision not to voluntarily recognize the union was “deeply disappointing” and “a sign of disrespect” to the company’s 1,400 union members.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Seattle Times did the same thing. The company refused to recognize its digital journalists’ union via card check and forced an NLRB election. Then the Times management, led by dog-shooting publisher Frank Blethen, appealed that election to try to block the union vote. After much delay, the NLRB rejected that appeal, the votes were counted and the union won UNANIMOUSLY. That was back in September 2020. Today, the Seattle Times is refusing to agree to a fair first contract. The union recently reported that during negotiations the Times’ head of HR said, “We don’t aspire to pay living wages.”
This is unacceptable. This is not what should happen when American workers exercise their freedom to join together in a union. Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act “to protect the rights of employees (and) to encourage collective bargaining.” Those protections have been eroded away for decades. Now a multi-billion dollar union avoidance industry routinely instructs Amazon, The Seattle Times and other corporations on how to discourage collective bargaining, bust unions, and get away with it. It’s reason #1,549 why we need to PASS THE PRO ACT.
► From the Washington Post — Most Americans support greater scrutiny of police as discrimination concerns persist, Post-ABC poll finds — Six in 10 Americans say the country should do more to hold police accountable for mistreatment of Black people, far outpacing concerns about those measures interfering with how law enforcement does its job, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. The nationwide survey also finds that concerns over treatment of Black Americans and other minorities by the criminal justice system ― which spiked last summer amid national protests after George Floyd’s killing ― have eased slightly since then. But those concerns remain at the highest point in previous surveys dating back to 1988.
► From the Washington Post — You have the right to film police. Here’s how to do it effectively — and safely.
► From The Atlantic — Low-skill workers aren’t a problem to be fixed (by Annie Lowery) — The label “low-skill” flattens workers to a single attribute, ignoring the capacities they have and devaluing the jobs they do.
► This week, Scottish singer Les McKeown died. He achieved global superstardom in the 1970s as the frontman/lead vocalist of the “tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh,” the Bay City Rollers. Kids, this boy band sold more records than One Direction, NSYNC, or Boyz II Men. In case you are wondering, there is no “Bay City” in Scotland. As legend has it, the band had decided to call themselves the “Rollers” but wanted an American-sounding term in front of that. Drummer Derek Longmuir threw a dart at a map of the United States and it landed somewhere on Arkansas. Nothing there met with the band’s approval — insert joke here — so a second dart was thrown. This time it landed on Bay City, Michigan. Hence the name. Just think: a few more drinks and they might have been called the Benton City Rollers.
BREAKING — On Thursday, we also lost a giant of hip-hop, Shock G. The Digital Underground frontman expanded on Parliament-Funkadelic’s bouncy, elastic funk and outlandish, occasionally goofy stage personas and costumes to become a true legend. For the uninitiated, I’ll just let him introduce himself…
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.