Monday, April 5, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, April 5 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 368,403 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 979) and 5,278 deaths.
► From the Washington Post — Should health-care workers be required to get coronavirus shots? Companies grapple with mandates. — The question of whether employers should compel their workforces to be immunized against the coronavirus is rippling through the health-care industry and beyond. It is a question of uncommon intricacy, involving public health, ethics, law, labor relations and ingrained American values.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Organized labor and the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO do not believe workers should be mandated to get the vaccine. Instead, labor has created COVID-19 Vaccination Information resources for unions to protect their members’ interests and for rank-and-file members to get all the facts they need to make an informed choice when they have the opportunity to get vaccinated.
► From Roll Call — CDC: Fully vaccinated people can travel safely — No change on guidance for those not fully vaccinated.
► From the Seattle Times — Controversy reignites over past rape allegation after Washington GOP leader picks former Sen. Joe Fain for panel — When state Senate Republican leader John Braun mulled his pick for the Washington State Redistricting Commission this year, he had no shortage of choices (apparently including Tom McCabe). But Braun turned to an ex-colleague — former state Sen. Joe Fain — naming him to the bipartisan panel tasked with redrawing the state’s congressional and legislative district boundaries. Fain lost his reelection bid in 2018 after a woman publicly accused him of raping her in 2007 in a Washington, D.C., hotel room… Democratic commission members Brady Walkinshaw and April Sims released a statement, saying the “best outcome” would be for Fain to step down, “given the seriousness of the allegations, the absence of an investigation, and the impact this would have on public participation.” But Fain has remained on the commission. Sims said, as the only woman on the commission, she’s listening to “women who are lifting up how traumatizing this is — we have to create space for that.”
► From the Seattle Times — Recent bombshell Washington state Supreme Court decision an opportunity to address failed war on drugs (by Naomi Ishisaka) — State lawmakers are looking at a different approach proposed in state Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra’s SB 5476, which would legalize personal possession up to a limit, but re-criminalize possession for people under 21, bar municipalities from coming up with their own laws and connect those with substance abuse disorder with local treatment services through “forensic navigators” through the DSHS. Public use would be barred and fined.
► From Vox — Study: Republican control of state government is bad for democracy — New research quantifies the health of democracy at the state level — and Republican-governed states tend to perform much worse. The paper, by University of Washington professor Jake Grumbach, constructs a quantitative measure of democratic health at the state level in the U.S. He looked at all 50 states between 2000 and 2018 to figure out why some states got more democratic over this period and others less. The conclusions were clear: The GOP is the problem.
► From the NY Times — Amazon illegally fired activist workers, NLRB finds — Amazon illegally retaliated against two of its most prominent internal critics when it fired them last year, the National Labor Relations Board has determined. The Seattle-based employees, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, had publicly pushed the company to reduce its impact on climate change and address concerns about its warehouse workers.
► From the NY Times — Amazon’s clashes with labor: Days of conflict and control — Amazon was built on an underdog philosophy, but its workers are finding a voice. That presents a problem for the company that goes far beyond the union vote in Alabama.
► From the Seattle Times — Amazon gears up to defend itself against escalating antitrust scrutiny — Amazon is gearing up to defend itself against a mushrooming battle over the company’s alleged anticompetitive business practices, in arenas spanning Congress, federal agencies and state government.
► From Vice’s Motherboard — ‘She-Wees’ and plastic bags: Amazon’s pee scandal is much worse for women — In recent days, Motherboard has received an outpouring of emails, texts, calls from incredulous current and former Amazon delivery drivers, a law firm, and the owner of an Amazon delivery company, taking offense to Amazon’s claim that drivers don’t pee in bottles. Motherboard put together the collage of pee bottles, cups, and bags you see above from photos we were sent over the last few days. Motherboard confirmed the employment of each driver who sent us a photo. For them, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Women drivers say the job is especially challenging and demoralizing because of the lack of accommodations for bathroom use.
► From the AP — Amazon apologizes for bogus ‘peeing’ tweet, vows to improve working conditions for drivers — Amazon is sorry for tweeting about peeing. The company apologized in a late Friday blog post for a tweet it sent to a congressman more than a week ago denying that its employees work so hard they must urinate in empty water bottles. It also admitted that some delivery drivers might have had to urinate in bottles and it vowed to improve their working conditions.
► From the People’s World — AFL-CIO plans National Day of Action April 8 for Pro Act — The AFL-CIO plans a “National Day of Action” on April 8, during the congressional recess, to have workers lobby senators to pass the Protect The Right To Organize (Pro) Act. If four Democratic holdouts and one independent (pictured above) can be turned around the act can become law. The Democratic-run House passed the PRO Act in March, with all but one Democrat voting for it, along with five Republicans backing it. The rest of the GOP opposed it. The Senate, split 50-50 between the two parties, is another matter.
PREVIOUSLY at The Stand
Historic labor law reform passes U.S. House of Representatives (March 10)
Six ways the PRO Act restores workers’ bargaining power (March 18)
No, the PRO Act doesn’t threaten freelancers and contractors (March 25)
► From the AP — Biden’s big infrastructure plan hits McConnell, GOP blockade — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell set the defining tone for his party when he flatly declared last week he will fight Biden’s agenda “every step of the way.”
► From the Washington Post — Republicans struggle to defend corporate tax windfall (by Jennifer Rubin) — President Biden has managed to marry something most Americans want (infrastructure) with something they do not mind one bit (higher taxes on corporations). It is a political no-brainer… But whatever the economic data, Republicans will argue on behalf of their corporate donors that any tax hike would be disastrous. But it is a good bet that the public overwhelmingly will reject that argument. Having gorged themselves during the past four years on tax cuts with little benefit to the country at large, corporate America should gird itself for a tsunami of support to raise its taxes just part way back to 35 percent.
► From Reuters — U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear claims of workplace religious bias — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sidestepped a chance to further expand religious rights, turning away two cases in which employees accused companies of violating federal anti-discrimination law by insufficiently accommodating requests for time off to meet religious obligations.
► From the AP — Corporations gave over $50M to voting restriction backers — State legislators across the country who have pushed for new voting restrictions, and also seized on former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, have reaped more than $50 million in corporate donations in recent years, according to a new report by Public Citizen.
► From Reuters — Half of Republicans believe false accounts of deadly U.S. Capitol riot — Since the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, former President Trump and his Republican allies have pushed false and misleading accounts to downplay the event that left five dead and scores of others wounded. His supporters appear to have listened.
► From Alabama.com — As Alabama coal miners strike, Warrior Met has ‘continuity plans’ — More than 1,100 striking mine workers began picketing Warrior Met Coal on April 1 after weeks of negotiations. A statement on the UMWA website reads:
“We made the sacrifices that brought this company out of bankruptcy. While upper management was getting bonuses, UMWA miners took pay and benefit cuts. The productive, professional miners at Warrior Met mined the coal that meant the company could become successful again.
“The people who manage the Wall Street hedge funds that own Warrior Met don’t know us, they don’t know our families, they don’t know our communities. And they don’t care. All they care about is sucking as much money as they can, every day that they can, from central Alabama. We want Warrior Met to be successful. But they can be successful and fair to its workers and communities at the same time.”
► From the NY Intelligencer — Democratic firm is accused of firing workers for speaking up — The Democratic data firm Civis Analytics, which was working on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, fired 11 people just days before the election. All were vocal activists at work, known among co-workers for their willingness to question company practices in meetings. They hadn’t been fired by a large, soulless corporation. They thought they’d chosen a different career path with a different kind of employer. Civis advertised its progressive principles to the world, and it sought employees committed to “social good,” as the company says on its website. Now it had abandoned the same workers without notice, without health care, without cause, in the middle of a deadly public-health crisis.
EDITOR’S NOTE — You can protect yourself and your co-workers from this kind of retribution by forming a union. 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 Politico — California teachers’ latest demand: Free child care — Teachers unions across California say the need for educator child care was a problem before the pandemic.
► From The Hill — History made at SAG Awards as people of color win top film acting awards — History was made at the annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards on Sunday evening when performers of color swept all four major acting categories. The late Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya and Yuh-Jung Youn all won in their respective categories. It was the first time since the SAG Awards began in 1995 that minority actors won the leading actor, leading actress, supporting actor and supporting actress award.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.