Wednesday, May 12, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, May 12 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 416,930 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,322) and 5,593 deaths.
? Happening Now ?
RNs are holding a powerful #NursesWeek action in front of the White House to honor the nurses lost to Covid-19. Union RNs are calling on the administration to issue an ETS that would #ProtectNurses & our patients.
— NationalNursesUnited (@NationalNurses) May 12, 2021
► From the Yakima H-R — Inslee signs agricultural worker overtime bill into law in Yakima — All agricultural workers will be eligible for overtime pay starting in January 2022. Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5172 and four other bills into law on Tuesday at the UFCW 1439 Union Hall in Yakima. As he signed the bill, he said he would call it the Tomás Villanueva Overtime Protection Bill after the late Yakima Valley farmworker activist. “I’ve always been inspired by Tomás, and his spirit is in this hall today,” Inslee said during the bill signing. Workers represented by the United Farm Workers and Familias Unidas por La Justicia were present at the signing, and two workers spoke. Many uttered the phrase, “Si se puede,” or “Yes, we can.” “I have worked in this industry for many years, and it’s very hard work,” said Ana Cruz, a longtime farm worker, with translation from Dulce Gutiérrez of the Washington State Labor Council. “It’s time for the farm workers to have justice.”
TODAY at The Stand — Inslee signs historic farmworker overtime pay law
► From the (Everett) Herald — Get shovels ready for Biden’s transportation plans (editorial) — What can Snohomish County’s communities and the rest of the state expect — assuming eventual passage in Congress — in President Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure package? The short answer: Quite a bit for a broad range of needs here and throughout the state, but not nearly enough that state and regional transportation leaders can let their own responsibilities coast on hopes for federal spending. It’s time to get shovels ready.
► From the News Tribune — ‘I was pretty mad’: Tacoma’s top lawmaker not fond of Inslee’s erratic COVID-19 plan (editorial) — House Speaker Laurie Jinkins said the recovery plan should be revamped to fit the evolving pandemic. She said she’s talking to Inslee about it.
► From the Seattle Times — Halt to 737 MAX deliveries stymies Boeing’s recovery effort — Boeing delivered just four 737 MAXs in April before an electrical problem grounded the jet again, halting further deliveries until a fix is approved. The setback frustrated Boeing’s effort to begin to climb out of the pandemic downturn as air travel slowly recovers.
► From the Columbian — CREDC secures grant to bring aerospace, defense manufacturer to Clark County — The Columbia River Economic Development Council announced Tuesday that it has secured a $75,000 economic development grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce to help Chatsworth, Calif.-based aerospace and defense manufacturer United Precision Corp. expand to Clark County.
► From Roll Call — Delayed COVID-19 worker protections attract crush of lobbyists — A swarm of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington is circling as the White House reviews long-anticipated rules to protect workers from COVID-19 — with meatpacking, hospital and retail industries working to delay the regulations while unions push for more urgency.
► From NPR — Fearing for their pensions, union workers see hope in federal aid — Tucked into the $1.9 trillion federal American Rescue Plan is special financial assistance to save more than 200 failing pension plans. This will impact millions of workers, including roofers, truck drivers, machinists and musicians — many of whom would have faced huge losses to their retirement benefits but are now breathing a collective sigh of relief.
► From Roll Call — Democrats unveil bill to expand immigrant health care access — The bill would lift a current five-year waiting period legal immigrants must undergo before enrolling in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It also would expand access to various types of health coverage for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and protected by the DACA program. “We must finally guarantee health care to everyone as a human right — regardless of immigration status, income, employment, or anything else,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).
► From The Hill — Allow Medicare to negotiate on behalf of patients to lower drug prices (by Rep. Peter Welch and David Mitchell) — Patients For Affordable Drugs has collected tens of thousands of stories of Americans who are skipping doses, cutting pills in half, rationing insulin, or choosing between paying the bills and buying the drugs they need. Americans are paying almost four times what people in other wealthy nations pay for the exact same brand-name drugs. As President Biden said, the time to act is now.
► From The Hill — GOP votes to dump Cheney from leadership — In an extraordinary bow to former President Trump, House Republicans voted Wednesday to purge GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney from her leadership post, punishing the conservative Wyoming Republican for daring to refute Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
EDITOR’S NOTE — In advance of today’s voice vote, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-3rd) said that she planned to vote to retain Cheney, but Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-4th) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th) declined to say how they would vote. Reporters should press them on the issue.
► From Politico — ‘Let’s move on’: Congress’ other pro-impeachment Republicans stay quiet — Seventeen congressional Republicans supported the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump. Unlike Liz Cheney, most of them want to move on… Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is back to keeping her usual low profile after nearly getting hauled before the Senate as an impeachment witness… “I’m just going to go to the meeting with an open mind and listen to what happens,” said pro-impeachment Rep. Dan Newhouse when asked if he will support Cheney on Wednesday.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Trump wants revenge against Republicans over impeachment. Is Rep. Newhouse in trouble? — Trump is out to settle scores with the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him. And that could mean trouble for Rep. Dan Newhouse.
► From Reuters — ‘Rationals’ vs. ‘radicals’: Anti-Trump Republicans threaten third party — Over 100 former Republican officials will sign a letter on Thursday declaring that if the Republican Party does not break with former President Donald Trump and change course, they will back the creation of a third party.
► From Bloomberg — CEO pandemic pay: ‘Heads I win, tails I win almost as much’ — Norwegian Cruise Line called 2020 its “most challenging year.” The company lost $4 billion, a half-decade’s worth of profit. Shares dropped 56%. Thousands of crew members lost their livelihoods. But Frank Del Rio, its chief executive officer, did just great. He collected his largest pay package to date: $36.4 million. How? Corporate boards cut Del Rio and scores of other CEOs extraordinary slack for miserable results in the pandemic, securities filings show. Otherwise, their pay would have plunged because it is tied to metrics such as sales, profit and stock prices. Compensation committees decided the crisis wasn’t the bosses’ fault, so they shouldn’t suffer the consequences. Boards handed out “special awards” for persistence. They eased up on performance goals, so executives could still collect bonuses. Directors granted retention awards, so leaders wouldn’t get discouraged and quit.
► From HuffPost — In states cutting unemployment benefits, gig workers have the most to lose — Republican-led states are canceling the extra unemployment benefits Congress created because of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the extra $300 makes it impossible for businesses to find willing workers. But Arkansas and the eight other states that have said they’ll drop the federal benefits aren’t just dropping the $300. They’re also ending benefits for the long-term jobless and gig workers. More than 4 million Americans received long-term benefits fully funded by the federal government last month, according to the most recent Labor Department figures, and 6 million received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the benefits for gig workers and others who hadn’t been laid off or furloughed from traditional payroll jobs.
► From the Washington Post — The GOP push to cut unemployment benefits is the welfare argument, all over again (by Peter Stevenson) — The idea that federal assistance programs encourage Americans to stay home from work is nothing new.
► From the NY Times — In reversal, retirements increased during the pandemic — After decades in which it decreased, the retirement rate rose during the pandemic, according to the latest government data. What can explain this trend during the pandemic? Job losses and business closings could have prompted some older workers to retire earlier than they’d expected, a pattern seen in previous recessions. Another factor: Older workers were more at risk than younger ones from the coronavirus. At the same time, home prices and stock market values rose, putting some owners of such assets in a better position financially to retire.
► From the Washington Post — Gas shortages intensify in Southeast, with 71 percent of Charlotte stations now dry — More than 70 percent of the gas stations in Charlotte have run dry as panic-buying exacerbated fuel shortages throughout the Southeast in the aftermath of a hack that shuttered the Colonial Pipeline.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.