Tuesday, May 25, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, May 25 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 429,499 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 995) and 5,705 deaths. Vaccination: 48.88% of Washington residents have received their first dose; 40.75% are fully vaccinated. But AP reports that federal vaccine doses (DoD and VA) are not included in Washington state’s count.
► MUST-READ from Time — The CDC’s mask guidance ignores the risks workers face every day (by Jordan Barab and David Michaels) — Public health agencies like CDC are charged with protecting the health of populations, not just individuals. With its recent masking recommendation, the CDC is forgetting its basic public health mission, holding back our efforts to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasing the danger that workers face. Workplaces are centers of virus transmission, and those who work in such environments have borne a tragic burden throughout the pandemic. The CDC said its new guidelines do not apply to health care, corrections, homeless shelters and transportation, but there are many other types of workplaces with similarly dangerous working conditions — like meat or poultry factories and farms — where large numbers of workers have been infected in the recent past and in which outbreaks continue to occur… The CDC made a mistake. Public health agencies need to follow the science for protecting populations, not just individuals. But it is not too late to fix that mistake and get the nation’s pandemic control efforts back on track.
► From the Seattle Times — Amazon’s relentless pace is injuring warehouse workers and violating the law, Washington state regulator says — Amazon is violating the law by pressuring warehouse employees to work at speeds that exacerbate injuries without adequate time to recover, state safety regulators concluded earlier this month after an inspection of the commerce giant’s DuPont, Pierce County, fulfillment center. Regulators found a “direct connection” between the incidence of injuries at the warehouse and Amazon’s expectation that warehouse employees “maintain a very high pace of work” or else face discipline. The inspection’s findings complicate the company’s effort to brand itself “Earth’s Safest Place to Work” and validate what Amazon employees have said for years: Amazon’s requirement that employees keep up with hourly targets for tasks like unloading pallets, stowing merchandise and packing boxes has created an injury crisis at the retail behemoth’s hundreds of U.S. warehouses.
► From Reuters — Blue-collar director vote gives U.S. labor another crack at Amazon — Labor advocates are looking to the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, hoping for a chance to get a worker on the board of directors of the world’s largest online retailer. A resolution from shareholders including nonprofit Oxfam America calls for Amazon to consider nominating an hourly employee to its board. The proposal picked up valuable, and rare, backing from top proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services.
► From the NY Times — A timeline of what has happened in the year since George Floyd’s death — As dusk neared on May 25, 2020, a teenager walking to a corner store in South Minneapolis whipped out her cellphone and recorded a shocking sight: A white police officer kneeling on the neck of a Black man for more than nine agonizing minutes. In the hours that followed, the cellphone video showing George Floyd’s murder would spread across the globe and incite an uprising for racial justice nearly unparalleled in American history.
TODAY at The Stand — Confronting racism is organized labor’s work (by April Sims) — One year after George Floyd’s murder, we are making progress in Washington state to reshape policing and engage our members on racism.
► From the AFL-CIO — Pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act –AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “On the anniversary of his murder, the labor movement joins our allies in calling on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. This bill is not only a legislative priority, it’s our nation’s moral obligation. Elected leaders should work together with all stakeholders, including America’s unions, to finally make police reform a reality.”
► From the Washington Post — Biden to meet with George Floyd’s family amid uncertain progress on race — While White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden is “eager to listen to their perspectives and hear what they have to say,” an unfulfilled promise looms over the meeting as progress on police reform has stagnated in Congress, including legislation bearing Floyd’s name that Biden had hoped would be law on the anniversary of his death.
► From Crosscut — A year after George Floyd’s murder, what’s changed in Washington state? — Last year’s Black Lives Matter protests fueled major actions on police accountability, tax reform and environmental justice. But no one thinks the work is done.
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle, King County wrestling with promises for change that politicians made after George Floyd’s murder
► From the AP — Top cop in Black man’s deadly arrest withheld cam video — In perhaps the strongest evidence yet of an attempted cover-up in the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene, the ranking Louisiana State Police officer at the scene falsely told internal investigators that the Black man was still a threat to flee after he was shackled, and he denied the existence of his own body camera video for nearly two years until it emerged just last month.
► From the Washington Post — With Kristen Clarke, Republicans follow playbook in opposing Democratic nominees to Justice Dept.’s civil rights post — Democrats argue that the overwhelming Republican opposition to a slew of nominees over the past three decades is a proxy for the party’s true mission — hobbling the core agenda of the civil rights division, which was created as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower to focus on ensuring voting rights and fair housing for African Americans.
► From the Washington Post — The GOP’s shifting arguments against a Jan. 6 commission (analysis) — There have been plenty of indications that Republicans don’t want to see a congressional Jan. 6 commission for one very basic reason: It’s politically bad. It’s bad because it would necessarily point the finger (to some degree) at Donald Trump, the former Republican president — at whom even many top Republicans previously pointed the finger. It’s bad because, despite attempts to distance the party from Trump after the Capitol riot, those efforts clearly failed and the GOP is saddled with Trump. But mostly, it’s bad because it forces them to relive this ugly chapter at a time when, history suggests, their chances of regaining control of Congress in the 2022 election look increasingly good. It’s a time in which focusing on pretty much anything else would be better, as even a top Republican has acknowledged.
► From The Hill — Filibuster fight looms over Jan. 6 commission — The Senate is heading for its first filibuster fight of the year over creating a commission to probe the Jan. 6 attack, reviving frustration over the procedural roadblock. The bill, which could come up as soon as this week, appears poised to fail absent a significant shift among Senate Republicans, as a growing number of GOP senators follow Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) decision to oppose the legislation. “Filibustering a bipartisan commission regarding the January 6 insurrection is a three dimensional way to make the point that the filibuster is primarily a destructive force in American politics,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
► From The Hill — Romney first GOP senator to say he would vote for Jan. 6 bill
► From the Columbian — Herrera Beutler proves she can handle the truth (editorial) — She was one of 35 House Republicans to vote last week in favor of forming a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot. Yet many Republican congressional representatives apparently are afraid of the truth.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Because this editorial doesn’t, let’s go ahead and call out Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash., 5th). She’s the only U.S. Representative from Washington state who’s afraid of the truth and opposed to the Jan. 6 commission. She’s the only member of Congress from our state who consistently puts partisan politics ahead of the interests of her state, her nation, and democracy.
► From the Washington Post — Infrastructure talks hit a wall as Senate GOP and White House exchange blame — The prospects for a bipartisan infrastructure deal dimmed even further Monday, as Senate Republicans alleged that the White House had agreed to narrow the scope of its $2.2 trillion plan — only to reverse course days later.
► From Politico — ‘Time to move on’: Infrastructure talks near collapse — Democrats are increasingly calling for Biden to consider going it alone rather than see the GOP water down his agenda.
► From Politico — ‘Where does that leave us?’: Biden confronts the limits of his unity talk — Barring an 11th hour turnaround, his most promising hope for a major bipartisan policy breakthrough — a massive infrastructure deal — could end up slipping through his fingers. It raises questions about how much longer Biden will be committed to reaching out to Republicans in Congress and whether his agenda would be better served if he just abandoned the effort altogether.
► From Reuters — Biden looks abroad for electric vehicle metals, in blow to U.S. miners — Biden will rely on ally countries to supply the bulk of the metals needed to build electric vehicles and focus on processing them domestically into battery parts, part of a strategy designed to placate environmentalists, two administration officials told Reuters.
► From Roll Call — Durbin, Padilla urge Garland to protect immigration judges’ union — Without union, immigration judges will be less independent, more susceptible to political pressure, they say.
► From the Detroit Free Press — UAW gets more than 10,000 signatures to organize 10 University of California campuses — A quiet campaign by UAW organizers at the University of California ended Monday with more than 10,000 signed cards officially submitted to authorities that would create the Student Researchers United-UAW, representing more than 17,000 higher education workers. These union activists are not required to hold a formal election and can, instead, submit the signed 10,441 cards to California’s Public Employee Relations Board in Oakland.
Bam! There they are – 11,000 union authorization cards signed by SRs at the University of California pic.twitter.com/fPIVoC3jwV
— Student Researchers United (@sruuaw) May 24, 2021
► From the AP — Amtrak restores service on routes following COVID cutbacks — Amtrak says it will restore daily service on 12 long distance routes across the country, including two that run through Seattle. Starting Monday, both the Empire Builder — Chicago to Seattle/Portland — and Coast Starlight — Seattle to Los Angeles — routes will resume daily service, giving passengers on the West Coast more travel options.
► From the AP — Union chief says flight attendant lost 2 teeth in assault — A Southwest Airlines flight attendant was assaulted by a passenger and lost two teeth in the attack last weekend, according to a union president, who complained to the airline’s CEO about unruly passengers.
► From MSNBC — Unemployment benefits aren’t causing a labor shortage. Low wages are. (by Hayes Brown) — Wages in the U.S. have grown far more slowly than you might assume over the last half-century compared to how much more productive the average worker has become. The work Americans put in doesn’t match the wages that come out, especially for lower earners, a gap that has become untenable for many. And the people who are among those bottom earners? They are tired after the year we’ve just had — especially hospitality workers.
► From HuffPost — Ammon Bundy files to run for governor of Idaho — But the armed rancher who took over public lands in a 41-day standoff five years ago is now banned from the state capitol.
► From the NY Times — Why billionaires like Bill Gates can’t fix the problems they helped create (by Dr. Linsey McGoey) — Bill Gates hasn’t changed. His public image has. Gates’s personal behavior and his troubling comanagement of the Gates Foundation are being reported more openly. The question is why it took so long. The larger the foundation became, the less anyone seemed willing to ask tough questions about its secretive management structure or its penchant for giving money to lucrative pharmaceutical and credit card companies. … Billionaires who make their fortunes through corporate practices that undercut workers and deepen inequality — like corporate tax avoidance, insufficient sick pay and the immoral gap in pay between executives and low-paid workers — are not the solution to problems they generate. Asking Bill Gates to fix inequality is like asking an arsonist to hose down your house after he just set it on fire. Philanthropists might have the deep pockets to fund the fire engine and water hose, but the money is coming from making our houses unlivable in the first place.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.