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Darigold, Aramark on notice | Pramila steps up for labor | Greed’s no good

Thursday, May 27, 2021




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, May 27 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 432,170 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,027) and 5,741 deaths. Vaccination: 49.19% of Washington residents have received their first dose; 41.22% are fully vaccinated. But AP reports that federal vaccine doses (DoD and VA) are not included in Washington state’s count.

► From the Kitsap Sun — Updated L&I rules require employers to verify vaccination status before dropping masks — Employers can still require masking for their workforce and may also allow fully vaccinated workers to go mask- and social distance-free but only after verification. Those who work in health care, transportation, schools, correctional facilities and homeless shelters are still required to wear masks, as are those who are unvaccinated.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Wear your mask or confirm your shots. It’s a reasonable ask of WA employees (editorial) — If employers are going to loosen social distancing requirements and allow vaccinated workers to go without masks, they should know for sure who is and isn’t vaccinated — especially if the jobs entail customer service.

► From the News Tribune — Economic recovery could take years for women who lost jobs during pandemic — even with Biden’s plans — It could take more than two years for women’s employment to return to pre-pandemic levels because the industries women worked in were hit the hardest.

The Stand (May 21) — Their jobs took the biggest hit amid the COVID pandemic




► From Teamsters 117 — Teamsters at Darigold vote unanimously to authorize a strike — Production workers at Darigold milk processing plants in Seattle and Issaquah may be headed for a labor dispute. The group of nearly 200 Teamsters voted unanimously to authorize a strike over the weekend. The vote took place after two contract update meetings at the Teamsters Union hall in Tukwila on Saturday. “Our group is not happy, we feel disrespected,” said Henning Jensen, a union shop steward and 32-year Darigold employee. “They thank us for working non-stop through the pandemic, but it doesn’t mean anything when we get to negotiations. We’ve shown up every day and put our families at risk of infection while they sit home in their pajamas dictating what we do.”

► From Teamsters 117 — Inferior commission rates, ULPs lead to unanimous strike vote at Aramark — Route sales drivers in the laundry business earn their bread and butter through negotiated commission structures and on relationships they’ve cultivated and maintained, often over years, with their customers. For members of Teamsters Locals 117 and 231 at Aramark, commissions in Washington state are simply not on par with other Teamsters up and down the West Coast. This inequity, which the company has shrugged off in ongoing contract talks, has agitated these frontline workers and led groups of Local 117 Teamsters at Aramark facilities in Kent, Everett, and Tacoma, and members of Teamsters Local 231 in Bellingham to vote unanimously to authorize a strike.

► From the Yakima H-R — After nearly a year of controversy, mayor fires Selah City Administrator Don Wayman — After five years of service and nearly a year of calls for his ouster by racial-equality advocates, embattled Selah City Administrator Don Wayman was fired Tuesday night.




► From the News Tribune — Attorney general expected to announce charging decision Thursday in Manuel Ellis death — More than a year after Manuel Ellis died in police custody, the attorney general is expected to release a charging decision Thursday, May 27. Here is a quick timeline of events from the past 14 months.




► From the Seattle Times — Boeing will pay FAA at least $17 million to settle 737 production mistakes — The FAA said Boeing installed equipment on 759 Boeing 737 MAX and NG aircraft containing sensors that were not approved for that equipment; submitted about 178 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for airworthiness certification when the aircraft potentially had nonconforming slat tracks installed; and improperly marked those slat tracks.

► From the PSBJ — Boeing’s 737 MAX chief systems engineer leaves jet maker — Debra Fahey is among dozens of Boeing workers defecting to other aerospace companies offering better pay and benefits as the recovery in the aerospace sector gathers steam and Boeing struggles in its own recovery amid concerns about its about quality-control lapses, including within the 737 MAX program.




► From the Washington Post — House Democrats make new demand on infrastructure bill as Biden strains to lure Republicans —  More than 200 House Democrats banded together on Thursday to issue a new warning as part of the contentious debate over infrastructure spending: Include strong union and labor protections, or possibly risk losing some of their support. The message from nearly every party lawmaker in the chamber served as a new political marker as tense negotiations continue on potentially trillions of dollars in new public works spending. In their letter, House Democrats stressed that Congress must couple any new federal loans, grants or tax benefits to improve the country’s infrastructure with a series of policy mandates to help workers. The companies that stand to profit from this potential influx of government aid must make it easy for employees to unionize, pay them prevailing wages, take action to prevent wage theft and train workers through apprenticeship programs for future positions, the lawmakers said.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is among the “three top party lawmakers” who organized the effort, according to this report. “We’re signaling very clearly with such an enormous group of Democrats across the ideological spectrum this has to be in the next package, that there’s really no option not to have it in there,” Jayapal said.

► From the Wall Street Journal — PRO Act builds it back better with unions (by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka) — The American Jobs Plan is not threatened by America’s labor movement. It is strengthened by us and the inclusion of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The PRO Act will not “force Americans” into anything. Instead, it will give workers the choice to form a union through a free and fair election. That’s not a power grab — just workplace democracy. If anything is stalling the American Jobs Plan, it’s big corporations wanting to pay less in taxes than firefighters and teachers. It’s antiworker senators pretending to care about the deficit after passing a $1.9 trillion tax cut for the ultrawealthy and big corporations four years ago. Scapegoating unions is as stale as trickle-down economics.

The Stand (March 18) — Six ways the PRO Act restores workers’ bargaining power

The Stand (March 10) — Historic labor law reform passes U.S. House

► From the NY Times — Biden to propose $6 trillion budget to boost middle class and infrastructure — The growth in the budget proposal is driven by Biden’s two-part agenda to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and substantially expand the social safety net, contained in his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, along with other planned increases in discretionary spending. It shows the sweep of Biden’s ambitions to wield government power to help more Americans attain the comforts of a middle-class life and to lift U.S. industry to better compete globally in an economy the administration believes will be dominated by a race to reduce energy emissions and combat climate change.

► From the Washington Post — Congressional Democrats are trying to jump-start action on health careTwo top congressional Democrats have announced they’ll write a bill to create a government-run, “public option” plan, something Biden promised on the campaign trail to do but is now expected to leave out of his budget proposal being released tomorrow. The effort by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) still faces the same political obstacles that were always there: intense industry opposition and Democrats’ narrow majorities in the House and Senate.

► From Politico — Republicans offer infrastructure counter well short of Biden vision — The GOP offer only includes $257 billion in new spending, when the White House has asked for $1.7 trillion.

► From The Hill — Biden faces dilemma on Trump steel tariffs — Biden wants to ease tensions with European allies, and has faced pressure from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and domestic industries that rely on metals to lift the tariffs. However, the president risks angering steelworkers and other labor unions if he takes that step, particularly as the U.S. steel industry has boomed with the tariffs in place.

► From the Washington Post — Amazon and other retailers oppose measure to require country-of-origin labeling for goods sold online — Amazon and other retailers are opposing a bipartisan measure that would require online sellers to clearly state where their products are made, a rule proponents say could help consumers seeking U.S.-made goods. Goods sold in person are required by law to display their country of origin, but current laws don’t force online retailers to include this information about their products.

► From the National Law Review — Biden nominates union-side attorney Gwynne Wilcox to fill NLRB seat — Wilcox is the first African-American woman ever appointed to the Board. If confirmed by the Senate, the Board will continue to have a majority of Republican members until William Emanuel’s term expires in August 2021. Biden is then expected to nominate another Democratic candidate to fill that vacancy. The Board will then tilt to a 3-2 majority of Democrats. Once that occurs, the Board is expected to reverse a number of decisions issued during the Trump Administration.

► From HuffPost — Biden appointee to USPS Board targets ‘greatest risk in security’ for elections — Amber McReynolds is the only postal governor in the agency’s recent history with a deep background in running elections. She says repairing the damaged faith in the Postal Service’s role in carrying out the functions of democracy is her priority.

► From the NY Times — On voting rights, Biden prefers to negotiate. This time, it might not be possible. — The president’s long history of deal making on the issue is crashing into the realities of a more sharply partisan time.




► From the AP — GOP set to block 1/6 panel, stoking Senate filibuster fight — Senate Republicans are ready to deploy the filibuster to block a commission on the Jan. 6 insurrection, shattering hopes for a bipartisan probe of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol and reviving pressure on Democrats to do away with the procedural tactic that critics say has lost its purpose.

► From the Washington Post — McConnell focuses ‘100 percent’ on blocking Biden — and zero percent on America (by Dana Milbank) — It has long been obvious that Mitch McConnell puts party before country, but this week he actually admitted it. The Senate minority leader told Republican colleagues that they should oppose the creation of a Jan. 6 commission, no matter how it is structured, because it “could hurt the party’s midterm election message.”

► From Roll Call — ‘They wouldn’t care if I was dead’ — staffer fallout from Jan. 6 continues — A congressional staffer froze recently when elevator doors opened and there stood a member of the House who has downplayed the violence of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Some congressional employees are shaken by what they see as the whitewashing of the attack, and the denials have reignited lingering trauma. “When I see those members in the hallway or the basement, I think to myself that they wouldn’t care if I was dead,” one staffer said.




► From the (San Jose) Mercury News — Victims, shooter identified in Bay Area’s deadliest mass shooting — In what is now the Bay Area’s deadliest mass shooting, a Valley Transportation Authority employee known for nursing grievances and a hot temper opened fire early Wednesday morning at a VTA light rail yard building, fatally wounding nine people before taking his own life, authorities said.

TODAY at The Stand WSLC: ‘We grieve together’ with slain ATU members in San JoseClick here to donate to a relief fund set up for families of the victims of this terrible tragedy.

► From the AP — Union members arrested during Brookwood coal strike protest — Nearly a dozen miners who’ve been striking an Alabama coal company for about two months were arrested during a protest outside a mine in Tuscaloosa County, a union said. The United Mine Workers of America said 11 members were charged with trespassing at a Warrior Met Coal Inc. mine in Tuscaloosa County on Tuesday evening. They were released on bond early Wednesday, the same day the union planned a rally at a state park west of Birmingham.

TAKE A STAND — Our Mine Workers (UMWA) union family is on strike against management at Warrior Met Coal. Add your name to say you support their fight for a fair contract.

► From Politco — ‘Powerful signal’: In a single day, Big Oil suffers historic blows on climate — In the space of a few hours, Exxon Mobil Corp. was bested by an upstart shareholder seeking to shake up the company’s board. Chevron Corp. investors instructed the company to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. A Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to slash emissions by 45 percent. And while the oil industry was taking its hits, longtime ally Ford Motor Co. widened its distance from fossil fuels.

► From the Chicago Tribune — Tribune Publishing offering buyouts to newsroom employees, two days after purchase by hedge fund Alden — Two days after hedge fund Alden Global Capital completed its $633 million acquisition of Tribune Publishing, the new owners of the Chicago-based newspaper chain are offering newsroom employees a buyout. The voluntary separation plan was sent Wednesday to nonunion newsroom employees. Tribune Publishing is required to negotiate any buyout offers for union newsroom employees directly with the local guilds that represent them.

EDITOR’S NOTE — If you are wondering why there has been a flurry of union organizing at newspapers in recent years, look no further than Alden Global Capital. The real-life Gordon Gekkos at this NYC-based hedge fund have been described as “the grim reaper of American newspapers.” For years, Alden has been buying newspapers, laying off their reporters and editors, reducing original editorial content, and generally bleeding them dry. As Vanity Fair reported:

In the journalism world, Alden didn’t really become a synonym for evil until 2018, when the Denver Post made national headlines for openly revolting against its hedge fund overlord. Prompted by yet another painful downsizing in the nine-time Pulitzer Prize–winning Post’s newsroom, which had already dwindled to under a hundred journalists, the fierce but futile uprising brought journalists out of their offices and into the streets. The ensuing publicity threw Alden’s draconian playbook into sharp relief: buy distressed newspapers on the cheap, cut the shit out of them, and reap the profits that can still be made from print advertising.




► From the AP — Deep-rooted racism, discrimination permeate U.S. military — Current and former enlistees and officers in nearly every branch of the armed services described a deep-rooted culture of racism and discrimination that stubbornly festers, despite repeated efforts to eradicate it. The AP found that the military’s judicial system has no explicit category for hate crimes, making it difficult to quantify crimes motivated by prejudice. The Defense Department also has no way to track the number of troops ousted for extremist views, despite its repeated pledges to root them out. More than 20 people linked to the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol were found to have military ties. And racial discrimination doesn’t exist just within the military rank-and-file. Every year, civilians working in the financial, technical and support sectors of the Army, Air Force and Navy file hundreds of complaints alleging race and skin color discrimination, according to an AP analysis of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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