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No regrets at Amazon | Uber’s Astroturf | Workers have upper hand

Monday, June 21, 2021




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, June 21 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 447,203 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 515) and 5,820 deaths.

► From the Olympian — Correctional officer in Grays Harbor County dies from COVID-19 — A correctional officer in Grays Harbor County has died from complications of COVID-19, the state Department of Corrections announced late Friday. Gabriel Forrest, 42, died June 17. He had worked at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen since 2002.




► From KNKX — Mistrial halts case on minimum wage for immigrant detainees in Tacoma — A trial over whether the GEO Group must pay minimum wage — instead of $1 a day — to immigration detainees who perform tasks like cooking and cleaning at its for-profit detention center in Washington state has ended with a hung jury. The judge said he expected that the cases would be set for a new trial. “GEO, a multi-billion-dollar for-profit prison corporation that is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, pays workers $1 a day or less to perform essential services necessary to maintain the Northwest ICE Processing Center,” Ferguson said in a written statement Thursday. “A hung jury allows us to re-try the claim again in front of a new jury.”

► From the Columbian — Changes loom for Larch: State Department of Corrections proposes closing unitThe Washington Department of Corrections has proposed halving the number of beds and reducing staffing at Larch Corrections Center, as part of a larger reorganization of its facilities.

► From the News Tribune — Saving for aging can’t wait. Is new $25 monthly pay hit for Washington workers worth it? (editorial) — Workers need timely information about the automatic payroll deductions they’ll start seeing next year and the long-term care benefits they can’t start collecting until 2025. They also need to know about their right to request an exemption to the state plan. And they need to do the math carefully before making a decision.

► From the Seattle Times — Just because Juneteenth now a federal holiday doesn’t mean we stop pushing for racial justice (by Naomi Ishisaka) — While the country is moving one step forward in acknowledging its debt to the African Americans who built it, it’s taking two steps back in not allowing a complete accounting of the ways that systemic racism affects our past and present, such as racially discriminatory attacks on voting rights that Congress has not found a similar will to address.




► From the Seattle Times — Internal Amazon documents shed light on how company pressures out 6% of office workers — Amazon systematically attempts to channel 6% of its office employees out of the company each year, using processes embedded in proprietary software to help meet a target for turnover among low-ranked office workers, a metric Amazon calls “unregretted attrition,” according to internal company documents seen by The Seattle Times. The documents underscore the extent to which Amazon’s processes closely resemble the controversial management practice of stack ranking —in which employees are graded by comparison with each other rather than against a job description or performance goals — despite Amazon’s insistence that it does not engage in stack ranking.

► From The Hill — Civil rights groups urge lawmakers to crack down on Amazon’s ‘dangerous’ worker surveillance — Civil rights groups are calling on lawmakers and regulators to crack down on Amazon over its system of monitoring workers’ pace. More than 35 civil rights organizations signed a letter Monday urging action. The letter was released the same day of Amazon’s two-day Prime Day sale, which activists have criticized, arguing it increases pressure on workers.




► From The Markup — Uber and Lyft donated to community groups who then pushed the companies’ agenda — Articles and op-eds riffing on the theme of “protecting” independent work (and opposing the PRO Act) have popped up in local publications all over the country, from Colorado to Massachusetts to New Jersey to New York. In some of these states the articles have a common thread: Their authors represent organizations that serve communities of color and have received recent donations from Lyft, and in some cases Uber or DoorDash. The op-eds are one facet of a multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign aimed at fighting regulations that would require the companies to treat drivers and delivery workers as full-fledged employees.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand Seattle’s Uber, Lyft drivers win protections — Drivers Union will provide support as city enacts nation-leading protections against unwarranted termination.

► From The Guardian — Uber and Lyft fares surge as pandemic recedes – but drivers don’t get ‘piece of pie’ –Recent changes have driven down pay for drivers, including a reduction in minimum pay for long-distance trips.




► From the Columbian — Farmworker overtime would end racist pay gap, Oregon lawmakers say — Oregon state Rep. Ricki Ruiz has sponsored a bill that will mandate that farmworkers be paid overtime for any work beyond 40 hours a week. “If this legislation was passed when I was a kid, we would have had less stress in our family and my parents wouldn’t have had to work 80 hours a week,” he said. “This will be life-changing for farmworkers. They will be able to make a living wage and support their families.” The effort in Oregon follows a bill passed earlier this year in Washington.




► From the US News & World Report — U.S. Senate Democrats aim to advance contentious federal voting rights bill — Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week will try to advance legislation setting new national election standards, seeking to counter voting-rights rollbacks that Republican legislatures are pursuing across the country. If the Democrats’ effort sputters this week and no further negotiations succeed, it could allow new, restrictive voting rules in some Republican-led states to stand, unless they are struck down in court challenges. But it also could embolden Democrats to try to scrap or modify the Senate’s long-standing “filibuster” rule requiring 60 votes to advance most legislation.

► From The Hill — Biden risks break with progressives on infrastructure — The big question is whether Biden will endorse the bipartisan plan, even though many Democrats are disappointed it leaves out many of their priorities. If Biden throws his weight behind the $974 billion, five-year plan, Democratic strategists predict the party will quickly unify behind him, even if they do so reluctantly.

► From the NY Times — Bipartisan infrastructure talks collide with Democrats’ goal to tax the rich — Many Democrats see the push for an infrastructure package as an opportunity to raise taxes on rich individuals and corporations. But resistance is coming from multiple directions.

► From The Hill — House to take big step on eliminating Trump-era rules — Democrats will draw on the Congressional Review Act to take aim at rules governing methane regulations, lending practices and employment discrimination cases.

► From The Hill — Schumer now backing Sanders plan to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare

► From Roll Call — It’s time to recognize federal workers for a job well done (by AFGE President Everett Kelley) — Despite staffing shortages that have endangered their lives, forced relocations that have disrupted their lives at work and at home and even attempts to abolish the agencies where they work, federal employees have persevered and demonstrated their commitment to the country time and time again. It’s time we recognize them for a job well done. It’s time they receive a meaningful pay raise. President Joe Biden agrees that federal employees have earned a pay raise next year, and he’s proposed a 2.7 percent increase — which matches what members of the military are slated to receive. While that’s a marked improvement from the 1 percent across-the-board raise that federal employees received this year, it’s simply not enough to make up for years of pay freezes and insufficient wage hikes that have decimated their buying power.

► From Newsweek — The solar industry pays lip service to American workers—and uses Chinese slave labor (by Rep. Ron Clink, D-Penn.) — America cannot rely on foreign imports of raw materials for the wind and solar industries, while American steelworkers and their families across our country, feel the pain. If we want to Build Back Better and combat climate change, let’s use Made in America raw materials to make solar panels and wind turbines. This just isn’t happening right now.




► From NBC News — Pope Francis champions right of workers to organize in unions — Pope Francis has championed the right of all workers to unionize, as economic activity is poised to increase when the pandemic threat eases. The pontiff stressed the needs of the most vulnerable workers, including migrants, in a video message Thursday to participants at a conference organized by the International Labor Organization. Francis said efforts to rebuild economies after COVID-19 setbacks must aim at a future with “decent and dignified working conditions,” originating in collective bargaining. He called the “right to organize in unions” one of the fundamental protections for workers. Francis said efforts to rebuild economies after Covid-19 setbacks must aim at a future with “decent and dignified working conditions.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Want “decent and dignified working conditions”? Find out 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 The Hill — MSNBC says it won’t voluntarily recognize new union effort — Some 200-plus MSNBC workers are forming a union, but the network, known for its progressive politics, said it won’t recognize the effort until a majority of workers vote in a secret ballot election.

► From the Washington Post — Retail workers are quitting at record rates for higher-paying work: ‘My life isn’t worth a dead-end job’Retail workers, drained from the pandemic and empowered by a strengthening job market, are leaving jobs like never before. Some are finding less-stressful positions at insurance agencies, marijuana dispensaries, banks and local governments, where their customer service skills are rewarded with higher wages and better benefits. Others are going back to school to learn new trades, or waiting until they are able to secure reliable child care. Some 649,000 employees gave notice in April, the sector’s largest one-month exodus in over 20 years.

► From the Washington Post — The economy isn’t going back to February 2020. Fundamental shifts have occurred.A new era has arrived of greater worker power, higher housing costs and very different ways of doing business.

► From the WSJ — Tight labor market returns the upper hand to American workers — Ballooning job openings in fields requiring minimal education — including in restaurants, transportation, warehousing and manufacturing — combined with a shrinking labor force are giving low-wage workers perks previously reserved for white-collar employees. That often means bonuses, bigger raises and competing offers.

► From The Onion — CEO of troubled company accepts full compensation for his mistakes — “I stand before you today humbled by my past missteps, and in order to make amends, I’m willing to swallow any exit package of at least $65 million the board offers me,” said Dan Burnside, departing CEO of the troubled Fortune 500 company Adelwright Industries.


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

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!