Wednesday, June 30, 2021
► From the Oregonian — Oregon farmworker dies at worksite during heat wave — An Oregon farmworker died at a worksite in St. Paul on Saturday as the state entered an unprecedented heat wave. Oregon OSHA has opened investigations into Ernst Nursery and Farms and Brother Farm Labor Contractor in connection with the death.
► From Vice — Farmworkers endure brutal conditions during historic heat wave — Perhaps no one is bearing greater exposure to the Pacific Northwest’s heat wave than the region’s agricultural workers who are scrambling to harvest the region’s cherries and blueberries before they shrivel up and die because of the heat. In recent days, labor organizers have received reports of fruit pickers in the region suffering heat-related illnesses, which can include nausea, confusion, slurred speech, and unconsciousness. Many workers say their employers haven’t set up tents for shade and require them to supply their own water.
► From the Yakima H-R — Farmworker advocates seek additional Washington protections for outdoor workers — In Washington, employers must take several measures to protect outdoor workers from heat illness. But farmworker advocates say the state needs to do more.
The Stand (June 28) — Ask Congress to support heat stress standard
► From the Seattle Times — Heat records shatter in Eastern Washington, including a possible all-time high for the state — Two stations in Chelan County — one in Peshastin and one in Ardenvoir — recorded 119-degree highs Tuesday afternoon, surpassing the state’s previous all-time high of 118 degrees, which was recorded on August 5, 1961.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Second day of rolling blackouts hits Spokane — A second day of rolling blackouts struck Spokane on Tuesday as Avista Utilities struggled to keep up with demand for electricity in record-breaking heat. With temperatures hitting over 100, thousands of Avista customers in Spokane experienced power outages Tuesday. The temperature reached 109 degrees in Spokane Tuesday afternoon, the highest temperature ever recorded in the city.
► From the Ellensburg Daily Record — Line crews work in triple-digit temperatures to restore power to East Valley — A power outage that affected much of the eastern part of the valley was finally restored last night, after line workers worked in triple-digit heat to get the system back online.
► From KIMA — Fire fighters dealing with ‘worst weather conditions’
EDITOR’S NOTE — THANK YOU to all the workers that are putting themselves at risk in this extreme heat to protect the rest of us. Please stay safe.
► From the Seattle Times — Let’s keep up the heat on urgent action in climate crisis (by Gov. Jay Inslee) — Our recent discomfort is but the tip of the melting iceberg, with the southwest United States and southern Oregon trying to drink dust, major ice sheets in Antarctica breaking up and climate refugees threatening global security on multiple continents. What we felt this week is just the opening act in a looming global disaster. We must face the beast. … We cannot build a clean-energy economy just a couple days of the year. It’s easy to make this part of our awareness this week — it’s more important to make it part of our fundamental state ambition, every day, everywhere.
► From the Seattle Times — Welcome to your new normal: COVID restrictions ease across Washington state — Physical distancing: Nixed. Occupancy limits at businesses: Gone. Mask requirements: Lifted for outdoor spaces and sporting events. Washington’s next new normal is here. Wednesday’s sunrise greeted a state no longer beholden to government-imposed restrictions on business and social life to stem the tide of the coronavirus.
TODAY at The Stand — Washington lifts most COVID-19 restrictions — L&I offers updated workplace safety guidance for employers and workers.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Lifting restrictions doesn’t mean pandemic is over (editorial) — Yes, let’s get back to our lives, but we have work to do to increase the number of those vaccinated.
► From The Hill — Poll: Workers more likely to be vaccinated if employers offer paid time off — The Kaiser Family Foundation determined that 75 percent of workers whose employers offer paid time off for the shots are vaccinated, compared to 51 percent of workers at companies that don’t give paid time off.
► From The Hill — Fauci warns of ‘two Americas’ due to widening gap between vaccinated and unvaccinated — Recent studies have shown that vaccines being used in the U.S. are effective in fighting off the delta variant, but unvaccinated Americans remain at high risk of catching the more contagious strain.
► From the Seattle Times — State Rep. Jim Walsh wears yellow Star of David, evoking Nazi persecution, to protest COVID vaccine mandates — State Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen), who is critical of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, wore a yellow Star of David at a speech over the weekend — a symbol the Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust. The misappropriation of the infamous star symbol — used to identify Jews first for exclusion, and then for extermination — was criticized as deeply offensive by a local Holocaust education leader.
EDITOR’S NOTE — To be clear, there are no vaccination “mandates.” What Walsh is upset about is that employers must determine which of their employees are vaccinated, so they can provide extra COVID-19 protections for the unvaccinated, like physical distancing and the provision of PPE. The government is trying to protect these people, not kill them. Not only is Walsh’s stunt highly offensive, it’s just plain dumb.
► From the AFL-CIO — Trumka: ‘It’s time to build’ — President Richard Trumka:
“For too long, lip service has been paid to infrastructure without making the investments we need. It’s time to build. The bipartisan infrastructure framework secured by President Biden would be the single greatest infrastructure investment in history and has the potential to create good union jobs and middle-class opportunity. Investing in roads, bridges, transit, rail, climate change mitigation, electric vehicles, clean drinking water, high-speed internet, resilient transmission lines and more would make America a stronger, more competitive nation. The final legislation must ensure infrastructure jobs have full labor protections and nothing in the bill can be used as a backdoor to privatization. We urge Congress and the administration to continue working together to achieve a long-overdue infrastructure breakthrough. And that must be followed quickly by the rest of the multitrillion-dollar Build Back Better Agenda, including the American Families Plan and the PRO Act.”
► From the AP — Roads, bridges, jobs: Biden selling big infrastructure deal — President Joe Biden declared America urgently needs a “generational investment” in its infrastructure, as he looks to sell voters on the economic benefits of the $973 billion bipartisan package that still faces an uncertain future in Congress.
► From The Hill — Biden to raise federal firefighter pay to $15 per hour — The Biden administration will announce on Wednesday that it will raise pay for federal firefighters to $15 per hour as part of a broader strategy to respond to wildfires. The administration will also prepare for wildfire impacts to the power grid and improve emergency capabilities to respond to grid or electric equipment failure or power shutoff, the official said. The announcements are set to come as President Biden and Vice President Harris meet virtually with Western governors in preparation for what’s expected to be a major wildfire season.
► From the AP — House poised to launch new probe of Jan. 6 insurrection — The House is poised to launch a new investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection on Wednesday with expected approval of a 13-person select committee to probe the violent attack. No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise urged his members to vote against the resolution.
► From KSNT — Union workers at Frito-Lay say they’ll go on strike next week — Workers and the bosses at Topeka’s Frito-Lay facility have been at odds for months. Now hundreds of workers are planning to stop showing up for work. About 500 Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco, and Grain Millers Local 218 Union members are expected to go on strike starting Monday.
► From the Washington Post — South Dakota governor sending National Guard to Mexico border on mission funded by GOP megadonor — South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R), a close ally of former president Donald Trump, will deploy up to 50 National Guard troops to the southern U.S. border, her office said Tuesday, with a highly unusual caveat — the mission will be funded by a “private donation” from an out-of-state GOP megadonor billionaire. Privately funding a military mission is an affront to civilian oversight of the armed forces, said military and oversight experts, describing the move — a Republican governor sending troops to a Republican-led state, paid for by a Republican donor — as likely unprecedented and unethical.
► From the NY Times — Fox News agrees to a $1 million penalty after workplace culture investigation — Fox News agreed to pay a $1 million penalty under a settlement reached last week with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. The case stemmed from a cascade of sexual misconduct allegations that shook the network several years ago and led to the exits of Roger Ailes, its co-founder, and the anchor Bill O’Reilly.
► From Inequality Media — The bill Jeff Bezos doesn’t want you to know about — Robert Reich breaks down why Congress must pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and rein in the unchecked power of corporate behemoths like Amazon.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.