Thursday, July 1, 2021
► From the Tri-City Herald — ‘Heat is kicking our tails.’ Blistering temps pound Tri-Cities outdoor workers — From delivering packages to building houses, the heat is pounding workers, especially those who must be outside. The risk of heat exhaustion and other heat-related illness is exceptionally high this week and hydration is critical. It’s even worse for those who do prolonged and strenuous work, have to wear heavy protective clothing and work in direct sunlight — all things that those in construction can’t avoid.
► From the Oregonian — Farmworker advocates renew call for extreme heat rules after Oregon laborer dies — Farmworker advocates are calling on Oregon to adopt emergency rules to protect workers during extreme heat following the death of a Marion County farmworker Saturday.
► From the Seattle Times — Heat-wave deaths rise across Pacific Northwest, including 11 more in King County — The deaths illustrate the profound impacts the unprecedented heat wave had on human health and how poorly adapted Washington state is to extreme heat.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Residents thankful Avista outages are dwindling after large blackouts, but infrastructure worries linger — Avista Utilities customers were relieved Wednesday that the utility had relatively few planned blackouts to conserve energy after off-and-on outages that came as record heat baked the area Tuesday. But for some, concerns about the utility’s capacity also lingered.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Governor and others celebrate end of pandemic restrictions — The governor, along with other elected leaders and public health experts across the state, spent the day rejoicing that after more than a year of living under COVID-19 restrictions, they’re gone and it’s safe to resume most pre-pandemic activities.
The Stand (June 30) — Washington lifts most COVID-19 restrictions — L&I offers updated workplace safety guidance for employers and workers.
► From Crosscut — Washington child care costs rise faster than financial help for stressed families — Washington state was in crisis even before the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools and child care operations, exposing critical gaps in the nation’s child care system. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Washington ranked ninth among the least-affordable states in the nation for infant care in 2019, with costs requiring 20% of median family incomes. Fast-forward to 2021, the crisis of child care costs and capacity not only has worsened for the most vulnerable working families, but it has continued to spread up the socioeconomic ladder to higher-income workers. At the same time, child care providers operate at low, sometimes negative financial margins, which means there are fewer available caregivers.
► From the Olympian — Rent increases allowed under Washington’s new eviction moratorium — The “bridge” plan, as Inslee has called it, puts an end to the de-facto rent control imposed by the previous moratorium. Beginning July 1, landlords can raise rents, unless they are specifically prohibited by county-level conditions attached to rent assistance.
► From the Seattle Times — State Rep. Jim Walsh apologizes for wearing yellow Star of David to protest COVID vaccine rules — State Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) said Wednesday he is “terribly sorry” for wearing a yellow Star of David on his shirt at an event over the weekend in protest of COVID-19 vaccine mandates. His comparison of a public health vaccination campaign with the Nazi genocide that killed 6 million Jews during World War II attracted national attention and criticism. After initially defending his actions early Wednesday, posting on Facebook that criticisms of him were “Orwellian,” Walsh went on a conservative radio talk show later in the afternoon to apologize. … Washington has not made COVID-19 vaccines mandatory, but the state is requiring employers to keep track of which workers are vaccinated in order to lift workplace masking mandates.
► From the Washington Post — Wearing a Star of David, another lawmaker compares coronavirus measures to the Holocaust — For some who track extremist rhetoric, it was part of an alarming escalation — the latest example of how comparing mainstream policies and public health measures to Nazi atrocities has spread, propelled not just by fringe groups, but by elected officials. “Fear sells politically. And the guardrails have come off with respect to what is acceptable for elected officials’ political discourse,” said Brian Levin, a professor at California State University at San Bernardino who studies extremism. “There are no guardrails now with respect to offense, ignorance and downright stupidity.”
► From the NW Labor Press — Nowhere to go but up: Vancouver sheet metal workers win a union — Low pay, long hours, unsafe conditions, high turnover: Everything about 360 Sheet Metal Products made workers there want a union. When votes were counted June 21, the tally was 12 to 9: The majority had voted “Union, Yes,” disregarding weeks of pleading from company owner Joseph W. Martin and a hired union-busting consultant.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Ready to move on up? Get 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!
SOUTH OF THE BORDER
► From the NW Labor Press — Painters strikes end with major wage wins — After weeks of escalating strike action, Painters Local 10 reached a tentative agreement with Signatory Painting Contractors Organization (SPCO) that if ratified, will increase total compensation by $3.50 to $4 an hour in the next 12 months. Before the series of strikes that threatened to grow into a “summer of chaos,” the contractor group was offering just 25 cents.
► From The Hill — EPA employees fight for a contract that will protect them against future administrations (by Marie Owens-Powell) — I am a proud employee of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where I have dedicated my career to upholding the agency’s mission to protect human health and the environment. The Trump years were a total nightmare. EPA employees routinely faced demeaning and hostile attacks, all while our work was being systematically undermined. In contrast, President Biden’s short time in office has given EPA workers a renewed sense of hope. However, if the Trump years taught us anything, it’s that worker power must be front and center at the agency in order to effectively push back against a future administration that may be both anti-science and anti-worker. For EPA workers, that begins with a new AFGE union contract.
► BREAKING from the USA Today — Supreme Court upholds Arizona ban on ballot collection as states race to pass voting restrictions — A divided Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a controversial Arizona law that limits how voters may return absentee ballots, weighing into a raging debate over voting rights that has consumed Congress and state legislatures since last year’s presidential election. Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion for a 6-3 majority, joined by the court’s conservatives. The case, the most significant to deal with voting rights to come before the court since 2013, dealt with two provisions of Arizona’s voting law approved long before the 2020 election. State officials passed a law in 2016 barring unions and advocacy organizations from collecting voters’ mail-in ballots.
► From the Washington Post — House votes to create select committee for investigating Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — Nearly all Republicans opposed the legislation, a sign of the political challenges that face Democrats as they attempt to probe why thousands of Trump’s supporters swarmed the building and tried to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington’s entire Republican delegation — Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers — voted “no.”
► From Roll Call — Plenty of GOP earmarks in spending bill its members will oppose — Some of the Republican lawmakers who attached earmarks for their constituencies to the Interior-Environment appropriations bill are nevertheless unlikely to vote for the legislation. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash., 5th) has the biggest haul of earmarks with five. Two of those relate to drinking water projects and three to sewer and wastewater projects. Rodgers has not said whether she plans to support the bill.
► From Politico — Rep. Adam Smith pushes back against private funding for National Guard deployment — The chair of the House Armed Services Committee criticized the move by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and said the Guard shouldn’t be treated like a “private militia.”
► From Politico — Republicans go all-in on immigration as a political weapon — “It’s off the Richter scale in terms of importance for the Republican electorate,” said John Thomas, a Republican strategist.
► From The Hill — Pride Month concludes without Equality Act vote in Senate — In February, the House passed the Equality Act, which protects people from being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in education, employment, housing and public accommodations, among other services. Senate Republicans represent a roadblock for the Equality Act, having indicated they would filibuster the bill over concerns about religious freedom.
► From Bloomberg Law — Biden’s 9th Circuit pick has union support, labor law chops — Organized labor threw its support behind the Biden administration’s nomination of Jennifer Sung to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Sung, who serves on the Oregon Employment Relations Board, previously practiced in Portland and San Francisco, and worked as an organizer for two SEIU locals prior to attending Yale Law School.
► From the NY Times — Top Trump executive Allen Weisselberg surrenders to face charges — The Trump Organization and Weisselberg have been indicted in connection with a tax investigation and are expected to appear in court later Thursday.
► From The Hill — CDC director: Vaccinated people ‘safe’ from delta variant, do not need to wear masks — The question of mask wearing has come back to the forefront given recommendations from Los Angeles County health officials, and from the WHO, that even fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks indoors in public as a precaution due to the rise of the highly transmissible delta variant of the virus.
► From NPR — Change.org workers form a union, giving labor activists another win in tech — More than 70 workers at Change.org became members of the Communications Workers of America’s CODE-CWA Project, the same union that Google employees joined earlier this year.
► From the NY Times — UNC board approves tenure for journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones after uproar over inaction on job protection — The university’s decision could defuse what has become a showdown over the degree of influence of politicians and donors in faculty affairs.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.