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Heat vs. health | Workers vs. Amazon | Jaime vs. The Truth

Tuesday, July 6, 2021




► From KIMA — Vigil for farmworker who died in Oregon heat wave draws calls for change — A call for change is gaining momentum after a farm worker died during Oregon’s historic heatwave last week. Sebastian Francisco Perez died exactly one week ago Saturday during the first day of record-high heat. At a vigil for him this weekend, union workers called his death preventable and are now asking for changes to be made so this doesn’t happen again.

TODAY at The StandWe’ve been warned: Act now on climate (by Sarah Tucker) — Pacific Northwest’s extreme heat is another sign that climate crisis requires immediate action.

► From the News Tribune — It’s early, but Washington could be facing its worst wildfire season yet if trends hold — Get ready for more smoke and foul air this summer. This year’s rate of wildfires has been record-breaking for Washington thus far, and it could get worse.

► From the Spokesman-Review — Evacuation area expands as blaze north of Cheney threatens homes, crops, infrastructure — Residents of some 200 homes were ordered to leave immediately as fire crews, including air support, battled a growing wildfire north of Cheney and east of Four Lakes on Monday.

► From KXLY — Batterman Fire burning near Wenatchee grows to 12 square miles, level 3 evacuations in place

► From NPR — British Columbia battles more than 180 wildfires

► From the Seattle Times — Seattle has gone 22 days without rain, and it looks like more dry weather is on the way

► From Q13 Fox — Historic heat wave melts out 30% of Mt. Rainier area snowpack in 4 days

► From the Spokesman-Review — Research aims to examine ‘compounding’ health effects of climate change — After a week under a “heat dome” and rolling blackouts, understanding the effects of climate change on public health in the Inland Northwest is clearly relevant.




► MUST-READ from the NY Times — Amazon transformed Seattle. Now, its workers are poised to take it back. (by E. Tammy Kim) — Workers in the fulfillment and sorting centers dotting Interstate 5 have pushed for improved conditions, especially during the pandemic. This is true in other parts of the country as well, especially where Amazonians United is active, but the Seattle area is also the site of activism at headquarters, which employs more than 75,000 tech workers and other employees who possess significant bargaining power but are still vulnerable to retaliation and replacement.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Plan to give some county staff $1,250 moves a step closer — A $1,250 bonus is on the horizon for many Snohomish County government workers considered essential during the pandemic. If a new proposal from the executive’s office gains County Council approval, employees would receive payments starting in September. Under the current proposal, the payments will go to people like sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers, road crew workers, human services specialists and park rangers, as well as Snohomish County superior and district court employees.

► From KNKX — Alarm grows as more test positive for COVID-19 at ICE detention center in Tacoma — Immigrant rights activists are sounding the alarm over the greater number of detainees testing positive for the coronavirus at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Tacoma, as more and more people are transferred to the Pacific Northwest from the southern border.

► From the AP — Voodoo Doughnut fires workers who walked out during Oregon heat wave, employees say — Three Voodoo Doughnut workers who went on strike, saying their Oregon shop had become too hot during a record heat wave, now say they’ve been fired for skipping work.




► From the Seattle Times — Capital-gains tax will help fund child care and allow parents to get back to work (by Treasure Mackley) — Fair Start for Kids and other programs are funded because lawmakers in Washington state are finally requiring the wealthy to start paying what they owe through a tax on capital-gains profits. By taking bold action to reform our tax code, legislators are choosing to accelerate a long-term, equitable recovery for all of our communities. Thanks to those elected leaders, moms like Patty and I are breathing a sigh of relief when they hear that more options for affordable child care are coming soon.

► From the Seattle Times — Toll rates likely to rise at Tacoma Narrows, Seattle tunnel — Travelers will probably pay 25 cents more this fall to enter the eastbound Tacoma Narrows Bridge and Seattle’s downtown Highway 99 tunnel.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Ransomware attack may have exposed information on over 16,000 workers, state says — Sensitive information on over 16,000 workers may have been exposed in a ransomware attack on a Renton market research company’s data system.




► From the Columbian — Herrera Beutler picks partisanship over truth (editorial) — After spending recent months valiantly standing up for truth, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler has retreated into embarrassing partisanship. In defending her vote against investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, Herrera Beutler failed to mention that Republicans have persistently blocked efforts to reveal the truth about an egregious attack on American democracy. And with that failure, she has abdicated the high ground she staked out and defended in recent months. Southwest Washington deserves a full defense of this nation and full accounting of a historic act of domestic terrorism. Instead, Herrera Beutler has opted to retreat.

► From the Washington Post — Welcome to the year of wage hikes. Workers are returning — to higher-paying firms. — In the past three months, rank-and-file employees have seen some of the fastest wage growth since the early 1980s, as employers desperate to get workers back into restaurants, ballparks and plants are offering perks such as more time off, free food and higher pay to entice them to return.

► From Politico — Workers are reaping benefits in the post-COVID economy. But their power may not last. — Without significant structural changes — including legislation aimed at increasing workers’ bargaining power — the labor market will return to normal in a matter of months, handing the balance of power back to employers where it has been trending for decades, economists and worker advocates say. The flurry of bonuses is likely to be short-lived, and wage hikes might not have lasting benefits for the next round of hires. “I think the gains of workers will be evanescent,” said Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.), a former labor organizer and a strong voice in Congress for workers. “They will not last.” He added:

“For it to be durable, they’re going to have to regain the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively.”

► From the AP — Biden says teachers deserve ‘a raise, not just praise’ — Speaking to the nation’s largest teachers union (NEA), President Joe Biden said Friday that the pandemic has given America’s parents the “ultimate education” on the challenges of the teaching profession. But even more, he said, the last year has proved that teachers across the U.S. deserve higher pay.

► From Reuters — U.S. lobby groups write battle plan to beat Biden tax hikes — U.S. business lobbying groups cheered a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal, but are gearing up to fight the corporate tax hikes looming in a separate but linked spending bill that Democrats aim to pass without Republican votes. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation and other deep-pocketed lobby groups plan to use the same argument they employed in 2017 to secure huge tax cuts from Republicans: higher corporate taxes equal fewer jobs.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Remember a couple years ago when the CEOs of the Business Roundtable made a big show of redefining the purpose of a corporation to include things like “supporting the communities in which we work.” One way to show that support is to pay some f—ing taxes, especially when that money is spent to build the infrastructure you need to transport your products. We’re looking at YOU, Amazon and Jeff Bezos.

► From The Hill — ‘Program Integrity’ is an Orwellian attack on Social Security beneficiaries (by Nancy Altman) — “Program integrity” is insider-code for saving money. How is money saved? By going after people who have done nothing wrong. By going after people with serious disabilities who must prove over and over again that they are unable to support themselves. By going after people whose benefits Social Security Administration claims were wrongly paid out, often because of mistakes made by SSA itself.




► From KSNT — Frito Lay union workers on strike, picketing outside plant in Topeka — Hundreds of Frito Lay union workers are on strike, with a large group picketing outside the plant Monday morning. More than 500 union workers are expected to take part in the strike. BCTGM Local 218 Union Steward Dan Negrete said the strike represents uncharted territory for Topeka: “Frito Lay has never seen a strike. From my understanding, the whole time Frito Lay has been in Topeka, there’s never been a strike here. The membership, the body at the plant, the environment at the plant has never been this toxic.”

► From ABC 7 Chicago — Cook County nurses approve contract addressing short-staffing, patient care after strike, union says — Cook County Health nurses “overwhelmingly” approved a four-year labor contract Friday after a strike last week. The nurses’ union, National Nurses United, said the contract addresses short-staffing and improves patient care.

► From the NY Times — How Republican laws in Montana could complicate voting for Native Americans — It has been less than a century since Native Americans in the United States gained the right to vote by law, and they never attained the ability to do so easily in practice. New restrictions — ballot collection bans, earlier registration deadlines, stricter voter ID laws and more — are likely to make it harder, and the starkest consequences may be seen in places like Montana: sprawling, sparsely populated Western and Great Plains states where Native Americans have a history of playing decisive roles in close elections. For them, voting in person can mean a two-hour drive.

► From the Seattle Times — Leading fashion retailers face inquiry over suspected ties to forced labor in China — France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into four leading fashion retailers — Inditex, the owner of Zara; Uniqlo; Skechers; and SMCP, which owns brands like Sandro and Maje — over suspicions that they benefited from and concealed “crimes against humanity” by using forced labor by Uyghurs in China.




► From the Washington State Labor Education and Research Center — COVID and workplace safety: Where do we go from here? (video) — For more information, visit See the Labor Center’s report Essential, Precarious, and At Risk: Washington Workers in High Hazard, Low Reward Jobs at the Labor Center’s website.


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

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