Grocery strike looms | Low-wage solar farms | Listen to Lenny

Friday, July 16, 2021




► From the News Tribune — Strike threat looms over PNW Safeway, Fred Meyer as contracts set to expire — Safeway and Fred Meyer shoppers might want to get their groceries ahead of Sunday. That’s when workers could take action if an agreement isn’t reached soon between Teamsters representing drivers and distribution workers and the grocers. More than 1,000 grocery warehouse workers and drivers at Safeway and Fred Meyer are on the brink of taking strike authorization votes this weekend if progress isn’t made in contract talks.

The Stand (July 15) — Teamsters gear up for possible strike at Fred Meyer, Safeway — Major grocery contracts expire this weekend. Over 1,000 warehouse workers and drivers will take strike authorization votes on Saturday and Sunday.

► From the Bellingham Herald — These striking Bellingham workers return to work as negotiations continue — More than 100 employees at Bellingham Cold Storage have decided to end a two-week strike and return to work. Workers returned to work on Thursday, July 15, according to a statement from Bellingham Cold Storage. The two sides will continue to negotiate a new contract, something they’ve been working on since November, before the workers decided to strike on July 1.

The Stand (July 15) — BCS strike ends as Teamsters offer to return to work

► From the (Everett) Herald — All grocery store workers deserve hazard pay boost (letter to the editor) — There is no good reason why employers shouldn’t want to pay their employees hazard pay, let alone required.

► From KIRO 7 — Workers in local drag scene try to unionize after pandemic

► From KUOW — Tacoma detention center get federal warning after chemicals impact detainee health

► From The Needling — Councilmember Mosqueda recounts harrowing escape from Seattle Times endorsement — Family and friends of Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda are still counting their blessings tonight after the dedicated labor rights leader narrowly escaped a disastrous Seattle Times Editorial Board endorsement this week. “As an incumbent for citywide Council Position 8 with no real competition, I have to say I was absolutely terrified that I was completely stuck getting endorsed by an overpaid group of crotchety, white conservatives this city’s been rolling its eyes at for ages,” said Councilmember Mosqueda, still shaking off the jitters on her front porch. “Thankfully, I had just enough experience successfully fighting for fair compensation and corporate taxes in my back pocket to narrowly avert disaster. I guess that stuff really spooks a company that openly tells its unionized newsroom staff ‘we don’t aspire to pay living wages.’”

EDITOR’S NOTE — But Mosqueda didn’t escape the endorsement of MLK Labor! Check out the CLC endorsements for the Primary Election, and when you get that ballot, VOTE!




► From the Seattle Times — Red Apple fire grows to 11,000 acres, evacuation orders in place — The fire picked up rapidly overnight Wednesday as it advanced down the foothills toward homes — growing to 11,000 acres Thursday and just 10% contained, according to state and local agencies. Residents of more than 1,500 homes remained under various evacuation notifications Thursday, but Warner Canyon was the only area still at Level 3.

► From the Seattle Times — Chuweah Creek fire grows to 34,280 acres

► From KXLY — More Spokane roads are buckling under the extreme heat

► From the NY Times — Work injuries tied to heat are vastly undercounted, study finds — Extreme heat causes many times more workplace injuries than official records capture, and those injuries are concentrated among the poorest workers, new research suggests, the latest evidence of how climate change worsens inequality. Hotter days don’t just mean more cases of heat stroke, but also injuries from falling, being struck by vehicles or mishandling machinery, the data show, leading to an additional 20,000 workplace injuries each year in California alone. The data suggest that heat increases workplace injuries by making it harder to concentrate.

► From The Guardian — ‘We’re not animals, we’re human beings’: U.S. farm workers labor in deadly heat with few protections — The climate crisis is endangering farm workers around the U.S. who work outside in excessive heat throughout the year without any federal protections from heat exposure in the workplace.




► From the Tri-City Herald — Tri-Cities doctors sound alarm over COVID. Cases, hospital use up dramatically — The highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 is dramatically increasing the spread of the coronavirus through the Tri-Cities as vaccine rates remain low, say officials at the Benton Franklin Health District.

► From the Spokesman-Review — The pandemic surges again in Walla Walla, sounding an alarm (by Shawn Vestal) — The high numbers in Walla Walla County reveal – again – that the pandemic has split in two. The vaccinated world has reason to feel good about declining case rates, hospitalizations and deaths; the unvaccinated world is still living in the same pandemic they were before the advent of the vaccines. The trouble is that these worlds overlap. Our case numbers nationwide are heading up again, bolstered by the unvaccinated.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Please get vaccinated. Visit Washington state’s Vaccine Locator to find vaccine appointments near you.

► From the News Tribune — COVID outbreaks more than doubled in WA state schools in April and May, report shows — A total of 301 COVID‐19 outbreaks occurred in K‐12 schools between August 2020 and May, according to the latest report updated by the Washington State Department of Health on June 30. A total of 1,139 cases was associated with the outbreaks. More students began returning to in-person learning around this time.




► From Bloomberg — FAA orders inspections of Boeing 737 cabin air sensors — More than 2,500 Boeing Co. 737 jets in the U.S. will have to be inspected after the company and regulators discovered a potential flaw in a pressure switch that could lead to pilots becoming incapacitated.




► From Roll Call — Crime victims bill logjam ends; may go to Biden’s desk next week — On the same day groups like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence urged members to light up senators’ phone lines, email addresses and Twitter feeds with calls for action, Democratic and Republican leaders in that chamber reached agreement late Wednesday to take up House-passed legislation to give the Crime Victims Fund a financial boost. Sources familiar with the matter expect that vote to occur next week.

The Stand (July 14) — Day of action: Urge senators to approve VOCA Fix Act

► From The Hill — Trouble: IRS funding snags bipartisan infrastructure deal — A bipartisan group of Senate negotiators is looking to replace a proposal to provide $40 billion in new funding for the IRS, which is projected to net $100 billion in new revenues through tougher tax enforcement, because the idea is drawing heat from conservatives.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Nevermind actually raising taxes on them. Just making sure that rich people and corporations pay their existing taxes is a bridge too far for the senators they sponsor.

► From Politico — Senate nears pivotal vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal that’s still unwritten — Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will tee up a vote on the agreement as its authors race to turn a framework into text.

► From Politico — Democrats launch immigration reform Hail Mary — Top Democrats, with the support of the White House, are planning to tuck a handful of immigration measures into their forthcoming $3.5 trillion spending bill. The tactic — which just months ago seemed like a long shot even to liberals — is now widely seen as President Joe Biden’s best shot at confronting one of Washington’s policy leviathans and delivering on a decades-long party promise.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Great news. Now how about tucking in a little PRO Act?

► From the Washington Post — Worried about illegal immigration? Create more legal immigrants. (by Catherine Rampell) — The country needs more immigration pathways that are fair, humane, fast, adequately screened, with clear and consistent eligibility criteria, and deliberately crafted to be in the country’s economic and national security interests. Such an overhaul requires an act of Congress, which has refused to do its duty for decades.

► From the Washington Post — Rep. Joyce Beatty arrested during voting rights protest at Senate office building — Beatty, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and several other demonstrators called on Senate Democrats to scrap the filibuster.




► From the NY Times — Building solar farms may not build the middle class — On its current trajectory, the green economy is shaping up to look less like the industrial workplace that lifted workers into the middle class in the 20th century than something more akin to an Amazon warehouse or a fleet of Uber drivers: grueling work schedules, few unions, middling wages and limited benefits. Building an electricity plant powered by fossil fuels usually requires hundreds of electricians, pipe fitters, millwrights and boilermakers who typically earn more than $100,000 a year in wages and benefits when they are unionized. But on solar farms, workers are often nonunion construction laborers who earn an hourly wage in the upper teens with modest benefits — even as the projects are backed by some of the largest investment firms in the world. “The clean tech industry is incredibly anti-union,” said Jim Harrison, the director of renewable energy for the Utility Workers Union of America. “It’s a lot of transient work, work that is marginal, precarious and very difficult to be able to organize.”

► From the NY Times — They risked their lives during COVID. They still don’t earn minimum wage. — Surveys of food deliverers and others who work for app-based services illustrate the hazards they have faced during the pandemic.




► A pubic service announcement from The Entire Staff of The Stand™ — Look. We know you don’t have to wear a mask when you go into stores or other indoor public spaces that don’t require one. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. You are only going to be in there for a few minutes, but think about all the people who work there for several hours a day. Even if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as a sign of respect to those frontline workers who continue to face exposure to the virus and its variants on a daily basis, just wear the thing. It’s a small act of solidarity we should all continue practicing. And who knows, you just might protect yourself and your loved ones from getting sick, too. Listen to the nurses. Listen to Lenny.


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

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