Thursday, August 19, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Aug. 19 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 520,733 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 2,672) and 6,297 deaths.
► From the Bellingham Herald — COVID-19 outbreak at Whatcom County Jail spreads to corrections deputies — The Whatcom County Jail in downtown Bellingham has seen a COVID-19 outbreak the past few days that has spread to 10 corrections deputies and one person housed at the jail.
► From The Hill — Texas faces tipping point as COVID-19 spreads — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who is fully vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 this week as deaths in his state from the coronavirus have more than doubled in the last two weeks and hospitals have reached capacity. While Abbott suffered a relatively rare breakthrough infection, less than half the state’s total population is fully vaccinated against the virus, putting them at heavy risk of getting COVID-19.
► From the Washington Post — An Alabama doctor watched patients reject the coronavirus vaccine. Now he’s refusing to treat them. — “If they asked why, I told them COVID is a miserable way to die and I can’t watch them die like that,” the doctor wrote.
VACCINE AND MASK MANDATES
► From the (Everett) Herald — Inslee reinstates indoor mask rule, whether vaxxed or not — Starting Monday, the governor is reimposing a requirement that masks be worn by everybody, regardless of vaccination status, in retail stores, restaurants and other public indoor settings.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The WSLC and various unions in Washington have been calling for reinstatement of this requirement to protect frontline workers who are currently being exposed to the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 at work. Don’t wait until Monday. Respect frontline workers by keeping your mask on!
► From the Spokesman-Review — Inslee: Teachers and staff must receive COVID-19 vaccine by mid-October — All employees in K-12 schools, most child care and early learning centers, and higher education must get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 18 or they may lose their jobs, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday. All K-12 educators, school staff, substitutes coaches, bus drivers, school volunteers and others working in school facilities must get vaccinated as a condition of employment. The requirement includes public, private and charter schools. There will be no option for regular COVID-19 tests instead of vaccination. With few exemptions, Washington’s vaccine requirement for teachers is among the strictest in the nation.
► From the Columbian — Washington teacher union backs vaccination mandate — Following Inslee’s announcement, Larry Delaney, president of the Washington Education Association, said the union supports the recommendations of public health experts to mitigate COVID risks. “We look forward to welcoming our students back in person this fall, but to make that sustainable, we must do everything we can to reduce the possibility of COVID transmission in our schools,” Delaney said. “By vaccinating staff, we reduce the possibility of infecting those who cannot be vaccinated, including our students under 12 years old.”
► From the News Tribune — Tacoma schools, teachers’ union move to comply with Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine order — Shannon Ergun, president of the Tacoma Education Association, said the union will work with all members to ensure they have access to resources to get vaccinated or provide documentation for an exemption.
► From the Olympian — Thurston County workers may have to get vaccinated or test weekly to retain their jobs
► From the Spokesman-Review — Washington Supreme Court mandates COVID-19 vaccines for workers, encourages lower courts to do same
► From the Seattle Times — Hundreds in Tri-Cities, Olympia protest Washington mandates on masks, COVID vaccines — What began as about 40 people at a “Freedom of Choice” demonstration outside the Benton Franklin Health District in the afternoon grew to several hundred people waving signs at the school district offices by Wednesday evening. In Olympia, protesters arrived at the Capitol on Wednesday with signs that read “No jab,” “Unmask our kids” and “Liberty over tyranny.”
► From the Tri-City Herald — ‘My body, my choice,’ doesn’t work with COVID. The unvaxxed are harming WA citizens (editorial) — Tri-Citians embracing the “my body, my choice” mantra as a way to justify their refusal to get the COVID vaccine are destroying people’s lives. There, we said it. Unless you are living in isolation, this “choice” is the reason Tri-City COVID cases are soaring.
► MUST-READ from Politico — Why so many holdouts still won’t get vaxxed — and why we should learn to live with it (by Jack Shafer) — People offer a grab-bag of reasons for resisting COVID vaccination. We can agree that these excuses are paper-thin. Yet reluctance to get vaxxed seems to be built into many vaccination programs in the United States, including vaccines for the flu, shingles, hepatitis, polio and others. No matter what vaccine is packed into the syringe, no matter the quality of persuasion and education applied, most vaccines hit a ceiling well below 100 percent of the U.S. population… Realism requires us to accept — though not salute — deadenders who have burrowed deeply into their tunnels. Some people will never surrender their lost causes.
► From Vox — Some companies are mandating vaccines — but not for front-line workers — Thus far, companies like Walmart, McDonald’s, Uber and Lyft have been much keener to require vaccinations of white-collar workers than of front-line workers, many of whom were declared “essential” during the pandemic. This yet again drives home the divisions and inequities exposed among America’s workforce during the pandemic. “The reality is that the goal of a business, the goal of a company, is not the same as public health,” said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an epidemiologist at the University of California San Francisco. “A fundamental tenet in protecting public health is ensuring that those who are most vulnerable, namely front-line workers, are going to be protected.”
► From The Hill — Biden administration to require vaccination of all nursing home staff — Biden on Wednesday said his administration will require nursing home staff across the country to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and will withhold Medicare and Medicaid funding from those facilities that don’t comply.
► From the Washington Post — Biden orders Education Department to take action against governors who ban school mask mandates — Biden ordered Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday to take action against governors who have banned universal masking in public schools, taking a tough stand against those who he said are trying to “block and intimidate” local schools officials.
It was an eventful day of action at Cascade Behavioral Health!
Our chants are only getting louder on week 3 of our strike for safety. Meanwhile, management’s lack of respect was on full display: they installed a privacy fence & attempted to intimidate us with police presence. pic.twitter.com/rQXef5IUvg
— SEIU Healthcare 1199NW (@SEIU1199NW) August 19, 2021
The Stand (Aug. 16) — Labor Secretary meets with Cascade workers on safety
The Stand (Aug. 13) — Sign the petition: Cascade safety matters!
► From the PS Business Journal — Infrastructure bill could bring in billions for Puget Sound-area port projects — The trillion-dollar infrastructure package up for consideration in the U.S. House next week could inject billions into the Puget Sound’s ports and airports, including funds to speed up electrification projects at the Port of Seattle.
► From the NW Labor Press — Nabisco workers strike around the nation — It’s been a long time coming. Provoked by round after round of demands by Nabisco for concessions, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union reached a breaking point. At noon on Aug. 10, members of Bakers Local 364 walked off the job and began a 24-hour-a-day picket line on the sidewalk outside the Portland Nabisco bakery at 100 NE Columbia Boulevard in Portland. “They walked out of there with huge smiles on their faces because they’ve been wanting to fight back against this company for a long time,” said Local 364 business agent Cameron Taylor. Members of Bakers Local 26 at a Nabisco distribution center in Aurora, Colorado, joined the strike Aug. 12. On Aug. 16, the strike spread to Local 358 at the Nabisco bakery in Richmond, Virginia. The flagship Chicago bakery could be next.
EDITOR’S NOTE — A Solidarity Rally is planned from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 21 for the striking Nabisco workers in Portland on the picket line at 100 NE Columbia. Get details.
► From the NW Labor Press — Kaiser Permanente unions shocked by two-tier wage proposal — Is Kaiser Permanente’s reputation as an industry-leading model union employer about to end? Maybe, judging by an Aug. 5 union contract bargaining session, in which management proposed to pay future new hires dramatically lower wages. “We are stunned by Kaiser’s offer,” said Kaiser Permanente RN Jodi Barschow, president of Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), which represents about 4,000 Kaiser nurses, health techs, and physician assistants in Oregon. “After what we have been through these past few years, this is insulting to both to our healthcare workers and the communities who rely on them for care.”
► From the Stranger — Washington’s public long term care program is good, actually, and you should opt in (by Jackie Boschok and Summer Stinson) — Why is this new fund needed? Because the current default system to pay for long-term care — spend down your savings until you have nothing left, and then move over to the state’s Medicaid program — doesn’t work. And that default system is only for the fortunate who have savings to begin with. … We can and should continue to redefine and reexamine ways to provide appropriate and necessarily long-term care, and to support the people who are willing to do the work. Anything less, and we default to the national status quo: a fiscally irresponsible and morally unconscionable path to poverty.
► From the News Tribune — About to lose unemployment benefits next month? Washington won’t keep the program going — Major federally funded unemployment programs expire on the week ending Sept. 4. That means as many as 200,000 Washington residents will lose their weekly benefits, which can now be as high as $929.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Our duty and privilege to accept Afghan refugees (editorial) — Among the organizations seeking volunteers and support in welcoming refugees in the state is Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. It is specifically looking for volunteers in Western Washington to serve as sponsors for refugee families. For all the tragedy that has accompanied the United States’ war in Afghanistan — in particular the chaos and calamity now playing out at the airport in Kabul — some good can still come.
The Stand (Aug. 18) — Check in with union veterans amid crisis in Afghanistan
► From Reuters — GM workers in Mexico defeat union in first test of U.S. trade deal — Workers at a General Motors pickup plant in the central Mexican city of Silao have voted to scrap their collective contract, opening the door for them to oust one of Mexico’s largest labor organizations as their union in a historic move. Many of the nearly 6,500 unionized workers at the plant said their union protects the company’s interests over their own. This week’s vote opens the door for them to bring in new representation. The vote marks the first major test of labor rules under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Such votes are required at unionized workplaces across Mexico under a labor reform that underpins USMCA labor rules and is geared at eliminating so-called sweetheart contracts between business-friendly unions and companies.
The Stand (Dec. 10, 2019) — AFL-CIO endorses USMCA after negotiating labor improvements
► From U.S. News & World Report — Automaker FCA US admits paying off union leaders; fined $30M — Automaker FCA US has been fined $30 million after admitting that it paid off leaders of the United Auto Workers to try to win concessions in negotiations covering thousands of factory workers. (FCA stands for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which now is part of Stellantis, a company created by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Peugeot.)
► From the Wall Street Journal — Amazon plans to open large retail locations akin to department stores — The plan to launch large stores will mark a new expansion for the online-shopping pioneer into bricks-and-mortar retail, an area Amazon has long disrupted. Some of the first Amazon department stores are expected to be located in Ohio and California, sources said.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.