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Dire, untenable | Mandate bargaining | Forgive Dan his debts | USPS shorts

Tuesday, August 31, 2021




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Aug. 31 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 559,762 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 3,214) and 6,534 deaths.

► From the Bellingham Herald — Hospital officials, on front line of COVID, issue dire warnings about WA’s medical system — Hospital officials from across Washington state sounded the alarm again Monday on COVID hospitalizations reaching crisis points in several areas of the state. “None of our critically ill patients were vaccinated,” said Dr. Mark Johnson of Confluence Health in Wenatchee. “This is untenable.”

MORE local coverage of rising hospitalizations in the (Aberdeen) Daily World, Bellingham Herald, Olympian, Peninsula Daily News, Skagit Valley Herald, and Wenatchee World.

► From the AP — WA hospitals seeing more more pregnant COVID patients — “We’re seeing ICU admissions, maternal deaths, babies born prematurely either to help the mother breathe or rescue the baby,” said Dr. Tanya Sorensen, the executive medical director of women’s health at Swedish Health Services. “It’s really heartbreaking. … Pregnant women need to be vaccinated.”

► From the News Tribune — Tacoma area hospitals turning to tents amid surge

► From The Guardian — Oregon counties request trucks for bodies as COVID overwhelms morgues — Two Oregon counties are running out of space to hold bodies amid an intense surge in cases that is overwhelming the state’s healthcare system, forcing authorities to request refrigerated trucks to help handle the overflow.

► From the Yakima H-R — Yakima County jail responds to another COVID-19 outbreak with 20 inmates infected as of Monday




► From the Spokesman-Review — As vaccine mandate deadline draws near, unions hurry to reach bargaining deals — Unions for affected employees are in the process of bargaining over issues like time off for vaccines, exemptions and help from the state on vaccinating its employees. But for the largest union representing state employees, the question about their ability to bargain the vaccine mandate in contract talks with the governor’s office may be decided in court. The Washington State Federation of State Employees filed a lawsuit last week against Gov. Jay Inslee claiming the governor’s office had not bargained in good faith over the requirement that all state employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18… Since filing the lawsuit, WFSE spokesman Justin Lee said the state has sent counter-proposals to the union’s bargaining team, who are currently reviewing them. If an agreement is not met, the union is asking a court to delay implementation of the mandate until negotiations are finished. Failing to do so would cause the employees represented by the union to be “irreparably harmed,” according to the suit.

The Stand (Aug. 30) — WFSE sues state over failure to bargain effects of mandate — WFSE President Mike Yestramski:

“Our union’s top priority is health and safety—for staff and the public we serve. That is why we need the state to make a good faith effort to bargain and to really think through how they’re going to implement this mandate in a safe, fair and consistent manner.”

The Stand (Aug. 9) — WSLC outlines position on vaccine mandates

► From KOMO — Courtroom challenge for COVID vaccine mandate for state workers to be heard this week

► From the Walla Walla U-B — Could Walla Walla and Columbia counties lose 20% of EMS personnel over vaccine rule? Leaders are worried

► From the Oregonian — Portland to city employees: Get vaccine or lose your job — Those who fail to meet the Oct. 18 deadline “will be put on a list for separation from employment,” according to the letter.

► From The Hill — Percentage of Americans who say they won’t get vaccinated drops to record low in new poll — The Axios-Ipsos poll found 20 percent of Americans said they either are not very likely or not likely at all to receive a vaccine. That represents a new low in the survey and is down from a combined 34 percent in March and 23 percent two weeks ago.

► From the Washington Post — Missourians packed into a city council meeting to fight a mask mandate. One of the attendees now has COVID.




► From the Seattle Times — With moratorium on utility shut-offs ending soon, Washington officials urge customers to make a plan — Washington officials are urging people who are behind on water and energy bills to check in with their utility companies before the state’s temporary moratorium on service shut-offs ends next month. The moratorium has been in place since April 2020, when Gov. Jay Inslee ordered a halt to disconnections as the state restricted commerce and social activities to curb the spread of COVID-19. The moratorium on disconnections for electricity, water and natural gas services is scheduled to end Sept. 30, which is also the same day a temporary ban on evictions for unpaid rent in Washington is set to lift.

EDITOR’S NOTE — To sum up: With COVID hospitalizations and deaths reaching their highest levels ever, the government is cutting off COVID unemployment benefits and ending moratoria on evictions and utility cutoffs. Now, get back to work!

► From Crosscut — Why some plan to opt out of new WA long-term care insurance — Thousands are turning to private insurers for care plans in order to avoid paying a new tax.




► From the PSBJ — Aerospace industry bracing for wave of consolidation among suppliers — Analysts say smaller firms that have struggled under lower production rates during the pandemic are expected to feel the pressure to consolidate. With the Boeing Co. forecasting a gradual return to production of 31 737 Max jets per month by early 2022, suppliers are eager to complete deals sooner rather than later to lock in cost synergies, said Cai von Rumohr, senior aerospace research analyst for Cowen.

► From The Hill — Air travel declined in August amid Delta variant fears

► From the Seattle Times — Some airlines starting to ban fabric face masks




► From the AP — Ida’s aftermath: No power, no flights, scant drinking water

► From the AP — California fire approaches Lake Tahoe after mass evacuation




► From HuffPost — Republicans pledge to oppose paying debts they voted for — In an open letter, more than 100 House Republicans say they won’t vote for a debt limit increase, falsely suggesting that Democrats are entirely responsible for the debt. Democrats are responsible for new spending, but so are Republicans, who have voted for new spending and tax cuts that contributed to the government’s borrowing needs.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Rep. Dan Newhouse is the only member of Washington’s congressional delegation who signed this letter.

► From The Hill — Biden has canceled over $9 billion in student loan debt — The agency confirmed the new top-line figure upon its recent announcement detailing its cancellation of $1.1 billion in debt for 115,000 borrowers that attended ITT Technical Institute, which is now defunct.




► From the AP — USPS has shorted some workers’ pay for years, CPI finds — The Postal Service regularly cheats mail carriers out of their pay, according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation. Managers at hundreds of post offices around the country have illegally underpaid hourly workers for years, arbitrators and federal investigators have found. Private arbitration records tell part of the story. From 2010 to 2019, at least 250 managers in 60 post offices were caught changing mail carriers’ time cards to show them working fewer hours, resulting in unpaid wages, according to a batch of arbitration award summaries obtained by Public Integrity for cases filed by one of the three major postal unions. Supervisors found to be cheating were rarely disciplined — often receiving only a warning or more training. In four cities, arbitration documents show, post office managers continued to alter time cards after promising union leaders they would stop.

► From the Seattle Times — Starbucks faces rare union challenge. Here’s what sparked the call for a vote. — “They could fix this or that issue, but there are always new things coming up,” said Brian Murray, a barista at a Starbucks in Buffalo. “The only way to have those resolved in the future is having a union, having democracy in the workplace.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Want democracy in your workplace? 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!

► From the (Utica, NY) Observer-Dispatch — Student workers at Hamilton College to vote on unionization, possibly a national first — In what could be a national first, students working in the Hamilton College admissions office are trying to unionize. The campus tour guides and senior admissions fellows (who interview prospective students and provide comment for their files), all undergraduates, have filed a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board.

► From the People’s World — Ohio workers resist Cenovus non-union outsourcing of 3,000 oil refinery jobs — Last week, workers gathered in the summer heat to protest the decision of Cenovus, owner of a large oil refinery in Lima, Ohio, to bring in around 3,000 workers from outside Ohio to work on the facility during its scheduled maintenance shutdown. In the past, this work has been contracted to local or Ohio workers, most of whom are in unions that guarantee a living wage and benefits. The move to bring in non-union workers, mostly from Texas, has thousands of Lima residents who’ve been working at the plant for years, some for generations, asking what they’re supposed to do for work.

► From the Las Vegas Review-Journal — Nevada AFL-CIO elects first woman, Latina executive secretary-treasurer — Assemblywoman Susie Martinez (D-Las Vegas) will effectively be the head of organized labor in Nevada after a history-making vote last week. Martinez is the first woman and the first Latina to take on the role of executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada AFL-CIO.

► From 48 Hills — ‘It’s always been there:’ Dolores Huerta speaks out on racism and Jim Crow — At 91, United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta continues to be a powerful voice in her quest to help develop leaders and advocate for the working poor, women, and children. According to the Dolores Huerta Foundation website, “she travels across the country engaging in campaigns and influencing legislation that supports equality and defends civil rights. She often speaks to students and organizations about issues of social justice and public policy.”




► Over half of those living in Yakima are Latino. Their elected representatives are still overwhelmingly white. A 2020 voting rights lawsuit reveals the entrenchment of decades of political discrimination and follows the efforts of Latino community organizers — including Dulce Gutiérrez, the WSLC’s Union, Community & Naturalization Organizer — and farm workers who hold onto hope for change. Through verité scenes amongst the apple orchards and archival footage from local city council meetings, A Valley Divided portrays the two sides of a small agricultural town. The divided community holds up a mirror to the larger story of a changing United States.

Here’s the film’s trailer:


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

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!