Thursday, September 2, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Sept. 2 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 567,104 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 3,322) and 6,611 deaths.
► From Q13 Fox — Mask fatigue growing as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations climb in Washington — As COVID-19 cases climb higher and higher across many cities in Washington, medical experts insist masks are part of the solution. While the state is under a mask mandate, not everyone is wearing them.
EDITOR’S NOTE — You may only be in public spaces for a few minutes, but the people who work there are exposed to COVID-19 infection all day long. Even if you don’t worry about your health enough to obey the mask mandate, wear it anyway out of respect for frontline workers.
► From the News Tribune — Mask study with more than 340,000 subjects shows how facial coverings prevent spread of COVID-19 — A new study from Bangladesh that featured more than 340,000 subjects across 600 villages shows the important role masks play in preventing the spread of COVID-19. It is the largest trial that tests the effectiveness of medical masks since the pandemic began last year. The results demonstrate a larger-scale scenario that can’t be mimicked in smaller settings.
MASK AND VACCINE MANDATES
► From the (Longview) Daily News — PeaceHealth places unvaccinated staff on unpaid leave Wednesday, prompting unfair labor charge — As of Wednesday, more than 94% of PeaceHealth caregivers had met the employer’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements and those who did not were placed on unpaid leave, according to the organization. Those placed on leave may return to work if they adhere to the vaccination policy and provide documentation of vaccination. The Washington State Nurses Association on Aug. 20 filed an unfair labor practice against PeaceHealth because of it’s “unilateral decision” to place workers who received a medical or religious exemption on leave without bargaining with the union.
► From the Economic Policy Institute — Bargaining over COVID-19 vaccine requirements doesn’t mean unions oppose mandates — Unions across the country are working on doing what’s right for society and their members when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. But there has been some misplaced criticism directed toward unions, especially public-sector unions who engage in “impact bargaining” with their employer over COVID-19 vaccine mandates. This bargaining isn’t about refusing to follow mandates, it’s about how changes are implemented and how they impact working conditions.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Vaccine mandate deadlines fast approaching — To comply with governor’s order, first shots are needed as soon as Sept. 6.
► From the Wenatchee World — Sheriff pulls school resource officers from schools, says vaccine mandate infringes on their rights — As the K-12 school year began this week, Sheriff Brian Burnett has pulled school resource officers from four Chelan County school districts.
► From the NY Times — We work at the ACLU. Here’s what we think about vaccine mandates. (by David Cole and ) — Do vaccine mandates violate civil liberties? Some who have refused vaccination claim as much. We disagree.
► From Bloomberg — Most employers say vaccine mandates are possible by end of year — A majority of U.S. employers — 52% — are planning or considering requirements for a Covid-19 shot by the end of the year, according to a survey released Wednesday. That’s more than double the 21% of companies polled that currently have some form of mandate.
► From the NW Labor Press — Vancouver’s daily newspaper moves to get rid of its union — Nearly two years after journalists unionized at The Columbian, the Vancouver newspaper’s owner says most workers in the heavily downsized bargaining unit don’t want to be in the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild any more. That follows 21 months of supposed negotiations in which the paper’s chief negotiator — Nashville attorney Michael Zinser — stone-walled the union bargaining team. The Columbian refused to agree to any union proposal, and proposed to continue its current $17 an hour rate for all reporters, a rate that hasn’t increased in the last three years.
► From the Seattle Times — Yakima County, Seattle-based OneAmerica settle lawsuit alleging disenfranchisement of Latino voters — The Yakima County Commission is divided into three districts and candidates are selected by voters only in their respective district in primary elections. But that changes in general elections, when all three commission seats become at-large and subject to countywide selection. That would change under the settlement, Seattle-based OneAmerica said.
► From the Yakima H-R — Latinos in Yakima will reach unseen political representation in 2022 as settlement remakes districts — Latinos soon will reach an unseen level of political representation here thanks to a settlement reached with Yakima County over alleged violations of the Voting Rights Act, said former Yakima City Councilwoman Dulce Gutiérrez. “We are one step closer to a real democracy, one that we and our children deserve,” she said.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Hanford workers ordered to ‘take cover’ near former plutonium processing plant — The take cover order was issued after two work crews at the REDOX facility in the 200 West Area noticed an unusual odor, said Hanford officials. During a take cover alert, workers are told to go inside the nearest facility and close windows and doors.
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle Children’s pledges to earn back trust and increase focus on diversity, following inquiry into racial disparities — The hospital’s release of a 21-page action plan comes as Seattle Children’s continues to feel the sting from the November resignation of a highly regarded pediatrician, who cited institutional racism as the reason for his exit. The wave of public criticism that followed included a months-long independent investigation into the hospital’s policies and practices. The result came Wednesday, with the hospital telling the community how it will do better.
The Stand (Jan. 6) — WSNA, others call on Seattle Children’s to address racism
► From the Seattle Times — Amazon looks to hire 12,500 corporate and tech employees in Seattle, more than in any other city — The company’s hiring plans offer a degree of rebuke to concerns from business groups that Seattle’s JumpStart payroll tax, which took effect this year, could prompt large employers like Amazon to leave the city.
► From the Seattle Times — ‘Most days I’m really over it’: Restaurants have reopened, but restaurant workers are struggling more than ever — Food service work has always been notorious for long hours, short breaks and hard working conditions, but it’s gotten even harder during the pandemic. Many restaurant workers in Seattle are exhausted, working extra hard to make up for staff shortages, unable to take days off with nobody to cover shifts.
► From KING 5 — Seattle Public Schools navigates food worker shortage as students return — Seattle Public Schools is looking to hire at least 67 workers in its culinary services department but says meal service will be fully operational.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER
► From the NW Labor Press — Nationwide Nabisco strike intensifies — The strike that began Aug. 10 at the Portland Nabisco bakery is turning into a closely watched nationwide struggle against corporate greed. Joining Portland, other members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco, and Grain Millers (BCTGM) shut down Nabisco bakeries in Richmond, Va., on Aug. 16 and Chicago on Aug. 19, as well as distribution centers near Denver and Atlanta. All told about 1,000 BCTGM members are on strike.
TAKE A STAND — Join striking BCTGM members at Nabisco’s Portland facility for a Solidarity Rally on Saturday, Sept. 4 from 10 a.m. to noon at 100 NE Columbia. Get details.
► From the Columbian — Trump endorses Joe Kent, Republican challenger to Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted for impeachment — In a statement, Trump praised Kent, a retired Special Forces officer and Gold Star husband, as “a warrior for the America First agenda” and disparaged Herrera Beutler for backing “the Democrats’ impeachment scam.”
► From the Seattle Times — State’s new policing reforms causing confusion, mental health responders say
► From the NY Times — Supreme Court, breaking silence, won’t block Texas abortion law — The Supreme Court refused just before midnight on Wednesday to block a Texas law prohibiting most abortions, less than a day after it took effect and became the most restrictive abortion measure in the nation. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent. The ruling was certain to fuel the hopes of abortion opponents and fears of abortion rights advocates as the court takes up a separate case in its new term this fall to decide whether Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to the procedure, should be overruled. It also left Texas abortion providers turning away patients as they scrambled to comply with the law, which prohibits abortions after roughly six weeks.
► From Vox — What banning abortion at 6 weeks really means — Texas’s so-called heartbeat law bans nearly all abortions.
EDITOR’S NOTE — With the 2019 passage of Resolution #31, “the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, affirms that reproductive rights are workers’ rights and will defend and support efforts to obtain and maintain health care for working people covering all reproductive rights choices.”
► From the Washington Post — The Supreme Court aids and abets Texas in violating women’s constitutional rights (By Ruth Marcus) — Congratulations, Texas, you did it. You figured out a way to write an antiabortion law that everyone agrees is unconstitutional under current law — and to ensure that the women whose rights are being violated don’t have the ability to challenge it in court. And a five-justice Supreme Court majority, instead of slapping down this end run around the Constitution and the judicial process, is happily aiding and abetting it.
► From the NW Labor Press — Union group warns of serious flaws in federal pension rescue program — For years, union leaders have pleaded with Congress to shore up multiemployer pension plans that became severely underfunded despite the best efforts of union and employer trustees. So when that rescue passed as part of the American Rescue Plan in March, there was celebration. But now several union and retiree groups say the rules the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released July 9 to implement the rescue fall well short of what Congress intended.
► From Politico — Democrats race to resolve House-Senate disputes on $3.5T megabill — Democrats are hustling to finalize their gigantic social spending plan during the dog days of summer recess, wary they will blow their target date to finish as Congress faces a crush of deadlines later this month. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered committee leaders to battle it out with their Senate counterparts to resolve all major disputes this week on what will be included in the up-to-$3.5 trillion bill. But wide gulfs remain between the House and Senate on central pieces of the package, including expanding Medicare, shoring up Obamacare, raising taxes and curbing carbon emissions.
► From Politico — Drug industry banks on its COVID clout to halt Dems’ push on prices — Major pharmaceutical companies are citing their role in fighting the pandemic as they lobby against Democrats’ bid to overhaul prescription drug policy.
► From Reuters — D.C. Circuit rejects NLRB’s limits on contractor picketing — A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday threw out the NLRB’s restrictive Trump-era test for determining when property owners can bar onsite contractors’ employees from picketing, saying it arbitrarily excludes some workers and not others.
► From the Institute for Women’s Policy Research — Stronger together: Union membership boosts women’s earnings and economic security — A powerful force for change in the workforce, labor unions bring transparency to pay negotiations, help employees secure overtime wages, and grant them greater protections. A new IWPR report finds that in every state, unionized women out earn women in non-union jobs — an essential wage advantage that would increase women’s economic security following the pandemic-induced “she-cession.” It shares insights on the ways unions narrow gender wage gaps and improve economic security for all women. It also discusses the union advantage and what that means in terms of increased wages to pay rent. The report concludes with policy recommendations to promote women’s access to quality, high-paying union jobs to ensure an equitable recovery that centers all women.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Are you ready to get the benefits of unionization? Find out 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 AP — U.S. jobless claims reach a pandemic low as hiring strengthens — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 340,000, a pandemic low and another sign that the job market is steadily rebounding from the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
TODAY at The Stand — Expanded jobless benefits expire this week. Here’s what to know.
► From the Seattle Times — ‘The algorithm fired me’: California bill takes on Amazon’s notorious work culture — The bill, the first such legislation in the nation, would require warehouses to disclose quotas and work speed metrics to employees and government agencies. It would ban “time off task” penalties that affect health and safety, including bathroom use, and prohibit retaliation against workers who complain.
► From The Hill — It’s not a labor shortage — it’s a wage and workers rights shortage (by Lane Windham) — As we approach Labor Day, America’s working people are deep into a protracted general strike. Millions are refusing to go back into low-wage, no benefits jobs that require they abandon dignity and rights at the workplace door. Their struggle has brewed for 40 years as wages stagnated, benefits vanished and public policy offered working families little reprieve. Employers complain that too few people are returning to work, but America’s “labor shortage” is really a shortage of good wages and workers rights on the job.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.