Monday, September 13, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Sept. 13 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 597,732 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 3,385) and 6,918 deaths.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Sacred Heart: ‘Everybody in the ICU on a ventilator is not vaccinated’ — Among the four Spokane hospitals, there are 224 COVID-19 patients being treated for the virus. All elective procedures have been halted at the four hospitals, and surgical staff have been diverted to crowded emergency rooms, intensive care units and COVID wards. Wait times are long in emergency rooms, and patients needing higher levels of care from rural surrounding areas are being put on wait lists.
► From the Tri-City Herald — ‘Overwhelming.’ Tri-Cities ICU nurse is seeing very few victories
► From the NY Times — ‘Their crisis’ is ‘our problem’: Washington grapples with Idaho COVID cases — At a time when Washington state’s hospitals are delaying procedures and struggling with their own high caseloads, some leaders in the state see Idaho’s outsourcing of COVID patients as a troubling example of how the failure to aggressively confront the virus in one state can deepen a crisis in another. On the Washington side of the border, residents must wear masks when gathering indoors, students who are exposed to COVID face quarantine requirements, and many workers are under vaccination orders. On the Idaho side, none of those precautions are in place.
► From the (Everett) Herald — A message to the unvaccinated and unmasked (editorial) — If the choice as to whether to wear a mask or get the vaccine truly was only a personal decision, one that affected only the individual, we could let it go. But it’s not only your business; it’s not only your body. The refusal of masks and vaccines — and the increased likelihood of infection that results, the opportunity for an even deadlier variant to develop and the costs and burdens on our hospitals, schools and communities — make it everyone’s business.
► From the Seattle Times — ‘Sophie’s choice, over and over’: Death panels are the new phase of the pandemic (by Danny Westneat) — Hospitals in northern Idaho are so flooded with COVID-19 patients that the state has declared an emergency, called “crisis standards of care.” It means when you show up to the emergency room, you may get treated based preferentially on who is most likely to live. “What about the people who need emergency care but, because of the exploding COVID crisis here, can’t get it?” asked the Coeur d’Alene Press. “Do we just let them die?” The answer to that is: “Yes.” Letting them die is actually the plan. Remember years ago when a tea party debate audience cheered the idea of letting someone without insurance die? What’s happening in Idaho is even worse because it’s so preventable.
► From the Washington Post — Alabama man dies after being turned away from 43 hospitals as COVID packs ICUs, family says — In his obituary, his family is urging those who remain unvaccinated to get immunized to help hospitals that have been pushed to their limits and struggling to treat emergencies not related to the pandemic.
► Friday from the (Everett) Herald — One union OKs deal with state on governor’s vaccine mandate — Washington’s largest union of public service workers has ratified an agreement that provides workers an additional paid day off next year, options for retiring without risk of losing their job and protections against the loss of pay for employees seeking a medical or religious exemption. And workers who are partially vaccinated against COVID-19 by the Oct. 18 deadline set by Inslee will get extra time to comply with the mandate, though it might mean taking time off without pay. In the meantime, tentative agreements have been reached with a coalition of unions representing state ferry workers, the Washington Association of Wildlife Professionals and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, an Inslee spokesman said Friday. Talks are slated this weekend between the Inslee administration and Teamsters 117, whose members include corrections officers.
The Stand (today) — WFSE members ratify vaccine agreement
The Stand (Sept. 2) — Vaccine mandate deadlines fast approaching — Under Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate, Washington state employees; higher education, childcare, and K-12 education employees; state contractors; and most healthcare and long-term care providers who are not yet vaccinated must get their first Pfizer shot TODAY (Sept. 13) and last shot by Oct. 4.
The Stand (Aug. 9) — WSLC outlines position on vaccine mandates
► From the AP — Sweeping new vaccine mandates for 100 million Americans — In his most forceful pandemic actions and words, President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans — private-sector employees as well as health care workers and federal contractors — in an all-out effort to curb the surging COVID-19 delta variant. Speaking at the White House, Biden sharply criticized the tens of millions of Americans who are not yet vaccinated, despite months of availability and incentives.
► From the PS Business Journal — Biden’s vaccine mandate puts Washington’s largest employers in a tough spot — Washington’s two largest private employers, Amazon and Boeing, don’t require proof of vaccination to enter the workplace, but the Biden administration’s announcement Thursday aims to change that. Boeing declined to comment on its plan to address the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. Boeing released a joint statement with SPEEA in the early morning of Sept. 9 promoting vaccination, before Biden’s mandate was announced.
► From the AP — Vaccine mandate spawns new fear: finding and keeping workers — The new federal vaccine requirement announced by President Joe Biden has created another worry for large businesses: With help wanted signs up almost everywhere, some could lose valuable employees or won’t be able to find new ones. Biden announced sweeping new orders Thursday that will require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccinations against COVID-19 or offer weekly testing. The new rules could affect as many as 100 million Americans, although it’s not clear how many of those people are currently unvaccinated.
► From the AFL-CIO — Strong measures needed to combat surging COVID-19 pandemic — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler:
“The resurgence of COVID-19 requires swift and immediate action, and we commend President Biden for taking additional steps to help put an end to this crisis. Everyone should be vaccinated—as one step in stopping the pandemic. Workers and unions should have a voice in shaping these policies. Workplace COVID-19 safety plans should also include mitigation measures like ventilation, removing infected individuals, masking and training workers. These are necessary to prevent exposures and, in combination with vaccines, will get us out of this pandemic.”
► From Reuters — Biden vaccine mandate will test U.S. workplace regulator OSHA — The U.S. agency in charge of the Biden administration’s new rules requiring COVID-19 vaccination at many private workplaces faces internal and external challenges that put its ability to enforce the mandate effectively in question.
► From Vox — Are Biden’s new vaccine requirements legal? — They probably are, but that doesn’t mean that a right-wing judiciary will uphold them.
► From the Washington Post — Americans support vaccine mandates for office work and schools, poll shows — More than half of Americans say they support businesses requiring proof of vaccination to return to the office, according to a CNN poll published Monday.
► From the PS Business Journal — Northwest Carpenters Union votes to strike in Western Washington — The 11,600 members of the Northwest Carpenters Union could be on strike as soon as Thursday, affecting the Microsoft headquarters project, the union said. Fifty-six percent of the more than 5,000 members who cast ballots rejected the contract proposal from the Associated General Contractors. Three days of voting ended Saturday evening. It was the fourth rejection by members working under Washington’s Associated General Contractors area master agreement.
► From Teamsters 117 — Unanimous strike authorization vote! Sysco Teamsters are fired up — With a 100% strike authorization vote, the group of 250 Teamster drivers and warehouse workers, employed at the massive food service conglomerate’s distribution center in Kent, sent a powerful message of unity and determination to their employer on Saturday. “This lets them know that we’re ready, and we mean business,” said shop steward and bargaining team member Rowan Griffin. “Make us the offer that we deserve. We work hard, they know we work hard. So pay us what we’re worth, that’s all we ask.”
► From The Stranger — Cornish staff unionization effort faces resistance from administration ahead of ballot count on Tuesday — While five other unions already operate on campus, the college’s staff — admission counselors, student success coaches, academic advisers, librarians, department coordinators, facilities employees, and IT workers — are now seeking representation (OPEIU 8) in the administrative decision-making process for the first time in the school’s 107-year history.
► From Working Washington — Welcoming Danielle Alvarado as our new Executive Director — Danielle has more than a decade of experience working in the movement for racial and economic justice. And she knows our organization inside and out: since 2019, she’s been our Legal Director.
► Working to Live in SW Washington — What’s in your kit? (podcast) — A few local working people get together and talk about what they do and how they do it. A stage hand (IATSE Local 28 member Jane Chorazy), and educator (Evergreen Education Association member Marj Hogan), and a bus driver (ATU Local 757 member Jim Bennett). Join Shannon and Harold to discuss what’s in the “kit” they use at work. Looking at the difference in their professions, their kits must be pretty different as well, right? Maybe… Maybe not!
► From the AP — Judge: Washington’s capital gains tax challenge can move forward — A judge ruled Friday that a legal challenge to Washington’s new tax on capital gains can move forward. The ruling by Douglas County Superior Court Judge Brian Huber could ultimately lead to the state Supreme Court deciding whether the new capital gains tax constitutional.
► From The Hill — Democrats brace for battle on Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan — They have a soft deadline on Wednesday for roughly a dozen Senate committees to finish drafting parts of the bill, and want to pass the $3.5 trillion spending plan in the House by the end of the month. But they face a number of sticking points, including over the total cost of the package, and how to pay for it.
► From the Washington Post — Democrats sorting through painful sacrifices as social bill enters final stretch — Strategists in both parties believe Democrats are likely to lose the House and possibly the Senate next year, so this could be the party’s only chance in years to enact an expansive domestic agenda. The finished product will become the clearest picture of what today’s Democrats stand for, supplanting the countless speeches, platforms and 10-point plans they delivered when out of power.
► From Politico — House Democrats plan 26.5% corporate rate as part of multitrillion tax hike — House Democrats want to raise the corporate rate to 26.5& as part of nearly $3 trillion in tax increases to defray the cost of their next big spending package.
► From the AP — Biden to survey wildfire damage, make case for spending plan
► From Roll Call — Democrats make immigration case to Senate parliamentarian — The Senate parliamentarian heard arguments Friday on a plan by Democrats to include immigration provisions in a budget reconciliation bill, bringing Congress one step closer to passing a path to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants for the first time in decades. Democratic lawmakers are pushing for the inclusion of provisions that would provide a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, undocumented farmworkers, temporary protected status holders and essential workers. If the parliamentarian permits the provisions, it could be the best shot Democrats have at legalizing a broad population of immigrants, a longtime priority.
► From Roll Call — Centrist Democrats push stronger child tax credit expansion — A group of centrist Democrats is pressing senators to keep the four-year expansion of the child tax credit they’re expecting in the House, along with a permanent provision that the benefit be fully available to the lowest-income individuals. There’s strong support for expanding the child tax credit on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, and the New Democrat Coalition is pushing for that to hold in the Senate, said Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.).
► From Vice — ‘It’s almost comical:’ Starbucks is blatantly trying to crush its union — While Starbucks has tried to distinguish itself as a progressive employer for decades by raising wages, offering health care benefits, and other perks, many of its tactics in Buffalo are standard practices used by anti-union employers to dissuade employees from engaging in collective action and unionizing. These practices include trying to make improvements and pander to workers in the lead-up to a union election.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Want your employer to pander to you? 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 Labor Notes — Ten thousand UAW members gear up for a strike vote at John Deere — Ten thousand production and warehouse workers for the farm equipment manufacturer John Deere took a strike authorization vote Sunday across nine Auto Workers (UAW) locals in Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas. Strike authorizations at bargaining time are not unusual for John Deere workers, and they haven’t struck in 35 years.
► From NPR — The California recall and its very real political consequences, explained — A rare event happens Tuesday in California. Californians will decide if Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom should remain in office. That it’s even happening — and who the leading Republican contender is — is an example of how politics has shifted in the state, and reflects a national shift toward sharper partisanship.
► From Reuters — Uber drivers are employees, not contractors, says Dutch court
ICYMI on LABOR DAY
The Entire Staff of The Stand was on vacation last week, so you may have missed these columns by the executive officers of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
► From the Seattle Times — Strong unions benefit all workers (by Larry Brown) — I want to remind you this Labor Day that, when we finally emerge from this pandemic, working people in Washington state are uniquely positioned for their lives and livelihoods to recover. That’s because this is one of the best states to work in the nation. Oxfam America, a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty, just released its latest rankings of the Best and Worst States to Work in America, and Washington once again ranks among the very best. Let’s also remember that Washington didn’t become such a great place to work through the benevolence of our employers or elected officials. It happened because working people demanded it.
It’s no coincidence that a state with strong labor standards also has a strong union movement. With nearly 600,000 rank-and-file members representing 18.6% of the workforce, Washington ranks fifth highest in union density, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. When Washington’s unions advocate for better wages and working conditions, they do it not only by demanding strong contracts for their members, but also by advocating for public policies that benefit all workers.
► From the Spokesman-Review — The ‘union difference’ is especially important amid this pandemic (by April Sims) — As a Black labor leader in Washington, I know firsthand the union difference. That collective power of working people has been especially important for Black, Brown and Indigenous working folks. Black folks in the U.S. are unionized at a higher rate than any other ethnic group; Latinx folks aren’t far behind. Unions offer job security, a voice on the job and access to resources that BIPOC workers often are denied. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted BIPOC, particularly Black people, in severity, mortality and economics. For many of us, our union jobs and the protections they provide have been the difference throughout this pandemic.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.