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Soul-crushing | Competing maps | Racing toward the debt cliff

Wednesday, September 22, 2021




► From the AP — ‘Soul-crushing’: U.S. COVID-19 deaths are topping 1,900 a day — COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have climbed to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a distinct group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans. The increasingly lethal turn has filled hospitals, complicated the start of the school year, delayed the return to offices and demoralized health care workers.

► From KING 5 — Unvaccinated Redmond firefighters criticize city’s handling of vaccine mandate — A group of unvaccinated firefighters claim the city agreed to workplace accommodations under a religious exemption, but later changed its mind.

► From KOMO — Seattle firefighter who survived COVID has a message: Get vaccinated — “My regret is being so firm in what I believed in at the time with being able to look back I wasn’t processing all of the information that was available to me,” said Seattle Fire Lt. Tony Miceli. “There are a variety of reasons why I wasn’t doing that and so that kind of is where my regret comes from.”

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

► From KING 5 — Supply of J&J shots at some pharmacies spread thin as Washington’s vaccine mandate approaches — Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine available now that will guarantee a person is fully vaccinated by Gov. Jay Inslee’s Oct. 18 deadline.

The Stand (Sept. 2) — State vaccine mandate deadlines are fast approaching — You need to get your Johnson & Johnson shot by Oct. 4 to be considered fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.

► From the Oregonian — Oregon gives 24,000 state employees six more weeks to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — More than half of Oregon’s state employees now have an extra six weeks to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the deadline pushed back to Nov. 30. The change affects about 24,000 state employees represented by the Service Employees International Union 503 out of about 42,000 state executive branch employees. It’s unclear if the changes will apply to the remaining 18,000 state employees covered by Gov. Kate Brown’s vaccination mandate. But SEIU’s success at pushing back Brown’s initial Oct. 18 deadline for full vaccination may bode well for other unions.




► From the Seattle Times — Construction worker dies at Convention Center job site — State regulators are investigating after a construction worker was killed Monday at the expansion site of the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. Authorities have not yet said what happened. L&I has begun an investigation into the incident but is still in the early stages, a spokesperson said. The worker was a member of the Cement Masons & Plasterers Local 528.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Rescuers rush to save woman pinned at dairy farm

► From the Seattle Times — Feds say Fred Meyer, QFC broke the law by banning BLM buttons at work — Western Washington Fred Meyer and QFC stores violated federal labor law last fall when they barred employees from wearing Black Lives Matter buttons at work, according to the NLRB. Last week’s finding by the NLRB comes just over a year after Kroger, parent company of Fred Meyer and QFC, sparked a local controversy by ordering workers at Puget Sound-area stores not to wear BLM buttons to protest police violence against Black people.

► From the News Tribune — Immigrant rights activist targeted for deportation can stay — Maru Mora Villalpando, a Northwest immigrant rights activist who had been facing deportation, said Tuesday she can now remain in the U.S., after the Department of Homeland Security agreed to drop her case.

► From the union-busting Columbian — Union to picket Vancouver Public Schools headquarters — The Vancouver Association of Education Support Professionals will march at 5 p.m. at the Bates Center for Educational Leadership. The union claims the district has a duty to bargain over staffing levels and working conditions because students have returned to school full time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

TODAY at The Stand Vancouver educators rally today for safe schools, fair contract

► From KUOW — Seattle eviction moratorium extended into 2022 — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is extending the city’s moratorium on commercial and residential evictions through the remainder of her term in office, ending in early 2022.

► From KIRO — TSA holding hiring event at Sea-Tac on Saturday

► From the Washington Post — Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who’s behind Proud Boys and other far-right websitesResearchers say the hack of Epik, a Sammamish, Wash.-based internet service provider that has long has been a favorite of the far-right, will allow them to gain important new insights into how extremists operate online.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Join Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action for “Defending Democracy in a Period of Far-Right Insurrection,” a webinar featuring Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart, at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23. Get details.




► From the Seattle Times — Redistricting: Democrats and Republicans release competing Washington legislative maps — Democrats and Republicans made their opening moves Tuesday in the once-a-decade redrawing of the state’s political boundaries, releasing competing maps for the state’s 49 legislative districts. The proposals by the four voting members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission will serve as a starting point for negotiations as the bipartisan panel faces a Nov. 15 deadline to come up with final maps. The opening salvos mixed partisan maneuvering with efforts to empower historically underrepresented communities — all constrained by population shifts that require some districts to shrink and others to expand.

MORE local coverage of the redistricting maps in today’s (Everett) Herald, (Spokane) Spokesman-Review, and Yakima Herald-Republic.

EDITOR’S NOTE — See the proposed redistricting maps. To submit public comments on them, click here.

► From L&I — L&I proposes 3.1 percent increase in workers’ comp rates for 2022 — The state Department of Labor & Industries is proposing a small increase in the average price employers and workers pay for workers’ compensation insurance next year. If the proposal is adopted, it would be the first time in five years that workers’ compensation rates would go up, but on average, premiums in 2022 would still be less than in 2017. The proposed 3.1 percent overall average rate increase is driven by cost-of-living adjustments for pensions, which were triggered by an increase in the state’s average wage. This is an average, meaning some employers will see their rates go down while others will see larger increases.

► From the News Tribune — Long-serving Tacoma state legislator to resign seat to run women’s prisons — Jeannie Darneille is retiring from the Washington state Legislature in order to oversee the state’s women’s prisons, the Tacoma senator announced Tuesday morning. Darneille, a Democrat who was first elected to the 27th Legislative District in 2000 as a representative, told Gov. Jay Inslee her resignation will be effective some time this fall.

► From KNKX — Programs for disabled, disadvantaged youths imperiled after lieutenant governor cancels funding amid ethics probe — In an unusual case of a high-ranking Washington statewide office holder calling into question the official conduct of his predecessor, the office of Democratic Lt. Gov. Denny Heck has flagged for state ethics investigators what it calls “suspicious financial activity” during former Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib’s final year in office.

► From the Seattle Times — There’s an opening for the GOP in Washington state — and they’re squandering it on conspiracies (by Danny Westneat) — The news that lawsuits alleging massive fraud in the 2020 election have been filed in three Washington state counties — despite presenting zero evidence — is yet another sign that the base of the GOP is going to keep on digging down this rabbit hole until they come out the other side. Or more likely bury the Republican Party around here.




► From the NY Times — House passes spending bill, debt limit increase over GOP opposition — The House on Tuesday approved legislation to keep the government funded through early December, lift the limit on federal borrowing through the end of 2022 and provide emergency money for Afghan refugees and natural disaster recovery, setting up a fiscal showdown as Republicans warn they will block the measure in the Senate. The bill is urgently needed to avert a government shutdown when funding lapses next week, and a first-ever debt default when the Treasury Department reaches the limit of its borrowing authority within weeks. But it has become ensnared in partisan politics, with Republicans refusing to allow a debt ceiling increase at a time when Democrats control Congress and the White House. In pairing the debt limit raise with the spending package, Democrats had hoped to pressure Republicans into dropping their opposition to raising the debt ceiling, a routine step that allows the government to meet its obligations. But even with crucial funding for their states on the line, no Republicans voted for the legislation.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington’s Republican delegation of Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (pictured above) all voted “no,” setting the course for a government shutdown of services alongside an unprecedented default of U.S. government’s payment obligations. They are doing this because they don’t like the spending priorities of the party that American voters put in power.

► From The Hill — GOP warns McConnell won’t blink on debt cliff

► From the Washington Post — U.S. default this fall would cost 6 million jobs, wipe out $15 trillion in wealth, study saysThe United States could plunge into an immediate recession if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling and the country defaults on its payment obligations this fall, according to one analysis released Tuesday. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, found that a prolonged impasse over the debt ceiling would cost the U.S. economy up to 6 million jobs, wipe out as much as $15 trillion in household wealth, and send the unemployment rate surging to roughly 9 percent from around 5 percent.

► From The Hill — Debt ceiling fight pits corporate America against RepublicansDefaulting on the debt — or even coming dangerously close to doing so — could undermine the nation’s credit rating and upend the global financial system, posing a major risk to company stock prices and corporate bonds.

► From the Washington Post — Amid furor over border images, Biden faces backlash from Democrats — Activists reacted with unusually harsh language, suggesting they would no longer give President Biden the benefit of the doubt as the viral images circulated of mounted border agents grabbing Haitian migrants.

► From the People’s World — Organized labor denounces violent expulsion of Haitian migrants (by AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Fred Redmond) — As a labor movement fighting for democracy, racial justice, the rule of law, and human and trade union rights, our unions will continue to push our governments to do right by the Haitian people and by all working people in the Americas. We will also continue to organize for mutual aid and defense, and take action to help Haitians and other forced migrants access the support and protections they need and deserve.

► From Business Insider — Cuts to COVID-era unemployment benefits will lower U.S. incomes by nearly $145 billion, group says — The government’s decision to let unemployment benefits expire in September will result in a $144.3 billion decrease in annual income and a $79.2 billion decrease in consumer spending, according to Economic Policy Institute. The average annual decrease in income from unemployment insurance cuts is $13,728 per person, and the average annual decrease in spending is $7,450, according to EPI.

► From The Hill — Major companies’ CEOs calling on Congress for more child care fundingMore than 50 CEOs of major companies are calling on Congress to make more investments in child care. In a letter, the executives called on Congress to “act decisively” to address the lack of affordable, quality child care, which they say is “one of the biggest barriers to economic recovery and growth.”

► From Reuters — Special report: Backers of Trump’s false fraud claims seek to control next elections — A wide group of Republican secretary-of-state contenders in America’s swing states have embraced Donald Trump’s false claims that he lost a “rigged” election. Their candidacies have alarmed Democrats and voting-rights groups, who fear that the politicians who tried hardest to undermine Americans’ faith in elections last year may soon be the ones running them — or deciding them, in future contested votes.

► From Politico — Biden allies push for protections for Latino, Asian voters — The effort is designed to ensure that voters who speak limited English are granted bilingual resources as required by federal law.




► From the Guardian — ‘We’re trying to survive’: Workers face cuts as U.S. public sector lags in recovery — Workers in the public sector around the United States have faced drastic cuts and layoffs, leaving workers even more understaffed, underpaid and overworked through the COVID-19 pandemic than they were before. About 815,000 jobs have been lost in the American public sector since the start of the pandemic and job recovery in the public sector has lagged behind the private sector.

► From the LI Business News — Leaders look to foster Long Island as ‘wind supply chain powerhouse’ — At an industry conference on Friday, leaders assembled from government, wind energy companies, labor and environmental groups, and local manufacturers. The aim of the conference was to see to it that the region “emerges as the premier source of wind energy” across the nation. AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said:

“The labor movement, government, industry leaders, and environmental groups have worked together to bring offshore wind to the Atlantic Coast. Our progress shows that the way to respond and adapt to the climate crisis is through a high-road strategy with good, union jobs. From raw materials to offshore wind turbines and their key components, as we continue to scale up offshore wind, we must ensure that we are creating union jobs in the United States.”




► From Balls and Strikes — A brief history of Sam Alito hating public-sector unions (by Jenny Hunter) — For almost a decade, Justice Samuel Alito has been engaged in a relentless crusade against the labor movement, and public sector unions in particular. He has gone well beyond ruling against unions at every opportunity, however; along the way, he has essentially instructed anti-union litigants in the kinds of legal challenges they should bring and arguments they should make, and then ruled in their favor when they followed the blueprint he set out. As AFL-CIO General Counsel Craig Becker recently put it, extending the baseball metaphor so often applied to the Supreme Court, Alito is “pitching for one side”… Alito’s “impartiality” in cases about unions can not only “reasonably be questioned”; it simply does not exist. There is no doubt he will rule to limit workers’ collective power at every opportunity. It is possible to imagine a legal system in which Supreme Court justices would not have the power to behave in this way. Instead, we have a Court that is both heavily invested in defending its self-conception as an impartial arbiter of the law, and powerful enough to make up its own definition of what “impartial” means. Without meaningful guardrails on cases the justices can and cannot hear, Alito remains free to bust as many unions as he likes.


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

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