Monday, October 18, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Oct. 18 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 695,016 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 2,389) and 8,234 deaths.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Grim record set for Tri-Cities. 23 COVID deaths reported last week — On Friday the Benton Franklin Health District announced 23 recent deaths, eight of them in people younger than 60. The overwhelming majority of deaths this year have been in unvaccinated people, with just 7% of deaths in vaccinated people, said Dr. Amy Person, health officer for Benton and Franklin counties, at a news briefing Thursday.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Get vaccinated! It might save your life — or that of a loved one. Visit Washington state’s Vaccine Locator to find vaccine appointments near you.
► From the NW Labor Press — Nurse union warns staffing shortage is at crisis levels — For years, nurse unions have been sounding the alarm about understaffing: Hospitals have not been scheduling enough nurses to serve patients well, and that’s resulting in missed breaks and nurse burnout. Now, 18 months into a global pandemic, the staffing shortage itself is becoming an urgent public health crisis, leaders of Oregon Nurses Association said.
The Stand (Sept. 14) — Hospitals on brink of unprecedented crisis — WSNA, SEIU 1199NW and UFCW 21: Preexisting staff shortages have reached critical levels; nurses, healthcare workers and patients need immediate action from hospitals in Washington state.
► From the NY Times — Threats, resignations and 100 new laws: Why public health is in crisis — As she leaves work in Port Angeles, Wash., Dr. Allison Berry keeps a vigilant eye on her rearview mirror, watching the vehicles around her, weighing if she needs to take a more circuitous route home. She must make sure nobody finds out where she lives… An examination of hundreds of health departments around the country shows that the nation may be less prepared for the next pandemic than it was for the current one.
► From the AP — Colin Powell has died of COVID-19 complications, family says
► From the Olympian — Washington state workers largely comply with Monday’s vaccine deadline, data show — Gov. Jay Inslee’s office on Thursday said the Monday deadline for state employee verification is firm and would not be extended. More than 90 percent of state workers have received the COVID-19 vaccine, Inslee said.
TODAY at The Stand — WSLC updates position on vaccine mandates — Labor council adds that workers must have a voice in the consequences of vaccine mandates.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Jails, prisons expected to have ‘normal operations’ after Monday’s vaccine deadline — The Department of Corrections, and Spokane County Jail staff, said contingency plans are in place for normal operations, even as hundreds of jail and prison workers statewide have refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine. According to Department of Corrections Secretary Cheryl Strange, 91% of staff had turned in vaccine cards as of Thursday evening, although that number varies at each facility. Across the department, about 500 people are at risk for losing their jobs unless they turn in proof of vaccination or receive an accommodation by Monday.
► From the Seattle Times — Employee vaccination rates are high at Washington state’s public universities — Vaccination rates for employees at the state’s six institutions of higher learning as of midweek last week was high — ranging from 88% (at least partially vaccinated) on the low end at WSU to 98% on the high end at the University of Washington and The Evergreen State College.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Decision coming soon on Washington State coach Nick Rolovich’s future in Pullman — Rolovich has put in for a religious exemption.
► From the Seattle Times — Boeing will require all employees to be vaccinated, despite wary labor unions and conservative opposition — Boeing management told its U.S. employees in an internal message Tuesday that with limited exceptions they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 or face termination. IAM 751 President Jon Holden wrote that “the reality is our members are polarized on this issue… It is our responsibility to defend and advocate for all our members.” And though he noted that he and his family are vaccinated, he said the union must also defend “those who can’t or won’t accept the vaccine.”
► From the (Everett) Herald — Some Boeing workers protest in Everett over vaccine mandate
► From the (Everett) Herald — Union: Community Transit vaccine mandate puts jobs in ‘jeopardy’ — Meanwhile, at King County Metro, a similar mandate has significantly boosted vaccination rates.
► From The Hill — Support for governors sliding in states without vaccine mandates: survey — Governors in states without vaccine mandates or in states where such mandates are banned have “significantly lower” approval ratings than their peers in other states on their handling of COVID-19, according to a new survey.
► From KING 5 — Washington State Ferries starts operating on reduced schedule due to ‘severe’ staff shortage — Washington State Ferries (WSF) will operate on a reduced sailing schedule until further notice due to “severe” staff shortages. The new schedule began Oct. 16 and is intended to “provide more reliable travel” after weeks of sailing cancellations that have frustrated riders. WSF cited an aging workforce and COVID-19 cases and quarantines for the staffing shortages. The ferry system is also having to grapple with Washington’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which requires all state workers to provide proof of vaccination by Oct. 18 or risk losing their jobs. One other element compounding the problem is a worldwide shortage of qualified mariners. WSF has moved from a once-a-year hiring schedule to continuous recruitment of new employees to try and bring more boats back into service. The ferry system said it is expanding its recruitment efforts with maritime academies across the country.
► From Working to Live — What is ‘redistricting’ and why should we care? — WSLC Secretary Treasurer April Sims, who also serves on our state’s Redistricting Commission, is here to explain to Shannon and Harold what redistricting is, why it matters, and how working people can affect the process.’
The Stand (Oct. 8) — Redistricting shapes our political landscape (by Cherika Carter)
► From the News Tribune — One of these three finalists will fill state Senate vacancy representing Tacoma — The district’s Democratic precinct committee officers voted on Saturday to select Yasmin Trudeau, Desiree Wilkins Finch and LaMont Green as the three finalists to replace state Sen. Jeannie Darneille.
► From CNN — Union calls deal to avert strike ‘a Hollywood ending’ as negotiations continue for workers in other parts of country — A threatened strike on major TV and film production was averted Saturday night, just hours before a midnight deadline. The association representing producers made a tentative deal with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employee (IATSE), a union representing roughly 60,000 film and television workers, including technicians and craftspeople, IATSE announced Saturday.
TODAY at The Stand — ‘Hollywood ending’: IATSE reaches deal to avert national strike
► From the NW Labor Press — Kaiser courting massive strike — Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP) announced Oct. 11 that 90% of its 3,400 Kaiser members voted and 96% of them authorized a strike. The same day, United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals and United Steelworkers Local 7600 announced that they too voted to authorize a strike, which would involve 31,000 Kaiser workers in Southern California. The three unions are part of a 50,000-worker, 21-union coalition, the Alliance of Health Care Unions. They say everything they’ve fought for for decades is at stake. Kaiser is pushing a “two-tier” scheme to cut pay for new hires, and offering below-inflation raises of 1% at a time of massive burnout among health care workers and a growing and severe labor shortage.
► From the Washington Post — Strikes are sweeping the labor market as workers wield new leverage — “The strikes are sending a signal, no doubt about it, that employers ignore workers at their peril,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I think this wave of strikes is actually going to inspire more workers to stand up and speak out and put that line in the sand and say, ‘We deserve better.’ ”
► From NBC News — ‘Striketober’ signals ‘tremendous sacrifice’ — but workers say it has been a long time coming — “A lot of these workers have been on the front line of a global pandemic for the past 19 months and were touted as heroes, which has given them lots of leverage,” said one labor expert.
► From NPR — More than 10,000 John Deere workers go on strike as labor actions heat up in the U.S. — More than 10,000 workers at 14 different John Deere locations went on strike on Oct. 14 after the United Auto Workers union said it was unable to reach a new contract with the tractor company.
► From Newsweek — Photo of Kellogg’s worker on strike braving torrential rain on picket line goes viral — A powerful image has surfaced online showing a Kellogg’s worker standing strong on a picket line during torrential rain amid ongoing industrial action.
► From WOWT — Kellogg’s strike gaining traction, support from Omaha labor unions — Workers at Omaha’s Kellogg’s cereal plant have now been on strike since Oct. 5 as union representatives on the picket line say negotiations continue to break down.
► From Jacobin — Workers at one of the country’s biggest bourbon producers have been on strike for a month — Around 420 workers at the Kentucky-based Heaven Hill Distillery have been on strike for a month. They say the company is pushing to radically change scheduling and remove a cap on health insurance premiums.
► From the AP — Crunch time: Biden faces critical next 2 weeks for agenda — Biden and his fellow Democrats are struggling to bridge intraparty divides by month’s end to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger social services package. The president hopes to nail down both before Air Force One lifts off for Europe on Oct. 28 for a pair of world leader summits.
TAKE A STAND — Sign the petition declaring your support for the Build Back Better agenda: passage of both the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package.
► From Vox — Americans are ready to tax the rich — A new poll shows strong support for taxing the rich to pay for Democrats’ Build Back Better Act.
► From The Hill — Manchin lays down demands for child tax credit: report — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has reportedly informed the White House that the child tax credit must have an “established work” requirement and a family income limit in the $60,000 range if Democrats want his vote for the package.
► From HuffPost — The real-life costs of shrinking the Democrats’ big spending plan — Poor people need insurance. Seniors need dental care. And there may not be money for both.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile…
► From Roll Call — Congress blocks cuts to top contractors’ weapon budgets — Congress recently blocked the Pentagon from moving more than $1 billion that defense officials had wanted to use instead on programs they consider higher priorities. More than $500 million of the money was for a handful of weapons built by powerful contractors (including Boeing).
► From Time — In ‘transformational’ immigration shift, Biden administration wants to target employers, not undocumented workers — A short, three-page internal memorandum issued on Oct. 12 by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, didn’t arrive with much fanfare. But the new guidance nonetheless marks a monumental change of course—packing the potential power to fundamentally alter the way undocumented people have been treated in the workplace for nearly four decades.
► From the AFL-CIO — AFL-CIO welcomes step forward by DHS to ensure rights at work for all — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler:
“We urge DHS to work closely with our unions on implementation, and continue to call for concrete protections and work authorization for working people demanding safe and fair workplaces. When workers take action to address issues of wage theft, sexual harassment or other violations, it benefits everyone. We must use this opportunity to remove the fear in our workplaces so that all workers, regardless of where we were born, are able to exercise our fundamental rights. That is why we need to pass the PRO Act and ensure that no worker ever risks deportation for demanding justice at work.”
► From the Guardian — Largest U.S. union federation’s first female president takes charge at critical moment — Many union members are hoping that AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, a well-liked, hard-working 51-year-old, will figure out how to capitalize on labor’s extraordinary opportunities. Public approval for organized labor in the U.S. has climbed to its highest level in more than 50 years, as many young workers are flocking into unions and millions of overstressed, underpaid frontline workers are impatient to improve their lot. “The biggest challenge that labor faces is whether we’re ready for the opportunities in front of us,” said April Sims, secretary-treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, a federation of that state’s unions. “Union favorability is at a long-time high. We’ve learned from COVID how much our society and economy depend on workers. We probably have the most pro-labor president since FDR. The challenge for us as a labor movement is, are we able to take advantage of this moment?”
► From the USA Today — U.S. airlines are grounded by understaffing, fatigue and rising violence despite billions in aid (by IAM’s Richard Johnsen) — During the pandemic, U.S. airlines have received $54 billion in federal aid to help cover payroll expenses. But staffing is still at skeletal levels.
► From the Guardian — Trial of three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery set to begin — Judge estimates jury selection could take at least two weeks after duty notices were mailed to 1,000 people in Glynn County, Georgia.
► From the KING 5 — ‘Everybody needs to be an activist’: Dolores Huerta talks progress for farmworkers — Legendary labor activist Dolores Huerta says there have been strides in the farm labor movement, but there’s still more work to be done. At 91 years old, Huerta continues to be a force in the fight for farm workers’ rights and women’s rights. KING 5 News Anchor Jessica Janner Castro spoke to Huerta during Hispanic Heritage Month about the progress Latinos have made in America since the 1960s and a new Washington state labor law affecting farmworkers.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.