Tuesday, October 26, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Oct. 26 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 716,315 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 2,237) and 8,480 deaths.
► From the Wenatchee World — Defense Department sends 20-person medical team to Wenatchee to support hospital — Confluence Health got a manpower boost last week from the U.S. Defense Department to support the center’s operations as it struggles with low staff counts. A 20-person team of medical staff — four physicians, 14 nurses and two respiratory therapists — arrived on Oct. 22. Confluence applied for the resources in August through the state Department of Health. It is one of 11 health care centers nationally to get Defense Department teams. Two teams were sent to Washington state with the second team dispatched to Providence Sacred Medical Center in Spokane.
► From the Bellingham Herald — COVID infection rate in Whatcom’s fully vaccinated drops, while unvaccinated see increase — Whatcom County’s weekly COVID-19 infection rate among its fully-vaccinated residents dropped to its lowest mark since the Whatcom County Health Department began reporting weekly data in mid-August, while its rate among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated residents climbed slightly.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Report: More than 1,000 kids have lost a caregiver to COVID-19 in Washington — More than 140,000 children in the United States have lost a parent or grandparent to COVID-19. In Washington, researchers estimate 1,428 children have suffered such a loss. The study analyzed death data from April 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, missing the devastation of the delta surge this fall. “COVID is real, and its impact on families is real, and as members of the family pass away because of COVID, be it your grandmother or mother, there’s an impact to the child,” said Dr. Michael Barsotti, president of the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics… The study analyzed multiple datasets, including COVID-19 mortality data, as well as race and ethnicity data. Researchers found disparities among the children and teens most affected by the death of a caregiver from the virus. “We estimate white children account for 35% of children who lost primary caregivers, whilst white persons represent 61% of the total (U.S.) population,” the study says. “In contrast, children of racial and ethnic minorities account for 65% of children losing primary caregivers, compared to 39% of the total population.”
► From the Seattle Times — Number of Washington state, Seattle public workers getting vaccinated inches up — New state and city of Seattle figures show the number of government workers getting their shots continues to inch up amid the coronavirus vaccine mandates. About 275 more Washington state employees have been verified as having gotten their shots since last week’s Oct. 18 deadline, according to updated figures. The latest numbers show 1,785 workers left or were fired over the mandate, rather than the 1,887 announced last week.
The Stand (Oct. 18) — WSLC updates position on vaccine mandates — Labor council adds that workers must have a voice in the consequences of vaccine mandates.
► From the AP — Federal judge rejects bid to stop Washington vaccine mandate — A federal judge in Eastern Washington on Monday denied a bid by firefighters, state troopers and others to halt Washington’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state workers and emergency responders.
► From The Hill — Tyson hits 96 percent vaccination level ahead of deadline — More than 96 percent of Tyson Foods’ employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the company announced on Tuesday, just days before its deadline for all its U.S. team members to be inoculated against the virus.
► From the Seattle Times — Dockworkers are available 24/7 — others in supply chain should be, too (by ILWU’s Jared Faker and Rich Austin) — ILWU longshore workers in Tacoma and Seattle have been urging the use of 24/7 shifts for months and support this model. We have set records for both hours worked and cargo moved this past year, and we hope that others within the supply chain — terminal operators, railroads, trucking companies, warehouses and distribution centers — will match the ILWU’s commitment to provide labor and resources for the movement of cargo 24/7. We’ve done our part to keep store shelves stocked every day during the pandemic, and we invite others to join us in keeping our supply chain moving around the clock.
► From the P.S. Business Journal — FAA still rolling out safety reforms in wake of Boeing 737 MAX crashes — Two bills approved by Congress will continue to reshape how planes and plane parts across the entire U.S. aerospace industry are reviewed, said Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash., 2nd) who chaired the hearing. In particular, they have overhauled the way Organization Designation Authority units — the technical experts who report safety data to the FAA — are governed.
► From Reuters — Blue Origin teams with Boeing to create ‘business park’ in space — Billionaire Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin on Monday unveiled plans to develop a commercial space station called “Orbital Reef” with Boeing, aiming to launch the spacecraft in the second half of this decade. Orbital Reef will be operated as a “mixed use business park,” and plans to provide the infrastructure needed to scale economic activity and open new markets in space.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The Bezos-Boeing search for a tax-free, labor law-free place to do business reaches its natural conclusion.
► From the Seattle Times — Report: Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman will be named to Biden administration election-security post — Wyman, a Republican, is set to be appointed to lead the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to protect elections from foreign and domestic interference, CNN reported, citing anonymous sources. The reported appointment would put Wyman, a nationally regarded expert on mail-in balloting and security, in a position working with elections officials across the U.S. at a time when many of her fellow Republicans have followed former President Donald Trump in fanning baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. Wyman has pushed back forcibly against such fraud claims… Upon Wyman’s resignation, a temporary successor would be named by Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat. That appointee would serve until the next general election in November 2022.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Leonard Forsman named first Native American on UW Board of Regents — Forsman is chairman of the Suquamish Tribe and grew up on the Port Madison Indian Reservation on Bainbridge Island, where he currently lives with his wife Jana Rice.
► From Crosscut — Number of women in state policing remains low — For two decades, amid the rise of women to governor’s mansions, military leadership and even the vice presidency, the percentage of women among the ranks of state police officers has hardly budged. A Stateline analysis finds that nationally, just 7% of sworn state troopers are female. That’s a tiny gain from 2000, when the average female makeup of state police troopers was 6%, according to a 50-state census. As a national reckoning over law enforcement practices unfolds, research shows that women are less likely to use force, are named in fewer complaints and get better outcomes for some victims. Some state agencies are looking to recruit more women to change not only who is doing the policing, but also how their departments police.
► From Politico — Liberals grit teeth as their priorities fall by wayside — Democratic leaders are telling members to embrace the party bill, even as progressives see several major policy goals tossed. “The vast majority of our priorities are in, but there are a couple of areas where that’s still not the case,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters Monday night. “What we’ll continue to do is push as hard as we can, but just recognize that there are 50 senators and we have no margin in the Senate.” Still, she added: “Nobody should take progressive votes for granted.”
► From The Hill — Billionaire tax gains momentum — The proposal, championed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), is seen as a way to help pay for the party’s social spending package while accommodating Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Ariz.) opposition to raising tax rates.
► From the Washington Post — Democrats quietly scramble to include immigration provision in social spending bill — Democrats are scrambling intensely behind the scenes to address immigration in the framework they are crafting to expand the nation’s social safety net, according to people with knowledge of the situation, even as President Biden and other party leaders have said little publicly about their strategy in recent weeks.
► From the Washington Post — Immigration arrests fell to lowest level in more than a decade during fiscal 2021, ICE data shows — Immigration arrests in the interior of the United States fell in fiscal 2021 to the lowest level in more than a decade — roughly half the annual totals recorded during the Trump administration.
► From the NY Times — Missing foreign workers add to hiring challenges — Fewer foreign people have been able to work in the U.S. amid the coronavirus, leaving a hole in the potential labor force.
► From the Washington Post — ‘Striketober’ isn’t a sign of chaos — it’s a healthy development for the country (by Liz Shuler) — Across industries, workers are standing in solidarity to demand dignity and decency. Some observers see these strikes as one more sign of chaos against the backdrop of an endangered democracy, a persistent pandemic and an increasingly unequal economy. But this is not chaos. It’s the opposite. Strikes are leading indicators that our country is heading in the right direction — a healthy response to imbalances of power created by employers who believe they should be able to squeeze more and more out of the workers who make their companies profitable. They are profoundly democratic and participatory processes in which workers of different backgrounds and political beliefs unite to take a collective risk in pursuit of a better future: voting to organize, to strike, and to accept or reject contracts.
► From HuffPost — Survey shows broad public support for worker strikes — Seventy-four percent of respondents either strongly approved or somewhat approved of the strikes, while just 20% strongly disapproved or somewhat disapproved of them. Six percent did not have an opinion.
‘They’re trying to steal the American Dream from us’ — Approx 1,400 Kellogg’s workers have gone on strike in four states. Here’s what they’re fighting for pic.twitter.com/0wmacOzbch
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) October 26, 2021
► From Reuters — No end in sight for labor shortages as U.S. companies fight
high costs paying livable wages — Labor shortages may be the most intractable of the cost risks that U.S. companies faced in the latest quarter, and as the earnings season moves into its peak there are signs the problem will persist, some strategists say.
► From Teen Vogue — St. Vincent’s nurses are on strike — this is what it’s like for their kids — “There’s a fair amount of courage and honor that goes into making that decision.”
► From the NY Times (via the Seattle Times) — Inside Amazon’s worst human-resources problem — Amazon shortchanged its employees who were new parents, patients dealing with medical crises and other vulnerable workers on leave, according to a confidential report. That error is only one strand in a longstanding knot of problems with Amazon’s system for handling paid and unpaid leaves. Together, the records and interviews reveal that the issues have been more widespread — affecting the company’s blue-collar and white-collar workers — and more harmful than previously known, amounting to what several company insiders described as one of its gravest human-resources problems.
► From Politico — ‘This is NOT normal’: Facebook employees vent their anguish — The messages provide a rarely seen window into the company and often reflect matters of conscience bearing down on many of Facebook’s more than 60,000 workers.
EDITOR’S NOTE — You have the power to create a NEW normal! Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and demand respect on the job and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
► From Salon — Alec Baldwin’s fatal film set shooting followed union workers’ outcry over safety issues — The news of the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a Hollywood film set intersected with the nationwide surge in labor movement activity, as reports surfaced about unsafe working conditions and protests by union crew members on the set.
► From the Washington Post — Assistant director who handed Alec Baldwin prop firearm was fired over gun discharge on 2019 movie set
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.