Thursday, October 28, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Oct. 28 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 719,500 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 2,143) and 8,554 deaths.
► From the Spokesman-Review — After declines, COVID case and hospitalization rates in Washington appear to have stalled — COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations in Washington appear to be flattening after declining for a few weeks. This concerns health officials, who would like to see case rates continue to decline. So far, 60% of Washington’s total population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a number too low to reach the desired immunity level.
► From the Peninsula Daily News — Hospitalizations from COVID-19 growing on Peninsula — New cases on the Peninsula are being driven by workplace exposures and clusters in two churches in Clallam, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties.
► From The Hill — At least 59,000 meatpackers got COVID-19 in first year of pandemic: report — It’s significantly higher than previously suggested estimates, a House select subcommittee reported. The report also noted that at least 269 employees from the five meatpacking companies died of COVID-19 between March 1, 2020 and Feb. 1, 2021, “over three times higher than what was previously estimated by (the Food and Environment Reporting Network) for these five companies’ respective workforces.”
► From the AP — Federal jury: Immigrant detainees are owed minimum wage — A federal jury has determined that The GEO Group must pay minimum wage — rather than $1 a day — to immigration detainees who perform tasks like cooking and cleaning at its for-profit detention center in Washington state. The verdict came Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma in a second trial over the issue. The first trial ended in June with a deadlocked jury. “This multi-billion dollar corporation illegally exploited the people it detains to line its own pockets,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in an emailed statement. “Today’s victory sends a clear message: Washington will not tolerate corporations that get rich violating the rights of the people.” The jury will now consider how much the immigrant detainees who worked at the facility are owed — an amount expected to run into the millions — and U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan on his own will determine what The GEO Group must pay Washington for its claim that the company unjustly enriched itself.
► From Bloomberg — Boeing finds faulty titanium parts in latest setback for 787 — Boeing has found that titanium components used by one of its largest 787 Dreamliner suppliers, Italy’s Leonardo SpA, didn’t meet specifications and will need to be replaced on some aircraft made in the last three years. The flawed parts include titanium spacers, brackets and clips that are used in sections of the carbon-composite airframe that are assembled by Leonardo.
► From Bloomberg — Boeing rolls the dice on China for expanded 737 MAX output — The planemaker’s ambitious production target depends on a place where the jets still can’t fly — and there’s little indication of when that will change.
► From the Yakima H-R — Yakima hits record low unemployment rate as construction industry booms — Data from local and state officials and help-wanted signs across the Yakima Valley all indicate the same thing: Jobs are returning as the economy recovers from the pandemic, and the unemployment rate continues to decline.
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle parents, educators protest special education staff moves — Special education staff in Seattle Public Schools are being shuffled around this fall to meet the needs of students with disabilities and because of enrollment drops — shifts that were greeted with dismay by about 100 parents and educators who protested before the start of a school board meeting Wednesday.
Today, I met with striking @BCTGM members in Lancaster, PA.
Workplaces are stronger when all voices are heard. I’m proud to be part of an administration that is committed to empowering workers and ensuring everyone has a seat at the table. pic.twitter.com/ctfQ1PYZv1
— Secretary Marty Walsh (@SecMartyWalsh) October 27, 2021
► From HuffPost — Biden is steering clear of strikes, but his cabinet members are hitting the picket lines — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh joined striking Kellogg’s employees in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday afternoon as they fight for a new five-year agreement with the cereal maker. Walsh’s visit came a week after Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack traveled to Iowa, where he previously served as governor, to join striking John Deere workers on their picket line outside the manufacturer’s Ankeny plant. Walsh and Vilsack don’t carry the same weight or name recognition of their boss. But they are high-profile representatives of the Biden administration, and their visits with striking workers are highly unusual and perhaps unprecedented.
► From Michigan Advance — As Kellogg strike stretches past 3 weeks, workers say they’ve noted lack of GOP lawmaker support — Notably absent in the show of support for Kellogg strikers are any Republican elected officials — even those who directly represent the Battle Creek area. Neither U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) nor state Sen. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek) have publicly commented on the Kellogg strike.
► From the Washington Post — Biden to announce new social spending framework he expects to win support of all Democrats — President Biden plans to announce Thursday a revised framework for his social spending plan that he expects will gain the support of all Democrats, marking a potential breakthrough after months of lengthy negotiations and stalled talks.
► From The Hill — Biden spending framework leaves out Medicare negotiating drug prices — The framework of a deal on President Biden‘s social spending package unveiled on Thursday does not include allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, leaving out a major Democratic priority. A senior administration official told reporters there were not enough votes among Democrats to pass the policy.
► From The Hill — Democrats try to back Manchin off killing paid family leave proposal — Democratic senators launched a furious effort on the Senate floor Wednesday to back centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) off his opposition to a national paid family leave program, which sources said was going to be cut from the budget reconciliation package. Senate Health Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) insisted that paid family leave is still in the package, disputing reports that negotiators were going to ax the proposal, and said Manchin promised to keep an open mind.
► From The Hill — Manchin dampens progressive hopes for billionaires tax
► From Politico — Dems’ last-ditch immigration gambit loses steam — Even if Biden can get fellow Democrats to add reform provisions to a broad social spending deal, the Senate parliamentarian can squash them.
► From the AP — U.S. limits immigration arrests at schools, ‘protected’ areas — U.S. immigration authorities will limit arrests at schools, hospitals and other “protected” areas under guidelines issued Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security, part of a broader effort to roll back the approach to enforcement under President Trump.
This week I spoke on the House floor to honor the life & legacy of Richard Trumka. His leadership and partnership made a difference for the 500,000+ @WAAFLCIO union members here in WA, empowering them to organize to promote fair pay, better benefits, and safer working conditions. pic.twitter.com/gFXJXaSD7T
— Rep. Derek Kilmer (@RepDerekKilmer) October 27, 2021
► From the Battle Creek Inquirer — Demonstrators rally outside Kellogg Co. headquarters in support of striking workers — Three weeks into a strike at Kellogg Co., the Michigan AFL-CIO hosted a rally Wednesday in downtown Battle Creek in support of picketing workers. “Euphoric is actually the word that I’ve used because it’s really amazing… the amount of people that we have coming out supporting us,” said Trevor Bidelman, president of BCTGM Local 3G. “Kellogg’s unfortunately has done enough bad stuff to people in the city to where their big name doesn’t really mean as much as they think it does. You really can’t throw a rock in the city without hitting the house with somebody that’s been negatively impacted.”
► From Michigan Live — ‘Tony the tightwad’: Kellogg strikers rally outside Battle Creek HQ
► From the Intercept — After tractor collision during strike, John Deere declares accident reports ‘confidential’ — Following a high-profile accident involving a salaried worker filling in at a factory for a worker on strike, John Deere management is trying to prevent reports of similar incidents from reaching the general public. Company executives, concerned about “reputational risk” on social media, have instructed employees that accident reports are “confidential” and must not be shared with the public.
► From the AP — Starbucks raising U.S. workers’ pay as union effort looms — The Seattle-based coffee giant said all of its U.S. workers will earn at least $15 — and up to $23 — per hour by next summer. The action comes amid some worker unrest for the company. Employees at three Starbucks stores in Buffalo, New York, are trying to form a union to give them greater leverage on issues like understaffing of stores and worker training. Michelle Eisen, an 11-year Starbucks veteran who works at one of the Buffalo stores and supports the union effort, said Starbucks — which turned 50 this year — has had decades to implement seniority pay but is only choosing to do so now. “We look forward to making more improvements when we negotiate our contract,” Eisen said.
► From the USA Today — ‘Outraged’ American Airlines bans passenger for life after flight attendant injured — An American Airlines flight from New York to Orange County, California, was forced to divert to Denver Wednesday after the airline says a passenger “physically assaulted” a female flight attendant.
► From the Oregonian — Celtics’ Enes Kanter calls out Nike, Phil Knight over forced labor in China: ‘Slave labor camps’ — Nike has not publicly commented on Kanter’s posts.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.