Wednesday, November 10, 2021
► From Reuters — Boeing U.S. worker vaccine exemption requests top 11,000 — The number of Boeing Co. employees seeking a vaccine exemption on religious or medical grounds has reached more than 11,000 – or nearly 9% of its U.S. workforce – a level many times higher than executives initially estimated, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The widespread reluctance has left executives scrambling for a strategy that keeps employees safe and complies with President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors, but avoids an exodus of engineering and factory labor, the people said. Boeing on Friday then delayed its deadline by about a month to Jan. 4 for employees to take a COVID-19 vaccine, or file an exemption on religious or medical grounds.
The Stand (Oct. 18) — WSLC updates position on vaccine mandates — Washington State Labor Council: Workers must have a voice in vaccine mandates and their consequences.
► From The Hill — Unvaccinated 20 times more likely to die from COVID-19: Texas study — The research, published by the Texas Department of State Health Services on Monday, found that unvaccinated individuals in their 40s were 55 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than others who were the same age and fully vaccinated. Among those aged 75 and older, the unvaccinated were 12 times more likely to die.
► From Politico — Biden called for widespread mandates. His VA is navigating its own minefields. — An overwhelming number of staff have gotten vaccinated. But a month after the deadline, at least 10% of a 380,000 health care workforce still haven’t.
► From the union-busting Columbian — Southwest Washington Kaiser workers set to strike Monday — Kaiser Permanente employees in Southwest Washington are set to strike Nov. 15 unless a deal is reached between union officials and Kaiser management. A strike could impact multiple facilities in Southwest Washington, including the Salmon Creek, Orchards and Cascade Park medical offices and the Longview-Kelso Medical Office. Nearly 3,400 nurses and other workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington voted overwhelmingly to approve a strike in October, citing concerns over Kaiser’s proposed 1 percent wage increase and two-tiered system that would significantly lower compensation for new hires, as well as inadequate staffing.
The Stand (Nov. 5) — Support Kaiser workers on verge of strike — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO urges all union members and community supporters to please sign this petition in support of the healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente.
► From the union-busting Columbian — Paraeducators vote to approve contract with Vancouver Public Schools — The Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals voted Monday to approve a new four-year contract with Vancouver Public Schools. Of the estimated 300 union members present at the meeting, 98 percent voted to approve the new deal, which was tentatively reached in a mediation session on Nov. 3. “I’m extremely pleased,” said VAESP President Barb Plymate. “This is the best deal I’ve ever seen the district give us, and I’ve been working here for 35 years.”
The Stand (Oct. 29) — Vancouver educators authorize strike to address school safety
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle-area carpenters union under trusteeship amid investigation into mismanagement, ‘voter fraud’ — Just a few weeks after a strike and contentious contract vote, the Northwest Carpenters Union has been placed into a trusteeship by its international union and three top officials have resigned. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America says it has found “evidence of voting fraud” during a recent union contract vote and is investigating other alleged misconduct.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The UBC is an independent union that is not affiliated with the AFL-CIO or the Washington State Labor Council, although multiple AFL-CIO unions supported their strike and their efforts to win better wages and working conditions.
► From the (Longview) Daily News — Longview staff warn board district will ‘continue to bleed employees’ if wages don’t increase — Longview classified school staff told the school board Monday the current worker shortage will only get worse if the district does not increases wages. SEIU 925 President Goldie Valentine told the board it “isn’t just our classified workers wanting an increase. They are concerned if the district doesn’t pay a living wage, something comparable to other districts north and south of us, we will not attract people to work here.”
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle and Bellevue schools cancel classes for students Friday due to lack of staff — As of last week, more than 600 educators had requested a substitute for Friday, a statement from the district said. Because Thursday is Veterans Day, a federal holiday, the Friday school cancellation means a four-day weekend for students and teachers.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Staffing shortages at DOT could mean closed roads, decreased service this winter — Staff shortages have hit the Department of Transportation, which is down about 300 people. And that could mean roads won’t be plowed or maintained as quickly as motorists have come to expect. Going into last winter, the department was already short due to many workers nearing retirement, pandemic-related hiring freezes, and reduced revenue and furloughs, according to a DOT spokesperson. Some of the positions were filled last winter, but only temporarily. Going into this year, the department, like many other industries, faced a worker shortage specifically for diesel mechanics and those with commercial driver’s licenses.
► From the Seattle Times — Washington’s redistricting commissioners confident they’ll meet deadline, but face pushback over South Seattle plans — With less than a week to go before the deadline to redraw the boundaries of Washington’s congressional and legislative district maps, members of the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission say they’re confident they can reach agreement. “We are at a critical point,” said April Sims, a state labor council leader and Democratic commissioner. “I remain optimistic that we will get our final maps negotiated and have something for the commission to adopt.”
► From the News Tribune — Class action lawsuit filed against new WA long-term care tax — Opponents of a mandatory payroll tax to fund Washington state’s new long-term care program filed a class action lawsuit Tuesday in federal court seeking to stop the January start of the payroll premium for most employees in the state. “The state simply does not have the power to mandate an employee benefit,” Richard Birmingham, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, said in a written statement announcing the lawsuit.
► BREAKING NEWS…
Breaking: In 7-2 ruling, WA Supreme Court rules @GovInslee‘s veto of single sentence in 2019 roads budget was illegal. Court affirms lower court ruling invalidating vetoes. #waleg #waelex https://t.co/1MKyAyUtDd
— Jerry Cornfield (@dospueblos) November 10, 2021
► From the AP — U.S.-funded child care aid nearing reality with Biden bill — Women — and some men — in Congress have been fighting for government child care assistance for almost 80 years. With President Joe Biden’s $1.85 trillion social services package, they are as close as they have ever been to winning. And it’s not just child care subsidies. Biden’s bill making its way through Congress would put the U.S. on course to providing free prekindergarten, paid family leave to care for children or sick loved ones, and an enhanced child tax credit in a massive expansion of federal support to working families. Taken together, it’s Democrats’ answer to President Richard Nixon’s veto of a 1971 child care bill and the earlier scrapping of World War II-era child care centers, potentially providing families with more government help than ever as many struggle in the wake of the pandemic.
TODAY at The Stand — Sen. Murray: Build Back Better will cut child care costs in half — It’s one of the reasons the AFL-CIO is urging you to call Congress in support of #BuildBackBetter.
TAKE A STAND — With the passage of the historic $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the AFL-CIO is calling on union members and community supporters to contact their member of Congress and urge them to finish the job by immediately passing the Build Back Better Act. This is a $1.75 trillion investment not only in child care, but also in home care, clean energy jobs, health care, tax fairness, immigration improvements and support for worker organizing. Take action today!
► From the Spokesman-Review — Congress sending billions to fix roads and bridges in Washington through infrastructure bill — Washington should get $4.7 billion for highways and $605 million for bridges, according to White House estimates. State legislatures will ultimately decide how to spend that money in each state. Washington has 416 bridges and more than 5,469 miles of highway considered to be in poor condition. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) crafted much of the bill as chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. In an interview Tuesday, she said investing in infrastructure will boost economic growth in the Inland Northwest and make the United States more competitive around the world.
► From the union-busting Columbian — Cantwell: Interstate 5 Bridge ‘big thing’ for federal infrastructure funds — Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package Friday, with $550 billion in infrastructure investments over the course of five years. The exact amount Washington will receive is unknown, but it is assured that the state will receive at least $8.59 billion and likely billions more from programs in the future. “A big thing is the Columbia River bridge and crossing,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said in an interview Tuesday.
► From Axios — Infrastructure bill includes billions for broadband — The infrastructure bill heading to President Biden’s desk includes $65 billion to improve high-speed internet access and affordability. Why it matters: The pandemic proved the necessity of connectivity to participate in daily American life, and Biden’s administration acknowledged that by including this funding in the infrastructure package. By the numbers: The funding is aimed towards building high-speed internet networks, helping low-income families pay for service and digital equity programs.
► From the Washington Post — Tensions rise among Republicans over infrastructure bill and whether any agreement with Biden should be tolerated — Republicans are increasingly divided over the bipartisan infrastructure bill that will soon become law, with tensions rising among GOP members over whether the party should remain united against all aspects of Biden’s agenda or strike deals in the rare instances when there is common ground. Former president Donald Trump has led the call to trash the bill while deriding Republicans who voted for the measure, saying they should be “ashamed of themselves” for “helping the Democrats.”
► From Politico — Biden denounces efforts to strip Republicans who supported infrastructure of committee standing — President Joe Biden on Tuesday condemned House Republicans who are considering retaliation against the 13 members who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, speaking to the growing partisan divide in American politics. “I’ve never seen it before. It’s got to stop — for the sake of America,” Biden said.
► From the Washington Post — GOP Rep. Fred Upton receives death threats after voting for bipartisan infrastructure deal — Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has received multiple death threats in the days since he voted for President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal, with the overwhelming majority of the calls coming from outside the congressman’s district.
EDITOR’S NOTE — That’s right. People are making death threats over infrastructure. After failing to overturn his election defeat and inciting a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Donald Trump and his cultish followers are threatening government officials who they consider obstacles to Trump’s return to power. It’s no longer partisan politics, it’s straight-up fascism.
► From Jacobin — Alabama miners are still on strike after 8 months — The courts have attacked their right to picket, and the company has engaged in a campaign of misinformation. But 1,000 union miners in Alabama are still on strike after eight months, fighting for decent compensation and humane work schedules.
The Stand (Oct. 4) — One day longer: Support Warrior Met strikers
TAKE A STAND — Please make a generous contribution to the UMWA’s Strike Aid Fund for the Warrior Met strikers. These donations are being used to help these union siblings in their time of need.
► From Business Insider — Meet the 18-year Kellogg’s veteran who’s leading workers in a month-long strike that’s still going: ‘What’s at stake here is the American middle class’ — Dan Osborn has worked at Kellogg’s for 18 years and he’s on strike for the first time. Not only is he one of the 1,400 workers who have been on strike since Oct. 5, he’s president of the local union branch in Omaha, Neb. They’re the latest group opting to stay on the picket line and demand equitable wages as thousands of workers across the country walk out, turning what the labor movement called #Striketober into #Strikesgiving. Just this week, John Deere union members voted down a tentative agreement, meaning that more than 10,000 workers will stay on strike.
► From the Washington Post — Rare Starbucks union vote set to begin in Buffalo — Workers at three separate Starbucks stores in and around Buffalo, New York, are expected to begin voting by mail this week on whether they want to be represented by Workers United, an SEIU affiliate. The NLRB’s regional office in Buffalo is scheduled to start mailing ballots Wednesday evening and count the votes on Dec. 9.
► From the AP — U.S. consumer prices soared 6.2% in past year, most since 1990 — Prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.2% in October compared with a year earlier as surging costs for food, gas and housing left Americans grappling with the highest inflation rate since 1990.
► From the AP — U.S. food banks struggle to feed hungry amid surging prices — U.S. food banks already dealing with increased demand from families sidelined by the pandemic now face a new challenge — surging food prices and supply chain issues walloping the nation.
► From the LA Times — Cargo jam at L.A. and Long Beach ports begins to ease as hefty fines loom
EDITOR’S NOTE — This one goes out to Larry and April…
► From the USA Today — Portugal made a law that bans texting employees after work — A law passed by the Portuguese parliament makes it illegal for employers to contact employees after work hours, a step the country has made to promote healthier work-life balance amid a surge of home workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.