Thursday, December 2, 2021
► From the Spokesman-Review — As Omicron makes its West Coast debut, a third of state’s population remains vulnerable — The new omicron variant of coronavirus was detected in California on Wednesday, and health officials say it’s only a matter of time before it’s detected in Washington. Omicron will arrive when a third of Washington’s population is still vulnerable to the virus, according to state modeling, State Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist said. “That model shows us about 34%, or a third of the entire state’s population, is still vulnerable to this infection, and that means they aren’t vaccinated or haven’t been infected,” he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The smartest thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your co-workers is to get vaccinated/boosted. Do it now!
► From the Washington Post — ‘We are pulling out all the stops’: White House details strategies to combat Delta, Omicron variants — Within hours of the first confirmed infection from the new omicron variant in the United States, the Biden administration on Thursday announced an array of measures to protect Americans, including campaigns to increase vaccinations and booster shots, more stringent testing requirements for travelers entering the country and plans to make rapid at-home coronavirus testing free for more people.
► From Teamsters 174 — Stoneway concrete drivers begin Unfair Labor Practice strike — Stoneway Concrete drivers joined their Gary Merlino Construction (GMC) brothers and sisters on the picket lines today, beginning an Unfair Labor Practice strike over their Employer’s failure to bargain in good faith. The group of nearly 100 concrete mixer drivers had been honoring the GMC strike for nearly two weeks, but today they officially began picketing in an attempt to force their Employer back to the bargaining table.
The Stand (Nov. 29) — Gary Merlino drivers’ ULP strike continues
► From the (Everett) Herald — In about-face, EvCC pauses plan to close Early Learning Center — Facing criticism from parents, staff and students, as well as questions from elected officials, Everett Community College leaders have halted a plan to close its pre-kindergarten facility at the end of the school year. An hour before Tuesday evening’s Board of Trustees meeting, and a simultaneous union gathering in response to the proposed closure, the college announced it “will temporarily pause any action on program closure at this time.”
The Stand (Dec. 1) — EvCC Board: Don’t outsource college’s Early Learning Center
EDITOR’S NOTE — Suspending the planned closure/outsourcing was step one. Now, WFSE Local 1020 says the hard work begins to 1) get EvCC to open the books to explain the financial discrepancies that led to this proposal, and 2) explore funding sources to make sure that the ELC can remain open.
► From the NW Labor Press — ILWU launches union campaign at NORPAC paper mill in Longview — The sun hadn’t yet come up Monday Nov. 29 when a group of workers entered the NORPAC paper mill in Longview, Washington, to deliver an announcement to management: We’re unionizing. Later that day, ILWU Local 21 filed a petition asking the NLRB to hold an election for about 160 papermakers at the mill.
► From the NW Labor Press — UFCW Local 555 to hold strike votes at Fred Meyer, QFC — Workers at many Fred Meyer and QFC stores in Oregon will soon be voting on whether to authorize a strike. UFCW Local 555 is holding meetings in Portland, Tigard, Bend, and Klamath Falls starting Dec. 10 to discuss and vote on that question.
► From Accountable Northwest — An open letter to the Seattle Foundation — On Nov. 24, we mailed the following letter to Seattle Foundation leaders and board members, requesting they terminate all funding to the so-called “Freedom” Foundation. The Seattle Foundation has pledged that they will no longer give grants to groups engaged in unlawful discrimination and/or hateful activities. Our mailed packet included this letter, our report on how the “Freedom” Foundation is shamefully associating with, and in some cases participating in, both discriminatory and hateful activities, and our petitions that drew support from over 30 area organizations and nearly 5,000 citizens.
TAKE A STAND — If you agree that the “Freedom” Foundation’s divisive ideology and partisan attacks on public health are in direct opposition to the noble missions of the Seattle Foundation, you can add your name to this petition.
► From the AP — China clears Boeing 737 MAX to fly again — China’s aviation regulator cleared the Boeing 737 MAX on Thursday to return to flying with technical upgrades more than two years after the plane was grounded worldwide following two fatal crashes. China is the last major market where the Boeing 737 MAX was awaiting approval after the United States allowed flights to resume in December 2020 and European Union regulators gave permission in January.
► From the News Tribune — Get ready to pay more for state workers’ compensation insurance in 2022 — Employers and workers will have to pay about 3.1% more for workers’ compensation insurance for hours worked in 2022, the state Department of Labor and Industries announced Tuesday. The insurance allows employees who are injured on the job to receive partial wage replacement and approved medical benefits.
The Stand (Dec. 1) — L&I announces 3.1% rate hike for workers’ compensation
► From the Seattle Times — As COVID crisis continues, new proposals aim to reduce poverty in Washington state — Washington officials are eyeing fresh steps and approaches to reduce poverty, including finding new ways to measure the economic recovery and disparities, and to boost the voice of communities often excluded from such policymaking. The state Department of Social and Health Services is requesting $630,000 in new funding for four new staffers for an “emerging public-private collaboration to define, measure, and build accountability toward a just and equitable future.”
► From the union-busting Columbian — State Rep. Vicki Kraft announces run for 3rd Congressional District — Kraft (R-Vancouver) announced Tuesday that she is running for Washington’s 3rd CD — adding to the number of Republican candidates for the seat. Following President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, Kraft was among many Trump supporters to claim the results were fraudulent. She propagated conspiracy theories relating to the event and requested a further investigation on its results.
► From the (Everett) Herald — State House COVID rules won’t exclude GOP lawmakers (editorial) — Not withstanding the refusal of a handful of state Republican lawmakers to get vaccinations — and their lawsuit objecting to the requirements to attend House sessions in person — the show will go on when the Legislature convenes on Jan. 10 for its regular 60-day session.
ROE V. WADE
► From HuffPost — Roe v. Wade in serious peril after dramatic Supreme Court arguments –The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday in a case that threatens to overturn the constitutional right to access safe and legal abortion across the country. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court appeared largely supportive of a 2018 Mississippi law that seeks to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law directly contradicts Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects a person’s right to abortion. The court isn’t expected to decide the Mississippi case until spring 2022. Arguing to preserve the settled law of Roe v. Wade, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked, “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”
► From the Washington Post — Kavanaugh, who told Senate Roe v. Wade was ‘settled as precedent,’ signals openness to overturning abortion decision — Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday repeatedly indicated he would be open to overturning “settled law,” including Roe v. Wade, citing a list of past Supreme Court cases that had been ruled against precedent.
► From the Spokesman-Review — The Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade. Here’s what that could look like in the Inland Northwest. — The Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights advocacy organization, estimates abortion could become illegal or restricted in 26 states. If Roe is overturned, a “trigger law” passed in Idaho last year would go into effect and ban most abortions. Washington has had legalized abortion since 1970, before Roe went into effect. The state allows abortions up until the point of viability. But one of the biggest impacts Washington would see if Roe is overturned is the number of out-of-state residents who would come into the state to receive an abortion.
EDITOR’S NOTE — With the 2019 passage of Resolution #31, “the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, affirms that reproductive rights are workers’ rights and will defend and support efforts to obtain and maintain health care for working people covering all reproductive rights choices.”
► From the People’s World — Union leaders Shuler, Henry join V.P. Harris in big push for Build Back Better — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry joined Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris and other progressive leaders in yet another big push to convince a balky Senate to approve Biden’s 10-year Build Back Better plan to repair many holes in the nation’s leaky social safety net. Shuler said the bill’s increased fines for employers that violate labor laws would be “the biggest boost to workers’ rights because it’ll have real penalties to employers who violate the right to form a union.”
► BREAKING from the Washington Post — House, Senate leaders announce government funding deal as they race to avert shutdown — House and Senate leaders on Thursday announced they had reached a deal on a bill to fund the government into mid-February, opening the door for lawmakers to narrowly avoid a shutdown this weekend. The agreement on a new stopgap spending measure paves the way for the House to vote before the end of the day, though swift action still seemed uncertain in the Senate, where some Republicans have threatened to grind the government to a halt as they protest President Biden’s vaccine and testing mandates.
► From AFGE — Largest federal employee union urges Congress to avert government shutdown — AFGE National President Everett Kelley:
“A government shutdown just before the holidays would be a Christmas gift to America’s global adversaries, who are anxious to exploit every failure of our democratic system of government, and a lump of coal in the stocking of every hardworking American honorably serving their country and every citizen who counts on critical government services, including our most vulnerable citizens. Our members have a simple message for Congress: Stop playing chicken with people’s lives and do your jobs.”
► From the Washington Post — ICE holds growing numbers of immigrants at private facilities despite Biden campaign promise to end practice — The near collapse of immigration detention in New Jersey marked a significant victory for “abolish ICE” activists, but their mood these days is hardly celebratory. Instead of crippling immigration detention, they have simply relocated it. Agents transferred dozens of immigrants from New Jersey to other facilities, often run by private companies, in states such as Louisiana, Georgia, and New York.
► From WOWT — Kellogg’s reaches tentative agreement with union — Kellogg’s has reached a tentative agreement with its union leaders. The new five-year labor contract would cover 1,400 employees at four cereal plants in the U.S. Among other things, the tentative agreement includes an accelerated, defined path to legacy wages and benefits for transitional employees, as well as wage increases and enhanced benefits for all. Union members are expected to vote on the tentative agreement on Sunday, two months after the strike began.
ALSO see the statement from the BCTGM announcing the TA.
► From AZ Central — HMSHost employees announce return to work at Sky Harbor Airport after 10-day strike — Hospitality and concessions workers of HMSHost at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport announced they are returning to work and negotiations on Thursday after 10 days on strike, according to labor union UNITE HERE Local 11.
► From NPR — Baseball owners lock players out after their bargaining agreement expires — Major League Baseball owners and players failed to reach a deal on a new work agreement, triggering a lockout — the owners’ version of a strike. It’s the first MLB work stoppage since a 1994 strike cut the season short and canceled the World Series. The sides have about two months before spring training to try to resolve their differences over pay structures and other issues. For now, the lockout halts offseason roster trades like free agency signings and some minor player preseason work.
► From The Onion — Starbucks dangles tied-up union organizers over vat of steamed milk
► The Entire Staff of The Stand wishes all a Happy Hanukkah! And what better way to do it than sharing Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters singing Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana”! It’s part of a series of sessions by Grohl and record producer extraordinaire Greg Kirsten that is celebrating Jewish artists during the Festival of Lights. Check out the Foo Fighters’ YouTube channel to see their covers of Van Halen’s “Jump,” the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop,” Lisa Loeb’s “Stay,” and to find out what comes next. We wish your family peace and light this holiday season.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.