Wednesday, December 15, 2021
► From the AP — Omicron variant spreading fast in Washington state — The omicron variant is spreading at an alarming rate in Washington state, doubling in case numbers each day, one of the highest rates in the country. It is leading to a call for people to get vaccinated and take extra precautions as we head into the holidays.
► From the Washington Post — Omicron spreading rapidly in U.S. and could bring punishing wave as soon as January, CDC warns — The prevalence of omicron jumped sevenfold in a single week, according to the CDC, and at such a pace, the highly mutated variant of the coronavirus could ratchet up pressure on a health system already strained in many places as the Delta variant continues its own surge.
The Stand (Dec. 14) — Nurses to WA State Legislature: Address hospital staffing crisis — A coalition of healthcare workers launched the WA Safe + Healthy campaign on Monday calling on Washington legislators to pass safe staffing standards that protect healthcare workers from dangerously high patient loads.
► From KING 5 — Seattle’s UW Medicine to study effects of psilocybin on stressed-out healthcare workers — Researchers are planning to use frontline healthcare workers as their subjects to examine the effect psilocybin has on treating depression.
► From the Wenatchee World — Alcoa officially pulls plug on Wenatchee Works smelter — The Wenatchee Works aluminum smelter in Malaga, idle since 2015, is being “permanently decommissioned,” The Alcoa Corp. announced Monday. Work will begin immediately to prepare the site for potential redevelopment. The announcement squashes any remaining hope that the plant, which once employed 400 people and still has three potlines capable of producing 146,000 metric tons of aluminum, would restart.
► From KING 5 — Seattle City Council votes to end hazard pay requirement for grocery employees — Seattle’s grocery businesses may soon no longer have to pay employees an additional $4 an hour in hazard pay after the city council approved ending the requirement on Monday. Hazard pay would end 30 days after the legislation is signed by the mayor.
► From the (Everett) Herald — EvCC taps human resources vice president to serve as acting president — Joseph Whalen will step into the top role just after a heated debate took place over the school’s Early Learning and Education Center. Last month college leaders were criticized for plans, which they later halted, to close the center and instead lease it to an outside agency to run similar programs and child care.
The Stand (Dec. 1) — EvCC Board: Don’t outsource college’s Early Learning Center
► From the P.S. Business Journal — Region’s Boeing 787 suppliers could see production delays into spring — The company is producing just two Dreamliners per month as it conducts inspections and completes rework in South Carolina. Boeing aims to return to five planes per month once the Dreamliner achieves recertification by regulators. But an analysis by industry news site Leeham indicates that the slowdown may persist into the spring.
► From the Seattle Times — Boeing barely beating Airbus on 2021 jet orders, but far behind in deliveries — The annual order race between the two rivals, while less critical in a year the coronavirus pandemic has drastically lowered demand, is nevertheless a measure of possible recovery ahead.
► From the (Longview) Daily News — Rivers plans to keep her seat in Washington Senate next year — Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) will be returning to the state Senate in January, two months after announcing her intent to step down to work for the City of Longview. Rivers initially said the full-time demands on legislators during the session would conflict with the new job and that she planned to step down in January 2022.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Tri-Citian announces run for Republican senator’s legislative seat — State Rep. Matt Boehnke (R-Kennewick) wants to switch chambers, announcing his candidacy for retiring Sen. Sharon Brown’s seat. Brown said last month that she will not seek re-election when her current term ends.
► From Bloomberg — Biden’s top labor lawyer will use her whole enforcement arsenal — Jennifer Abruzzo, the new general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, wants more injunctions against bosses and says “plenty” of gig workers are misclassified as independent contractors.
► From Roll Call — Optimism waning in Senate about budget reconciliation vote this month — Senate Democrats on Tuesday softened their optimism that their party’s sweeping safety net and climate spending and tax package will pass before Christmas, citing uncertainty about whether Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) is ready to support it and procedural steps that are far from complete.
The Stand (Dec. 7) — Urge Murray, Cantwell to finish the job, pass Build Back Better
► From The Hill — Democrats divided over how hard to push Manchin — Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is under pressure from progressives, including members of his own leadership team, to put the Build Back Better bill up for a vote next week, even though Manchin — a key swing vote — hasn’t yet said whether he will support proceeding to the measure.
► From the AP — Child tax credit close to lapsing as December checks go out — It’s one of the most far-reaching of all the federal aid programs launched during the COVID-19 pandemic — up to $300 per child going directly into the bank accounts of families on the 15th of every month. But the last checks will go out Wednesday, the expanded child tax credit program expiring unless Congress revives it for 2022. That appears highly uncertain as lawmakers try to push President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill into law.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Although the corporate media will continue to point to Sen. Manchin and Democratic “dysfunction” if this critical anti-poverty program lapses, it will be the fault of a united Republican Party that kills it. Not one of 50 Republicans is willing to vote to extend this program. Not one. But should Democrats manage to pass the bill, we all know what will happen…
► From the NY Times — Republicans who assailed Biden’s stimulus bill are embracing the money –Republican leaders across the country have been engaged in an awkward dance over the past few months as they accept — and often champion — money from the $350 billion bucket of state and local aid included in the stimulus bill, which passed Congress without a single Republican vote.
► From Politico — Congress clears $2.5T debt limit increase, forestalling economic fallout — The new ceiling is expected to carry spending until after the 2022 midterms.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The debt ceiling agreement is proof that Congress can approve exceptions to the sacrosanct Senate filibuster if it wants to. Now it should for the Voting Rights Act and the PRO Act.
► From the Washington Post — Airline executives called before Congress after multibillion-dollar rescue
► From the Washington Post — House votes to hold Meadows in contempt for refusing to comply with Jan. 6 committee subpoena — The House on Tuesday voted to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena issued by the bipartisan committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The resolution was approved on a 222-to-208 vote, with just two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) — joining Democrats in voting “yes.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington GOP Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse are just fine with Trump’s henchmen defying Congress and obstructing an investigation into the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
► From UNITE HERE — UNITE HERE issues Travel Alert: Hilton does not automatically clean hotel rooms every day — As the COVID-19 Omicron variant raises new safety concerns about holiday travel, housekeepers say that Hilton should not reduce cleaning services. Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta has said it is his goal to “retrain customers” and change expectations for housekeeping service, but housekeepers want travelers to know that Hilton says they can opt for daily housekeeping at no extra charge.
► From In These Times — How the mighty Culinary Union survived the apocalypse — After facing 98% unemployment in the depths of the pandemic, the strongest union in Las Vegas has risen again.
► From Jacobin — The Columbia strike is still underway, and tensions are high — The 3,000-member Student Workers of Columbia work stoppage is currently the largest strike in the US. With unfair labor practice charges unresolved and tensions rising, Columbia University is now threatening to replace strikers with scabs.
► From AL.com — Elizabeth Warren blasts equity firms, supports striking Alabama miners: ‘We can make change’ — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) showed support for miners, now in the ninth month of their strike against Warrior Met Coal, while attempting to spotlight legislation that she said will keep other American workers from making sacrifices when their companies are acquired by equity firms.
► From Business Insider — Bernie Sanders headed to Michigan to rally with striking Kellogg’s workers — Around 1,400 Kellogg’s workers in four states have been on strike since October when their last contract expired. They argue that the maker of Frosted Flakes and other breakfast cereals is seeking to undercut their union by creating a “two-tier” system of employment, with new hires offered less pay and fewer benefits.
The sanitation strike by more than 400 #Teamsters Local 396 members at Republic Services in Anaheim and Huntington Beach, CA has entered its second week – and Teamsters are getting community support and media attention on the picket line.#HoldTheLine #1u ✊ pic.twitter.com/EvMYJRGRt3
— Teamsters (@Teamsters) December 14, 2021
► From USA Today — Inside the frantic hours before candle factory was destroyed by tornado: ‘They should have sent us home’ — Mayfield Consumer Products employees want to know why the company didn’t decide to close and send workers home before the massive twister leveled the building, with some saying they were told they could be fired if they left.
► From the Intercept — After deadly warehouse collapse, Amazon workers say they receive virtually no emergency training — Amazon employees have been discouraged from taking time off for natural disasters because it would slow down production.
► From the Washington Post — The worker revolt comes to a Dollar General in Connecticut — On one side: six Dollar General employees, most of whom were making the minimum wage or just slightly above it. The group included a community college student, a struggling musician who had recently moved back home and two single moms, one of whom was Parsons. On the other: a company with yearly revenue approaching $34 billion, more than 157,000 employees and 17,683 stores, not one of which was unionized. In the days after Shellie Parsons and her co-workers signed union cards, the company hired five anti-union consultants, each of whom was paid $2,700 a day. It dispatched three out-of-state executives to the store who shadowed the employees for the month, working alongside them.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This is a sad story about Americans being denied their legal rights by a profitable corporation, which suffers no consequences for doing so. It’s why we need to PASS THE PRO ACT!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.