Tuesday, January 4, 2022
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Jan. 4 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 882,144 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 5,455) and 9,853 deaths.
► From NPR — More than 1 million Americans were diagnosed with COVID on Monday, a new global record — The U.S. reported a record 1,082,549 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. It’s the latest in a series of staggering milestones brought on by the highly transmissible omicron variant, which is sweeping across the U.S. and around the world.
► From the News Tribune — COVID-19 case numbers explode in Washington — COVID-19 is on a rampage through Washington, based on data released by the state Department of Health on Monday. The state recorded 6,037 new cases after breaking records in the last week.
► From the PSBJ — UW Medicine delays elective surgeries as cases surge
► From the AP — Thousands of flights canceled, delayed at start of workweek — A winter storm hitting the mid-Atlantic combined with the pandemic to further frustrate air travelers in the new year.
► From Politico — Governors demand schools stay open but districts may lack enough teachers — For now, political leaders across the ideological spectrum are pressuring schools to keep their doors open.
► From the NY Times — Parents grapple with omicron’s upending force in schools — Some want classrooms to stay open through the surge; others are desperate for a remote option. For nearly all, it’s an agonizing situation.
► From Teamsters 174 — Teamsters Local 174 construction general strike continues after holiday break — After a brief break over the holidays, picket lines are now back up as 330 Teamsters continue to withhold labor as part of an Unfair Labor Practice strike. The strike began on November 19 with 34 workers at Gary Merlino Construction, but has since expanded into a general strike targeting Gary Merlino, Stoneway Concrete, Cadman, CalPortland/Glacier, Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel, and Lehigh Cement. The workers are all members of Teamsters Local 174, and are on strike in protest of the six Companies’ refusal to bargain in good faith. The contracts have been expired since July 31, 2021.
► From The Stranger — UW researchers begin the fight to organize — Starting in 2017, the UW Postdocs spent over two years fighting for their contract. During those years, UW promoted many of the same postdocs who organized the union to research staff positions. Although they would not be able to reap the benefits of the union they helped build, Iván Cruz and others used their disappointment as a catalyst to unionize one of the last non-union corners of UW.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — 1,500 researchers at UW file to form union with UAW
► From Working to Live in SW Washington — What does this year’s ‘strike wave’ mean for 2022? (podcast) — 2021 has been a year unlike any in recent memory, filled with worker energy and power. Some have even called this moment we’re living in a “strike wave,” but will all this worker activism continue into the new year? The Stand’s David Groves and the Northwest Labor Press’ Don McIntosh sit down with Shannon and Harold to discuss the gains working people have made in 2021, and look ahead to what’s in store for 2022.
► From the Seattle Times — Hoping for recovery, Boeing bosses look to the future, deflect questions on the MAX crashes — After almost three years of crisis, with Boeing still facing immense challenges, two top Boeing leaders(Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal and Boeing Chief Engineer Greg Hyslop) in exclusive interviews laid out their strategy: hunker down, fix the litany of current problems and rely on a revamp of the company’s engineering culture to restore Boeing’s stained reputation.
► From the Olympian — Washington state minimum wage
to increase increased 80 cents on Jan. 1 — The new hourly minimum, which applies to employees 16 years and older, will increase 80 cents per hour to $14.49 from the current $13,69, according to the state Department of Labor & Industries.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — New year brings wage increase, overtime pay — On Saturday, Jan. 1, the Washington state minimum wage increased and thousands more workers — including farm workers — gained access to overtime pay protections, all thanks to policies strongly supported by the state’s labor movement.
► From the AP — State House returns to mostly remote session amid COVID-19 spike — In response to an increase of COVID-19 cases across the state, the Washington House is scaling back the number of people allowed in the chamber for the upcoming legislative session, with an updated plan requiring a majority of lawmakers to vote remotely, as they did last year.
► From the Seattle Times — Three WA Republican legislators used taxpayer money to attend Mike Lindell’s election conspiracy conference — This summer, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell convened a three-day “Cyber Symposium” in South Dakota, promising to provide “irrefutable” evidence the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump by hackers. The three-day event, rife with debunked conspiracy theories, produced no such proof… Among the state lawmakers on hand were three Republicans from Washington — pictured here from left, Reps. Robert Sutherland (R-Granite Falls), Vicki Kraft (R-Vancouver), and Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) — whose trips to the Lindell event were paid for with taxpayer dollars.
► From the Bellingham Herald — Whatcom Republican Party suggests these three to complete state Sen. Ericksen’s term — Ben Elenbaas, Tawsha Dykstra Thompson and Simon Sefzik were selected as candidates to replace state Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), who died Dec. 17 after a five-week battle with COVID-19.
► From the National Law Review — OSHA withdraws COVID-19 healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard, vows to use General Duty Clause — OSHA “strongly urges” continued compliance with the withdrawn standard, promising to use the discontinued requirements of the Healthcare ETS to “vigorously enforce” the General Duty Clause, a “catch-all” provision of the OSH Act covering hazards not addressed in promulgated standards.
► From the AFL-CIO — Health care workers need mandatory OSHA protections from COVID-19 — The AFL-CIO, AFT, AFSCME, UFCW, USW, RWDSU and SEIU “strongly disagree with the Biden administration’s decision to discontinue the enforceable OSHA ETS for health care workers. With the omicron variant surging and no permanent standard in place, our front-line heroes are in grave danger of COVID-19 infection. Workplace COVID-19 outbreaks are exploding; recent data show the number of infections doubled and deaths nearly quadrupled among nursing home workers alone.”
► From The Hill — Schumer ramps up filibuster fight ahead of Jan. 6 anniversary — Supporters of changing the 60-vote threshold required for most legislation to pass the Senate face hurdles because Democrats need total unity from their 50-member caucus. But Democrats are hoping that tying the voting rights discussions to the looming one-year mark of the Capitol attack will sway reluctant colleagues.
► From The Hill — Democrats hit pause on Biden’s climate, social spending package — Senate Democrats are putting President Biden’s climate and social spending plan on the back burner as they plan to debate voting rights legislation this month and hold a vote on changing the Senate’s filibuster rule. Democratic aides say the Build Back Better bill won’t be ready for floor action any time soon and predict the wide-ranging legislation that the White House has negotiated with centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) may have to be completely overhauled.
► From The Hill — Renewed support for unions belies anti-labor laws in most states (by AFGE President Everett Kelley) — Unions rarely have been more popular than they are today, but anti-union labor laws are keeping union membership numbers artificially low by making it harder for workers who want to form or join a union to do so… Outdated labor laws advantage anti-union companies with armies of lawyers over every day American workers. These laws are preventing Americans who want to have a union from joining or forming one in their own workplace, keeping union membership and workers’ pay artificially low. That’s the untold story that’s getting clearer every day.
► From Harper’s Bazaar — The women leading today’s historic labor movement — Amid pandemic-fueled workplace strikes demanding better pay and benefits, and more flexibility, female union leaders are heading the charge for a brighter professional future. Among the most visible leaders are Liz Shuler, recently named the first female president of the AFL-CIO; Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants; Crystal Dunn, vice president and secretary of the U.S. Women’s National Team Players’ Association; and Mary Kay Henry, the leader of SEIU.
► From the LA Times — Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez resigns from Legislature to lead California Labor Federation — California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) announced her resignation Monday and said she plans to take over as leader of the California Labor Federation when its longtime executive secretary, Art Pulaski, steps down this summer.
► From the Oregonian — Warren Buffett rejects Bernie Sanders’ call to resolve strike at Precision Castparts subsidiary — Billionaire Warren Buffett told Sen. Bernie Sanders last week that he won’t intervene in a three-month USW strike at a West Virginia subsidiary of Portland-based Precision Castparts, one of the largest companies owned by Buffett’s investment firm.
► From the Denver Gazette — Nearly 100% of King Soopers union employees vote to strike in Denver metro — In a nearly unanimous vote, King Soopers employees in the Denver metro area supported going on strike Sunday amid ongoing contract negotiations, according to UFCW Local 7. King Soopers and the labor union’s 17,000 employees are in the middle of a heated contract dispute, with the existing contract set to expire on Saturday.
► From the Washington Post — Politics & Prose becomes first unionized bookstore in D.C. — Longtime D.C. institution Politics & Prose became the first unionized bookstore in Washington, D.C. after the union and owners announced Monday they reached an agreement with UFCW 400 to voluntarily recognize the union.
EDITOR’S NOTE — ILWU Local 5 represent more than 400 booksellers, inventory specialists, cashiers, used and new book buyers, truckers, and warehouse workers across all Powell’s Books locations in the Portland Metro area. Powell’s workers founded the union in 1999, beginning a decades-long campaign for workers’ rights. Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for better working conditions and a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.