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Hospital execs rake it in | Childs ‘not what we need’ | Big win in Mexico

Thursday, February 3, 2022




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Feb. 3 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 1,355,428 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 17,218) and 10,845 deaths.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Franklin’s COVID rate now 2nd highest in nation. Benton County not far behind. — Franklin County had the highest rate of new COVID cases in the lower 48 states over the last week, according to a map updated daily by the New York Times. Benton County ranked 9th in the nation outside of Alaska.

► From the Seattle Times — COVID cases, hospitalizations dropping in Western WA

► From the (Longview) Daily News — State, county COVID-19 cases trending down, deaths up following surge

► From the AP — Strained U.S. hospitals seek foreign nurses amid visa windfall — There’s an unusually high number of green cards available this year for foreign professionals, including nurses, who want to move to the United States — twice as many as just a few years ago. That’s because U.S. consulates shut down during the coronavirus pandemic weren’t issuing visas to relatives of American citizens, and, by law, these unused slots now get transferred to eligible workers.




► From KNDO — Washington hospitals paid over $20 million in bonuses to hospital executives in 2020 — Data from the state  Department of Health shows Washington hospitals paid more than $20 million in bonuses to hospital executives during the start of the pandemic in 2020. Health care workers on the frontlines are stressed and tired with staffing shortages building up. One local nurse tells me that knowing how much extra money her hospital’s executives are making, makes things even worse. “It makes me sick to my stomach,” said Nikki May, Registered ICU Nurse for Kadlec Medical Center. “it’s kind of like a slap in the face.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, hospital lobbyists opposing the safe staffing bills (SB 5751 and HB 1868) claim they can’t afford to hire more nurses or pay current ones more to retain them. They’ve been saying this since long before COVID when confronted about growing nurse-to-patient ratios, healthcare worker burnout, and patient safety issues. The Legislature needs to pass these bills to protect patients and health care workers from dangerously high patient loads, and establish adequate enforcement to ensure the standards are followed.

PREVIOUSLY at The Stand:

Video: Why Washington needs safe staffing standards (Jan. 19)
Lawmakers introduce bipartisan healthcare safe staffing bills (Jan. 11)
Nurses to WA State Legislature: Address hospital staffing crisis (Dec. 14, 2021)

ALSO see the WSLC one-pager on this safe staffing bill.

► From the NY Times — Rejected mail ballots are showing racial disparities — Among the thousands of mail-in ballots that were rejected in Washington state during the 2020 election, auditors have found that the votes of Black residents were thrown out four times as often as those of white voters. The rejections, all of them because of problematic signatures, disqualified one out of every 40 mail-in votes from Black people — a finding that already is causing concern amid the national debate over voter access and secure balloting. Washington, a state with broad experience in mail-in balloting, found that rejection rates were also elevated for Native American, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander voters.

► From KNKX — As red states impose new restrictions on voting, blue Washington presses ahead with expansions — Democrats are also advancing an automatic voter registration bill modeled after similar laws in states like Oregon and Colorado that have been credited with diversifying the electorate.

► From the Guardian — ‘We have to adapt’: Pacific Northwest weighs plans to cope with extreme weather — After a cataclysmic year of heat and floods, Washington state considers shifting funds from mitigation to adaptation.




► From the (Everett) Herald — Fate of EvCC’s Early Learning Center remains hazy — The future of an esteemed early education program at Everett Community College remains uncertain, despite Snohomish County’s offer for hundreds of thousands of dollars in increased funding. Union leaders and the preschool’s staff worry the college’s leaders have decided to shutter the center after a bargaining meeting this month, despite the county’s offer to increase funding.

► From the AP — Traffic control firm pays $250K over wage theft allegations — Officials alleged that Traffic Management Industries failed to pay its workers for required travel time and failed to consistently provide paid meal and rest breaks between 2017 and 2019. The settlement will be split among 244 workers.

► From the PSBJ — Seattle-area Menchie’s operator ordered to give back pay to workers — BroYo LCC, a Mercer Island-based operator of nine Menchie’s frozen yogurt stores in Western Washington, was ordered to pay $97,000 in back wages by the U.S. DOL over a tipping dispute.




► From the Washington Post — Labor groups wary of potential Supreme Court pick backed by top House DemocratUnion leaders are increasingly wary of President Biden’s potential selection of Judge J. Michelle Childs as a Supreme Court justice, citing her time working on behalf of employers against worker claims. The situation sets up a potential rift with Rep. James E. Clyburn, a top Democrat who has been pushing for her nomination. The labor leaders for now are mostly expressing their concerns in quiet back channels, but that could soon change. “She comes from an anti-union law firm where she spent time defending employers from claims of civil rights and labor law violations,” said David Borer, AFGE general counsel. “That’s not what we need.”

► From the NY Times — Little of the Paycheck Protection Program’s $800 billion protected paychecks — Only about a quarter of the funding went to jobs that would have been lost, new research found. A big chunk lined bosses’ pockets.

► From The Hill — Business interests take aim at China competitiveness bill — They’re pushing to ensure that several key measures in House Democrats’ proposal, including a government system to review private U.S. investments in China and new tariffs on Chinese shipments, aren’t included in the final package. The House bill includes far more aggressive trade provisions favored by labor unions and opposed by business groups. The proposal is backed by the AFL-CIO, along with several top labor unions and textile industry groups, who said that because Chinese de minimis shipments bypass U.S. retailers to go directly to consumers, the current system encourages the flow of counterfeit goods produced by forced labor at the expense of American workers.

► From The Hill — House Democrats warn delay will sink agenda — House Democrats of all stripes are pressing for quick action on the climate, health and education package at the heart of President Biden’s domestic agenda, warning that a long delay in revisiting the Build Back Better Act is the surest way to kill it. “This desperately needed relief cannot be delayed any longer,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

► From The Hill — Democrats hit limits with Luján’s absence — Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s (D-N.M.) stroke is forcing Democrats to recalibrate as they hit the limits of their 50-50 majority. Senators are hopeful he’ll return quickly. His aides say he’s expected to make a full recovery and return in four to six weeks barring complications.

► From the Guardian — Texas leans on new voting law to reject thousands of primary ballots — Officials in Texas are rejecting thousands of mail-in ballots ahead of the first 2022 midterm primary votes next month, raising serious alarm that a new Republican law is going to disenfranchise droves of eligible voters.




► From Reuters — GM workers in Mexico elect independent union, pushing for higher wages — An independent labor union supported by international activists has won a sweeping victory to represent workers at a General Motors’ pickup-truck plant in the central Mexican city of Silao, Mexican officials said on Thursday. The union, SINTTIA, beat three rivals by a wide margin, including Mexico’s biggest labor organization that had held the contract for 25 years, and is poised to bring about a bump in wages in a country where salaries have stagnated for years. SINTTIA won with 4,192 votes out of 5,389 valid ballots, in an election with almost 90% turnout.

► From the AFL-CIO — GM Silao facility workers vote overwhelmingly to join independent union — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler:

“This win, made possible by the reforms we helped negotiate into the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, is a significant victory not only for workers in Mexico but around the world.”

The Stand (Dec. 10, 2019) — AFL-CIO endorses USMCA after negotiating labor improvements

► From Vice — Labor groups urge Biden administration to investigate alleged ‘modern-day’ slavery in GeorgiaThe Biden administration, including Vice President Kamala Harris, is being pressured to investigate the H-2A visa program, that contributed to horrifying conditions at farms in Georgia, where workers were allegedly forced to dig onions with their bare hands for pennies per bucket at gunpoint.

► From Reuters — U.S. job market faces reshuffling as workers quit at near record rates — Nearly 4 million Americans on average quit their jobs each month last year, an unprecedented wave of workplace turnover as the economy emerged from a pandemic-induced recession that, while brief, appears to be leaving a lasting imprint on the U.S. job market.

► From Reuters — Union to weigh steps in U.S. refinery worker contract — The United Steelworkers union will conduct meetings on Thursday to consider the next steps in talks for a new contract covering workers at U.S. refineries, chemical plants and oil pipelines, according to a text message to members on Wednesday.

► From Vice — Unionizing Amazon workers in Bessemer have no shot. Or do they? — House visits, mail-in voting, high turnover, and public declarations of support could all benefit the union in an upcoming union election at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama warehouse.

► From the AP — California eyes giving 500,000 fast food workers more power — Under a first-in-the-nation measure approved by the state Assembly on Monday, workers would be included alongside employers and state agencies on a new Fast-Food Sector Council to set statewide minimum standards on wages, working hours, training and working conditions.

The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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