Wednesday, February 16, 2022
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Feb. 16 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 1,410,658 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 6,755) and 11,373 deaths.
► From KOMO — Inslee deciding whether to end indoor mask mandate in Washington — Gov. Jay Inslee has set a Thursday news conference where it is expected he will announce if and when he will lift the indoor mask mandate. The outdoor mask mandate ends Friday.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Richland schools close immediately after surprise vote to defy WA mask mandate
► From the Washington Post — U.S. ‘excess deaths’ during pandemic surpassed 1 million, CDC says — Although the vast majority of the excess deaths are due to the virus, the CDC mortality records also expose swollen numbers of deaths from heart disease, hypertension, dementia and other ailments across two years of pandemic misery.
► From the NY Times — ‘Nurses have finally learned what they’re worth’ — Bedside nursing has always been, as one hospital chief executive put it, a “burnout profession.” The work is hard. It is physical and emotional. And hospitals have built shortages into their business model, keeping their staffs lean and their labor costs down. When the pandemic hit, shortages only increased, pushing hospitals to the breaking point. In the flood of resignations, retirements and shortages that have redefined workplaces across industries these past two years, nothing has been as dramatic or as consequential as the shifts taking place in nursing. The scramble for bedside nurses is tied to everything from how we run our hospitals to the way we value the work of caring for others to our understanding of public health and medicine.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Senate advances funding piece of $17B transportation package — The state Senate on Wednesday approved a 16-year, $16.8 billion transportation package, which would steer $600 million into Snohomish County for new roads, expanded bus service and increased safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. Democrats crafted the proposal that passed on a 29-20 vote. It now goes to the House for consideration.
The Stand (Feb. 9) — Coalition backs ‘Move Ahead Washington’ — Labor, business and environmental interests support Democrats’ bold transportation package.
ALSO see the WSLC one-pager on investing in transportation.
► From the AP — Senate approves bill on governor’s emergency powers — Nearly two years after Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Senate on Tuesday approved a measure that authorizes legislative leaders to terminate an emergency after 90 days if the Legislature is not in session.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, south of the border…
► From the Oregonian — Oregon Senate votes to curb mandatory overtime for bakery workers — The Oregon Senate voted overwhelmingly (24-2) Tuesday in favor of a bill that would prohibit employers from penalizing bakery and tortilla plant workers who refuse to work overtime shifts on short notice.
► From the Bellingham Herald — As Bellingham steps away from natural gas, local labor grapples with its future — As planet-warming fossil fuels are phased out in Bellingham, a question bubbles to the surface of conversations between labor leaders and local officials: What happens to the living-wage jobs the fossil fuel industry supports? “Laborers are understandably nervous,” said Trevor Smith, political director for Laborers Local 292, which represents about 1,400 members across Whatcom, Snohomish, Island, San Juan and Skagit counties. “They want to know what this means for them and their families.”
► From the (Longview) Daily News — Longview classified staff urge district to increase wages amid staffing shortages — Several members of SEIU 925, which represents staff such as paraeducators, bus drivers, food service and maintenance workers, and community members called for wage increases among staffing shortages.
The Stand (Feb. 10) — Urge Daily News in Longview to offer living wages to staff
► From the (Everett) Herald — Driver shortage cuts bus routes between Snohomish, King counties — Driver shortages caused Sound Transit to cut 18 daily weekday bus trips on express routes between King and Snohomish counties. Similar problems with canceled or delayed trips over the past month have also hit Sound Transit’s other express routes, operated by King County Metro and Pierce Transit.
► From the Seattle Times — King County reaches for ideas to calm problems on buses — In the future, teams of helpers might meet King County Metro Transit buses at the end of their trips, to coax so-called “non-destinational riders” into accepting social services without a confrontation.
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle’s Academy for Rising Educators aims to fill a critical classroom need — As Seattle Public Schools tries to fill classroom vacancies, the Academy of Rising Educators has become a steady staffing source.
► From the Seattle Times — When Boeing 787 deliveries resume, FAA will certify each plane itself — The FAA informed Boeing Tuesday that, when it finally approves resumption of deliveries of the 787, the agency will perform final inspections on each newly built jet before issuing an airworthiness certificate that approves the plane to carry passengers. That power to issue those individual airworthiness certificates is routinely delegated to the manufacturer. But the quality problems afflicting the 787 manufacturing process prompted the FAA to withhold that authority from Boeing.
► From the Salisbury Post — Rare opportunity for Congress to help American competitiveness (by NC AFL-CIO President Marybe McMillan) — When President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in November, it was a major win for American workers who are ready to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. This month, the U.S. House built on that success by passing the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (America COMPETES) Act bipartisan legislation to strengthen supply chains, hold China accountable, and ensure our workers, farmers, and manufacturers have the necessary tools not just to compete, but also to win in the global economy.
► From the NY Times — See (the worst people in) the world! — Flight attendants often love their jobs. The wages are decent for an occupation that doesn’t require a college education and that provides on-the-job training. The career also provides plenty of perks, which grow over time. But pandemic anxiety, hostility and tantrums have turned airplanes into battlefronts. In some ways, it’s not so different on the ground for greeters at big-box stores, grocery employees, waiters, bus drivers and other workers whose jobs require that they remind people to comply with mask policies. They all risk being cursed out, spit at or punched. But airlines are a particular dumping ground for stress and rudeness during the pandemic. And if a customer spins out of control midflight, flight attendants have no escape and no way to eject the passenger. Instead, the attendant is required to uphold a federal mask mandate with little perceived authority — the public thinks “we are nothing more than cocktail waitresses,” one told me — and without the muscle of law enforcement.
► From Reuters — Private prison company to test U.S. house arrest program for immigrants — A subsidiary of the GEO Group will run a new U.S. pilot program that would place hundreds of migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border under house arrest, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said, an approach that critics say is an extension of for-profit detention.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.