Tuesday, March 8, 2022
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 8 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 1,432,321 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 1,935) and 12,076 deaths.
► From the Peninsula Daily News — Clallam County adds two deaths due to COVID-19
► From the Bellingham Herald — Bellingham hospital reports fewest COVID patients since August, but Whatcom adds a death
► From The Atlantic — How did this many deaths become normal? — The United States reported more deaths from COVID-19 last Friday than deaths from Hurricane Katrina, more on any two recent weekdays than deaths during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, more last month than deaths from flu in a bad season, and more in two years than deaths from HIV during the four decades of the AIDS epidemic. At least 953,000 Americans have died from COVID, and the true toll is likely even higher because many deaths went uncounted. COVID is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after only heart disease and cancer, which are both catchall terms for many distinct diseases. The sheer scale of the tragedy strains the moral imagination. On May 24, 2020, as the United States passed 100,000 recorded deaths, The New York Times filled its front page with the names of the dead, describing their loss as “incalculable.” Now the nation hurtles toward a milestone of 1 million. What is 10 times incalculable?
► From CBS News — Official COVID-19 death toll tops 6 million as pandemic ebbs in many places but roars on in others — The milestone is the latest tragic reminder of the unrelenting nature of the pandemic even as people are shedding masks, travel is resuming and businesses are reopening around the globe.
► From the Washington Post — COVID long-haulers face grueling fights for disability benefits — Tasked with sorting legitimate health claims from fraudulent or marginal ones, disability benefit gatekeepers now face a novel challenge as the coronavirus pandemic drags on: a flood of claims citing a post-infection syndrome that is poorly understood by the medical community and difficult to measure.
► From KUOW — Teachers without licenses taught at Seattle-area charter schools, audits find — The state audit found that Summit Sierra and Summit Atlas, schools in Seattle, and Summit Olympus, a school in Tacoma, received nearly $4 million in funding related to the positions, which may now need to be repaid. As privately run, publicly funded institutions, charter schools are allowed to operate independently, but teachers must either possess or be in the process of obtaining Washington teaching licenses. This was discovered through a routine audit; State Auditor Pat McCarthy called these findings “unprecedented.”
The Stand (March 7) — Audit finds uncertified teachers at Summit charter schools
► From the Seattle Times — WA state fines construction companies $20,000 after convention center death — Washington state has fined two construction companies — Performance Contracting Inc. (PCI) and Clark Construction Group — a combined $20,000 after a construction worker was killed at the downtown Seattle convention center expansion. Bryan Phillips, 31, died in an accident at the site in September.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Fill ‘pothole’ in state’s transportation package (editorial) — Lawmakers should press for a revenue solution — as imperfect as it may be — that avoids cutting into the $16.8 billion list of improvements and public works it set out to complete from the start. Over the course of the package, between now and 2038, Washington state will need to make transformative changes to its system of moving people and goods by private vehicles, freight trucks, ferry, bus, rail, bicycle and foot that meaningfully limit greenhouse gas emissions and moves Washington ahead.
The Stand (Feb. 9) — Coalition backs ‘Move Ahead Washington’ package — Labor, business and environmental interests support bold transportation effort.
► From the Seattle Times — WA redistricting commission chair resigns after Democrats refuse to defend new maps — The nonpartisan chair of Washington’s redistricting commission resigned Monday, lashing out at Democratic leaders for refusing to defend legislative maps drawn by the commission from a legal challenge. That lawsuit contends the final commission legislative map illegally dilutes the power of Latino voters in Central Washington by splitting them among multiple districts… Democratic-appointed Commissioner April Sims said she remained proud of the compromise maps agreed to by the bipartisan panel but could not oppose the lawsuit brought on behalf of Latino voters in Central Washington. “What I am hearing from the community in Yakima compels me to bring their voices into this room and center the solutions that they’re asking for,” she said.
► From the PS Business Journal — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine adds to Boeing’s widebody worries — For Boeing, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has meant losing access to 2,000 workers who support the jet maker’s beleaguered widebody programs. The company announced March 3 that it had closed its engineering, flight training and customer operations in Moscow, as well as a facility in Kyiv, Ukraine, after the war broke out and the U.S. announced hefty sanctions against Russia. While the lost business is negligible for Boeing, the engineering talent will be much harder to restore, said one analyst.
► From Reuters — Russia proposes nationalizing foreign-owned factories that shut operations — A senior member of Russia’s ruling party has proposed nationalizing foreign-owned factories that shut down operations in the country. Several foreign companies including Toyota, Nike and home furnishings retailer IKEA have announced temporary shutdowns of stores and factories in Russia in order to put pressure on the Kremlin to stop its invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
The Stand (May 8, 2014) — Profits come before democracy as Boeing exports jobs to Russia (by John Burbank) — When Boeing lays off engineers here, it hires them in South Carolina, Alabama… and Moscow. The capital of Russia is the big bear that is threatening the Ukraine and other nations that won their independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union. So now when our government is imposing business sanctions against Russia, where do you think Boeing will stand? Backing up those sanctions and closing down its work in Moscow? Or counseling the administration to “go slow” and in the meantime build up its Russian workforce. Boeing’s history in the last decade has been to put corporate profits and CEO prerogatives ahead of respect for workers, ahead of the communities in which Boeing is situated, and far in front of democracy.
► From the NY Times — Employer practices limit workers’ choices and wages, U.S. study argues — The recent narrative is that there is a tight labor market that gives workers leverage. But a new report from the Biden administration argues that the deck is still stacked against workers, reducing their ability to move from one employer to another and hurting their pay. The report, released Monday by the Treasury Department, contends that employers often face little competition for their workers, allowing them to pay substantially less than they would otherwise. “There is a recognition that the idea of a competitive labor market is a fiction,” said Ben Harris, assistant Treasury secretary in the office of economic policy, which prepared the report. “This is a sea change in economics.”
► From the AFL-CIO — AFGE launches website in fight for COVID-19 hazard pay for federal employees — The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), led by National President Everett Kelley, continues its aggressive fight to secure hazard pay for federal employees who were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. Eligible employees can join a class-action lawsuit brought by AFGE and Heidi Burakiewicz of the law firm Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch (KCNF). A new website has been launched that will allow employees to join the lawsuit.
► From Vox — A grand Supreme Court showdown over gerrymandering ends in a whimper — The Supreme Court handed down a pair of orders Monday evening that leave in place congressional maps drawn by the North Carolina and Pennsylvania Supreme Courts — although both orders could prove to be very temporary. Both orders defer until a future date a grand showdown over whether these lawmakers have free rein to draw gerrymandered congressional maps in defiance of their states’ constitutions. It is likely, moreover, that the Court will return to this issue fairly soon. But it won’t do so ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
► From the Washington Post — Sen. Ron Johnson says Obamacare should be repealed if Republicans win power back — Sen. Ron Johnson said he wants to see the GOP repeal the Affordable Care Act if his party wins the White House and the House and Senate majorities in 2024, a move that would resurrect a fight that Republicans had waged for nearly a decade, then largely abandoned in 2018. Last year about 31 million Americans gained health-care coverage through the ACA, a record high since the law was enacted in 2010.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Bipartisan pressure grows in Congress to ban U.S. imports of Russian oil, risking higher gasoline prices — On Monday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers announced legislation to ban imports of Russian energy and suspend normal trade relations with both Russia and Belarus, whose government has supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s effort to topple the Ukrainian government.
► BREAKING from the AP — AP Source: Biden to ban Russian oil imports over Ukraine war
► From the AP — Minneapolis teachers strike after failing to reach contract — Teachers in the Minneapolis School District walked off the job on Tuesday in a dispute over wages, class sizes and mental health support for students, at least temporarily pausing classes for about 29,000 students in one of Minnesota’s largest school districts. Union members said they could not reach agreement on wages, especially a “living wage” for education support professionals, as well as caps on class sizes and more mental health services for students. “We are going on strike… for the safe and stable schools our students deserve,” said Greta Cunningham, president of the teachers’ chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.
► From ABC News-San Diego — Grocery workers contract with Southern California supermarkets expires — A three-year-old labor contract between unionized grocery store workers and Southern California supermarkets expired at midnight Monday, raising fears of a possible strike, but negotiations were expected to continue in hopes of averting a walkout.
► From the Wall Street Journal — Uber, Lyft and others move to head off unions (subscription required) — A new advocacy group is launching a $1 million campaign to counter Democratic efforts to reclassify gig workers as employees, which would let many of them unionize.
► From The Onion — Job Creationist believes there is only one true CEO who made all jobs from on high — “This world’s many positions of paid labor were brought into existence by an all-powerful being who offers employment to those who answer His call and accept the terms of His offer.”
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
What better way to mark #IWD2022 than @PresidentCLC and @lizshuler standing strong, together. This is the changing face of today’s labour moment. #canlab #cdnpoli #Solidarity @AFLCIO #WeCanDoIt pic.twitter.com/4wjECxsodn
— Canadian Labour (@CanadianLabour) March 8, 2022
► From the NY Times — The forgotten socialist roots of International Women’s Day — Theresa Serber Malkiel was born in 1874 in the Russian Empire, in an area now in western Ukraine. She came from a middle-class family and received a good education, but her Jewish family was increasingly persecuted and emigrated to the United States in 1891, when she was 17. In New York City, her education mattered little, according to historian Sally M. Miller. Malkiel found herself in the same desperate position as so many other immigrant women, taking a job in a garment factory. Conditions were brutal: Shifts could last 18 hours, injuries were common and women earned half of what men did, barely enough to pay rent in crowded tenements and boardinghouses. So, like many Jewish and Italian immigrant women at the time, Malkiel soon joined the labor movement and then started a union for female cloak-makers… Malkiel was a vocal proponent of women’s equality and the right to vote, though she was wary of the upper-class, nonimmigrant women who tended to lead women’s suffrage groups. In her pamphlets, columns and speeches, she argued that true equality — for women, African Americans, immigrants and child laborers — would only come through socialism. It was in this context that she proposed the first National Woman’s Day in 1909.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.