Tuesday, June 7, 2022
► From McClatchy — WA state hospitals ‘remarkably strained’ by COVID-19 community spread, officials say — Washington hospital officials warned Monday that facilities are heading toward the bad old days of COVID-19 cases peaking and high spread in the community. This go-around, while patients are not as sick as they’ve been in previous surges, the caseload is impacting not just those seeking COVID care but, as in previous waves, those seeking treatments for other health emergencies.
► From the Seattle Times — Amid a COVID surge, WA hospital leaders wonder why fewer people seem to care — Rising infection and hospitalization rates prompted Washington’s public health officials, including state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah, to renew a push for indoor masking two weeks ago, but they stopped short of announcing new statewide mandates. On Monday, hospital leaders urged people to continue masking inside, staying socially distant and getting vaccinated.
► From the PS Business Journal — Report: Washington ranked as nation’s strongest state economy — A recession may eventually arrive, say economists, but for now Washington’s economy is white hot, according to a WalletHub report released Monday. The personal finance website ranked the Evergreen State’s economy the best in the country based on three criteria: economic activity, economic health, and innovation potential. Utah, California, Massachusetts and New Hampshire rounded out the top five.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington also has one of the highest unionization rates in the nation. As a direct result of those unions’ advocacy, Washington was the first state to raise and automatically adjust its minimum wage for inflation (it’s now $14.49/hour), the state ensures that all workers have access to paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave, and the state has a strong safety net for workers who are laid off or injured. All of those workplace standards were decried as “job killers” and opposed by Republicans and business lobbying groups as bad for the state economy. Thankfully, voters and Democratic majorities in Olympia haven’t listened to them and keep approving pro-worker initiatives and legislation that build our state economy the right way.
► From Crosscut — Washington experiments with guaranteed basic income — The guaranteed basic income program — Growing Resilience in Tacoma, or GRIT — is one of a handful experimenting in the Puget Sound area, giving a recurring, monthly payment directly to households. It is meant to supplement, not replace, existing social safety nets. And after watching COVID-era monthly federal child tax credit payments — essentially a type of a guaranteed basic income — lift families out of poverty, some lawmakers hope to bring the idea statewide.
EDITOR’S NOTE — There are now 122 unionized Starbucks stores, including seven in Washington state. A total of 17 stores in our state have petitioned for union elections — and counting…
Partners in North Bend, Washington are also joining the movement! pic.twitter.com/qnx6crBcwV
— SBWorkersUnited (@SBWorkersUnited) June 6, 2022
► From the PS Business Journal — Seattle-area hotels, restaurants still struggling to hire enough workers, trade group says — When COVID-19 hit, Washington’s hospitality businesses laid off 160,000 workers statewide amid lockdowns and the travel downturn. As of April, the industry’s workforce in Washington was still 7% smaller than it was before the pandemic. By comparison, every other sector’s workforce, except health care and manufacturing, has reached or exceeded pre-pandemic levels.
EDITOR’S NOTE — All together now: It’s not a labor shortage, it’s a wage shortage.
► From the SW Washington CLC — Who is the REAL Billy Gohl, and what does his true crime story have to do with labor history? (Working to Live in Southwest Washington podcast) — Shannon and Harold talk with author Aaron Goings about his book, The Port of Missing Men: Billy Gohl, Labor, and Brutal Times in the Pacific Northwest. Then, Conor Casey of the Labor Archives of Washington discusses more of Washington’s labor history, why it needs to be preserved, and what he’d like to do to help ensure labor history is taught in schools.
► From the Seattle Times — As Boeing pushes for exemption for MAX 10, report to FAA critiques 737 crew-alerting system — An independent report commissioned by the FAA may influence a crucial, looming decision about Boeing’s not-yet-certified-to-fly 737 MAX 10. The previously undisclosed March 2022 report is highly critical of how, during the MAX’s original certification, the safety agency exempted earlier MAX models from the latest standard for pilot-warning systems. On an airliner, the crew-alerting system provides the pilots a series of visual, audio and/or tactile warnings that something has gone wrong.
► From The Hill — White House braces for the death of Roe v. Wade — The White House is quietly preparing for a Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, a consequential decision expected to come this month that will create immediate pressure to respond and take action.
The Stand (May 3) — WSLC: ‘Reproductive rights are workers’ rights’
The Stand (May 12) — Nurses: All people deserve reproductive health care
► From Politico — Unions lobby Biden for bolder approach to student debt relief — A growing number of unions in recent weeks have ramped up their public calls for Biden to act on student debt relief, including unions that have not previously weighed in on the issue. And behind the scenes, labor leaders have been lobbying senior White House officials to press the case for sweeping loan forgiveness.
► From Vox — The Supreme Court gives workers a backhanded victory — Southwest Airlines v. Saxon carves out the narrowest exception to one of the Court’s most egregious anti-worker decisions.
EDITOR’S NOTE — And from the Dramatic-Headline-But-Great-Story Department…
► From Politico — The lie that helped kill the labor movement — In 1969, a rogue attorney for the National Labor Relations Board undermined a critical piece of labor law that required employers to recognize labor unions formed by card-check election. Fifty years later, the Biden administration is trying to reverse the damage caused by that decision.
► From the Washington Post — Jan. 6 committee set to make its case public with prime-time hearings — Almost a year after the formation of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, lawmakers are set to take their case public. On Thursday night, Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) will launch a series of televised hearings featuring a combination of live witnesses, pretaped interviews with figures that include Trump family members and previously unseen video footage.
► From the Washington Post — Proud Boys leader Tarrio, 4 lieutenants charged with seditious conspiracy — The federal indictments makes the Proud Boys the second group whose members face the rare charge in the Capitol attack.
► From The Hill — Email shows fake Trump electors in Georgia told to conduct plan in ‘secrecy’ — The email, written by Trump campaign Georgia operations director Robert Sinners, instructed the fake electors to tell security at the state capitol that they had appointments with two state senators.
► From The Guardian — Wage gap between CEOs and U.S. workers jumped to 670-to-1 last year, study finds — The wage gap between chief executives and workers at some of the U.S. companies with the lowest-paid staff grew even wider last year, with CEOs making an average of $10.6 million, while the median worker received $23,968. A study of 300 top US companies released by the Institute for Policy Studies on Tuesday found the average gap between CEO and median worker pay jumped to 670-to-1, up from 604-to-1 in 2020. Forty-nine firms had ratios above 1,000-to-1.
► From Bloomberg — U.S. nursing homes face closure risks from staffing shortages — Almost three quarters of nursing homes say they’re at risk of closing due to staff shortages, with more than half operating at a loss, according to a survey. If things don’t improve, most fear that resources won’t be enough to keep them in business for more than a year. The staff shortfalls are forcing homes to turn away potential residents at a time when occupancy rates are already far lower than before the pandemic.
► From the AFL-CIO — UAW and AFT call for school buses across the country to be union-made electric vehicles — The UAW and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) called on school districts across the country to electrify the nation’s school bus fleet and to do the work with union labor. The Biden administration is providing seed money to accelerate the process as part of the infrastructure bill that passed last year.
► From Vox — Amazon fired Chris Smalls. Now the new union leader is one of its biggest problems. — A year ago, Chris Smalls couldn’t get politicians to return his calls. But on a muggy morning in late April, two of the biggest names in politics — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — were making a special trip to Staten Island, New York to visit with the 33-year-old former Amazon warehouse process assistant, father-of-three, and leader of a resurgent labor movement sweeping the country.
► From the Washington Post — Anger and heartbreak on Bus No. 15 — Suna Karabay stopped the bus every few blocks to pick up more passengers in front of extended-stay motels and budget restaurants, shifting her eyes between the road ahead and the rearview mirror that showed all 70 seats behind her. In the past two years, Denver-area bus drivers had reported being assaulted by their passengers more than 145 times. Suna had been spit on, hit with a toolbox, threatened with a knife, pushed in the back while driving and chased into a restroom during her break. Her windshield had been shattered with rocks or glass bottles three times. After the most recent incident, she’d written to a supervisor that “this job now is like being a human stress ball.” Each day, she absorbed her passengers’ suffering and frustration during six trips up and down Colfax, until, by the end of the shift, she could see deep indentations of her fingers on the wheel.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.