Thursday, July 7, 2022
► From the NY Times — What the BA.5 subvariant could mean for the United States — The most transmissible variant yet of the coronavirus is threatening a fresh wave of infections in the United States, even among those who have recovered from the virus fairly recently. The subvariant of Omicron known as BA.5 is now dominant, according to federal estimates released Tuesday, and together with BA.4, another subvariant, it is fueling an outbreak of cases and hospitalizations. Though the popularity of home testing means reported cases are a significant undercount of the true infection rate, the share of tests that come back positive is shooting upward and is now higher than during most other waves of the pandemic.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Respect frontline workers! Keep wearing your masks in indoor public spaces. Folks working in those spaces are interacting with hundreds of people each day. Show your respect for them — and slow the spread of this COVID-19 variant — by wearing masks!
► From the AP — CDC: Mask-wearing recommended in growing number of counties — In Washington, the counties at high risk include: Clallam, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Lewis, Thurston, Pierce, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Walla Walla, Columbia, Asotin, Lincoln, Ferry and Spokane. That’s an increase from six high-risk counties as of June 23.
► From Crosscut — WA agriculture workers look to retain momentum of pandemic strikes — In collaboration with OneAmerica, the Washington State Immigration Solidarity Network and the Washington State Labor Council, the Fair Work Center opened an office in Yakima last month to provide workers and immigrants a place to gather, get information and organize. The center’s opening comes as labor and community organizers seek to help agricultural workers sustain the momentum of the 2020 strikes, which won workers temporary pay raises during the height of the pandemic and an opportunity to voice concerns directly to employers through newly formed worker committees. The strikes attracted widespread attention from labor advocates and the public.
BREAKING: Starbucks workers in Bellingham, Washington, vote to unionize 10-3 — forming the 15th union in the state and the second in Bellingham.
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) July 6, 2022
► From KIRO — Understaffed and overworked: Kirkland firefighters say the department is in crisis — An outraged group of firefighters told Kirkland City Council members the department is in the midst of a severe staffing crisis. They say some of their colleagues are working 20 days in a row.
► From Spectrum News — In Ohio, Biden says updated program will stop pension cuts for millions of workers — President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced an update to a program funded by last year’s COVID-19 relief law that he said is expected to prevent pension cuts for two to 3 million workers. Biden announced a final version of the Special Financial Assistance Program, which will help keep pension plans above water for nearly 30 years or longer, preventing cuts from plans that were at risk of drowning in debts.
TODAY at The Stand — Biden rule will protect pensions for millions of union workers
► From the AFL-CIO — Pro-worker policies will help keep all of us safe on the job — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler on the DOL’s new guidance on immigrant worker protections:
“We welcome today’s new guidance from the Department of Labor (DOL), which will support our efforts to build a stronger, more inclusive labor movement and economy, and improve working conditions for all. Working people rely on each other to ensure justice in our workplaces and our communities, but all too often, the threat of immigration enforcement is used as a weapon to crush worker organizing and prevent people from exercising their basic workplace rights. When immigrant workers are scared into silence, violations go unchecked—and that makes us all less safe at work. We cannot reasonably expect to end wage theft and exploitation without protecting those workers who have the courage to take a stand.”
► From Bloomberg — Former AFL-CIO trade chief named top White House labor adviser — Celeste Drake, a former union official and trade expert, has been named President Joe Biden’s top labor adviser, a White House official said. Drake recently served as “Made in America” director for the White House Office of Management and Budget. She previously was a senior trade official for the AFL-CIO, helping influence the Trump administration’s negotiations for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
The Stand (July 1, 2021) — ‘Free trade’ died this week – with a whimper
► From the AP — Dems want to tax high earners to protect Medicare solvency — Senate Democrats want to boost taxes on some high earners and use the money to extend the solvency of Medicare, the latest step in the party’s election-year attempt to craft a scaled-back version of the economic package that collapsed last year.
► From Roll Call — Biden administration defends DACA program at appeals court — Justice Department argued in a case that threatens to strip protections from hundreds of thousands of young immigrants.
► From The Hill — Biden administration announces $1B to 85 airports to upgrade terminals — The funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which included $5 billion overall for terminal projects as part of $20 billion in funding for airport infrastructure.
► From the AP — New agency to investigate police use of deadly force delayed — A new state agency was mandated to start investigating police use of deadly force cases on July 1, but it appears it actually won’t be ready for months. “It’s just a lot to get done. Standing up an office from nothing is incredibly difficult,” said Roger Rogoff, appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to head up the new agency, the Office of Independent Investigations.
► From the Washington Post — Police kill another Black man — and the same old questions arise (editorial) — After what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop, police in Akron, Ohio, shot Jayland Walker, 25, more than 60 times on June 27 in an incident that sparked days of protests, prompting authorities to impose a curfew and cancel Independence Day celebrations… We hoped that after Floyd’s death, departments would reassess the use of deadly force, improve training and question the wisdom of tactics like giving chase to drivers with broken headlights. That this young man is dead after being stopped for a traffic violation is not only a needless tragedy, but it is just plain wrong.
BREAKING: Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Kentucky are officially unionizing with Amazon Labor Union.
Workers in Campbellsville, KY will become the first local chapter of @amazonlabor outside Staten Island.
The lead organizer says Amazon is already spying on union activity. pic.twitter.com/V8jNUfASEr
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) July 7, 2022
► From the Seattle Times — Activists say Amazon misled shareholders about warehouse working conditions — When the investment firm BlackRock voted against an independent audit of the working conditions at Amazon’s warehouses, it was relying on false and misleading information from the company, one activist group is arguing in a new complaint with the SEC. The Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that has criticized Amazon’s treatment of workers in the past, is accusing Amazon and CEO Andy Jassy of making false and misleading statements about the safety of its warehouses and the injury rates among workers.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Don’t wait for shareholders to do something about your working conditions. Do it yourself! Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for better conditions and a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
► From NPR — Jobs market still favors workers, despite fears of an economic slowdown — Workers looking for new jobs have plenty of options, despite recent layoffs and hiring slowdowns in key parts of the economy. There were 11.3 million open jobs at the end of May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. Layoff rates are at historic lows.
► From the NY Times — How a long-sought bill in New York could make construction work less deadly — Carlos Moncayo was just 22 when he was crushed to death by thousands of pounds of dirt at a construction site in Manhattan’s meatpacking district. More than seven years later, a construction safety bill named after him could become law, if Gov. Kathy Hochul chooses to sign it. The legislation, known as Carlos’s Law, would dramatically raise the fines faced by corporations for construction accidents that result in criminal convictions.
► From ProPublica — Ken Griffin spent $54 million fighting a tax increase for the rich. Secret IRS data shows it paid off for him. — Rarely does the public get a clear view of the payoff for wealthy Americans who put their money down to achieve a political outcome. But in this case, ProPublica’s trove of IRS data can provide crucial context for the ballot fight. For Griffin and many of his fellow ultrawealthy Illinoisans, spending even such a vast amount was well worth it when compared with what a tax hike might have cost them.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.