Thousands of Public Workers Seek Vaccine Exemptions in Washington

Doctor with mask on holding COVID-19 Vaccine

Some 4,800 state employees in Washington have already requested medical or religious exemptions from Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

According to information released this week by the state, those requests amount to nearly 8% of the 60,000 state workers who fall under Inslee’s 24 cabinet departments. As of Sept. 6, less than 50% of all employees in those agencies were verified as being fully vaccinated.

Inslee last month issued an executive order that all state employees, as well as K-12 and state university staff, must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or face dismissal.

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Report: Afghan Women Forced into Marriages with Men Eligible for Evacuation

Afghan women in Kabul

Afghan women were reportedly forced into marriages with men who were eligible for evacuation from the country, CNN reported Thursday.

U.S. officials notified the State Department about some Afghan women and girls showing up with men pretending to be their husbands or after being forced into marriages with men eligible for evacuation, two sources familiar with the matter reportedly told CNN.

Some women are reportedly resorting to these unusual relationships in order to flee Taliban rule, CNN reported. Families of Afghan women at a transit hub in the United Arab Emirates arranged for such marriages at the Kabul international airport in Afghanistan so that women may leave, according to CNN.

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Federal Reserve Chair: Inflation to be ‘Elevated for Months’

Jerome Powell

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell tried to calm lawmakers’ fears about rising inflation but also said it would probably remain elevated for months to come.

Testifying before Congress this week, Powell said the Federal Reserve was willing to step in to address the situation, but that inflation should level out next year.

“As always, in assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, we will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if we saw signs that the path of inflation or longer-term inflation expectations were moving materially and persistently beyond levels consistent with our goal,” Powell said in his prepared testimony.

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Commentary: Unions’ Focus on Woke over Work Rankles Rank and File

Los Angeles school teacher Glenn Laird has been a union stalwart for almost four decades. He served as a co-chair of his school’s delegation to United Teachers Los Angeles and proudly wore union purple on the picket line.

But Laird is now suing to leave UTLA and demanding a refund of the dues the union has collected since his resignation request. His turning point came in July 2020 when the union, the second largest teachers union in the country, joined liberal activists to demand that Los Angeles defund the police in response to Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

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Gov. Abbott: Democratic Legislators to Be Arrested upon Return to Texas

Photo caption from Twitter says " Conversation Dan Patrick @DanPatrick Smiling House Dems fly off to DC on a private jet with a case of Miller Lite, breaking House quorum, abandoning their constituents, while the Senate still works. It’s my hope that Senate Dems report tomorrow to do what they were elected to do."

More than 60 House Democrats who fled Austin Monday to prevent a vote on election reforms will be arrested when they return to Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said.

“Once they step back into the state of Texas, they will be arrested and brought to the Texas capital and we will be conducting business,” Abbott said.

The 67 Democratic lawmakers flew on chartered flights to Washington D.C. in protest of proposed legislation seeking to reduce the chances of fraud in future elections. The legislation is one of a number of measures being considered during a July special session called by Abbott.

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Virginia Extends Expanded Childcare Subsidies for the Rest of the Year

Additional childcare subsidies provided during the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended until the end of 2021, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday.

The state program, which provides financial assistance for childcare services, temporarily loosened the eligibility requirements through July 31, 2021. Northam directed the Virginia Department of Education to continue covering copayments through December 31, using federal COVID-19 relief funds.

“Access to high-quality child care is not only critical to the health and safety of Virginia’s children, but it is also important for advancing a strong, equitable recovery,” Northam said in a statement. “Extending these resources through the end of 2021 will help close the affordability gap for parents and providers, allowing thousands of Virginians to return to work, support their families, and grow our economy.”

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Largest Health Care Union to Fight Mandatory Vaccine Requirements for Workers

Doctor giving vaccination to patient

The president of the largest union of health care workers in the U.S. says it will fight companies requiring its members to have mandatory COVID-19 shots as a condition of employment.

The announcement came one day after Houston Methodist announced that 153 employees had been fired or resigned for refusing to get the shots as a condition of employment. Those suing argue requiring employees to receive a vaccine approved only through Emergency Use Authorization violates federal law. After a recent court dismissal, their attorney vowed to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, is weighing the organization’s legal options.

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Activists Look to the Future of Oil Pipelines Following Keystone XL Cancellation

Anti Keystone XL pipeline citizens

After the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline struck a blow to the oil industry, energy jobs activists are pushing back by warning of increased costs and touting the benefits of transporting oil via pipeline.

TC Energy Corporation announced on Wednesday that it was cancelling the Keystone XL Pipeline less than five months after President Joe Biden rescinded a vital permit for the pipeline. The cancellation ends an over 12-year battle by activists from both sides over the oil pipeline. The pipeline would have started in the Canadian province of Alberta ultimately ending in Nebraska.

In a statement François Poirier, President and CEO of TC Energy Corporation, expressed disappointment.

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Virginia DMV Expands Appointment Opportunities Reduced During Pandemic

People at windows of DMV

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is gradually expanding its appointment opportunities this month and next month now that most of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have come to an end.

Starting June 1, the DMV opened 184,000 additional appointment opportunities  and the department will open up more appointments June 15 and again in July. Residents can secure their slots for the June 15 appointment expansion at this time. The department is hiring and training new employees to keep up with the higher number of appointments.

“Virginians have told us they appreciate the convenience and high quality service the appointment system affords,” Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb said in a news release at the time of the announcement. “The Governor’s announcement … enables us to open more windows so customers can secure appointments sooner, but we are still taking great care to offer service that is safe for everyone.”

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Starkist Moving Headquarters from Pennsylvania to Virginia

Starkist Tuna

Packaged tuna manufacturer Starkist is closing up its headquarters in Pittsburgh and moving to northern Virginia, but most of the details about the move have not been revealed.

Starkist will close its office in the North Shore of Pittsburgh on March 31, 2022, but will maintain a presence in the area. Its new headquarters will open in northern Virginia in 2022, but the company did not say in which locality.

The company did not announce the reasons for its relocation. No announcements have been made related to taxpayer-funded subsidies or other incentives, which could be part of a deal.

Starkist has been owned by South Korea-based Dongwon Industries since 2008. It employs about 2,630 people and generates more than $24 million in revenue, according to Zippia.

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Small Businesses Say Big Labor’s PRO Act Would Put Them Under

Rally goer holds up a "Small Business fighting for survival" sign

The Biden Administration sent some stock prices tumbling and left small businesses worried after taking sides on a hotly contested labor issue that critics say could threaten the jobs of millions of independent workers and thousands of small businesses.

In his address to the nation Wednesday evening, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation that would ban the use of freelance workers in most instances.

A report from the freelance site UpWork found that about 59 million gig workers make up $1.2 trillion of the U.S. economy.

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Hawley Cites ‘Culture War’ in Proposal for Monthly Payments to Families with Children

Josh Hawley

Rising Republican star U.S. Rep. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is sponsoring a new measure that would give unprecedented tax cuts to parents with children, and now he is saying his bill is on the front line of the nation’s “culture war.”

The plan in question would give a fully refundable tax credit of $12,000 for married parents and $6,000 for single parents who have children under the age of 13.

“Starting a family and raising children should not be a privilege only reserved for the wealthy,” Hawley said. “Millions of working people want to start a family and would like to care for their children at home, but current policies do not respect these preferences. American families should be supported, no matter how they choose to care for their kids.”

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Ducey Removes Arizona’s COVID-19 Restrictions on Businesses

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has rescinded the business restrictions he put in place last year to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

Ducey’s latest executive order, which he signed Friday, removes the capacity limits on businesses he had put in place July 9, effective immediately. 

“We’ve learned a lot over the past year,” Ducey said. “Our businesses have done an excellent job at responding to this pandemic in a safe and responsible way. We will always admire the sacrifice they and their employees have made and their vigilance to protect against the virus.”

Ducey said Arizona, unlike many other states, never shut down.

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Commentary: New COVID Checks Could Lead to End of Work as We Know It

The House has voted to expand direct payments to the American people from $600 per adult and $600 per child in the year-end Covid relief legislation signed into law by President Donald Trump, to $2,000 per adult and $600 per child, a move the President supports.

Under the newly signed law, an average family of four will be receiving a $2,400 check via direct deposit from the U.S. Treasury, coming atop the $3,400 they received in the CARES Act in the spring — a combined $5,800 in 2020 alone.

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Passionately Catholic: The Choice Is Yours

Ponder this…

We make choices every day, whether or not to press the snooze button in the morning is but one of the choices we make each day. Most choices like pressing the snooze button seem inconsequential, but if pressing the snooze button makes you late for work and potentially threatens your job and your livelihood, the snooze button option becomes a bad choice.

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Meatpacker, Muslim Workers in US Settle ‘Prayer Breaks’ Dispute

A major U.S. meatpacking company has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle charges of discrimination involving Muslim workers who walked off the job in a dispute over prayer breaks. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the financial settlement Friday after several years of litigation between Cargill Meat Solutions…

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Former ‘Cosby’ Actor Geoffrey Owens Rebuffs ‘Job-Shaming,’ Reminds America of the Dignity of Work

Geoffrey Owens

by Joseph Sunde   After a decades-long career in film, theater, and education, actor Geoffrey Owens decided to take a part-time job as a cashier at Trader Joe’s. When customers and news outlets began posting photos of the actor bagging groceries, the resulting comments included a mix of mockery and what…

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Occupational Licensing Reform: A Bipartisan Blueprint for Helping Low-Income Workers

bureaucratic stamps

by Alex Muresianu   A new report from the University of Wisconsin-Madison comparing employment between Minnesota and Wisconsin after Minnesota raised its minimum wage found that Minnesotan workers saw a decline in employment, especially for young, inexperienced, and low-skilled workers, as employment in Wisconsin rose. Despite this evidence reaffirming that the minimum wage can hurt…

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