UW staff rally for better protections, Eyman protests order

UW protests

SEATTLE (AP) — Unionized University of Washington Medicine staff and labor organizers rallied at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Thursday to call for better protections from the coronavirus and to protest planned furloughs and layoffs in the face of $500 million in losses during the pandemic.

Workers from the University of Washington campus and UW Medicine’s medical facilities participating in the demonstration accuse the university of failing to implement “basic public health guidance designed to flatten the curve, including proper notification to staff regarding exposure, the installation of sneeze guards to protect staff and the public, and the distribution of personal protective equipment,” according to the Washington Federation of State Employees.

The “unity break” demonstration happened as UW Medicine is in protracted contract negotiations with the University of Washington Housestaff Association, a union that represents resident physicians, who are pushing for better working conditions, pay and benefits, The Seattle Times reported.

The bargaining has produced tensions exacerbated by COVID-19 and the strain it has put on health care workers.

Also on Thursday, anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman rallied with dozens of supporters at the state Capitol campus in Olympia against the state’s COVID-19-related stay-home order.

He stood outside the governor’s mansion with a computer, saying he had officially entered his information into the Secretary of State’s website to run for governor as a Republican against Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.