Latest COVID-19 Coverage from Labor Notes
We have been forced to choose between two terrible options:
- 1. Lock ourselves down to prevent the spread of the virus, resulting in massive job loss—while many vulnerable workers are still forced to work in unsafe conditions, or
2. Maintain some business as usual, stemming the economic impact but putting tens of millions of people at risk.
It didn’t have to be like this.
We could not have prevented the virus itself, nor the resulting loss of life altogether. But imagine if:
Last Sunday I worked in the Montefiore Medical Center Moses Division Emergency Department and I want to share with you the real-life story—and most certainly not the worst story.
To back up... I had some concerning symptoms that started the previous Sunday at about 10 a.m. but escalated severely by Tuesday night. I was “approved” for COVID testing only because I had these symptoms and, perhaps, due to my age.
As the coronavirus spreads, more and more workers who are still on the job are taking action to defend their health and safety and demand hazard pay. Here's a round-up. (For an earlier round-up, see “Organizing for Pandemic Time-Off,” Labor Notes, March 16, 2020.)
This story has been updated to reflect changes in the policy and political debate.
At 1:30 a.m. today, Senate and House leaders and the Trump administration reached a deal on an enormous $2 trillion proposal to dramatically expand unemployment benefits, provide direct payments to American households, give money to state governments and Native American tribes, and assist businesses reeling from the economic catastrophe unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is an edited version of a piece by Leopoldo Tartaglia of the international department of the CGIL, Italy’s largest union federation. Read further down to see how Italian workers have fought for their health with widespread strikes. Thanks to Peter Olney for translation.