Latest COVID-19 Coverage from Labor Notes

Here is the latest reporting and analysis from Labor Notes on the COVID-19 pandemic. For organizing resources and more, click here. Want help organizing your workplace to respond to the pandemic? Email us at organize[at]labornotes[dot]org.

The federal government squandered the time the states spent in lockdown. We still face a national shortage of COVID-19 test kits and PPE and there is no nationwide testing or contact tracing program. The United States has 4 percent of the world’s population, but about a third of the world’s coronavirus cases.

What will happen to all the people who catch the coronavirus but never get a positive test? As states gear up to send workers back to work, the number of infections will skyrocket.

Woman with fist up amidst farmworkers on strike

Since this article was written, apple packinghouse workers at two more companies have joined the strike: at Hansen Fruit and Columbia Reach. Six worksites in Yakima County have now seen production shut down. The county has the highest rate of COVID-19 cases on the West Coast. The strikes are women-led, multigenerational, and multiracial, according to Edgar Franks of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, a local farmworkers' union. —Editors

Part 2 of a joint series in Labor Notes and Dollars & Sense on the economics of the coronavirus crisis. Part 1, “Not Simply a 'Natural Disaster,'” is here.

People lining up for food.

Part 1 of a joint series in Labor Notes and Dollars & Sense on the economics of the coronavirus crisis. Part 2, "How the Coronavirus Crisis Became an Economic Crisis," is here.

The coronavirus pandemic is not simply a “natural disaster.” How many people and which particular people will fall ill or die depends not just of the characteristics of the infection but also on the policies and institutions of the society.

female call center worker with headset at cubicle, other workers in background

Portuguese call center workers forced to come to work during the pandemic struck in March, demanding to switch to teleworking at home without loss of pay. Some workers refused to go to work, some took sick leave, some asked for vacation days, and others appeared at the call centers but refused to log in.

“I feel like I’m in the safest place in the company from the virus,” said Chris Viola, who, until April 20, was laid off from General Motors’ Cadillac and Impala assembly plant in Detroit. Now he’s working in a former transmission plant in the suburbs, making face masks along with a few dozen other GM workers.

Zoom screen with 13 participants.

A group of early childhood educators with the Halton District School Board, near Toronto, were in the middle of a union drive when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

With schools closed and physical distancing rules in effect, workers had to quickly shift gears and experiment with new approaches.

Despite all the evidence that we are nowhere near out of the woods with the coronavirus pandemic, the Detroit automakers and the United Auto Workers (UAW) have agreed to restart production at most facilities on May 18. Various part supplier facilities will restart even sooner.

Amazon logistics workers have won much attention for organizing during the pandemic. Around the country workers have signed petitions demanding protections, and in New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington, some have even struck and walked out.

These actions have generated support from our tech coworkers in Amazon's Seattle headquarters, politicians, and the wider public. Given Amazon’s centrality in our economy, this marks a crucial moment for the wider labor movement.

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