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.

Although COVID-19 is far from under control and reopening of the economy is stumbling, the airwaves are filled with people telling us how we should be thinking about economic recovery.

Far from a recovery, though, we are facing the worst economic crisis of a generation. The voice of workers and their unions has never been more important, because without us, we have a pretty good idea what’s going happen.

masked worker in front of mcdonald's holds big orange sign: "MCDONALD'S CLOSED, COVID HEALTH HAZARD, COMMUNITY SUPPORTS WORKERS STRIKE FOR HEALTH, SAFETY AND DIGNITY"

A strike by 33 workers at a McDonald’s in North Oakland has shut down the store since May 26. Twelve workers there have tested positive for COVID-19, and so have eight of their family members, including a 10-month-old baby. This is one of the longest recorded strikes ever by McDonald's workers.

In a matter of days in mid-March, educators were expected to move classes online, work from home, and manage their own fear and uncertainty—all while worried for students whom they suddenly couldn’t see, talk to, or reassure.

Even veteran organizers were at a loss for what steps to take, except to focus on the immediate problems. How do we move classes online? Will students who depend on school for meals have enough to eat? What about the students with no internet?

Scene from 1940 adaptation of Grapes of Wrath picturing family assembled

With unemployment now reaching levels not seen since the 1930s, should you really want to spend a few hours immersed in the hardships endured by working people during the first Great Depression? Yes.

Trauma would be the best way to describe the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the working class. Suddenly workers found ourselves in a situation beyond our control. But it’s also a moment of opportunity to actually take more control over our work lives and push for a more democratic society. Workers and unions have to hit the streets and organize.

At a Taco Bell in Washington Township, Michigan, the action began when Jonathon Foster, a shift leader, approached the district manager about paid sick leave during the pandemic. She flat-out refused, despite pledges from Taco Bell’s CEO.

This article was updated to include information about COVID-19 statistics in Yakima County. -Editors

The racial disparities of COVID-19 have received much attention. Blacks are dying at a higher rate that is typically more than double the rate of whites. But we need to move beyond naming the problem to fighting for solutions. Medicare for All would go a long way to beginning to address racial disparities in health care in general and for COVID-19 in particular.

Crowd of protesters protesting George Floyd murder

The organized labor movement has begun swinging into action to support protests against the racist police murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.

Floyd was filmed being suffocated to death under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday in a video that reverberated around the country and has sent the Twin Cities into turmoil.

UPDATE, September 18: In a mail-in ballot election, registered nurses at Mission Hospital voted 70 percent in favor of joining National Nurses United.

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