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.

Nurse union activists organized actions at hospitals across the country yesterday, a national day of action to draw attention to how the U.S.’s profit-driven health care system is failing workers and patients alike.

The actions were coordinated through a series of calls organized by Labor Notes—which has been helping grow a network of rank-and-file nurse activists for more than a year—and were inspired by the protests organized at New York City hospitals in previous weeks.

More than 100 hospitals in the U.S. have laid off workers since the pandemic began. Tens of thousands of medical workers are furloughed at the exact moment hospitals should be staffing up and training everyone in intensive care.

Worker with forklift in front of cases of pallets on shelves in warehouse

From the Black Plague of the Middle Ages to the flu pandemic of 1918 to COVID-19, disease and pestilence have always followed two of humanity’s most well-trod paths: those of war and trade.

Protest in 2017 with signs that support Medicare for All, people marching in the street

Big problems demand bold solutions. The Labor Campaign for Single Payer is calling on Congress to expand Medicare coverage to everyone in America for the duration of the crisis.

Note: this article was updated on April 22, 2020 to reflect new guidance from the Department of Labor -Editors.

This pandemic creates openings for privatizers and budget-choppers to make their plays. But it also creates some new openings for workers to build power.

At the same time that we’re all sprinting to meet the urgent challenges of the present, workers and unions should take time to analyze the new threats and opportunities that our workplace movements will be facing in the coming months.

Last Wednesday union members at General Electric plants across the country protested to pressure the $88 billion company to shift production to ventilators and ensure safe working conditions during COVID-19.

For decades Noam Chomsky has been a leading intellectual troublemaker. His books and speeches have helped to explain how a world run by corporations and billionaires has led to endless war and catastrophic climate change. Now he is helping to explain how corporations and billionaires are actually making the coronavirus pandemic worse by pursuing savage policies that benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else.

Nurses hold signs and demonstrate outside of Provident Hospital in Chicago.

The emergency room of a public hospital in the heart of Chicago’s mostly Black South Side is being closed down for a month by Cook County officials, just as the coronavirus pandemic is surging in Chicago. The nonsensical justification is that the ER needs to be refitted to handle… a surging coronavirus pandemic.

CWA protester holding a sign that says "We Need PPE"

In this time of emergency, organizing that might have taken months in the past now needs to happen in a matter of days.

Workers’ lives are increasingly in our own hands. We cannot rely on employers to protect us, nor can we count on OSHA or the National Labor Relations Board to enforce any of our rights. The only winning formula is collective action that forces an immediate response.


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