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.

Nurses performing drive-thru tests for COVID-19 at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest workplace issue of our lives. Across the country, it is throwing into relief the cold capitalist logic of American workplaces, where the health and safety of workers, their families, and the public is subordinate to the employers' need for profit.

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.

The Louvre's outside pyramid at sunset.

Direct action gets the goods. If your employer is still not acting like workers’ lives matter, take a page from union members who are putting muscle behind their bargaining—they're shutting the place down first.

A striking worker holds a sign saying "CWA and IBEW Demand Good Jobs at Verizon" during the 2016 Verizon strike.

The unions representing 34,000 workers at Verizon have negotiated paid leave for union members who can’t work during the COVID-19 outbreak. Will other unions fight for these benefits to protect members?

Like many health care workers, UPS drivers, and grocery workers, telephone workers are on the job as essential workers during the coronavirus outbreak.

UPDATE: A Detroit bus driver, Jason Hargrove, has died. Glenn Tolbert, president of the Detroit bus drivers local and quoted below, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Update 2:00 p.m. EST, March 18: Following a number of wildcat strikes bubbling up in auto plants with confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the Big Three automakers announced they will begin temporarily suspending production until at least March 30. Honda, a non-union company with several plants in North America, had already announced they were suspending production for a week at full pay.

Amazon warehouse with goods on shelves and workers in orange vests working.

Employers, like the government, have been slow to respond to the crisis. Amazon initially limited its response to its tech offices, including in Seattle, where two workers tested positive for COVID-19. Office workers were told to work from home through March, and the company stopped employees’ “non-essential” travel.

Everybody is sharing their thoughts on COVID-19, so I thought I’d share mine. The anxiety in the air even has us laid-back folks on edge.

Last week Ford mandated that most of its global white-collar workforce is to work from home indefinitely, starting yesterday. But the company is still requiring blue-collar workers to keep the assembly plants running. Ford workers are to come in even if they are in a high-risk group, such as having a respiratory disease or being older than 60.

Across the globe, workers are taking action in the face of the coronavirus, pressuring employers to boost paid sick leave, suspend punitive attendance policies, and apply safety measures. While some companies have been proactive, too many have reacted only after workers forced them to.


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