Washington, DC - Essential workers went underpaid, unsupported and forced to risk their health at corporations owned or operated by billionaires, even as the total wealth of America’s billionaires rose by more than $1 trillion under the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), United for Respect, and Bargaining for the Common Good Network. An analysis of billionaire wealth by IPS found that 647 U.S. billionaires gained $960 billion, almost $1 trillion in wealth between March 18, 2020 and November 17, 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is surging out of control. The worst-case warnings of public health experts have come true. A quarter-million people are now dead. Over the past month, the number of daily new cases has tripled. On October 13, there were 51,000 new cases in the United States. On Friday, there were a staggering 182,000 new cases, up from 162,000 the day before. In the country’s manufacturing heartland, home to the factories that have become hotbeds of the disease, the situation is even more dire.
Dozens of union workers at the Johnson Controls facility in Hopewell Township have been on strike since late September, seeking an increase in pay and flexibility with using vacation time. On Thursday afternoon, UAW Local 1872 workers gathered at tents along Renaissance Drive, not far from Interstate 83, for a rally. Arthur Westerfer, a test lab operator, shouted messages through a megaphone toward the massive building. "If you do not give us a contract, you will not retain your operators, let alone your trainees," he shouted. "... You are going to lose all of your experience."
Alabama - More than 20 Shipt workers demonstrated in front of the grocery delivery company’s headquarters in downtown Birmingham Sunday afternoon. They were there to protest Shipt policies that some of the company’s delivery people – known as Shipt Shoppers – say have led to decreased wages during a global pandemic and continue to leave them without health insurance coverage, paid sick time and other benefits. Demetria Barlow has been a Shipt Shopper since 2016, two years after the company launched in Birmingham and one year before Target purchased the company for $550 million.
Shipt workers, frustrated with the delivery company’s shift to a new, less transparent pay model, are set to strike this weekend before staging protests at both Shipt and Target’s corporate headquarters on Monday. With the pay model now instituted in every market, organizers hope this direct action will send a clear signal to Shipt and Target, which acquired the delivery company in 2017, that workers are unsatisfied by what they say is lower pay overall. “The reason why we chose to organize is we believe that it's time for them to see the actual visual effects of shoppers that are hurting because of the pay structure change,” Willy Solis, an organizer and shopper in Texas, told The Hill.
If you happen to provide health care services to actual Covid-19 patients — as a nurse or a doctor, an orderly or a physician’s assistant — this has been the year from hell. Amid the worst worldwide pandemic in over a century, you’ve been working long, intense, chaotic hours. You’ve watched patients die at rates unimaginable just six months ago. You’ve watched colleagues die. You’ve worried that you may be bringing death home to your families. If you work in health care but don’t interact with pandemic patients, the months since March haven’t exactly been easy street either. In April alone, 1.4 million health care workers lost their jobs, as virus-free Americans delayed and cancelled appointments and elective procedures. If, on the other hand, you swivel your day away in a corporate health care executive suite, these difficult and horrific months of Covid-19 have been among the most rewarding — financially — you’ve ever seen.
School bus drivers from the second largest school district in the United States led a noisy protest caravan through downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, demanding federal and state funding to help reopen schools safely amid the coronavirus pandemic. The drivers from the Los Angeles Unified Schools District (LAUSD) were joined by other vehicles as they circled city hall and honked their horns. "Until they get conditions safe, I prefer us to be at home," said John Lewis, a school bus driver, who has been in the job for 30 years.
Last week saw the highest number of new recorded cases for the Kansas City metro area since the start of the pandemic. The ever-increasing level of confirmed cases takes place as infection levels are soaring across both Kansas and Missouri, which have been recording record-breaking highs on a near-daily basis. The GM Fairfax Assembly Plant is a sprawling 4,900,000-square-foot facility located in the Fairfax Industrial District along the Missouri River. Beginning production in 1988, on the grounds of the former Fairfax Airport, the plant now employees 2,385 workers in the production of the Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac XT4 models. Following the two-month shutdown of the auto industry forced by workers through a series of wildcat strikes earlier this year, production at the Fairfax Plant officially resumed on June 1, with the reinstitution of two full-time shifts. A third shift at the plant was previously cut and roughly 1,000 laid off in 2017, with the company’s move encountering no opposition from the United Auto Workers.
In two weeks, my partner and I were supposed to leave San Francisco for Reno, Nevada, where we’d be spending the next three months focused on the 2020 presidential election. As we did in 2018, we’d be working with UNITE-HERE, the hospitality industry union, only this time on the campaign to drive Donald Trump from office. Now, however, we’re not so sure we ought to go. According to information prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Nevada is among the states in the “red zone” when it comes to both confirmed cases of, and positive tests for, Covid-19. I’m 68.
Amazon warehouse workers shut down deliveries at an Amazon Distribution Center in the San Francisco Bay Area for several hours on Saturday, demanding the company implement more safety measures to protect workers against COVID-19 and increased pay to reflect the cost of living in one of the country’s most expensive metro areas. Early Saturday, a caravan of cars, organized by Bay Area Amazonians, an Amazon warehouse worker and delivery-driver led group, drove into the warehouse parking lot, blocking Amazon delivery vans from leaving the facility for roughly three hours and disrupting the flow of business, according to the protest’s organizers.
Many parents nationwide are questioning whether it’s safe to send their kids back to a brick and mortar school this fall. With varied life circumstances, and different districts and schools choosing different options, it’s a daunting decision to make. For Florida’s Raquel Pantoja Lias, a mom of a rising fourth grader in Broward County, it’s a hard “no.” Under an emergency order from the state education commissioner, most schools are scheduled to reopen on August 19 for in-person learning, five days a week, a plan supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Every day, California farmworkers worry that the pandemic plowing through agricultural hubs will catch them and kill them. They also worry that not working will kill them. The collapse of food service demands when most businesses and institutions shut down has cut farm jobs statewide by 20 percent, or 100,000. Many farmworkers who are still working have had their hours or days reduced, sometimes without warning. Lockdowns have also cost workers second jobs they needed to make ends meet. They are juggling bills and going hungry. These are some of the findings in a new survey of 900 farmworkers in 21 farm counties, released on Tuesday. The survey was coordinated by the California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS), with a wide group of researchers, farmworker organizations and policy advocates. The Covid-19 Farmworker Study (COFS) reinforces the dire warnings that farmworker advocacy organizations made when the coronavirus lockdowns began: The least protected essential workers in the country
Two groups urging state legislators to include a provision that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses have been encamped outside the State House gates since Friday morning, according to organizers. “This will put pressure so all the legislators can hear us and pass this bill,” said Rolando Oliva, an organizer with Cosecha Massachusetts, in Spanish through a translator as he stood outside the State House late Sunday afternoon. “We have been trying to pass this for 15 years now.” The encampment Sunday afternoon included about 10 tents where activists have been sleeping during the night as part of the round-the-clock protest in support of the provision, which organizers say could be added to a racial justice bill currently under debate.
As the country continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Black immigrants -- immigrants who identify as Black regardless of country or region of birth -- are playing an important role on the front lines in healthcare, food supply, education, and biomedical industries. Black immigrants make up a significant portion of healthcare workers. In 2018, there were more than 560,000 Black immigrant workers in the healthcare sector. These workers made up 3.4 percent of all healthcare workers, a share almost three times their share of the U.S. population. In the food industry at large, there are over 223,000 Black immigrant workers. There are over 200,000 Black immigrant workers in the education industry. Black immigrant workers are also well represented across all biomedical industries, making up larger shares of the workforce in this sector than their overall share of the U.S. population.
I have been working the night shift at a Barnes & Noble warehouse in Monroe, New Jersey for the past 16 years. For decades I have witnessed abuses at my workplace, but the COVID-19 crisis spurred me into collective action for the first time. Every evening, I come into work on a shop floor with hundreds of other immigrant workers, all packaging deliveries in close quarters. As news of the pandemic spread, I began to worry about the conditions in my warehouse. My managers were not providing us with any protective equipment, and we were expected to maintain the same rate of productivity, working dangerously close to one another. I told my boss that I was concerned for my safety, and that of my co-workers. I told him that I was worried if things carried on in the same way we would all get sick, and that I wanted to use my personal days to stay home.