The coronavirus pandemic continues to completely shape the world of work, no matter what your job is. But while the effects are different if you’re an essential worker trying to stay safe, a low-wage worker trying to get unemployment so you can pay your rent and feed your family, or an office worker juggling work from home and full-time child care, there’s some really important stuff everyone should know.
First, Trump's corporate-first agenda has weakened worker protections that should have been helping people out in this crisis. Like keeping track of workplace injuries and illnesses, for instance. Second, the increase in the official unemployment rate isn't going to be the full increase in joblessness. As horrifying as the unemployment rate is going to be, remember that. And third, know your rights to paid leave and unemployment during the pandemic.
● Missouri pork plant workers say they can't cover mouths to cough. Because they might miss a piece of pork going by and not get their jobs done and get in trouble for that. Their employer, Smithfield, has now given them masks, and all it took was a major COVID-19 outbreak at a different Smithfield plant.
● Amazon will not change without a union, Hamilton Nolan writes. As that story went up, hundreds of Amazon workers were pledging to leave work.
● Related: Fear and a firing inside an Amazon warehouse. As an important piece of context here, Amazon is pushing aggressively to justify its various firings of activists, saying they broke rules unrelated to their activism. That’s what employers always say when they retaliate against worker-activists. It’s always a coincidence that the activist just happened to have broken some rule (usually one that other workers say is routinely broken without repercussions).
● Online school demands more of teachers. Unions are pushing back.
As an art teacher in Tulsa, Okla., Ms. Dukes’s typical day includes creating and uploading video drawing lessons, corresponding with parents, attending remote staff meetings and training to use new online tools. She does it all while taking care of her son and 5-year-old daughter, as her husband works round-the-clock shifts as a firefighter, answering emergency calls for potential Covid-19 patients.
● Working from home with kids in the house is exacerbating gender inequality in many families:
Aireka Muse, a television writer in Los Angeles who gave birth to her first child six months ago, has taken to working on her latest project from her parked car. The other day, she said, when she walked back up to the family’s one-bedroom apartment, her husband asked, “When are you going to be done?”
“For him there was a limit to the time and a box for being more responsible for our child,” she said. “But me taking care of my son is not circumstantial. I’m never going to be done — there’s always going to be another project and there is always going to be my son.”
● Safety: Bosses want to fix the worker, unions want to fix the job:
Employers say illnesses and injuries are caused by worker carelessness: he didn’t wash his hands enough; she touched her face. That’s the way the boss wants you to think, too.
But the union realizes that it’s the hazards themselves that cause injuries, and that it’s the boss who sets up the workplace, either designing in hazards or failing to design them out. The boss has everyone work in the same tiny space. The boss won’t install a cough guard between you and customers.
● Uber and Lyft drivers accuse companies of holding up unemployment benefits.
● The heartbreaking choices faced by child care providers on the front lines.
● Las Vegas workers push back after mayor's call to reopen hotels and casinos.