NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Laborers fight for safe working conditions while the media chases right wing protesters

While a rel­a­tive­ly small num­ber of covid­iots have been able to stage media-friend­­ly events for var­i­ous out­lets, what’s get­ting a lot less atten­tion are around the one hun­dred and nine­ty strikes and work­er actions tak­ing place with­in the Unit­ed States due to COVID-19, and how some busi­nesses are fail­ing to react respon­si­bly to ensure the health and safe­ty of their employ­ees.

Pay­Day Report has been track­ing these activ­i­ties, which includes work­er absen­tee actions at a Tyson Meats pro­cess­ing plant in Wal­lu­la, Wash­ing­ton; employ­ees refus­ing to show at the re-open­ing of oper­a­tions at the Boe­ing com­mer­cial air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ty in Ren­ton, Wash­ing­ton; and employ­ees on strike at the Mon­delēz-Nabis­­co facil­i­ty in Port­land, Ore­gon.

They are track­ing the num­ber of meat­pack­ers who have fall­en ill under sub­stan­dard work­ing con­di­tions at the best of times – over 4,400 and count­ing.

With Don­ald Trump deter­mined to use the Defense Pro­duc­tion Act to keep meat­pack­ing plants open, Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors threat­en­ing to end unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits for any employ­ee that refus­es to return to work after COVID-19 restric­tions are lift­ed with­in their state, and recal­ci­trant employ­ees like­ly to be fired from their jobs as a result, we can expect the num­ber of sick and dead meat­pack­ers to rise sub­stan­tial­ly over the com­ing months.

They are also notic­ing such out­landish actions as fir­ing en masse strik­ing con­tract trash haulers in New Orleans and replac­ing them with pris­on­ers, how hos­pi­tal work­ers are orga­niz­ing in the midst of both COVID-19 and union bust­ing tech­niques, and how Mex­i­can immi­grants mak­ing Per­son­al Pro­tec­tive Equip­ment at LSL Health­care in the north­west Chica­go sub­urb of Niles walked off the job, demand­ing paid time off to go into quar­an­tine after a work­er died of COVID-19.

One of Pay­Day Report’s two beat­ing hearts are Kat Calla­han, who until recent­ly was the Asia Cor­re­spon­dent at Jalop­nik and LGBT Edi­tor at Jezebel, and who present­ly also writes arti­cles for Kin­ja.

The oth­er is Mike Elk, a pro­tege of the late William Grei­der who has cov­ered the drug war in Brasil, spent years cov­er­ing union orga­niz­ing in the South for the Guardian, and marched one hun­dred and ten miles with strik­ing teach­ers across the state of Okla­homa. Togeth­er, one of their most viral efforts has been this excel­lent piece in March regard­ing Nis­san employ­ees being forced to work in dan­ger­ous con­di­tions for poten­tial infec­tions of COVID-19 at a facil­i­ty in Can­ton, Mis­sis­sip­pi, where oper­a­tions were even­tu­al­ly sus­pend­ed.)

Esquire, NPR’s On the Media and Vice mag­a­zine has pro­vid­ed some vis­i­bil­i­ty toward Pay­Day Report’s efforts, and we are proud to do the same.

We hope pub­lish­ers, edi­tors, and reporters at oth­er media out­lets will ded­i­cate more resources to chron­i­cle the dai­ly suf­fer­ing of those who help pro­vide for our dai­ly needs and less for those who use fear and hatred to push tox­ic agen­das.

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One Comment

  1. It is just crim­i­nal that front­line work­ers are being asked to con­tin­ue to come in to work with­out ade­quate PPE. We need to get this sit­u­a­tion under con­trol. But with­out com­pe­tent fed­er­al lead­er­ship, how will we do that?

    # by Saba Shahen :: June 6th, 2020 at 3:51 AM