Subscribe to the Belabored RSS feed here. Support the podcast on Patreon. Subscribe and rate on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify. Tweet at @DissentMag with #Belabored to share your thoughts, or join the conversation on Facebook. Check out the full archive here. Belabored is produced by Colin Kinniburgh.
A new year, a new wave of the pandemic. Workers are being asked, once again, to keep working despite a fresh surge in COVID-19 infections, and the Biden administration’s relaxation of guidelines on testing and isolation has sowed fear and confusion. Meanwhile, other federal safety standards are facing court challenges, as pro-business groups claim that the government cannot legally mandate vaccination or testing for workplaces with more than 100 workers. So as we enter year three of the pandemic, and corporations continue to push for a return to “normal,” what role should occupational safety regulators be playing in response to the ongoing public health crisis, and, now that much of the workforce is evidently being left to fend for itself, how should workers and communities deal with the risks of returning to work? We spoke with Debbie Berkowitz, a former senior official at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about the government’s failure to safeguard workers’ health. And we also talked to Xian Barrett, a special education teacher in Chicago, about the recent standoff between the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot over returning to in-person schooling.
In other news, we look at the end of the student worker strike at Columbia, the end of a nurse’s strike (with Marie Ritacco and Marlena Pellegrino, Massachusetts Nurses Association/Saint Vincent Hospital), the struggles of supermarket workers (with Dan Flaming, Economic Roundtable), and the start of a comics industry union. With recommended reading on travel nurses seeking justice and restaurant workers working sick.
Thank you for listening to our 238th episode! If you like the show, you can support us on Patreon with a monthly contribution, at the level that best suits you.
Hungry at the Table, Economic Roundtable
Ashley Wong, Student Workers at Columbia End 10-Week Strike After Reaching a Deal, New York Times
Rachel Himes, Why Columbia Graduate Workers Like Me Are on Strike, Jacobin
Aparna Gopalan, Massachusetts Nurses Just Won an Epic 10-Month Strike, New Republic
Bill Shaner, Something sketchy this way comes, Worcester Sucks and I Love It
James Whitbrook, Comic Book Workers United Union Officially Certified, Gizmodo
Gita Jackson, The Image Union Is the Future of Comics, Vice
Debbie Berkowitz, Practitioner Fellow with the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. Georgetown University
Katherine J. Wu, Can You Leave COVID Isolation After Five Days? – The Atlantic, The Atlantic
Debbie Berkowitz, Can OSHA Keep Workers Safe? The Court Hears the Case Tomorrow, The American Prospect
Carmel Shachar and I. Glenn Cohen, The Danger of the Supreme Court Undercutting Biden’s Vaccination Rules, Time
Jeff Schuhrke, Chicago Teachers Voted to Teach Remotely Amid Omicron Wave—And Now They’re Locked Out, In These Times
Nader Issa, Chicago teachers approve deal to end walkout over COVID safety protocols, The Chicago Sun-Times
Argh, I wish I’d written that!
Sarah: Chris Crowley, The Restaurant Industry Has Always Treated Sick Workers With No Remorse, Grub Street
Michelle: Alice Herman, The Big Business Behind Travel Nursing, In These Times