Belabored: Essential Workers in Crisis, with Elizabeth Lalasz and Jia Lee

Belabored: Essential Workers in Crisis, with Elizabeth Lalasz and Jia Lee

Healthcare and education have been at the center of pandemic labor struggles. Two rank-and-file leaders from these fields join the podcast for a live episode.

National Nurses United members gather to recognize nurses who died from the COVID-19 pandemic, May 12, 2021 (Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)

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As we wind 2022 and our COVID-19 series to a close, our struggles around pandemic work are anything but over. We’re seeing upticks in unionization, strikes, and other forms of workplace resistance. We’re also seeing workers quitting so-called “essential” jobs at record rates, leaving their former coworkers in the unenviable position of picking up the slack while also battling to improve their conditions—and those of the people they care for. Teachers and nurses have been at the heart of all these struggles, on top of pre-pandemic labor shortages and constant admonitions to “do more with less,” so to wrap up our year and our in-depth COVID-19 reporting, we invited two rank-and-file leaders from those fields to join us for a live episode, recorded December 15 via Zoom.

Elizabeth Lalasz is a registered nurse, union steward, and professional practice committee member with National Nurses United. She has worked three times on COVID-19 units over the course of the pandemic. Jia Lee has been a special education teacher for over twenty years in the New York City Department of Education and has served as a union chapter leader since 2005. She is a steering member of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), a caucus within the United Federation of Teachers, and a steering member of Black Lives Matter at Schools, NYC.

Thank you for listening to our 262nd episode! If you like the show, you can support us on Patreon with a monthly contribution, at the level that best suits you.

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Elizabeth Lalasz

Jia Lee

Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen, Belabored: Is it Safe to Go Back to School? Dissent

Sarah Jaffe, What If Nurses Ran the Healthcare System? Dissent

Sarah Jaffe, How the New York City School System Failed the Test of Covid-19The Nation

Michelle Chen, For Some Workers, Schools Never ClosedThe Nation

Sarah Jaffe, The Great UngrievingThe New York Review of Books

Michelle Chen, Educators March to Get NYPD out of NYC SchoolsDissent

Sarah Jaffe, Schools Reopen — and Teachers Fight for Their Lives, Their Students, and the Future of Public EducationRethinking Schools

Michelle Chen, Teachers’ Aides Adjust to the COVID ClassroomDissent

Sarah Jaffe, How the Attack on Teachers Threatens the Future of Public SchoolsRethinking Schools

Michelle Chen, Deregulated Under Trump, Nursing Homes Are Becoming COVID MorguesTruthout

Sarah Jaffe, First, Nurses Saved Our Lives—Now They’re Saving Our Health CareThe Nation

Michelle Chen, The Bereavement of Elder CareDissent

Sarah Jaffe and C.M. Lewis, Nurses Are Striking Across the Country Over Patient SafetyThe Nation

Thanks to the Ford Foundation of Social Justice for sponsoring this series.

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