We have learned that the biggest coronavirus clusters in the country are, as researcher Gina Neff pointed out, prisons, meatpacking plants, and nursing homes. Meatpacking plants have long been a target for reformers, but they remain, as our guest today tells us, workplaces where injuries are taken as a matter of course. In such conditions, is it really surprising that workers are getting sick with coronavirus? But the illness in the food chain should remind us that we are all only as healthy as the sickest person in society—particularly if that person is handling your dinner. Is the virus in food production a way to get people to care about low-paid, superexploited workers? We talk with Raj Patel, research professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin and the author of Stuffed and Starved and most recently, with Jason W. Moore, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things, and Suzanne Adely, co-director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance.
Around the country, workers are fighting for safety on the job, and we check in on graduate student organizing at Harvard with Nishant Kishore, school employees in Minnesota with Sarah Nichols, as well as an attempt to pass an Essential Workers Bill of Rights in New York City and an attempt to map union power around the country in order to build the kinds of big strikes that will be necessary to fight back austerity and keep workers safe in the future. For Argh, we look at the conditions of the unsung, non-medical hospital workers who are also dying of the virus, and more on meat monopolies.
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Sarah: How Workers Can Win in the Age of COVID-19 (Progressive)
Coronavirus Has Broken America’s Food Supply (The American Prospect)
Argh, I Wish I’d Written That:
Michelle: Ron Knox, Monopolies in Meat: Endangering Workers, Farmers, and Consumers (The American Prospect)
Sarah: Nicole Hong, 3 Hospital Workers Gave Out Masks. Weeks Later, They All Were Dead. (New York Times)