WORKING LIFE PODCAST: GLOBAL WORKERS FACE COVI-19 RAMPAGE WITH LITTLE DEFENSE
Apr 29 2020
EPISODE 179 There is no way to downplay the risks to U.S. frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic—and I’ve dug into that in the past month or so, in our various segments talking about workers in health care, postal service, hog and poultry processing, airlines, rail, and subways. It’s dangerous and frightening—and it’s exponentially more terrifying when you look at the global threat to workers. Think about what tens of millions of workers in poorer countries, with far fewer resources, are facing. The images coming out of Africa, Asia and South America showing huge migrations of workers are mind-boggling—how do you even wrap your mind around how to achieve social distancing at bus depots in India, crammed with huge crowds of migrants, who are desperately trying to get home because they have nowhere to go as industries have shut down in the pandemic. Or, consider Haiti, the poorest country in this hemisphere—close your eyes and think of garment workers who pack into tap-taps (those are public minibus transports) to ride to factories that are teeming with people, that on a good day, are dangerous, risky places to work—and, then, arriving at a factory to find that the employer is forcing workers to sign a piece of paper that says if the worker gets sick that worker is legally responsible for their illness. Shawna Bader-Blau, executive director of the Solidarity Center, joins me to paint the global picture. And, then, courtesy of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), it’s the Dirty Dozen of the Corona Pandemic, and a few other dishonorable mentions—companies like Amazon and Tyson Foods who, surprise, put profits over the safety and health of workers, along with big corporate lobbyists who work hard to block paid sick leave. I chat with Peter Dooley, a National COSH leading workplace safety and health expert, about the Dirty Dozen, and we also discuss a model framework for how to make sure workers stay safe in the pandemic.