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Workers rights July 29, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

The Guardian has a troubling report from the US which dovetails with a piece referenced here some weeks back. David Sirota writes about how:

In locales across the country, millions of Americans are losing employer-based healthcare coverage, and can only get it back if they go back to their jobs as infection rates increase.

In various states, officials are ending eviction moratoriums because “people generally should be back at work,” as Colorado’s Democratic governor, Jared Polis, put it in a declaration saying the quiet part aloud.


In Washington, Donald Trump is trying to brush aside dire warnings and force open schools. Republican governors like Missouri’s Mike Parson are supporting him by declaring that if kids “do get Covid-19, which they will, and they will when they go to school, they’re not going to the hospitals. They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it” – a formula for spreading the virus from children to entire families.

Unemployment benefits are under threat from Republicans in Congress and:

…there have been reports of businesses firing workers who raise concerns over Covid – and a court rebuffed a lawsuit aiming to force the Trump labor department to issue new rules requiring employers to protect workers from the disease.

This isn’t happenstance or random. It is all part of a plan. As the Roosevelt Institute’s Bharat Ramamurti put it: “Slashing unemployment insurance benefits, immunizing companies from worker health lawsuits, and forcing schools to open with inadequate funding is a ghoulish combination of policy priorities – all intended to offer up cheap, scared, and powerless labor to the forces of capital.”

In some ways the crisis has sharpened matters no end. If in Europe, generally, we have seen states reorient themselves towards social supports, in the US there was a burst of that but then a ‘correction’ in more recent times. And workers pay for that ‘correction’. But in a sense this merely points to the reality that workers are a resource in all this, one which is used and abused as is seen necessary. Forcing, directly or indirectly, workers back into unsafe workplaces is of a piece with that. That workers themselves must in a sense collude with this simply in the short term to survive financially does not undermine that broader reality.

But the grim lack of choice facing workers is demonstrated by the following:

Nelp has put forward model state legislation to affirmatively make workers eligible for unemployment if they leave jobs that are unsafe. The Center for Progressive Reform has a proposal to “give employees who collectively leave workplaces where they face a significant risk of contracting Covid-19 the benefit of the doubt in exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act to refuse dangerous work”. And 22 Senate Democrats have sent a letter to the labor department demanding that the agency issue a guidance that makes “clear that individuals cannot be forced to choose between keeping their income and putting their lives in danger”.

This is playing catch-up, isn’t it? And in a sense a defensive, and arguably losing, game. But there should be no complacency here either (and the situation in the UK is arguably worse again). Similar calls can be heard in various areas. As noted before, in certain respects, parts of business – not all parts but significant ones – seem only too willing to wish away the reality of the situation. Union push-back is absolutely necessary and in support of all workers, unionised or not.


1. CL - July 29, 2020

“The president is pushing the coronavirus theories of a Houston doctor who also says sexual visitations by demons and alien DNA are at the root of Americans’ common health concerns.”

“President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he did not understand why he had a worse approval rating over his handling of the US’s coronavirus outbreak than Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“He’s got this high approval rating,” Trump said, “so why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect — and the administration — with respect to the virus?”

Liked by 1 person

2. CL - July 30, 2020

The Trumpian anti-science derangement syndrome has infected most of the Republican party.
Today Trump’s consigliere, Rudy Giuliani, had the Houston crackpot, Dr. Stella Immanuel on his radio show extolling the benefits of hydroxychloroquine.

Sirota outlines the capitalist attack on workers health. Putting workers health in jeopardy is bad economics; a healthy workforce is necessary for any economic recovery.

This article from The Atlantic describes the elements of a realistic economic approach to the pandemic.

Without a healthy population, there can be no healthy economy….

Pay people a living wage to stop working.

Small business relief.

Rely on science as a guide,-not crackpot conspiracy theories.



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