On March 17th, USPS employees started a campaign on Coworker.org demanding the implementation of safety protocols, paid leave for at risk employees, hazard pay, and other protections as the threat of COVID-19 looms. Within days, the petition gathered more than 75,000 signatures and amassed comments from thousands of concerned employees.

Here are some of the things postal workers are saying about their current situation.

(Please note: the quotes below are from comments left on the postal workers’ petition between March 17 and March 23, 2020. This situation is changing rapidly. …

As the threat of the novel coronavirus looms over the workforce, many working people are concerned about balancing their financial stability and the need to stay home from work in order to prevent the spread of the virus. For many workers who don’t receive paid sick leave, staying home from work is impossible.

Restaurant servers are wondering: “Am I eligible for unemployment if my restaurant closes for several weeks?” Gig workers are concerned: “If I’m required to quarantine, how can I get paid?” …

Workers are speaking out to protect their health

The spread of coronavirus has impacted numerous workplaces — and workers are speaking out, too.

Image credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/flu-sniff-disease-cold-ill-virus-2764634/

The virus has disrupted many workplaces around the world. Factories have been shut down impacting everything from the auto industry to fast food. Cathay Pacific Airways has asked employees to take unpaid leave due to lower demand. Other multinational companies have paused employees’ business trips to China. Uber suspended the accounts of two drivers and 240 customers in Mexico who reportedly may have come into contact with someone who might have been exposed to coronavirus. …

Employees are using workplace organizing to encourage companies to address their impacts on the environment

Over the past few years, people have been organizing with coworkers to call on their employers to adhere to higher ethical standards. From Google engineers speaking out about the ethical implications of the company’s products and contracts to a Boeing employee who blew the whistle on safety concerns with the 737 Max to Wells Fargo employees who took action to stop aggressive sales quotas that led to consumer abuses: workers are refusing to be silent about issues that go beyond traditional workplace concerns. As the climate crisis escalates, employees are taking collective action to address their employers’ environmental impacts, too.

The impact of constant surveillance in the workplace

giphy: Jacqueline Jing Lin

When surveillance increases, low-wage workers and Black and brown communities suffer.

In today’s growing gig economy, workers have less rights and more restrictions. On top of that, companies are increasingly using technology to watch their workers’ every move, managing them by apps or even monitoring bathroom break. In addition, studies show that when surveillance increases, low-wage workers and Black and brown communities are disproportionally impacted and targeted.

Coworker.org recognizes the impact of surveillance in the workplace and we want to learn more about how workers are experiencing the effects of this type of technology. Will you help us uncover and stop these practices…

New privacy protections have arrived for workers in California

Employers collect an enormous amount of data from workers and are using new technologies to monitor us at work. Here are some examples:

Teachers in West Virginia were “required to either pay a fee or participate in a workplace wellness program called ‘Healthy Tomorrows,’ which penalized members for not scoring ‘acceptable’ on a series of biometric measures.” They went on strike and got the program dropped.

“Freelancer, a platform for hiring web developers and designers, uses a technology called WorkSmart that takes screenshots of workers’ screens and then combines them with…

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” …right?

Customers rushing into a retail store during Black Friday
Customers rushing into a retail store during Black Friday
“Retail Holiday Horror” by BagoGames, Flickr

Hot chocolate, holiday cheer and time with family: it’s the holiday season we all hope for. Unfortunately, for the millions of people working in retail every year, this dream of relaxation and time with loved ones can feel just like that: a dream.

It’s become the holiday experience that most workers expect: poor treatment, long hours and low pay.

Every year, retail workers bear the brunt of the busy holiday season — temporary “seasonal” hours, rude customers, dangerous working conditions and more. Most major retail companies require employees to have open…

Across industries, and across the country, workers are embracing the power of salary transparency using crowdsourced spreadsheets to share information about their compensation. Inspired by a spreadsheet created by adjunct professors at US universities, Art + Museum Transparency launched their own spreadsheet in May 2019 that quickly took off. Now, inspired by their efforts, Philly baristas have created a spreadsheet of their own.

In less than a week’s time, similar spreadsheets have popped up, crowdsourcing wage transparency among baristas in Seattle, Boston, Asheville, Austin, Cincinnati, Chicago, SE Michigan, Greenville, New York City, Portland, Denver, Colorado Springs, Dallas/Fort Worth, DC, New…

From Wayfair to Google, employees have recently organized workplace walkouts to call for changes at their companies — building on the long tradition of strikes and work stoppages.

Image Credit: Global Climate Strike, https://digital.globalclimatestrike.net/#social-downloads

In the latest iteration of this workplace tactic, workers are planning an action in solidarity with youth climate activists called the Global Climate Strikes on September 20 and September 27, 2019.

Employees in the tech industry including at Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook have announced plans to join and use the global event as an opportunity to push their companies to change policies that impact the climate. …

Lessons from Art + Museum Transparency

In May 2019, a group of art workers and museum workers initiated a crowd-sourced Google spreadsheet where thousands of industry professionals self-reported information about their salaries. Calling their group Art + Museum Transparency, they didn’t stop there.

A standing-room only crowd for an event organized by Art + Museum Transparency titled “Art and Labor: What’s Next After a Summer of Struggle?” in Philadelphia on August 29, 2019.

Later in the summer, they created a separate crowd-sourced spreadsheet to surface data about internships at art institutions and museums. The data revealed a number of institutions that rely on unpaid and underpaid interns — a practice that Art + Museum Transparency says limits “the pool of emerging professionals to a privileged few and inhibit[s] inclusivity and diversity in arts and museum spaces.”


Want to change something at your workplace? Start a campaign. Organize your coworkers. And win.

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