After 8 Co-Workers Die of COVID, CO. Meatpackers Strike Again – Mass. Paratransit Driver Strike & More

Meatpacking workers leaving work at JBS plants in Greeley, Colorado (Eric Bellamy/ Greeley Tribune

Greetings from the Burgh, where the air is finally not so toxic again. 

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So far we have raised $2,170 toward our $6,000 goal. 

Donate today so we cover the fightback against COVID and racial injustice. 

After 8 Co-Workers Died of COVID, JBS Meatpacker to Strike Again

Earlier this year, workers at JBS plant in Greely, Colorado walked off the job after one of their co-workers died of COVID. 

Now, after 8 workers have died of COVID at JBS’s meat processing plant, workers decided once again to walk off the job after saying that little had changed and that the company was unwilling to raise their pay for the dangerous nature of the work they were doing. The Greeley Tribune has the story: 

One employee, not a black hat, who was speaking under promise of anonymity out of fear of reprisal for a job he hoped to retain, said, speaking Spanish, that things have changed inside the plant.

“Now isn’t like before,” this employee said. “Before, there were many Latinos who were fearful and there was a lot of separation between the people. Today, what we showed is it doesn’t matter where you’re from, if you’re Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Mexican, El Salvadoran, we’re all united today. And we all left together.”

This employee reported that the moment, which occurred at 1 p.m. Friday, was unlike any he’d seen before, as black hats were joined by workers with hats of all colors — indicating position or supervisory role — standing together in the plant, refusing to continue to work with their hands clasped in front of their waists in unity.

“Someone told me return to my line, and I said no,” he said. “I put my hands like this. And I stayed. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

For more, go to the Greeley Tribune. 

(Also, check out the Denver Post’s long look at how COVID quickly spread through the plant in Greeley). 

350 Paratransit Drivers in Massachusetts Strike 

Today, over 350 paratransit drivers went on strike, after their employer proposed to increase out-of-pocket health insurance cuts in the middle of a pandemic. From MassLive:

“Veterans Transportation is a highly profitable company denying its own workers affordable health insurance during a global pandemic,” said Teamsters Local 25 President Sean M. O’Brien in a statement. “These men and women are essential workers who have put themselves and their families at risk providing essential services during this time.

“Our members at Veterans Transportation can be assured we will fight for them and will not rest until they receive a fair contract,” said O’Brien. 

For more, go to MassLive.com.

Online Publications Selling Less Consumer Ads on Stories about Black Lives Matter 

Some advertisers employ “blocklists” that prevent their ads from appearing on news stories about certain topics. 

A new report from the Wall Street Journal says that companies like Target and MTV have been refusing to place their ads next to stories about the Black Lives Matter movement. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Last month Target Corp. told a leading online news publisher not to run its ads in stories related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Articles mentioning police-brutality victims such as “Breonna Taylor” and “George Floyd” were off limits, as were those with the word “protests.”

Target and other advertisers that compiled similar “blocklists” say they were respecting the sensitivity of the issue and wanted to avoid the appearance of exploiting tragedies. News publishers say such moves effectively punish media companies for covering important issues, 

since they earn less money from content where ad-blocking is prevalent.

Blocklists aren’t new: Before this year, many brands already were sidestepping articles with words like “shooting,” “bomb,” “immigration” or even “Trump,” hoping to avoid associations with controversial topics. The ad blocking went to a new level in 2020—first, as the terms “Covid-19” and “coronavirus” made it onto many blocklists, and more recently with the addition of terms related to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It’s defunding our journalism at a time when it’s imperative for us to be the front lines doing this kind of work,” said Paul Wallace, Vice Media’s vice president for global revenue products and services. Black Lives Matter coverage was Vice’s most popular news in June, yet commanded ad prices 57% lower than news about other topics because so many brands are actively avoiding placing ads in those articles, he said.

(Note: Payday accepts no advertising, only reader donations.  Donate to Help Us Keep Covering the News

Pioneering Black Activist Brad Lomax Who Bridged Civil Rights & Disability Movement Dies

Finally, Payday mourns the death of pioneering civil and disability rights activist Brad Lomax. The New York Times has his story: 

Lomax became a key figure in the disability rights movement when he joined more than 100 people in 1977 in occupying the fourth-floor offices of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the San Francisco Federal Building. Their goal was to persuade the government to enforce a long-ignored section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Tucked in the act was Section 504, which, modeled on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, had the potential to change the lives of people living with disabilities by prohibiting recipients of federal aid from discriminating against any “otherwise qualified individuals with a disability.”

The demonstration, known as the 504 Sit-in, would last for 24 days, making it the longest peaceful occupation of a federal building in the nation’s history. Lomax, accompanied by an attendant, Chuck Jackson, not only helped lead the protest; he also gained the support of their fellow Black Panthers, a group that had advocated armed self-defense while also providing social services to the Black community; the Panthers agreed to bring hot meals and other provisions to the building daily.

“Without the presence of Brad Lomax and Chuck Jackson, the Black Panthers would not have fed the 504 participants occupying the H.E.W. building,” Corbett O’Toole, who took part in the demonstration, wrote in an unpublished memoir. “Without that food, the sit-in would have collapsed.”

For more, go to the New York Times. 

That’s all for today folks. Thanks for reading and donate so we can keep covering the story of the fightback against racial injustice and COVID. 

If you have any stories or suggestions for our next newsletter, send an email to melk@paydayreport.com.

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is a yinzer labor reporter who covered the drug war in Brasil and spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian. In 2016, he used his $70,000 NLRB settlement from being fired in the union drive at Politico to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. The son of United Electrical Workers (UE) Director of Organization Gene Elk, he lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Email: Melk@PaydayReport.com

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