Immigrants Making PPE Strike After a Co-Worker Dies of COVID

Today, Mexican immigrants making personal protective equipment LSL Healthcare in the suburbs of Chicago walked off the job, shutting down production as the workers demand paid time off to go into quarantine.

The walk-off came off after a co-worker died of COVID.

“The bosses didn’t inform the workers that there are sick people. They figured it out on their own,” says Maritere Gomez, an organizer with the worker center Arise Chicago, which is helping the workers organize.

“If it were up to the bosses, the workers still wouldn’t know. They would put anyone live at risk cuz of profits,” says Gomez.

The workers delivered a letter to management demanding paid time off, safer conditions, and better testing.

“The company should call us when the Covid-19 crisis is over according to the Illinois government, and/or when the company is ready to resume safe operations in compliance with Governor JB Pritzker’s Executive Order. We will come back to work unconditionally at that time,” the workers wrote in a letter sent to management.

The strike by the workers is part of the growing trend of immigrant workers taking action to protect themselves during the pandemic.

“I think undocumented workers need to unite,” says Gomez. “I think coming out of this pandemic as undocumented workers, we can’t be fearful. If undocumented people don’t stand up for themselves, nobody will, certainly not their boss or government”.

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter who covered everything from Lula & the Brazilian labor movement to major league baseball. He spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian and was labeled by the New York Times as an "abrasive gadfly" for exposing within the labor movement. Raised in a UE union family in Pittsburgh, Elk was illegally for union organizing at Politico in 2015 and used his NLRB settlement to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and is fluent in both Pittsburghese and Portuguese, which he learned when attending journalism school at PUC-Rio de Janerio. Email: [email protected]

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