by Carmen Figueroa
I’ve been working as a delivery driver on Grubhub and Postmates for the last four years, but being a gig worker during COVID-19 has been the most surreal experience of my life. The gig companies have experienced a pandemic boom: DoorDash saw sales triple, Instacart signed up a half-million new workers, Postmates and Grubhub were purchased for billions of dollars each, and online delivery became a way of life for millions of customers.
But the bonanza didn’t extend to delivery workers. The overwhelming number of orders combined with food shortages and skeleton crews at restaurants led to extreme wait times for deliveries, so orders that paid just $3 could take up to an hour. Apps took advantage of the influx of newly laid off employees flocking to gig work to push pay even lower, knowing drivers were desperate for orders and would take whatever we could get.
That’s why I’ve joined with thousands of gig workers in the Pay Up Campaign to pass new worker-driven laws in Seattle that raise pay, protect flexibility, and provide transparency to people working in the gig economy. We are not expendable and should not be exploited.
Continue reading OPINION: We Need the Flexibility Gig Work Promises and Basic Rights
by Sally James
For the daughter of two custodians, a process that started with bringing coffee and bread to custodians in their workplaces one year ago swelled into an advocacy and lobbying effort. She wants to ensure that custodians receive preference for the COVID-19 vaccine — as well as better wages, hazard pay, and increased status in society.
Evalynn Fae Taganna Romano identifies as Filipino and white. Her mother emigrated to Seattle from the Philippines. Her father, who died almost two decades ago, was born in Seattle but was the son of immigrants from Turkey. Romano lives in Beacon Hill and is a graduate student studying public health and social work at the University of Washington (UW).
Her year of helping and valuing custodians “made me think about how human lives are valued in our society and custodians, many of whom are immigrants and refugees, are often overlooked,” she told the Emerald in an interview.
Continue reading Pandemic Year Pushes a Daughter of Custodians to Fight for Her Mom’s Profession
by Guy Oron
Over 150 people gathered this Saturday, Feb. 20, to protest in solidarity with Amazon warehouse workers and against the crisis of housing affordability in King County. The protestors gathered outside the Renton offices of the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association (WMFHA), a landlord lobby group, before marching to the Amazon Flex warehouse, also known as DSE5.
The demonstration was organized by a coalition of local activist and labor groups, including the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America (SDSA) and MLK Labor (also known as the King County Labor Council). Organizers coordinated the action in coordination with a national day of solidarity in support of workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, who are trying to unionize. Workers at the Bessemer warehouse are currently voting on whether to form a union, and if they prove successful, the facility would become the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the United States.
Continue reading Protestors Rally in Renton in Support of Alabama Amazon Workers
by Johnny Mao and Johnny Fikru
Farmworkers are striking for their families and for everyone in Washington State. Without receiving the necessary protections for COVID-19, they pose a danger to the ones they love — and that is simply unjust.
Four-hundred and fifty farmworkers at six different fruit packaging plants have decided to protect their lives and health with the only option they have left: strikes, pickets and hunger strikes. They are demanding protections from COVID-19, hazard pay, and an end to retaliation from management. This is all taking place in the county with the highest rate of COVID-19 cases spiking on the West Coast.
Continue reading OPINION: What’s it like to be striking for your life in a pandemic? (Seguridad y Salud)
by Sidney Chun
Non-unionized workers, laborers, sex workers, freelancers, nannies, house cleaners, workers living with disabilities, and baristas: the economy is not working for you. Neither are the current labor laws.
Continue reading OPINION: A New Organizing Approach for Workers in the New Economy