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What can we do to organize ourselves to demand improved protection?

This question is from a series of questions and answers on Worker Rights and Strategies for Staying Safe During COVID-19 created by National COSH to support workers during the pandemic.

WHAT CAN WE DO TO ORGANIZE OURSELVES TO DEMAND IMPROVED PROTECTION?

  • Learn about COVID-19 together:  It’s much easier to take action when we have a shared understanding of the problem. What is COVID-19? How can someone get infected? What are prevention measures being used?
  • Brainstorm about your workplace risks: Where are the risks in the different spaces? (For example, the entrance, the front of the house, the back of the house, the breakroom, and the administrative offices).
  • Document what has happened so far: Unjust employers will likely want to say “The workers caught COVID-19 elsewhere,” so monitoring collectively is important. Have workers gotten sick? How many? When? Maintain a record of everything that has happened with the date when possible.
  • Form a committee to develop a plan and schedule regular meetings.
  • Gather contact information from all workers you can: Think about folks outside of your department too!
  • Choose a communication platform:  Create groups in Signal, Slack, WhatsApp, or Facebook. Make sure to make it private so workers can strategize without management interference. 
  • Brainstorm about rank/vulnerability within your team: Who in management has power to make decisions? Who influences them? What leverage do workers have to challenge the boss? What does management need from workers? How do workers line up for or against supporting challenges to management?
  • Decide together what are the most important measures to take! (see #6
  • Demand your employer implement those measures and motivate them by putting escalating pressure on them. That means, tactics that slowly help you recruit more and more support from your co-workers and allies AND that slowly put more pressure on the employer to do the right thing. Some ideas of escalating tactics: 
    • Take a safety and health training
    • Watch a documentary together (but from home) on Netflix
    • Send or drop off a letter with demands 
    • Post a poster with the demands
    • Sing protest songs from your workstation
    • Create a #hashtag to post testimonials on social networks
    • Call or text  the boss frequently  with the same message at the same time
    • Protests from the car (the horn or music at the same time)
    • Protests from afar (one person per parking spot)
    • Stop working for a few minutes
    • Work slowdowns / other job actions
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