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High Death Toll in Transit Jobs From Coronavirus Prompts Union Militancy

Posted 5/1/20

The rising pandemic death toll for transit workers nationally has sparked a new militancy among their unions and is influencing workers in other essential sectors of the economy, according to both a top transit-union leader and Joshua Freeman, a Professor of Labor History at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

"We saw something similar to this during the two World Wars, when there were huge gains in union membership with workers looking for health and safety protections as a push-back against the stepped-up pace of wartime production," said Mr. Freeman, the author of "Behemonth: A History of the Making of the Modern World." "Just as we are seeing today, suddenly society acknowledged that workers, were the key to success and to victory. And so workers' concerns gained a new legitimacy."

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