A new study by The Economic Policy Institute concluded that black and hispanic workers are bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s health and economic pain. The report concluded that persistent racial disparities in access to health care, wealth, employment, and housing have left workers of color with fewer options to protect themselves from the virus while leaving them highly susceptible to the virus’ health and economic consequences. For example, the study found that African Americans have disproportionately high COVID-19 death rates and are more likely to both live in areas experiencing outbreaks and to work in jobs that place them on the frontlines. Moreover, the report concluded that job losses have hit black Americans particularly hard, both amplifying and worsening racial inequalities because black Americans have less resources and generational wealth to help them ride out the post-pandemic economy. Listen to an NPR interview with the report’s authors here.

As the national dialogue turns to the role of police unions in diminishing officer accountability, the largest labor coalition in King County has demanded that the Seattle Police Officers Guild acknowledge and address racism in law enforcement and in the officers’ union – or leave the Council.  The King County Labor Coalition issued a resolution on Thursday essentially requiring the 1,000 member police union to reform itself and meet public demands, such as by participating in racial workgroups, committing to police contracts that do not evade accountability, and implementing consequences for breaches of professional standards. 

The resolution is significant because the labor coalition has historically protected the police union, but has changed course in response to community protests and calls for the labor council to remove SPOG from its ranks. The reform is the most recent development in the increased national scrutiny of police unions that Jon and Minnie have covered this week. 

The NBA approved a plan to resume its 2019-20 season at Florida’s Walt Disney World in July, making it the largest and most-watched American sports league to restart during the pandemic. By Thursday, the League remained in negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association on a comprehensive plan that would mitigate Covid-19 risks while the teams stay on the Resort grounds, including regular testing protocols and robust safety practices. Fans will remember that the NBA abruptly suspended its season on March 11 after two players tested positive for the virus.  The players’ union is now expected to review the re-start plan on Friday before it is finalized. The NBA’s decision follows announcements by the NHL, Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League that they will also resume games in some fashion during the summer. 

The federal government’s biggest union, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), is urging Congress to preserve labor rights and benefits in the next fiscal year’s National Defense Authorization Act. The union asked lawmakers to consider 12 labor-specific priorities that would preserve collective bargaining rights and expand benefits for the union’s 300,000 Defense Department (DOD) employees. AFGE asked that Congress prohibit funding from being directed to exclude DOD employees from the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute; that it grant 12 weeks of paid family leave to DOD employees; and that it curtail the outsourcing of jobs. The union’s demands follow President Trump’s January attempt to allow Defense Secretary Esper to suspend DOD employees’ collective bargaining rights during national emergencies, a power traditionally reserved for the Commander-in-Chief. The Trump administration’s move sparked concerns amongst Congressional and labor leaders that the policy change would curtail federal workers’ essential workplace rights.