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From auto plants to Amazon warehouses, to Hollywood studios, pharmacies and hospitals, almost half a million workers have gone on strike so far this year. Many are celebrating this revival of labor power, but what does it mean for workers of color — often hardest hit — and least well treated even by traditional labor organizations? Worker rights and racial justice are linked, but mainstream media often fails to make the connection. In this “Meet the BIPOC Press” episode co-hosted by Laura Flanders and Sara Lomax, Co-founder of URL Media, we explore the diversity of today’s unionized workforce and their demands. What happens when media bring a race-smart angle to their reporting? Joining us are Queens, New York-based reporter Amir Khafagy, reporting on the intersection of labor and immigration at Documented; and News Editor Carolyn Copeland, who is tracking national labor coverage with her team at Prism.
“Whenever you’re talking about unions, you’re always talking about people of color because people of color are more likely to belong to a union . . . Union issues are always a racial justice issue.” – Carolyn Copeland
“We have this sense of the burly Trade Union white guy that sometimes votes Republican. But lately, what we’ve seen now is the trade unions have come to realize that the historical animosity they had, especially towards immigrant workers and Black and Latino workers, has actually hurt their movement.“ – Amir Khafagy
“There has been a generational concern in Philadelphia about the racial gap in access to union participation . . . A lot of Black and BIPOC workers have not been able to join some of the unions in Philadelphia, skilled trades, et cetera. And it’s really created a racial hierarchy in the unions.” – Sara Lomax
- Carolyn Copeland: News Editor, Prism
- Amir Khafagy: Journalist, Report for America Member, Documented
- Sara Lomax: Co-Founder, URL Media; President & CEO, WURD Radio
Portions of this interview are featured in our episode, “BIPOC Media on the Fight for Fair Wages — & Anti-Racist Unions”