In Philly, growing worker solidarity movements are more than a ‘Great Resignation’

Nicolas O’Rourke, director of organizing for Pennsylvania Working Families, encourages passersby to vote early by casting a mail-in ballot at the satellite election office in Philadelphia’s City Hall on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. The Trump administration sued the city Thursday, saying it should allow campaign poll watchers to observe people registering to vote and filling out mail-in ballots in the satellite offices. City officials say certified poll watchers are limited to observing at actual polling places on election day.

At the beginning of the pandemic, when lockdowns and quarantines went into effect, employers laid off almost 98% of UNITE HERE hotel, gaming and food service workers, with many cutting access to health insurance and refusing to pay out other earned benefits. Months later, many of those same managers recalled members of the union’s Local 274 back on the job, some with little more than 24 hours’ notice and threats to terminate anyone who didn’t return.

Despite a strong desire to return to work and work hard, employers made it difficult for immunocompromised and ill-at-health employees and those with child care needs at a time when vaccinations were a year away, and school remained closed.