Be it in pandemics, natural disasters, industrial “accidents,” or wars, workers always have been and remain on the front lines. The coronavirus crisis has put many workers in harm’s way. Too many are deemed “essential” and then underpaid while workers better paid and sheltering in place also suffer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, precarious workers take home poverty wages while forced by employers to undergo new bodily policing procedures and risk their health and safety and that of their communities. This crisis has widened and deepened when it intersected with protests exploding in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. The pre-existing conditions of racism and police brutality—combined with COVID-19—further exposed the problems of a capitalist society designed to put profits above workers at all costs. Collectively, these intertwined crises reveal the deep significance of labor and working-class history to understanding our current moment. In 2021, LAWCHA seeks presentations that explore the experiences of workers on the front lines, interrogating the meanings of “essential” and “front line” across time and place, examining the stories of workers at the forefront of movements for democracy, sovereignty, rights, and freedoms, and what those histories mean for us today. Truly, there is no better place to hold this conference than Chicago.
For more information, see the official site for Workers on the Front Lines: LAWCHA 2021 Annual Conference »