How Did the Pandemic Transform Workers and Work? A Conversation with James McCallum


The pandemic brought to the fore a group of workers deemed “essential” – frontline healthcare workers, restaurant employees, slaughterhouse workers, and the like – who often faced a difficult choice between risking their health to work or forgoing income that they couldn’t afford to do without. Often, they had to work even though they couldn’t afford health insurance – or health care themselves if they got sick, another sign of the inadequacy of our health care arrangements. How did the pandemic transform workers and work?

This week on International Horizons, Professor John Torpey talks to Jamie McCallum from sociology at Middlebury College about the shift in conditions for essential workers across the globe during the pandemic and how that affected the whole world's labor movement. McCallum discusses the variations of these effects in different regions and how exceptionally the US behaved during the pandemic in terms of labor protection. Finally, the author discusses whether labor unrest can be pushed for larger systemic change.

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International Horizons

International Horizons is a podcast of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies that brings scholarly expertise to bear on our understanding of international issues. John Torpey, the host of the podcast and director of the Ralph Bunche Institute, holds conversations with prominent scholars and figures in state-of-the-art international issues in our weekly episodes.

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