With the omicron variant spreading like wildfire, COVID-19 cases around the country have shattered previous highs. The federal government has essentially given up on trying to fight the virus and a familiar ghoulish chorus of media pundits and wealthy business executives are berating working people to suck it up and put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the economy. What’s worse, workers who stand up for themselves are being viciously vilified and scapegoated for the systemic failures that have put us in this mess.

Perhaps no group is facing more backlash right now than educators. Earlier this week, nearly 3/4 of the membership of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted to return to virtual work until a deal to implement necessary safety measures is reached with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) or until the city’s positivity rate falls below 10%. In response, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the CPS administration have locked educators out of their virtual classrooms, replaying their actions from last year when COVID cases were surging and teachers were locked out of their employee accounts, and had their pay docked if they refused to return from teaching remotely. In this urgent, unscheduled episode of Working People, TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez talks about the lockout with Ana, a CPS teacher and CTU member, and Quetzalli Castro, a CPS teacher and a delegate and organizer within the CTU.

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Featured Music (all songs sourced from the Free Music Archive at freemusicarchive.org):
Jules Taylor, “Working People Theme Song”


The transcript of this interview is in progress and will be made available as soon as possible.

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Ten years ago, I was working 12-hour days as a warehouse temp in Southern California while my family, like millions of others, struggled to stay afloat in the wake of the Great Recession. Eventually, we lost everything, including the house I grew up in. It was in the years that followed, when hope seemed irrevocably lost and help from above seemed impossibly absent, that I realized the life-saving importance of everyday workers coming together, sharing our stories, showing our scars, and reminding one another that we are not alone. Since then, from starting the podcast Working People—where I interview workers about their lives, jobs, dreams, and struggles—to working as Associate Editor at the Chronicle Review and now as Editor-in-Chief at The Real News Network, I have dedicated my life to lifting up the voices and honoring the humanity of our fellow workers.
Email: max@therealnews.com
Follow: @maximillian_alv