News News: Working voices continue to resonate on the “South Coast Working” podcast.
Working voices continue to resonate on the “South Coast Working” podcast.

From the construction trades to nursing home workers

South Coast Working” is a new podcast and promotes the voice of working people and those who continue to build the South Coast each and every day. From the docks to the mills to the classrooms to the roadways, working people add a voice and life to the region.

Examples of podcasts in this series include: “Diversifying the Construction Trades on the South Coast”, which is hosted and produced by Andrea Muraskin, a Bay State-based audio producer.

Construction work is one of the few careers left in the United States where a person can make a good living without a college degree. However, it’s also one of the few fields available to high school graduates with a work force that’s still predominantly white and male. So, what will it take for women and people of color to get a bigger piece of the pie, and to land the construction jobs that provide the best wages, benefits, and safety standards – union jobs—and benefit from Massachusetts’ building boom?

In this episode you’ll meet Tara Williams, who brought herself and her children out of poverty through determination, and a brand-new career in the building trades. You’ll learn about the training program where Tara got her start, and Vineyard Wind, the first-in-the-nation green energy project that’s bringing new union construction jobs to the South Coast. Also covered is the shadow side of the construction economy – the exploitation of undocumented workers – and efforts to bring their employers to justice.

The second new episode is entitled “Union Strong in Nursing Homes in The Age of Covid,” and is hosted and produced by independent journalist Kortni Smyers-Jones In the early months of the pandemic, health care workers were lauded as heroes, especially those who worked with the most vulnerable – the elderly and people who couldn’t take care of themselves. From March to September 2020, nursing home residents made up 40% of COVID-19 deaths. Nursing home residents are at high risk because of their age, higher rates of pre-existing illness, and the close quarters they live in. However, a report published in the journal Health Affairs found that nursing homes in New York State where the workers belonged to a union experienced a 30% lower mortality rate, compared to facilities in the state where the workers were not unionized.

So why the difference? In this episode, journalist Kortni Smyers-Jones speaks with study co-author Adam Dean of George Washington University, healthcare workers, and union leadership to get answers.

South Coast Working was born from the inspiration and motivation of students, staff and faculty of UMass Dartmouth Arnold M. Dubin Labor Education Center, as well as the adult children and grandchildren for which it is named, to spread awareness about the challenges facing and opportunities available to members of the workforce in and around South Coast Massachusetts. Through passionate collaboration, it was determined that a podcast would be the most effective and accessible medium to achieve this goal.