The COVID-19 pandemic demanded more of workers: longer hours, angrier customers, and increased exposure to disease. Now, workers across the country — from baristas to warehouse workers to nurses — are organizing to demand safer, fairer workplaces. Workers in New York City are leading this wave of action, unionizing more workers than anywhere else in the country. Producer Melanie Kruvelis spoke to striking workers, elected officials, and community members to understand what's at stake for New York City's workers — and how organizing in the five boroughs impacts working people across the country. • Brooklyn, USA is produced by Emily Boghossian, Shirin Barghi, Charlie Hoxie, Khyriel Palmer, and Mayumi Sato. If you have something to say and want us to share it on the show, here’s how you can send us a message:




• Thank you to Melanie Kruvelis, Zach Lennon-Simon, Lee-Sean Huang, Cara Levine, Megan Salmon, and striking workers everywhere!

Melanie Kruvelis is a graduate student at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.


Eric Dirnbach is a union organizer, researcher and activist in New York City and is a volunteer with the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee.


Emily Gallagher is serving her second term as a New York State Assemblymember for District 50 (Williamsburg and Greenpoint) after 16 years as a devoted community activist. 


Wen Zhuang is on staff at the NewsGuild of New York where she works on strategic communications and organizing. She is also an organizer with the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee. If you and your coworkers want to learn how to shift the balance of power at your workplace and win better working conditions or a union, fill out a form to be connected with an organizer:


Arianna Ayala is a worker at the Starbucks Reserve in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, organizing with Starbucks Workers United.


Zach Lennon-Simon is an award winning documentary and narrative filmmaker who is Brooklyn born & raised. Zach graduated from the SUNY Purchase Film Conservatory. From there he has worked on teaching high school teens how to make their own films and tell their stories to the world. Zach is an avid believer in the power of personal storytelling and also believes that Stevie Wonder was sent to us to tell us what true love and happiness really feels like.


Lee-Sean Huang Lee-Sean Huang is a Taiwanese American designer and educator. He is a part-time assistant professor at the Parsons School of Design, part of The New School. Lee-Sean and his fellow part-time faculty are currently on strike while they are fighting for a fair contract. This is his first time taking part in a collective bargaining process and strike. He is also part-time faculty at SVA, the School of Visual Arts. And previously taught at the College of Staten Island. Outside of teaching, Lee-Sean co-founded Foossa, a community-centered design and strategy consultancy. He currently works as the Director of Design Content and Learning at AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts), the oldest and largest professional association for design in the U.S. He earned a bachelors in Government from Harvard and a masters in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU. He currently splits his time between New York City and Providence, Rhode Island. 


Cara Levine is a Case Manager in the Anti-Trafficking Initiative at Sanctuary for Families and is a member of the bargaining committee of their staff union, Sanctuary United. Sanctuary United is a part of NOLSW, the National Organization of Legal Service Workers, UAW Local 2320. She organizes in solidarity with Palestine as a leader and member of Jewish Voice for Peace-New York. She spends a lot of time thinking about community, how people interact with each other and build relationships, and about what to cook.  


Megan is a case manager with Sanctuary for Families living in Flatbush, Brooklyn. She is also a part of Sanctuary United’s bargaining committee. She has been with the agency for just over a year, and plans to continue in the field of social work as an advocate. She also engages in other forms of activism, such as abortion clinic defense, canvassing for nonviolence, and engagement in Flatbush community services. When she’s not working, she enjoys lifting weights, playing guitar, and cooking.



"Logjam" by Podington Bear

"Fingernail Grit" by Podington Bear

"Back Stairs" by Podington Bear

"This Is an Emergency: Flattening the Curve from the Bottom Up" webinar, Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee

"Amazon Labor Union President Christian Smalls Opening Statement before Senate Banking Committee" video, C-Span


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