Tomorrow is Labor Day, and this weekend we’re bringing you stories about workers’ experiences and workers’ rights. In “Thin Yellow Line,” Lizzie Widdicombe profiles Bhairavi Desai, the organizer who founded New York City’s taxi-driver union, when she was just twenty-six; in “Dignity,” William Finnegan meets the fast-food workers fighting for a higher minimum wage (and inventing a new kind of labor advocacy in the process). Michael Grabell uncovers the conditions faced by poultry workers, in “Cut to the Bone,” and Jill Lepore recounts Clarence Darrow’s role in the labor movement, in “Objection.” Rachel Aviv takes us into the world of immigrant caregivers, many of whom leave their own children behind to look after kids here in the United States, in “The Cost of Caring.” Finally, in “The Kitchen Network,” Lauren Hilgers follows Chinese restaurant workers as they travel from their home towns in China to restaurants across the United States. Many of the sacrifices made by workers happen behind closed doors. These pieces open them.

David Remnick


“Thin Yellow Line”

“Because most drivers are independent contractors, there is not, officially, anyone for them to vent to about the vicissitudes of the job. As a taxi-driver advocate, Bhairavi Desai is their defender and their confessor.” Read more.


“Dignity”

“A recent study by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that fifty-two per cent of fast-food workers are on some form of public assistance.” Read more.


“Objection”

“The trial lawyer Clarence Darrow wasn’t a philosopher; he wasn’t even an iconoclast. He was an agonist. He would argue one way; he would argue another; he just didn’t want to see bigotry thrive or watch a man die.” Read more.


“Cut to the Bone”

“Case Farms plants are among the most dangerous workplaces in America. In 2015 alone, federal workplace-safety inspectors fined the company nearly two million dollars, and in the past seven years it has been cited for two hundred and forty violations.” Read more.


“The Cost of Caring”

“A 2012 survey by the National Domestic Workers Alliance found that two-thirds of nannies, housekeepers, and home health aides were immigrants, half of whom were undocumented.” Read more.


“The Kitchen Network”

“There are more than forty thousand Chinese restaurants across the country—nearly three times the number of McDonald’s outlets. Most are family operations, staffed by immigrants who pass through for a few months at a time.” Read more.