Made to Fail


Chapter Eight: Busted in Wisconsin

Season 1, Ep. 8

When COVID-19 began to burn across America, the hospitals of Madison, Wisconsin weren’t ready. They weren’t ready to meet the needs of the patients -- collapsing in the emergency room, dying while awaiting ventilation -- but they also weren’t ready to meet the needs of the doctors. And the nurses. And the custodial staff.

The front line workers who were forced to wear the same dirty masks, shift after shift, as more and more COVID-19 patients poured through the doors, gasping for care.

It didn’t have to be this way, and it might not have been, if Wisconsin’s once-mighty unions still held the power to organize and fight for the rights of essential workers. But years ago, the state’s conservative politicians deliberately dismantled organized labor. So when crisis came to the Badger state, workers had no one looking out for them. 

And then they began to get sick.

This country’s employment infrastructure was made to fail -- but failure doesn’t have to be the ultimate fate of American workers. Because unions made this country strong -- and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need them to make the country strong again.

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Chapter Seven: Sold Out in Maine

Season 1, Ep. 7
The Paycheck Protection Program was co-written by Maine’s very own Republican Senator Susan Collins, and it was signed into law as a means for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees to pay their workers and keep operations running during the pandemic. But, a loophole written into the program allowed for several major chains to receive millions of dollars in PPP loans from the same finite bucket of money, leaving crumbs for small businesses who followed the strictest of rules. Those loans, which made up a $349 billion stimulus effort were exhausted after just two weeks.The loophole is one reason that small businesses got so little when it came to the PPP loans, But then, there’s also the fact that banks were administering these loans. As banks were deciding the fate of businesses everywhere and making big profits, businesses all across the country were closing their doors and laying off workers. By April 23, more than 30 million people across America had filed for unemployment. This number has continued to rise. But that same month, in April, the S&P 500 and the Dow had their best months since 1987. The stock market was rallying...Why on the one hand did we see so many businesses close and massive job losses one day and see the stock market soaring the next? What does it mean that we have consistently seen both of these trends throughout a global pandemic? The links in our economic system that ensure when businesses profit, the people who work for those businesses profit as well, are fundamentally broken.