Revisiting ‘Underground Airlines’ during coronavirus

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The stories coming out of these places are even worse than how he describe the working conditions in the sweat shops where people were treated rather well in order to assure production stayed high. They had to live within the limits the company allowed but there was a sense of community even though they were not free to venture outside the city limits. The book focused mainly on ‘slave catchers’ working in the north to capture runaways, or anyone they could nab on legal technicalities to send south to work the sweat shops. 

Today, we are seeing companies taking full advantage of low wage workers in these retail and warehouse jobs doing jobs to serve the people working from home or out of work but still consuming goods from retail outlets and the internet. Food processing plants seem to be the most notorious as hundreds of workers are sick with COVID-19 finally forcing several of the plants to shut down. At best, these workers are receiving a couple extra dollars for their service, and the companies are slow to provide them with the protections necessary to keep them healthy. 

‘Underground Airlines’ reflects today’s society with a twist. If the author had coronavirus material to work with, it would have been a real horror story.