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In recent weeks, employees at sites as diverse as Amazon warehouses, meat-processing plants and emergency rooms have raised the alarm over unsafe conditions posed by the new coronavirus. Workplace infections have been soaring, while protective gear has been in chronically short supply. Some workers have kept quiet, fearing retribution. But a growing number have resorted to protests, walkouts and even strikes.Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising. Concerns over safety have defined the history of work in America. And while the U.S. has been far more tolerant of unsafe conditions than most other industrial nations, it has also paid a staggering price in lost lives, maimed bodies and sometimes-violent labor unrest.

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