“A basic principle of the modern state capitalism is that cost and risk are socialized, while profit is privatized.” – Noam Chomsky
Thank you, Essential Workers
Coronavirus has impacted the globe. Many nations are on lockdown, and cities worldwide have issued shelter-at-home orders for their residents. The United States has been walloped by COVID-19. Many professionals have taken to working from home and practicing social distancing. But for untold millions, they have been deemed essential workers and are at high risk of being exposed just by doing their jobs. Many of these essential workers are blue-collar and low-wage workers. The media has portrayed them as the unsung heroes of the Coronavirus pandemic. They are saying thank an essential worker. Thanking them is fine, but we need to demand they be paid hazardous duty pay, and after this is over, we raise the minimum wage to a living one and ensure they all have proper healthcare.
The U.S. government’s slow response to the pandemics halting the global economy was a massive corporate bailout with little to no workers protections. Then Congress went on recess in the middle of a global crisis. Even Senator Bernie Sanders voted for this corporate giveaway. But he did fight and win the extension of unemployment benefits to workers laid off due to the pandemic. Currently, there are talks about a second bailout that will include additional hazardous pay for transit, grocery store, and sanitation workers as well. These are good starts, but much more is needed to be done. It seems the workers are taking up the challenge of improving working conditions during this historic moment in time themselves.
In the midst of it, workers are fighting back in the age of the Coronavirus. There have been worker strikes by employees at Amazon, Instacart, and other companies. Workers are demanding fair pay, gear protective gear, and hazardous pay. There have been walkouts. Some companies are doing well by their employees, while others are buckling down on not listening to their worker’s demands. I’m looking at you, Amazon. Nurses on the front lines are demanding they get the equipment and gear needed to protect themselves while they save lives in the middle of this crisis. Shout out to my big sis, Shauntina, a nurse working her ass off during all of this.
As a member of the Progressive Workers Union, I stand in solidarity with all essential workers. Their demands to protect their health and their ability to earn a living should be supported by all of us. Once the pandemic subsides, the people should support a living wage, a right to unionize, and universal healthcare coverage. It’s insanity to tie health care access to employment. These are benefits that are vital to earning a living with dignity and respect. I am happy to see that workers have begun to organize because we can only save ourselves. They’re not selfless heroes; they’re people doing their jobs in trying times. For non-essential folks from the professional class, we should ensure that working-class people are afforded our respect and fair wages. We see now that essential workers may not run America, but they damn sure make America run.