Ah, May Day: both a sunny celebration of springtime and a chance to fight for the rights of the working class.
Today, on International Workers Day, frontline employees in grocery stores, warehouses and hospitals still grinding in the midst of the pandemic have stopped working to protest the lacking safety measures pushed by their employers.
Demanding time off, hazard pay, sick leave, protective gear and cleaning supplies, many workers are staging mass “sickouts” or simply walking off the job in cities throughout the U.S.
Amazon, Whole Foods, Instacart, FedEx and others are particularly targeted. Workers—mostly in low-wage jobs—complain of insufficient PPE and inadequate workplace precautions. Without these, employees say, they are at a greater risk of contracting the coronavirus.
“We are engaging in a mass sickout and exercising our right to refuse unsafe work conditions,” said Whole Foods workers in a statement.
Beyond proper supplies, the workers are also calling for hazard pay or sick leave as the pandemic continues—as well as to be informed whenever someone in close proximity to the workers is diagnosed with the virus.
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Social media users have been sharing posts in solidarity with the workers on strike, reminding Americans not to cross the picket line by shopping at the aforementioned stores today.
Nationwide, nurses have joined in the strikes, citing similar reasons, like inadequate protective gear. Some even report they have been disciplined for speaking out on this problem—despite the fact that nurses are at high risk of getting COVID-19 while working with diagnosed patients.
“Nurses signed up to care for their patient,” said Bonnie Castillo of National Nurses United, the largest organization of registered nurses in the U.S. “They did not sign up to sacrifice their lives on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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