“They don’t care about our well being”
Strikes, protests unfold as US employees demand safety from COVID-19
26 March 2020
Strikes and protests by employees demanding safety from the lethal coronavirus have occurred with rising frequency over the past a number of days. Job actions in the USA and different nations are going down even because the Trump administration and different capitalist governments around the globe rush to restart manufacturing and the circulation of company revenue, understanding full nicely that this can speed up the unfold of COVID-19 and enhance the demise toll.
“That’s loopy,” Tonya, a employee at Fiat Chrysler’s Jefferson North Meeting Plant in Detroit, mentioned of Trump’s feedback about ending the lockdowns and getting the financial system “roaring again” by Easter. “There shouldn’t be any rush again to work. There isn’t a remedy, and that is quick spreading and lethal. If we return to work, we’ll be with co-workers who’re sick however don’t have any signs. They might be sending us to be harm, if not killed.”
On Wednesday, sanitation employees in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania carried out a wildcat strike over issues that fellow employees had contracted the virus and that that they had no protecting gear. In a video posted on Fb, sanitation employee Fitzroy Moss mentioned the town had falsely claimed that sanitation employees had been “evaluated for coronavirus” when, in actual fact, “they don’t care about our well being.” The mayor says the “trash goes to get picked up it doesn’t matter what,” he continued, however “we’ve solely been given a pack of 4 wet-wipes” and “no masks, no gloves, nothing!”
Employees shouted down and chased off a Teamsters union bureaucrat who tried to pressure them again to work. The union official mentioned, “Maintain your social distance and do your six-foot factor,” and advised the employees that the town didn’t have amenities to check employees.
“We’re risking our lives,” a employee advised an area reporter, “if one in every of us will get contaminated, all of us get contaminated.”
On Tuesday, greater than two-thirds of shipbuilders at Tub Iron Works (BIW) in Maine refused to point out as much as work, the day after the primary employee on the shipyard examined constructive. In a memo final Tuesday, Normal Dynamics mentioned the US Navy had confirmed that the Tub shipyard was deemed “essential infrastructure” below a White Home steerage that directed protection contractors to proceed to function usually within the pursuits of nationwide safety.
The spouse of 1 BIW employee posted, “Don’t neglect what retains corporations working… staff! Too dangerous they aren’t being valued as folks proper now… simply numbers, worker numbers who’re deemed replaceable as a result of BIW doesn’t care about their well being or well-being throughout a NATIONAL PANDEMIC!”
On Monday, public transit employees in Birmingham, Alabama refused to take their busses out as a consequence of COVID-19 issues. The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority responded by proscribing busses to 15 to 19 passengers, blocking seats to permit social distancing for passengers and drivers, and asking passengers to make use of the rear door when coming into and exiting busses.
The Detroit Division of Transportation was compelled to halt bus operations final week after sickouts by drivers.
Additionally, on Monday, over 40 poultry employees at a Perdue rooster and pork processing plant in Kathleen, Georgia walked off the job to demand sanitary working situations, hazard pay and time without work after a number of employees reported being uncovered to COVID-19 on the manufacturing facility.
These actions comply with the strike by Amazon employees in Queens, New York final week and the wave of wildcat strikes at Fiat Chrysler vegetation in Michigan and Ohio, and an earlier job motion on the firm’s minivan plant in Windsor, Canada. The actions initiated in opposition to the United Auto Employees and Unifor unions, which insisted that employees keep on the job, compelled the shutdown of the auto trade within the US and Canada, however not Mexico.
Not less than three Fiat Chrysler employees have died from COVID-19, together with Jeff Bagby, a mechanical high quality engineer on the Kokomo Transmission Plant in Indiana, and a nonetheless unnamed employee on the Sterling Heights Meeting Plant in suburban Detroit. On Wednesday, Fiat Chrysler confirmed that Lorenzo Seldon, a 50-year-old employee and UAW steward on the Warren Truck plant, had additionally died of the illness.
The walkouts within the US are a part of a world development, which features a walkout by Manitoba silver miners, Amazon employees in Italy, greater than 1,000 meatpacking employees in Northern Eire, public hospital docs and nurses in Zimbabwe, and a collection of wildcat strikes by autoworkers in Italy, which has the best variety of COVID-19 fatalities on the earth. Italian steel employees and financial institution employees are scheduled to strike subsequent Wednesday in Lombardy, the nation’s hardest hit area.
“Employees in each trade and everywhere in the world have to face collectively,” Tonya, the Detroit Fiat Chrysler employee, mentioned. “In Italy, there’s a lockdown, however they’re nonetheless forcing employees to work. It’s horrible.
“All that the businesses care about are manufacturing and income. [UAW President Rory] Gamble mentioned he was demanding a two-week shutdown, however they got here again and mentioned we’ll rearrange a number of issues to make it safer. All they did was give us degreasers, not even disinfectants, for employees to wash their very own areas. The UAW doesn’t give a rattling about us. If we didn’t stroll out, we’d nonetheless be within the vegetation.”
She additionally expressed outrage over the scarcity of masks, ventilators and different lifesaving medical gear. “We must always use the entire vegetation to supply what is required,” Tonya mentioned. “In a single shift we knock out 600 Jeeps and that takes far more components and manpower than medical gear. We might have the capability to supply tens of hundreds of masks and different gear each day. We now have the capability however we’re not utilizing it.
“FCA and different carmakers say they’re going to produce ventilators and masks. However the president and the businesses are solely involved with revenue. If employees had been in management, we’d be ensuring humanity will not be struggling and persons are not dying from an absence of kit that may be produced.”
Laura, a trainer from Florida, mentioned, “After stalling for months and never offering exams or wanted medical provides, Trump is whipping up xenophobia and racism by labeling the virus a ‘Chinese language virus.’ The ruling class within the US and a number of nations have basically mentioned that it’s okay for tens of thousands and thousands to get contaminated and thousands and thousands to die worldwide.
“Clearly, the working class is replaceable—that has by no means been clearer. If this had been a pc virus that would wipe out their fortunes, they’d care. However this virus, which spreads amongst those that haven’t been granted the ‘privilege’ of leaving work and nonetheless being paid, doesn’t fear them.
“The ruling class has entry to exams and security measures and cash to outlive that the remainder of the world doesn’t. What does this say in regards to the society we dwell in? That this actually is dying capitalism and it’s clawing and kicking to remain related. The one fatality I’m pleased to see from this virus is that of a capitalist construction.”
“Capitalism is displaying its true face,” Barry, a retired Normal Motors employee from the Lansing Delta Township plant in Michigan, mentioned. “That is socially sanctioned euthanasia, similar to the WSWS mentioned.
“We all know from the teachings of Korea and China we will flatten the curve in the event you isolate and take a look at folks. We must be examined each week, each day, not simply once you get signs, and we want a fast take a look at to get outcomes straight away.
“That is culling the herd. They have to be laughing all the way in which to the financial institution. I advised my spouse, ‘They might love us to die, we’re amassing Social Safety.’ They’ve been attempting to slash that for years. It’s simply one other method to do this. It’s ruthless and inhumane.”
A employee from Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, the place a employee examined constructive and manufacturing continues, mentioned, “I used to suppose capitalism was OK. However once you get these extremes of wealth and poverty—these enormous divides—it will probably’t preserve going.
“Most individuals, employees that’s, need to do what’s proper for the general public good. However the whole lot is run by the capitalists, the folks with cash. We’re approaching an eruption of sophistication warfare.”