The Expendables

We’ve spent a lot of time labeling certain workers as essential. But in many cases, those same workers have been treated like they’re expendable. BBC’s Jessica Lussenhop on Coronavirus at Smithfield pork plant: The untold story of America’s biggest outbreak. “Julia’s parents used up all their remaining vacation time to stay home. After work, they took off their shoes outside and headed straight into the shower. Julia bought them cloth headbands at Walmart to pull over their mouths and noses while on the line. For Julia, alerting the media was just the next logical step in trying to keep them all healthy, by creating public pressure to close the plant down and keep her parents home. Instead, it marked the beginning of nearly three anxiety-filled weeks during which her mother and father continued to report to a factory they knew could be contaminated, to jobs they could not afford to lose. They stood side-by-side less than a foot away from their colleagues on production lines, they passed in and out of crowded locker rooms, walkways and cafeterias. During that time, the number of confirmed cases among Smithfield employees slowly mounted, from 80 to 190 to 238.” And it kept climbing. And this is happening at other food processing plants as well. “The BBC spoke to half a dozen current and former Smithfield employees who say that while they were afraid to continue going to work, deciding between employment and their health has been an impossible choice.”

+ “I’m afraid. It’s not only about the line. When we finish our shift, or we come in to start, we all come in together through the same doors. If one of us gets sick, all of us get sick.” Mya Frazier in The Guardian: The food workers on the coronavirus front line.

+ AP: 4 Georgia poultry workers dead from coronavirus. (We’re all sharing recipes and Instragramming the fruits our new cooking skills, but when it comes to this group of workers, there are no fundraisers to feed them, there’s no cheering from the balconies…)

Copied to Clipboard