Statement by Gary Walkowicz on COVID-19

As the COVID-19 virus spread across this country, it is the working class which is bearing the brunt of this virus. Working people are paying the cost for a government that was unprepared to deal with this crisis despite the warnings it received; paying the cost for corporations who are more concerned about profit than our health.

Millions of workers have already lost their jobs or were laid off. Millions more workers will face that in the coming weeks.

Many working people don’t have health insurance or are in health care plans where it is harder to get to see a doctor or face high costs.

Many workers live in neighborhoods and apartments that are more crowded, where it is harder to stay isolated. We have family members we have to look out for and care for.

Nurses, as well as doctors, are on the front lines, without enough masks and protective equipment. The other hospital workers who clean and cook; the caretakers who care for the elderly – they are all being exposed to the virus.

Workers in the grocery stores, the workers delivering food to the stores, the workers who produce and package the food are all in harm’s way – without enough masks and protective equipment.
The truck drivers delivering all the goods; the workers stocking the shelves; the workers delivering packages to the homes; the plumbers and electricians who do repairs – are all in harm’s way

The workers who drive the buses and deliver the mail and fix the roads all risk being exposed.

Workers in auto plants and parts plants; workers in other factories, offices and workplaces, were kept on the job, while the virus was spreading. Many workplaces were finally shut down, but the corporations and Trump and other government leaders are rushing to send people back to work while the virus is still spreading.

All the people who are still working are called “essential” to maintain everyone’s health and well-being. All the workers who they want to send back to work are called “essential” to the economy.

And that is all true. We are “essential”. The working class is “essential” to the economy. We are “essential” to the whole society.

We are the majority. We build everything and maintain everything and run everything. And that means we have power, when we come together and use that power.

In the coming weeks and months, workers will be facing lost jobs and income. The stimulus package passed in Washington is just a drop in the bucket compared to what will be needed. The corporations and the banks and the wealthy have accumulated trillions of dollars over the years, based on our labor. Workers have the power to have this money be used to meet our needs.

Workers who are still on the job and workers going back to work know what's needed to make us safe at work: that we have all the masks and safety protection and disinfectant that we need.

Yes, we are the “essential” people who do all the work. We have the power and the capacities needed to make sure our needs are met and our safety is “essential.”

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