by Jimmy Yates ‘21
Medical workers and first responders have been getting unprecedented appreciation and attention for their efforts to combat Covid-19. They most definitely deserve their new levels of thanks. However, there are other workers with less flashy jobs that do not get nearly the same amount of appreciation: restaurant workers, trash and recycling collectors, and delivery workers.
To show your appreciation for restaurants, you can order carryout from restaurants and/or buy gift cards to keep their business running and keep employees on their feet. Make sure to wear a mask into restaurants and wash your hands before and after. As for trash and recycling collectors, you can make sure your containers, trash, and recycling bins are clean to show your thanks. If you see trash and recycling trucks driving down your street, wave or give them a thumbs up. It goes a long way.
Delivery workers also deserve your thanks and appreciation, but they deserve something else too: a break. These employees have kept their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic while over 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment. However, the pleasure of earning income comes at a cost, as these workers put themselves, their families, and fellow workers at risk and live in constant fear of contracting and transferring the virus.
Working conditions for delivery employees were already difficult before the pandemic, meeting rigorous quotas and delivering a certain number of packages to doorsteps without skipping a beat. Warehouse workers work long hours in poor conditions, often in close proximity to other workers. The Covid-19 outbreak adds to the boxes of obstacles that UPS and Amazon employees face.
At Amazon’s fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York, at least 29 employees have contracted Covid-19. While Amazon announced changes to warehouses processes and mandated social distancing rules, fulfillment centers remain open around the nation and warehouse and delivery workers are forced to risk their life or lose their jobs. Difficult working conditions and incidents similar to the Staten Island fulfillment center prompted many Amazon workers to organize walkouts to protest poor working conditions.
Trash and recycling collectors are essential workers, absolutely essential. However, warehouse and delivery workers should not qualify as essential, for their own safety. If it weren’t for customers continuing and even increasing their online shopping and corporate enterprises like Amazon putting business and profit ahead of the lives of their workers, delivery and warehouse workers could enjoy the safety of their own house, like the rest of us under a stay-at-home order.
What can you do to help these workers and their families? STOP ONLINE SHOPPING. We have grocery stores where you can buy food and other necessities, hardware and pet stores, and restaurants which we can support. Crazy online sales and buy-one-get-one-free deals can wait, we have enough clothes to make it through quarantine. The health of warehouse and delivery workers and their families should be a higher priority than greedy customers and CEO’s.
Make sure you show your thanks to the people on the frontlines of this pandemic, in any and every way you can.