Jerri-Lynn here. Early auguries suggest the Democrats are going to get slammed in the upcoming mid-terms. As well they should, given their failure to deliver on any measures to improve the lot of Americans, particularly the essential workers at the bottom of the economic pyramid, let alone updating the New Deal and the Great Society for the twenty-first century. Enacting a right to paid sick leave, especially in the midst of a pandemic, should be a no-brainer, if party leaders saw the needs of constituents as paramount. Alas, it’s donor priorities that define the political agenda. So employers now insist on sick workers returning to the workplace, under threat of termination, no matter how sick – not to mention contagious – each may be.
By Brett Wilkins. Originally published at Common Dreams
As U.S. workers ill with Covid-19 during the Omicron surge face the stark choice of staying home without pay at the risk of losing their jobs or reporting to work and possibly infecting colleagues and customers, progressives on Monday renewed calls for the implementation of paid sick leave at the national level.
“In the midst of a horrific pandemic, two-thirds of low-wage workers still lack access to paid sick leave. That is barbaric,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted.
“We must guarantee that all workers have a right to paid sick leave,” he added.
According to a report published Monday by Popular Information and the advocacy group More Perfect Union, workers at Red Lobster, the seafood restaurant chain owned by the private equity firm Golden Gate Capital, are being forced to report for work under threat of reprimands that could lead to termination.
NEW: Red Lobster refuses to provide paid sick leave to its 50,000+ restaurant workers during the ongoing pandemic.
Employees told us horror stories of managers insisting they work while sick with COVID.
In a new survey, 63% of Red Lobster workers said they worked sick. pic.twitter.com/97cMCTOQDB
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) January 10, 2022
The report states that:
James Swartz worked as a bartender at a Pennsylvania Red Lobster for a year-and-a-half starting in December 2019. He was paid $3.50 per hour, plus tips. In an interview, Swartz said when he developed Covid symptoms and told management he was not coming in for his weekend shifts, he was subjected to “threats.” Red Lobster management told Swartz that he “needed to come in for work” and if he didn’t show up or find another way to cover the shift he would “get written up.”
Another Red Lobster employee who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution told The Columbus Dispatch that “we don’t have sick days and yes, I go into work when I’m sick. If we call off, we get written up.”
The worker said they would be fired after four write-ups.
“It’s a vicious cycle,” Daniel Schneider, professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, told the Associated Press. “As staffing gets depleted because people are out sick, that means that those that are on the job have more to do and are even more reluctant to call in sick when they in turn get sick.”
One New Mexico worker, who also did not want to be identified, told the APthat they took time off to get tested for Covid-19 after experiencing symptoms of the illness.
“I thought I was doing the right thing by protecting my co-workers,” the worker—who lost $160 per day off—said. “Now I wish I just would’ve gone to work and not said anything.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) echoed the sentiments of many progressives when she tweeted Monday that “there’s a simple answer” to these workers’ dilemma: “Paid leave.”