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Warehouse Workers on the Front Lines of the Covid Crisis Are Worried They'll Be Passed Over for the Vaccine

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/12/12/warehouse-workers-front-lines-covid-crisis-are-worried-theyll-be-passed-over

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If workers like Ronald Jackson think employers are insensitive to workers protections against the Covid virus now, wait till turtle boy gets the corporate liability exemptions passed. Workers will be dropping like flies after that legislation is passed.

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The Police and Military will likely get access before warehouse workers. This way they can beat the heads of those warehouse workers in if they get uppity and protest the lack of vaccine access.

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Hi ReconFire:

I can’t believe companies would do that as OSHA is there to protect workers. But then , I suppose America is following in the footsteps of China. Some time back the Chinese workers in the Apple plants were leaping out of windows to escape the horror of the work and being locked up in their work places. That was about 10 years ago—and I’m not sure how that ended, it’s just that the news stories stopped.
The horror again, is the companies who treat workers as if they are a sub species and do not deserve protection. That was the awfulness of the South Dakota Tyson plants. WHY would anyone ever eat Tyson after the ways that the employees were treated? We used to have a safe and heathy food system here in America-----but somehow —it seems that even in America that production and profit are more important that PEOPLE. : (

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Hey stardustIBID,
I agree, but don’t forget when it comes to OSHA, they fall under the Dept. of Labor, run by two different corporate toadies for the last 4 years, Acosta (who resigned over the Epstein plea deal scandal), and worse, Scalia (a corporate lawyer, and sun of SC justice Scalia). They have been protecting corporate profits for the last 4 years, instead of workers.

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Should read “son” not sun, above.

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Hi ReconFire:
Actually “sun” does fit as Scalia consistently tried to be the main flaming power disc in the Court! Consistently striving to send flaming globs onto the rest of the court with his supposed cleverness. I’m sure his “sun” has inherited that same awful quality. : )

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Dear Gloriana and ReconFire,

Do share this non-profit out-sourced investigative reporting scoop of the last year that fell under the spectacle of the neverending TRUMP SIDE-SHOW while U.S. workers were actually being WORKED TO DEATH for unsustainable wages or even worse U.S. Subsidized by Tax-Payers FOOD-STAMP qualifying wages at the monopolist grocers from the Anti-Trust with impunity Retail Big Box Emperors KROGER to WAL-MART and CERBERUS HOLDINGS (who bought up Albertsons and Safeway and all the regional grocery competition that they’d spent decades buying up coast-to-coast-to-coast-to the Canadian border in the absence of Anti-Trust Criminal Prosecution):

OSHA is as ReconFire notes part of the INSTITUTIONAL CORRUPTION: Here is REVEAL the non-profit that FOR-PROFIT broadcast news and ad-driven press throws a few sheqels to instead of paying staff investigative reporters (who are expensive in researching these stories): This url should be headlined:
INDIANA OSHA LET AMAZON OFF THE HOOK FOR WORKERS DEATH NEW INVESTIGATION SHOWS

~https://revealnews.org/article/indiana-shouldnt-have-let-amazon-off-the-hook-for-workers-death-new-investigation-says/

"…Last year, as part of a wide-ranging investigation into Amazon’s elevated injury rates and inadequate safety culture, Reveal told the behind-the-scenes story of how Indiana officials failed to hold Amazon accountable for Terry’s death. The former Indiana OSHA safety inspector who conducted the original investigation, John Stallone, alleged that top state officials – including Holcomb – pressured him to back off on the Amazon case so it wouldn’t jeopardize the state’s chances at the company’s headquarters deal. Holcomb denied that a meeting Stallone described ever took place. "

"… After the story was published, Holcomb’s attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to Reveal, demanding a retraction and calling Stallone “not credible.” Holcomb denied pressuring Stallone or even knowing about the Amazon case. Reveal and its publishing partners, The Indianapolis Star and The Atlantic, refused to issue a retraction; the Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists criticized Holcomb’s letter as “a threat to press freedom.”

"Back in December 2017, Stallone complained about Indiana’s handling of the case to federal OSHA, but the agency declined to investigate. Two years later, after Reveal’s story appeared, Stallone filed another complaint, which led to the April report.

"Indiana officials had said that following Amazon’s appeal, they could no longer substantiate the violations identified by Stallone’s investigation. The federal OSHA report rebuts that claim, finding that Amazon failed to prove its defense.

"Indiana OSHA should “ensure that adequate evidence has been submitted prior to deleting safe orders,” the letter says.

"State officials are now required to respond to the federal agency’s recommendations and may request a review if they disagree with the findings.

“We have received the report and are evaluating it to determine our response,” Indiana Labor Department spokesperson Stephanie McFarland said in an email. “We will share our remarks through federal OSHA’s proper channels and established process.” The governor’s office referred Reveal to McFarland’s statement…"

Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Sifters, Code Shifters and Song Chasers
Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa (Refuge of Atonement Seekers)
Media Discussion List and Looksee

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I suspect the story you outline is played out, or others like it, many times in other states across the country in dealings with OSHA. The agency’s downfall didn’t start with the Trump administration, but like so many other areas of our government, it certainly sped up under it.
Thanks for the link.

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Hi Lay-LowStudiosOre-Wa:

sigh—it’s as if the People who have the power to do good----have looked at the 4 years of Trump, and decided that all bets on TRUTH—are off. I guess it’s what is called “going along to get long, " or maybe it’s possibly the way for some to just get AHEAD.” But when it has to do with the treatment workers who produce our food----it gets pretty disgusting. : (
The best I can do now is never eat foods from Tyson, or any from Walmart, or Amazon who also treat employees like easily neglected farm animals. But then in the history of America, there are so many stories from the labor area and after WW 1, when the men from the military wanted their war bonus money early to survive… and they gathered in area that was in what was “Foggy Bottom,” before the State Dept built there-----and then just blasted away at the men, and families of women and children ------------that’s what happens to many people when those in positions of power forsake their own humanity to keep their jobs and rob the workers of any semblance of humanity. : (

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I take your points and feel your exasperation, Glo. I’m guessing from history and mytho-poetics 'twas ever thus. Few baby steps civilization takes and tech makes leaps and bounds. With no way for ethics and Golden Rule to keep up with all that ego rushing madly about seeking outlets and privileges. That’s generally the raw material of all multi-generational struggles, wars civil and not so much…

Do add my employer to your list of personal boycott (or organize a wider boycott as boycotts unlike blacklists are the civil social response to socio-pathic profit maximization as we see in our form of Predatory Capitalism).

The Kroger Empire HQ’d in Cincinnati is like most trans national investments,
they owe allegiance to no community, city, state or nation except their own self-interested investors. Meanwhile, the execs always feel free to loot the investors too to feather their own nests. As the example of Sears last year teaches U.S.
~https://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/sears-former-ceo-looted-lawsuit/
~https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/06/18/sears-ceo-eddie-lampert-kmart/638218002/

Here’s this year’s news which only took the last decades of news on what happens when any corporation is allowed to buy up the regional competition, in this case big box grocery, apparel, cosmetics, hardware, personal consumer electronics and house wares.
~https://www.toledoblade.com/business/retail/2013/07/22/Taxpayers-subsidizing-low-paid-employees/stories/20130722045
~https://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2018/09/12/kroger-ranks-among-top-employers-of-workers-on.html
~https://popular.info/p/update-krogers-21-million-man

Buy small and local when ya can. Main Street is being drained dry by Wall Street and as with most pathologies the behavior if not confronted will advance or to put it a better way, devolve into even the self-destructive behavior of the BULLY. We can try and wait it out and let these titans of Speculative Finance destroy themselves with over-reach, or we can do what it appears evolution was designed for. Show that the world is out of balance between Competition and Cooperation. We as a tool-using species better figure out what that homeostasis balance point is and leverage together some force to move U.S. and the world we belong to back towards Cooperation. Capitalism like most human constructs is malleable and rubbery or plastic enough to be molded.

The 3rd Way (between Communism and Capitalism during the Post WW II years) being made up as they go by our global competitors\cooperative partners like the Nordic States seems to get the best results with less wear and tear on Mother Earth. We’ve got to open up a window that our corporate caliphate-captured mass media won’t voluntarily open and let some peer-reviewed academic light of comparative studies into our budding totalitarian state and get with the scholars who’ve been studying these trends. Look at their policy outcomes compared to ours (and we’re the wealthiest nation on earth, wealth concentration notwithstanding)
~https://www.oecd.org/social/soc/homelessness-policy-brief-2020.pdf

Especially like Shoshana Zuboff who retired from Harvard 2 years ago and published her book while touring the world talking to anyone who’ll listen while taking on the most advanced struggle of all that needs to be won. COMMON DREAMS even collaborated with For Profit online investigative news media site THE INTERCEPT to bring it all into our living rooms and open this necessary struggle up for public discussion:

If you didn’t watch it already, and even if ya did, there’s so much to think about here that I go back with notebook just so more of the views and content can imprint on my thick noggin’…It helps to now have both Zuboff and Klein’s books for drinking in and fact-checking what I can’t scribble fast or accurately enough…It helps that they arrived at their current common views from very different ends of the political spectrum earlier in their educations.
~https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/03/01/watch-naomi-klein-and-shoshana-zuboff-discuss-mounting-dangers-surveillance

Health and balance in our struggle to learn cooperation
and its limits along with less destructive ways of competition

Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Sifters, Code Shifters and Song Chasers
Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa (Refuge of Atonement Seekers)
Media Discussion List and Looksee

Hi Lay_LowStudiosOre_Wa:
When I lived in So CA, I went to the local Raphs, which is part of Kroeger…and I loved the employees there, as they were wonderful. Sadly the tiny store was closed . In Oregon, I discovered WinCo and Bi-Mart, and I love the idea of employee owned stores. And thank you for the int of web sites and authors for more reading. : )

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I had similar experience as a poor as dirt new arrival in East LA looking for work before Kroger Retail Empire bought up the Ralph’s grocery chain. It didn’t take long for Ralph’s workers to start having that brow-beaten look of continuing to give their all for the Kroger Cincy HQ while their own regional middle managers in So Cal were dumped on from above, thereby passing it down the chain to the minimum wage workers doing all the heavy lifting.

Here we are 30 some years after Kroger was allowed without any any Anti-Trust uproar from Justice or the FTC or the out-of-bid-net regional grocers to buy up the NW’s FRED MEYER family big box stores and run like a family and vital part of the community. Kroger has destroyed worker morale to where they can no longer even staff their big boxes during the most economically depressed time in our life-times as Pandemic Plague keeps the profits flowing out of our area to Cincy and share-holders while Kroger shelves have that Soviet Grocery Inventory look due to the Executives’ JUST IN TIME SUPPLY LINES that cannot keep necessities stocked.

Our Ecommerce Pick-Up premises within the Big Box stores don’t get expanded during this Pandemic Contagion despite the increase in online Pick Up orders. Yet since Grocery is the lowest profit margin in the store, our death-trap triple part-timed and de-professionalized revolving staff that hasn’t yet dropped to Covid cannot safely distance while doing the heavy staging and loading up arriving cars, vans and trucks. Apparel, house-wares and hardware along with furniture, with all the Made In China merch gets their cob-web sections expanded and spiffed up even though customer traffic through those sections looks like ghost-town, while grocery remains a boom-town even with the big bump in online orders for Pick Up.

That is just mortal corporate cynicism to keep their Pick Up workers in a cramped death trap of perpetual motion (since there is no sitting down except more than a break time’s distance in a ratty infested employee “lounge” 2 floors up). Where has OSHA been?

Where have our sheltering at home UFCW Local 555 once ubiquitous visiting union reps been since Pandemic went public? They must be grocery shopping online and picking up cuz they’re not inspecting any cramped death-trap Pick Up premises across the road from the plenty spacious Nike campus in Beaverton!

After all, our elected reps had time to adjust their wealth management stock portfolios accordingly like Senatorial candidates Loeffler and Perdue in Georgia, before distractedly checking in on their desperate constituencies whose Wage Stag-Nation checks for the last half century haven’t been covering rent even when the bust yer butt jobs were to be found.

Here are the sub-minimum wage workers (once you deduct union dues) at Union Negotiated Minimum Wage for what is considered UNSKILLED LABOR (read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book NICKLE & DIMED after a year of under-cover rural reporting on big box retail to see what a retail worker has to keep in their brains while inventory, floor plans and lack of communication from above keeps everything in field of view changing by the minute based on which vendors are shmearing corporate for floor and shelf space not to mention seasonal displays).

Or solidarity from the Professional Class? To which I belonged investigating escalated regulatory complaints at Wells Fargo Card Services until Wells Fargo used their Bush-Cheney-Paulson tax-payer bail-out not to increase lending to Main Street in 2008, but rather to turn around and further consolidate TOO BIG TO FAIL\JAIL banksters by acquiring a bigger cash-holding east coast retail bank busted for money laundering Latin American narco-cartel cash named Wachovia Bancorp.

Our West Coast admin staff then got expendable, despite our low wages. That’s how corporate thinks from their high rise tower offices. After 11 years when they recruited me in the Bay Area where I was starving as an alt press journalist for the 2 Bay Area weeklies, I got to use my journalism skills following the money just barely making a living following the money of Wells Fargo customers who were more often than not wronged. Instead of merit pay bonuses I got photo-copied commendations, notes in my employee evaluation files and a $20.00 Gift Card to the Starbucks where the Starbucks used to be or the Barnes & Noble in the nearby ghost town strip mall up here in Beaverton once Wells Fargo moved us East Bay Area Executive Office admin workers to a cheaper state with fewer labor rights on the state books.

Wells Fargo kept dealing with take-overs from smaller banks like the tiny midwestern Norwest Bancorp that heavily leveraged their buy-out of over 125 year old western U.S. icon Wells Fargo back at the end of the 1990’s just after I was recruited and hired. When they let staff like me of over 11 years low wage high yield service (my work audited by the industry’s self-regulator the OCC before Obama yielded to Elizabeth Warren’s pressure and reconvened a federal regulatory consumer financial protection bureau (CFPB) that Senator Warren was too threatening for Obama-Biden to allow to do her thing. This was her thing, and it was inspiring if only Trump hadn’t by then stolen the TV attention by summer of 2016 when Senator Warren’s terrific cross-examination of Wells Fargo’s combined CEO\Board Chair Stumpf then his replacement Sloan found they could get away with nothing that the media had shielded them from answering in the previous decade of bilking customers:
~https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJhkX74D10M
~https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyVr4qcn8EM

We got no golden parachutes, us low wage admin workers researching the OCC escalated complaints and signing our names to the apology and restitution confirming letters. Not even a modest severance package after 11 years of commended service and highest rated OCC audit scores!

For a while I took contract Gig E-CON work in legal services and temp agencies, always joining rallies and calls in solidarity with the rest of minimum wage Portlandia, where one must take a vow of poverty to live. After a while of finding nothing but more Gig contract work where you spend more time after the 3-month contract expires finding something new that I just stayed back in manual labor at Kroger. Didn’t have funds to relocate. Turns out this return to a Dobie Gillis working life is more secure than my many laid-off admin co-workers and down-sized local Main Street businesses.

If you missed the Wells Fargo acquisition of scandalous Wachovia Bancorp don’t feel Gaslight’d. You should know that it merited little U.S. media attention or business news coverage as Wall Street was being treated so royally for their failures and with impunity. Not even claw-back of STOCK VALUE BOOSTING which added hundreds of millions of stock compensation to individual mis-managers. I don’t blame you if you missed that paranoia-inducing yet tried in court story that sure was found plenty news-worthy overseas:
~https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/03/us-bank-mexico-drug-gangs

Anyhoo, thanks for your concern an solidarity Glo!

Health and Balance as we fight the struggle of generations
Elbow bumps of solidarity and hazmat hugs long anti-social distance!

Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Sifters, Code Shifters and Song Chasers
Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa (Refuge of Atonement Seekers)
Media Discussion List and Looksee

Hi Lay_LowStudiosOreWa—:
Oh I loved that bo,'ok Nickled and Dimed". And—it perfectly represented the jobs that I had in L.A. I was there when IN 2008 WHEN people were so mad that they showed up on the San Marino lawn of the CEO of Wells Fargo! That was amazing------yes the angry people syndrome can work wonders.
After 2008–when the banks and Obama crashed, I did a lot of weird jobs, but fun ones too like earning to milk a cow on a kids farm, and even selling cars for a while , and then looking for jobs for peope with disabilities and finally tutoring-----
so it was an interesting time in So CA. But one thing I earned in all those jobs, when you see a problem and try to get it fixed—there seem to be a whole lot of people in management who don’t want to hear of problems or even care for truth telling! : )

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