Are essential workers getting equal pay?

Blaine Teague, Staff Writer

Whether you’ve contracted it or not, the novel coronavirus has already managed to invade your daily life and routine. The U.S. coronavirus toll has surpassed 10,000 cases as of  April 6. The rapid spread and increasing fatality of the virus has led to a complete shutdown of all nonessential institutions in the country. Students around the country tune into their lessons from home while many parents attempt to do the same with their different jobs. However, while some are treating this as a refreshing break from their daily routines, the lives of many people who don’t have the option to stay home are becoming increasingly more stressful and even outright dangerous.

The workers of those businesses deemed “essential” by government orders are still required to come into work each day. 

Workers at these businesses face not only panicked shoppers and a global pandemic, but also their own bosses. With corporations like Target, Walmart, Aldi and Crest maintaining social distancing as their only safety net, these workers lack compensation for the services that they are providing. 

With thousands of people walking into grocery stores each day, these workers are almost certain to be exposed. 

These conditions present a brutal dichotomy for workers. They must either continue to work in the face of a deadly virus and risk exposing themselves and their families, or quit and run the risk of being unable to feed their loved ones. 

Many companies such as Aldi and Target have increased essential worker’s pay by a mere $2 an hour. Workers are now beginning to realize that this $2 pay increase is what their lives are worth to the companies with which they are employed.

Whole Foods workers have become the latest to respond to these conditions by attempting to work together to unionize. They have joined together in an organization named “Whole Worker” in an attempt to combat the dangerous conditions that they must work in. 

“Essential workers in all fields need to be protected and compensated for the increasingly dangerous work that we do.””

— Whole Worker Union Letter

With the coronavirus count rapidly increasing and the death toll ticking higher, it is absolutely imperative that these workers are safe. Allowing the establishments that distribute food and supplies to become hotbeds for spreading of the virus could very well mean the deaths of millions. Action must be taken by these companies immediately, or the global community will pay a huge price.