North Texas Daily

Paid sick leave for workers is more important than ever

Paid sick leave for workers is more important than ever

Paid sick leave for workers is more important than ever
March 26
11:30 2020

Even prior to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, the toll classism is taking on the health of United States citizens was a pressing issue that defined America’s political climate. Now that the world is being plagued by a highly contagious virus, working class employees are more at risk than ever, and still more at risk than their more affluent counterparts. This hasn’t stopped employers from endangering the public by pressuring workers into forgoing sick leave under threat of unemployment or withholding payment. The prioritization of monetary gain over human lives in this time of crisis highlights a fundamental problem with society’s handling of healthcare and class.

Some people tend to look down on working class employees, referring to their contributions as “unskilled labor.” But right now, “unskilled laborers” are proving themselves crucial to keeping the country afloat. As some of the only individuals currently working outside their homes, it is vital that grocery store employees and fast food workers remain in good health. Not only are they regularly interacting with members of the public, they are often paid minimum wage and may not be able to afford testing and treatments if they do become ill. To be paid an underwhelming amount of money and deprived of basic liberties for doing essential work is a reality that should not be the norm for working class individuals.

Only around 12 percent of those working in public areas will qualify for paid sick leave, according to a report by the Washington Post. Senators, including democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, had to petition Jeff Bezos to provide Amazon warehouse workers with paid sick leave. Our country’s class divide has never been as evident as it is now, with celebrities busy singing “Imagine” from the safety of their expensive estates as regular people are informed by medical practitioners that they cannot even be tested for the virus due to resource insufficiency.

The same people unable to afford adequate healthcare are the ones risking their lives to keep society as we know it up and running. The policies that hurt them also negatively impact everybody else which proves that they are not non-essential people, and that prioritizing the economy over citizen welfare as though human beings could survive without one another is both selfish and stupid. Cynicism does not equate to wisdom, selfishness is not inherently practical and working class people are more integral to a functioning society than CEOs.

A lot of derogatory misconceptions about working class workers stem from racism and other forms of bigotry. Neighborhoods in which the population consists primarily of people of color receive less government funding, so many of their residents wind up working for grocery stores or fast food places. LGBTQ people are also more vulnerable to becoming impoverished because they are often deprived of familial support, and single mothers will sometimes work multiple jobs in order to keep their families afloat financially. Undocumented immigrants, who are often stereotyped as scroungers, are frequently and grossly underpaid at the working class jobs that they continue to work. They are doing more for our country than many American business-people. Government officials and corporations deprive these demographics of basic necessities because they do not want them to acquire power that this pandemic proves they already have. If we want to survive coronavirus, we’d better start treating them accordingly.

Featured Illustration: Jae-Eun Suh

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

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