COVID Clean Up

A custodial worker cleans a table Friday, Nov. 13, 2020 after each use at The 5 dining hall.

You've probably read hundreds of articles criticizing capitalism, but this one comes straight from an exhausted and underpaid retail worker. 

Even during a pandemic, corporate greed wins, putting workers more at risk than ever. As COVID-19 cases rise, it's clear that more workplaces should have changed the way they traditionally operate during the holidays and taken extra steps to ensure their workers' safety. 

Most workers have other responsibilities at home that they should be taking care of instead of working past midnight. Some of my own coworkers have had to leave their kids at home to work for a company that couldn't care less if they make it back to them. 

Retail employees can barely enjoy the holidays because they are slammed with hours at work. I worked an eight-hour shift nearly every day for three weeks — there were family members I haven’t seen in years that I never got the chance to spend time with because I was too busy at work. 

As workers, we need to make these executives realize that we are the foundation of their companies. Our safety should be their primary concern, especially during a pandemic, and executives should make sure stores are stocked with masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and disinfectant sprays.

Customers at my job refused to wear their masks properly, placing myself and my coworkers at risk. Managers didn't care to make sure employees wore their masks properly either. To top it off, my job doesn't even make employees complete symptom checkers or take our temperatures before shifts. 

I didn't get a raise or a holiday bonus. We worked those long hours risking our health only to get paid chump change compared to what our CEO made during the holidays.   

“Workers are in public-facing jobs; and they interact with larger numbers of customers during the holiday season, risking their own exposure to COVID-19 as well as possibly bringing it home to their families," President Stuart Applebaum said in a statement for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

It's not just COVID-19 retail workers are in danger of being exposed to. At my job, there weren't even security guards around to make sure we left the store safely. My workplace closed at one a.m., and I wasn't getting off until almost an hour later.

There is no reason why a retailer should be closing so late, even during the holidays.

The number of crimes like larceny and robbery, which tend to occur more at night, typically increases during the holidays. Consequently, employees are more at risk of being victimized after late-night shifts. If I was to get robbed or hurt after clocking off so late, the company I work for would not take any accountability. Their pockets would not be affected by my loss. 

At the end of the day, these companies only care about money. They act like they care about the health and safety of employees, but they don't. They will willingly put their employees at risk if it means they earn more profit. 

Your family does not matter to them. These companies just want to make sure their stores are open to customers.

We already have to deal with rude customers and persistent shoplifters. We should be able to trust our employers to look out for our safety. Society needs to really take a look at how corporations operate. Capitalism is one of the many downfalls of our society, and it has to go, one way or another.

Tamia Southall is a 19-year-old mass communication sophomore from New Orleans. 

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