This May Day Especially, We Must Respect and Protect Workers

Ness Perry 
April 30, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, service workers have become essential workers due to their status as employees of businesses that were deemed to be absolutely vital to our survival. Grocery stores, pharmacies, healthcare centers, and many food service workers are on the frontlines, defending everyone from contracting the virus while providing them with goods and services. This year on  May 1, which is both May Day and the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, we acknowledge the courage, perseverance, and resiliency of workers in a society that is beginning to recognize the centrality of workers and the need to ensure basic workplace rights and protections against the exploitation of labor.

The history and celebration of May Day has never been more pertinent than now. May Day began after more than 300,000 workers across the United States walked out of their jobs to demand shorter work days and safer environments on May 1, 1886. Unfortunately, today workers still have to make similar demands. This week, Amazon and Instacart employees plan to walk out of fulfillment centers to demand better workplace safety during the Coronavirus pandemic. We are in solidarity with these workers because in order to save lives, we need labor policies that protect people, not corporations.

To show respect for the essential workers who are crucial to our survival, we must protect workers, unions, and their right to make demands of their employers. Any future COVID-19 relief package, bill, or guideline must center the workers who are putting their health at risk to provide for their community.