Workers Day 2020: The mirror of citizen unrest over the government's terrible handling of the COVID-19 crisis
May 1 is always a busy day, but this one will go down in history for an entire country being in the midst of a health, social and economic crisis.
With half the states lifting quarantine and the country's hospitals and morgues working at full capacity, some may think that this May Day is not the best time for workers' demands. But it is, indeed.
Above all because the government's management of the health and economic crisis has highlighted the tremendous inequalities of a nation that claims to be the most powerful in the world.
From those who have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 shutdown to those who have seen their health endangered by the lack of personal protective equipment in hospitals, food stores, parcel delivery businesses and other essential enterprises, all are on strike today. It's a protest that is "massive" despite the threat of contagion and the weariness of the citizenry.
A coalition of employees from companies such as Amazon, Whole Foods, Walmart or FedEx have been preparing this strike or "sickout" for some time now, with which they intend to show the world the flawed policies of the government and the lack of control since the beginning of the pandemic.
They are doing it in a not so subtle way: calling their bosses to announce that they are sick or leaving during their lunch hour. Unions have also joined them.
"Because of the mistakes of the employers, many of our co-workers have contracted this deadly virus and some have died," said Christian Smalls, who was fired from Amazon after organizing a strike at the Staten Island facility last month.
They are demanding pay for the risk they are taking, that delivery vehicles be cleaned, for the closure of the facilities where they have been infected and, above all, for more protective equipment so they can continue their jobs.
At Amazon, they accuse the company of not being transparent with the cases of sick workers with COVID-19.
It seems reckless, but they have every right to do so. Nurses from dozens of hospitals in 13 states are taking to the streets to protest the lack of screening equipment: over 60 nurses across the country have died from the disease.
"They became nurses to care for their patients, not to sacrifice their lives on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic," Bonnie Castillo of National Nurses United told AP.
Many of the same groups planning all-day labor actions have organized other, smaller protests in recent weeks.
It's not just hospitals that are going to witness this collective outcry, but the highways as well, with congestion from independent truckers protesting the low freight rates in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington.
As if the day wasn't complicated enough, the millions of Americans who only last week applied for unemployment benefits are also upset and desperate, and they will make a point of doing both.
Although claims have been reduced, they have reached 30.3 million in the past six weeks, representing 18.6% of the nation's workforce.
Today, rents and mortgage payments are overdue for millions of Americans who have no way of coping with the crisis other than through these aids, and experts predict that this outlook will worsen in the coming months despite the premature reopening of businesses.
On the other hand, there are those who are most vulnerable: the migrants who are not entitled to the stimulus checks provided for in the Cares Act, and their cries will also be heard, while activists are calling for a much fairer and more humanitarian "people's rescue."
Will the employers and the Trump administration pretend not to see these protests that will further paralyze the country? Today is not only May Day, but the best x-ray of the discontent of an entire nation that will make history.