Culture

Trump's PATCO Moment? With Delivery People on Strike, How Will You Get Groceries?

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I spent yesterday trying to find a store to deliver groceries to my friend who is sequestered 90 minutes away. Not only were there no appointments for the next week, there were no appointments at all. At three different store chains—Ralphs, Vons and Amazon/Whole Foods— I’d get everything in the virtual cart, but when I got down to delivery dates, it became a no-go.

My friend is immunosuppressed, fighting a deadly disease, can’t walk well, can’t drive anymore, and shouldn’t be in a store.

He can’t take Uber, Lyft, or the bus. He can’t be in a taxi.

Friends I can lean on to take him groceries are immunosuppressed or in the most vulnerable category for COVID-19 – the very people who are supposed to be sheltering in place.

Meals-On-Wheels can bring him meals but they don’t bring groceries.

He can’t go to the local food pantry for all the reasons I’ve just stated.

He can’t afford to eat endless take out meals from local fast-food places.

I’ll be contacting churches next if I can’t get there to do his shopping – even though I shouldn’t be in stores, either.

CNBC reports this week the very people on whom we rely to deliver groceries went on strike and engaged in other kinds of work stoppages when we need them most.  Never let a crisis go to waste, even if it means people will be hurt?

“Some retailers have temporarily increased wages or offered bonuses, but Whole Foods, Instacart and Amazon workers have planned walkouts this week to demand safer working conditions.”

Organizers complain that workers who deliver the nation’s groceries need more money and more protection from COVID-19.

Is protection really the biggest issue?  Most, if not all, the chains have no-contact policies, which allow them to leave the pre-paid groceries by your door. Their deliveries are already prepackaged by store employees and waiting for them to be taken and delivered.

PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neill reported that the person who organized the New York strike over worries of coronavirus vulnerability was being paid by Amazon to STAY HOME because he’d been in contact with an infected person. He then came back to Amazon to organize a strike, thus potentially infecting his co-workers with COVID-19. He was fired by Amazon for endangering his co-workers.

The last time I checked, New York was one of the hot spots for coronavirus. Doctors, nurses and other health care workers and people like my friend need to have groceries delivered. They can’t go to stores for fear of infecting others.

And union activists have used the moment to urge strikes.

CNBC says Amazon isn’t the only company afflicted by work stoppages,

In recent weeks, tensions are on the rise between grocery workers and their employers, spurring many to take public action. Employees at Amazon-owned Whole Foods planned a “sick out” Tuesday, while some drivers who deliver Whole Foods groceries are calling for more protections. Thousands of people have signed an online petition circulated by Trader Joe’s employees. On Monday, some Instacart workers [Kroger, CVS, Shaw’s, Costco, Safeway, Albertsons] held a nationwide strike. And a major grocery union, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, is advocating for workers to have access to coronavirus testing and protective gear. [emphasis added]

Is testing the issue? Really? Walmart takes the temperatures of all its employees. Many companies do.

And why should companies have to pay for testing? The federal government promised at the outset that testing and therapy for COVID-19 would be free, before tedious Congresswomen Katie Porter and Ayanna Pressley pretended they were the ones to elicit the promise. Drive-through testing sites are all over the country.

Stores and companies that deliver their groceries should provide delivery-people with masks and gloves. That’s not hard. Is that really the issue?

Is the issue more money? From CNBC,

Some have announced temporary pay increases and benefits for employees. Whole Foods raised pay by $2 per hour for hourly employees and Amazon raised pay by $2 per hour for warehouse and delivery workers in the U.S. through April. Instacart added a bonus for contractors who gather customer orders and adjusted its default tip setting in its app in an attempt to boost their pay.

Plus, the Trump administration has also upped loans and grants for businesses to keep employees paid—free money for the most economically vulnerable and extended unemployment benefits. Stores have announced signing bonuses and pay raises. What’s the pay beef?

CNBC reports that Walmart has offered what it calls a “mini-stimulus” to employees during this time,

Walmart said it will pay nearly $550 million in bonuses to hourly employees — including special bonuses to reward its workforce for keeping shelves stocked as customers flock to stores. […]

The nation’s largest grocer said Thursday its special cash bonuses will total more than $365 million. Walmart’s full-time hourly associates will get a $300 bonus and part-time hourly associates will get a $150 bonus. The bonuses will be paid out April 2 and every hourly associate employed by the company as of March 1 will qualify.”

Albertsons is hiring thousands of new store personnel to handle demand.

The Trump administration and states such as California have sought retired medical workers to voluntarily come back to work to help during the COVID-19 outbreak. Medical students are being graduated early to meet the need.

Companies are providing COVID-19 testing sites on their company grounds and switching production lines and schedules to meet demand for masks and other items the nation needs right now. The government took weeks, not months, to come up with a vaccine that’s being tested now. Pharmaceutical companies have come up with a quick-test that people can give themselves to determine if they have the virus. The trucking industry has been name-checked multiple times by the president at the White House for keeping America supplied.

What would you think if medical professionals went out on strike at this time? Doesn’t food keep people alive too?

Back in 1981, in the first year of his presidency, Ronald Reagan fired all the air-traffic controllers and destroyed their PATCO union when they mounted an illegal strike and refused his direct order to return to work. They were gone. The illegal strike posed a threat to the United States.

I’m a light touch, smaller-government type and prefer to keep government out of things as much as possible. I also know Trump is facing re-election and is a friend of the ‘little guy’ and unions, but considering the threat of a continued work stoppage by grocery store delivery people, cheerled by the unions, Trump may have his PATCO moment at hand.