Service Industry Workers in Alabama Struggle Against Pandemic Working Conditions

All Alabama counties, except one, currently have high transmission risks.

By: Jay Hyde, Red Phoenix Correspondent Alabama

Jay Hyde is a service worker from Alabama, and member of the American Party of Labor, who recently contracted COVID-19 at work.

At a time when COVID-19 cases are spiking to alarmingly high levels again, service industry establishments in Alabama are largely pretending that the pandemic is over. Part of the reason for this deception is willful ignorance, but the main motivator appears to be profit. Restaurants and bars are being packed out, including party tables of thirty or more at a single time. As a service industry worker in Alabama, a company mask mandate has been put in place for our workers, but no incentives or requirements to get vaccinated have been mentioned. Patrons are asked simply to wear a mask. The situation has become so dire, that many who feel ill are still asked to come in for shifts, because so many workers are already having to stay home, due to positive COVID-19 tests.

This is how I contracted a breakthrough case of the virus. While sick and awaiting test results, I was required to come back to work because many of my co-workers were out sick. This is how the virus continues to spread— living in an economy that has left working people to face the gravest danger while the middle class shelters and works from home. Service industry workers in Alabama are being put in a stranglehold by companies negligence and a lack of workers rights during a pandemic that is not likely to see an end in the foreseeable future.

Alabama has had 736,518 reported cases of COVID-19, according to the CDC. Forty percent of the population of Alabama has been fully vaccinated, even though the vaccines are easily available and free. Misinformation about COVID-19 is a major issue in Alabama. On August 21, Former US President Donald Trump held a rally in Cullman, Alabama, where 50,000 people reportedly attended. Not one mask was in view during the broadcast. Trump was met like royalty by the crowd, but when he suggested folks get the vaccine, he was booed, and then he backtracked to statements about “personal freedom”. Alabama Governor Kay Ivy responded to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate today with, “You bet I’m standing in the way. And if he thinks he’s going to move me out of the way, he’s got another thing coming. I’m standing as strong as a bull for Alabama against this outrageous Washington overreach. Bring it on.”

Alabama’s state motto is “We Dare Defend Our Rights”, and with lack of financial support for workers in crisis, low-wage jobs, lack of healthcare benefits, and misinformation, it seems to be condemning the workers to the right to die and potentially causing others to meet a similarly avoidable end. Until workers gain more rights and control of their workplaces, the pandemic will continue to wreak havoc on them. Alabama workers at an Amazon warehouse caught national attention for standing up against their working conditions. Coal-miners in Alabama are still striking for better wages, health benefits, and time off. Nurses in Alabama have started protesting outside of their workplace this week, demanding equal wages and better working conditions. It is clear that it is up to the workers to take the power into their own hands, because the state government and industries will always be out for their own profit over human lives.

Categories: U.S. News

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