A Game of Pretend

From a Bay Area Biotech Worker

My commute is fast, finding parking is a breeze. I walk into work and ask myself – why am I here? Millions are out of work, yet here I am, on the job at a non-essential business.

The Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order stipulates that non-essential businesses may stay open for “minimum basic operations,” so long as social distancing requirements are met.

What does this look like? Sanitizer, masks, and gloves stationed at entrances. Signs posted throughout the office, detailing how to minimize contact and risk. Measures to give the illusion of compliance, to allow the employer to check the boxes and claim that they are following the rules.

But what is the reality? Employees working in close proximity on assignments, being squeezed into small conference rooms to discuss projects, being given extraneous tasks that are not necessary activities. No effort put into staggering shifts, reducing team sizes, or reducing hours. Employers stockpiling and hoarding masks, gloves, and disinfectants – valuable resources that are needed elsewhere. Workers being forced to forego safety to create wealth that they will never see, for those only concerned with the bottom line.

As my shift comes to an end, I once again ponder the same question – why am I here? To work on unimportant tasks that could be put on hold? To wear masks that should be going to health care workers? To pretend that the use of minimal PPE will keep me safe while my employer skirts critical rules?

The measures that businesses take need to be more than just a facade. For far too long, the capitalist system has gotten away with sacrificing workers for profits. It should come as no surprise that this trend persists during a global pandemic, but I refuse to accept it. Enough is enough.

Featured image credit: Loius Reed / Unsplash