Sujatha Gidla, a NYC M.T.A. conductor in an opinion piece for the New York Times:
The conditions created by the pandemic drive home the fact that we essential workers — workers in general — are the ones who keep the social order from sinking into chaos. Yet we are treated with the utmost disrespect, as though we’re expendable. Since March 27, at least 98 New York transit workers have died of Covid-19. My co-workers say bitterly: “We are not essential. We are sacrificial.”
That may be true individually, but not in our numbers. Hopefully this experience will make us see clearly the crucial role we play in keeping society running so that we can stand up for our interests, for our lives. Like the Pittsburgh sanitation workers walking out to demand protective equipment. Like the G.E. workers calling on the company to repurpose plants to make ventilators instead of jet engines.
I took my second test on April 30. It was negative. Tomorrow, I will go back to work.
These are the true heroes in this pandemic. Not the politicians, not the movie stars, not the journalists. It is the garbage collectors, public transportation workers, the grocery workers. And of course the first responders and medical workers.
And these are the people that we treat the worst in society. These are the people we consistently pay the least. We provide no healthcare, no medical leave. Worst of all, most people think of them as lower class citizens. The lazy. The uneducated. The people who just need to “bootstrap themselves” to success. These are the soldiers on the wall.
They are holding us together by a thinest of margins. We must correct these inequities.