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Make Corporate America Provide Paid Sick Leave For Essential Workers

5,878 signatures toward our 30,000 Goal

19.59% Complete

Sponsor: The Hunger Site

Prioritizing profits over people during a pandemic is putting workers' lives at risk.

Although it’s taken a devastating toll -- including tens of thousands of American lives, and counting -- the global pandemic also been instructive. After years of hearing Wall Street bankers, CEOs, and other billionaires loudly insist that we need them, COVID-19 has shown that the grocery store clerks, bus and delivery drivers, and factory/warehouse staff are the real "essential" workers keeping America's economy running.

But the pandemic hasn't stopped some companies from exploiting these workers for financial gain, even as their profit margins soar. Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos, for example, has earned $24 billion since COVID-19 began, but still won’t equip warehouse workers with masks, sanitizer, and sick pay, inviting infections to flourish. InstaCart has also enjoyed record sales, but won't share those profits with the workers risking their lives to buy groceries without masks, disinfectant wipes, or hazard pay. 1 

Others, including U.S. supermarket behemoth Kroger, have demonstrated the glaring hypocrisy of corporate America. The company happily awarded its CEO (who already makes $11.7 million per year) with a $2.6 million profitability bonus as items flew off store shelves, but still balked at extending store workers $2 in hourly hazard pay. 2,3

The greed is especially galling when you consider the multi-million dollar corporations seeking government bailouts to bolster their exploitative business practices. McDonalds, Walmart, and Chipotle (whose CEOs all make 1,000-2,000 times the average employee) are just a few of the firms that sought millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, then lobbied the government to avoid offering workers paid sick leave.4,5 Such a measure would certainly help flatten the curve and save lives, but -- even in a global pandemic -- it appears worker safety still comes second to the bottom line.6,7

The good news is that U.S. workers, having realized their worth, are finally standing up to demand more from their employers. A series of strikes, walk-outs, and “sick-outs” – including a May 1, 2020, strike uniting workers from Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target, and FedEx on International Worker’s Day – has helped draw attention to the corporations still fail to protect their workforce with paid sick leave, hazard pay, health care, and basic protective gear. These have become life-or-death matters in the age of COVID-19. 8,9

You can help us keep up the pressure and sign this petition, which calls on U.S. companies to immediately stop exploiting essential workers. It's time for businesses to stop prioritizing profits over human lives.

More information about this topic:

  1. Amazon, Instacart Grocery Delivery Workers Demand Coronavirus Protection And Pay,” NPR, March 30, 2020
  2. Kroger Co. beefs up bonuses for highest-paid bosses,” WCPO.com, May 3, 2020
  3. Supermarket chains begin terminating ‘hero’ pay to workers as coronavirus pandemic continues,” The Seattle Times, May 9, 2020
  4. Workers at national restaurant chains are not covered by new sick leave bill,” Vox, March 13, 2020
  5. McDonald's paid its CEO almost 2,000 times as much as the average worker in 2019, with executive compensation topping $18 million,” Business Insider, April 9, 2020
  6. Paid Sick Leave Flattens the Curve,” Medium, April 16, 2020
  7. Which Companies Still Aren’t Offering Paid Sick Days?” New America, May 5, 2020
  8. As Amazon, Walmart, and Others Profit Amid Coronavirus Crisis, Their Essential Workers Plan Unprecedented Strike,” The Intercept, April 28, 2020
  9. Amazon, Instacart workers launch May Day strike to protest treatment during the coronavirus pandemic,” The Washington Post, May 1, 2020
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The Petition:

To the President of the United States and members of Congress:

We’re writing to demand an urgent review of the way American corporations are treating their front-line workers. Many U.S. companies, including Amazon, Instacart, Kroger Co., and others, have enjoyed record profits as the pandemic unfolds, but still refuse to protect their workers with protective gear, paid sick leave, health care, and even modest amounts of hazard pay.

We find this situation especially egregious because grocery store workers, factory and warehouse fulfillment staff, bus and delivery drivers, and restaurant staff, among others, are risking their lives to help America weather its worst crisis since the Great Depression. Their bosses take the money and credit, of course, but this pandemic has shown that these hardworking folks are really the essential workers keeping America’s economy running.

We are asking that you immediately require U.S. corporations – especially those receiving government funds in the wake of COVID-19 – provide workers with protective gear, hazard pay, health care, and paid sick leave, all of which will keep workers safe and help flatten the curve. There is no reason workers should be needlessly risking their lives – and by extension, their families’ lives -- just by going to work, especially not when we’re counting on them to help keep our economy afloat.


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