The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Caterpillar:
Murder by COVID-19

May 18, 2020

Caterpillar’s EMD plant in a Chicago suburb is still operating, though the locomotive engines and parts it produces are not in any way “essential” right now.

In late March, a few workers at this plant tested positive for the coronavirus. In response, management said they would take all necessary safety precautions—but that was a lie. They put out hand sanitizer stations—but these kept running empty and it took days for the company to refill them. They said they would maintain social distancing, but this was impossible, especially at the entrance to the plant and the time clocks. They gave out some masks, but when workers asked for new ones, the company said they didn’t have enough.

By mid-April, a worker had died, almost surely of COVID-19, though the company tried to keep the cause of his death a secret. Then, many more workers began testing positive in departments all over the plant. By early May, at least two more workers had died of COVID-19, while others were in the hospital fighting for their lives. Yet the plant did not shut down for even one day.

The owners of this plant made a conscious choice to keep operating when they knew that would mean workers would die. There is one word for that: murder.