The Spark

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

Eat, Drink and Be Merry
—or Spread the COVID?

Jun 29, 2020

Recently restaurants reopened for dine-in service in Michigan. And while media coverage heralded this “opening” as a sign that people could leave behind their stir-crazy, stay-at-home blues, and could resume a certain sense of normalcy by going out to eat, a whole group of people thinks it’s anything but normal: restaurant workers.

As some of Michigan’s 350,000 laid off hospitality workers returned to work, some of them are speaking out and asking, why? Why go back to work while a third of the country is spiking? And especially in downtown and tourist areas, you don’t know who’s coming in and who you can be exposed to. It’s not safe.

Why go back to work when there’s no sports, no concerts, no traffic and 50% capacity? Where before, at some bar-restaurants, you could make $300 a day, and now it takes five days to make that? Why go back to work when you have the additional sanitization procedures with no additional compensation?

The restaurant workers who are speaking out today about the inherent problems of reopening are the ones who are recognizing that the world has changed. Business as usual—going for a drink and a meal, for example—should no longer be taken for granted as the normal thing to do. They also understand that they are the ones who are being put in a no-win situation: Do I quit and then not be able to draw unemployment? Or to make any kind of living? Or do I stay, and risk my health and the health of my family members?

One bartender said the pandemic has made it crystal clear who we value in our society.

He said, “I kinda feel like a guinea pig.” He’s right.