The grocers who call the people trying to get that one forgotten ingredient for the big meal are doing their dangerous job now, on Thanksgiving and every other day. They are key workers who are too often treated as available and pay too little to pay their bills. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union represents 1.3 million workers in grocery stores, other retail stores, meat packaging and processing, and more. By early September, at least 238 of its frontline members had died of COVID-19 and 29,000 had been infected or exposed to the virus. Obviously, UFCW members are only a small fraction of the grocery stores across the country.
Then there are the workers in the retail chains trying to milk the business on Black Friday for every penny they can get by opening on Thanksgiving. Because people don't have to wait until Friday morning for those cute, sweet doorbuster deals. There's absolutely no reason these workers should be on duty on Thanksgiving, not even the slightest bit of reason – except for capitalist greed.
When you sit down for a lovely Thanksgiving meal – even a much more lonely one than you had hoped for, even as you looked to the holidays in April when the pandemic would surely be behind us – take a moment Time to reflect on these workers and the organization of our society that forces so many of them to be in the workplace for reasons so weak or nonexistent.
Whatever Thanksgiving means to you, it shouldn't be a symbol of the race to the bottom, especially during a pandemic when people in the workplace are very often people whose health is at risk. In a normal year, Thanksgiving should be time to get back to fighting so that everyone sometimes gets a (paid) vacation so everyone has the free time and budget to relax, party, and eat well. This coronavirus year should be a time to re-engage in the government's fight to pay people to stay home when they don't necessarily have to work to house, feed and keep people healthy hold on while we wait for a safer and more effective vaccine.