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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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News + PoliticsLaborThe end of mask mandates at Warriors games threatens workers

The end of mask mandates at Warriors games threatens workers

18,000 unmasked fans at Chase Center? What about the people who have to go to work there?


As of Wednesday, February 16, the Warriors will no longer be requiring fans or concert goers at Chase Center to wear masks. That means that as many as 18,000 unmasked screaming fans and hundreds of Chase Center workers will be spending many hours together at this totally indoor venue.

This used to be called a “super-spreader” event. These days it is called business-as-usual, as in anything for a buck.

Will this become a super-spreader location? Wikimedia Commons photo by dtstuff9

Technically, the Warriors are only dumping the mask requirement for vaccinated fans, but there is of course no real way to enforce a mask requirement solely for unvaccinated fans. You can read all about it on the Chase Center website, on the misnamed “Fan Safety” page.

The Warriors excuse for this plan is that the City and County of San Francisco and the State of California have revised the rules and will let them do it. Once upon a time Mayor London Breed and Governor Gavin Newsom were thought to be champions of Covid safety. But our esteemed leaders have now disappeared down the rabbit hole with Alice, and the Warriors bigwigs seem eager to follow.

But isn’t the pandemic winding down? That is what the pundits have been saying for nearly two years now. Yet more than 2,600 people died in the US from Covid between Saturday and Sunday (February 11 and 12), according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). More than 250 are dying every day in California of late, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

The San Francisco Chronicle, not exactly the voice of the oppressed, reported on February 8 that “Since late December, more employees at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates MUNI, have tested positive for COVID-19 than in the prior 22 months combined.”If MUNI drivers and workers are getting infected at such a high rate, what does that say about infections among MUNI riders?

Here are some more numbers that might take your breath away (literally). Between January 10 and January 31, 2022 the CDPH reported 2,595 Covid outbreaks at workplaces around the state. That is an average of 123 outbreaks a day—the result of an average of 1,782 workplace cases a day.

Enough numbers, already. The CDPH agrees. The CDPH reported earlier that from January 1, 2021 to December 27, 2021, there had been 15,388 workplace outbreaks and 163,118 workplace-related cases. Then, two weeks later, the CDPH reported that there had been only 11,750 outbreaks and 90,594 cases since January 1, 2021. Huh?

I asked the CDPH why they disappeared 3,638 outbreaks and 72,524 cases. So far, the CDPH has not answered the question, or even acknowledged receiving it. So, was this some kind of reporting error? Or did these infected workers turn into zombie slaves, and were thus dropped from the workplace statistics?

I am, among other things, a food-service concession cashier at Chase Center, and a proud member of UNITE HERE Local 2. A few minutes ago, I let my bosses know that I am not reporting for work on February 16 or thereafter, until the mask requirement returns, or the pandemic ends, whichever comes first. Geez Louise, I am 72 years old and my partner is 70. I am not willing to just roll the dice and hope for the best, when the worst might mean infection, illness or even death.I am fortunate in that I can weather the financial storm of not working at Chase Center for a while (I hope) without serious financial hardship. That, of course, is not true for the vast majority of Chase Center workers, many of whom are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Few of my fellow workers at the stadium can afford to make the same choice I am making.

This mass unmasking is, of course, a problem for workers everywhere. The 18,000-person indoor capacity at Chase Center puts the stadium into super-spreader territory, but workers all over the world—whether at a factory or a grocery store or a hotel—face the same impossible choice between making a living or putting their health and the health of their families at risk. Most have little choice but to go to work and hope for the best.

But mere hope is cold comfort to those who are at the mercy of economic and political forces beyond our control. The only way to Keep Hope Alive is with relentless organizing toward taking power from the hands of the bosses and their politicians, and putting that power into the hands of the working class.

Marc Norton’s website is at https://MarcNortonOnline.wordpress.com.

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