No thanks to your thanks, just give us safety at work
Andrew A. Nelles | AP

Everywhere, our leaders are talking about “The Great Rebuild” that is to come, while failing to address the critical issues essential workers face today. We are sick and dying NOW!

I don’t want your thanks. I don’t want your pity. I’m not a hero. I didn’t take this job to make a sacrifice, ultimate or otherwise. Transit workers are not the military. And even the military get tossed aside with a mere thanks when they come home with all kinds of physical and psychological ailments, only to fend for themselves. So I don’t know why we keep getting thanked, while we scream from the rooftops that our vehicles are vectors for disease, beg for PPE and proper disinfection. NO. Your thanks will not save my life or the lives of my coworkers. This is martydom, not heroism. And when we rebel against deadly working conditions, our actions are then considered unpatriotic, mutinous and cowardly.

I don’t even want your hazard pay. Throwing money at somebody to do work you’re not willing to do yourself, demanding essential services from the comfort and safety of your home, while more and more of us fall ill, is really beyond privilege and is not an answer to this crisis. Offering us more money to do a dangerous, potentially lethal job is a pay-off to get us to shut up about what we need and will be used as a substitution for providing the proper safety mechanisms to keep us from dying. Money is not going to keep me off of a ventilator or even get me one, if I need to be on one. What will keep me and my coworkers off ventilators is having power over our working conditons, through union control over health and safety.

I don’t like that people think they can just make themselves feel better if they just thank us for keeping the system running as close to normal as possible. Keeping the system running is what got us here. Ignoring 40 years of privatization, deregulation and dismantling of whatever public health system we might have had is what got us here— under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Mayor Richard Daley closed Chicago’s health clinics; Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed half our mental health clinics.

I don’t want your thanks, I don’t want your pity. I want you to stop doing your part to prop up this rotting system.


Molly Parsons
Molly Parsons

Molly Parsons is Chicago transit worker.