Message may be worth rehearing

As Chula Vista and National City, along with the rest of the county, move toward re-engaging the local economies, employers, employees and consumers must be vigilant that there is not a complete return to “business as usual.”

Certainly the climate as it is now can’t bear — and should not tolerate — lax businesses practices that saw workers exploited, harassed, abused or subjected to hazardous work environments.

We’re familiar with the documented and anecdotal cases of employers short-changing employees on paychecks — otherwise known as wage theft — or retaliating against someone for reporting inappropriate working conditions.

And, in all likelihood, we’ve all had firsthand experience with colleagues who have trouble grasping the concept of personal space.

Or cleaning up after themselves in the break area.

Or staying home when they are sick.

And the public, when behaving as a consumer in a supermarket or patron at a public building can sometimes get confrontational when their shopping experience does not proceed as they wanted.

(Even now, with pandemic precautions in place, I’ve seen irate customers defy masking rules and ignore distancing rules because they have been told to follow health and safety rules.)

With thousands of people out of work and business owners clinging to solvency, the mood among employers and employees may be a desperate one.
Looking the other way might be worthwhile if it means a couple extra bucks in the pocket, another month’s lease payment made.

But we need each other to not act out of desperation.

As part of reopening parameters businesses are being told to provide enough hand santizers for their customers and employees, require masks be worn inside the office when within six feet of another person and staying home when not feeling well.

Given the reality that despite a new law that provides paid sick leave, many employees cannot afford to stay home longer than three days, unless they want to be unpaid or worse.

Now is the time when communities and legislators must develop a plan to make staying home sick worthwhile. Now more than ever it is a matter of public health and safety.

This column first published in May 2022.