Petition is successful with 413 signatures
To: Dr. Adam London and Wayman Britt - Kent County Health Department
Vaccinate The Servers
On Friday, March 19th, the Kent County Health Department announced that Service Industry Workers are now eligible for vaccination!
Thank you to everyone who signed and shared this petition!
Together we can affect positive change!
We, the Service Industry Workers of Grand Rapids, call on you to immediately expand the county’s vaccination program eligibility to include all active service industry workers. As Michigan’s state government reopens eating and dining establishments, service sector workers are forced into unsafe conditions. Service industry workers do not qualify for vaccines and will be exposed to ever more transmissible variants of the virus spread nationwide. This is a political choice. Service sector workers don’t matter to Michigan’s Democrats or Republicans. Their lives are disposable for the sake of economic “health.” We are counting on you, our county officials, to stand up for the safety of the Service Industry Workers of Kent County.
The science is unequivocal, fewer people in restaurants will save lives. Governor Whitmer said that in defense of closing indoor dining before. And yet just last week the governor increased bar and restaurant capacity from 25% to 50% of total capacity. This means increased exposure and increased risk for those working in the food and beverage industry. The decision to reopen has nothing to do with the health of Michigan’s residents and everything to do with organizations like the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association tirelessly demanding restrictions be lifted.
Workers have no good choices. If their restaurant decides to reopen they are unable to collect unemployment. Employers often tell workers that refusal to work is insubordination, allowing them to make their termination “with cause” and ineligible for unemployment.
While the Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity states that, “Merely being afraid to return to work is not good cause,” workers have every right to be afraid. A recent CNBC article said, “A new study from the University of California, San Francisco suggests that line cooks have the highest risk of mortality during the Covid pandemic — even more than healthcare workers.” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel stated “We know when we loosen restrictions we will probably see cases rise again” in a press conference on Tuesday, March 2nd. This is an open admission that service industry workers are being put at an increased risk of exposure to Covid-19. And yet the state has done nothing to improve the safety of workers in bars and restaurants that are now seeing increased traffic with the raised capacity.
Service sector workers are dying for profit. Every politician in the state of Michigan that doesn’t do all in their power to either vaccinate workers immediately or shut the sector down is complicit. It requires politicians to stand up for workers and against bosses. It demands that they put people’s lives over profit. Therefore we demand the Kent County Health Department follow the example set by Mayor Mike Duggan and the City of Detroit on February 2nd when they expanded vaccine eligibility to workers in restaurants/bars, grocery stores, meat packing and food and beverage handling within the city. Vaccination of service industry workers ensures the safety of both the worker and the customer. By this simple action you will be protecting a vast majority of the residents of the Kent County. Workers and customers alike will be able to go out to eat and socialize again with the confidence that those on both sides of the counter are safe and healthy. Keep us safe!
Grand Rapids Service Industry Workers Coalition
Why is this important?
The following statements are from Service Industry Workers in Kent County:
As a service industry worker I had to go back to work because my family relies on me and unemployment is a nightmare. Since being back to work everyday customers refuse to stay masked and cuss at us for following the Covid guidelines to keep the community safe. We endure name calling, harsh attitudes, terrible tipping and overall unsafe conditions no matter how hard we stick to the guidelines. The only way to work safely is to make sure those of us on the front line are vaccinated. We risk getting our loved ones sick by being exposed to people who have no respect for the general population. Our mental and physical health are being put at risk every time we are serving a new table. Vaccinate all people working with the general public or close these facilities until we can. We can't keep putting people at risk. - Kim, bartender
I'm a server and a host at a breakfast restaurant downtown Grand Rapids, working during the pandemic has been really hard. Our waits are far longer due to being at 25%, now 50% capacity, and people are not understanding whatsoever. We also have had so much trouble about people wearing masks. We have full on arguments at the door because people don't want to wear them. These people don't realize my job is at stake, my money to pay my bills and keep me going is at stake. To them it's just a meal. - Anonymous, server/host
I work for creative dining services at Aquinas and a few weeks ago there was an employee that got Covid and they were hush hush about it. Students are constantly coming in improperly wearing their masks and eating while standing and making my job more difficult. I work full time and i’m scared i’m gonna get Covid because of this recklessness. - Sonny, supervisor