Paul Haeder, Author

writing, interviews, editing, blogging

What is being paid for being sick . . . a human right, the right thing to do, a luxury?

Again, these missives by yours truly do not rattle the world in terms of prominence and great analytical deft tied to geopolitics, politics, global issues, the proxy war(s) and more. It’s called Ground Truthing, and for some, it is BORING, unseemly, just plain old pedestrian.

However, I disagree, making a point to push the POV, the narrative, the autobiographical as true journalism, true discussion of how rotten and rotting Capitalism is, and then how each step/rung of the broken ladder is emblematic of how disaster and usury and casino capitalism does its dirty deeds. Sy Hersh may have a story that is making the rounds, even though the logic and the tell-tale historical comments from neocons proved beyond a doubt the private pipeline was blown up by USA, a la collective lackeys in NATO.

So here it is, simply: I had to throw in yet another towel, this time for a part-time gig in crumbling Lincoln County (certainly reflective of other crumbling counties, except this one has multimillionaires building milion dollar-plus homes on the sea while the county is being gutted worker wise because there is NO housing for slave wagers.

That gig was school bus driver. I have friends who have done that gig, and my hat is off to them. But, alas, one slice of one job pretty much can be scaled up to the fact that capitalism is about absolute exploitation, to the point of murder in the name of working sick.

Here we are, with drivers, many of whom are over 62 years of age, many in their late 60s, and some in their seventies. And, the work conditions include working inside closed in offices that are petri dishes and cesspools for viruses. Imagine that, a school bus driver working while coughing and spitting up green and black mucus. Here, the barely one hour (2/17) old resignation letter:

Dear So and So:

Yes, I’ve put my feet into the First Student pond and have learned this is not my best option for part-time work. The main reason is drivers working sick and passing along those so-called “colds.”

The reality has been made clear to all of us by First Student employees that Lincoln County has a driver shortage. That is the unfortunate nature of this coastal location. However, when a driver is sick, he or she should take days off to recuperate and to not pass along the disease. Ideal? That’s an entirely different discussion. Furthermore, I have observed many times just at the Waldport yard, drivers push through and continue working while sick.

My issue is being stuck in an enclosed tiny yard office with no open air circulation and the heater blasting with sick employees. Add to that scenario, the enclosed buses and sick drivers. You know all about these conditions as managers.

Look, I have worked in many places, including K12 schools in several states, in prisons, and in twin plants with hundreds of workers in Juarez, to name a few congested places. I’ve never gotten sick!

However, the so-called crud that has been circulating here in the Waldport (it’s a viral upper respiratory illness) yard just continues to get passed on to the next and the next driver. Exposing myself to enclosed small spaces isn’t my idea of getting better and well. One driver I monitored with was hacking up so much that he looked pretty pale; unfortunately, that gentleman told me he had the lung infection for weeks. On top of that, the poor gentleman ended up with cardiac issues and had to stop driving his route.

And, of course, we have youth riding the buses, and just yesterday one student was spitting up pretty nasty mucus and when we picked him up from Excel, the paraeducator who released him stated he couldn’t come back to school until he was seen by a doctor or greatly improved. She stated this poor youth was spitting up black mucus in the classroom. 

I never get colds, the so-called flu or respiratory illnesses, UNTIL now. Coughing bus drivers packed into a small space at 6 am, well, that’s more than some petri dish incubating a virus ready to be passed from one driver to the next. 

In any case, too bad for me. I was enjoying the possibility of getting behind the wheel of a bus. I knew the risks there with students, but I was assured that I could open windows and blast the driver fans to circulate the stagnant air (not foolproof to avoid a virus, or fungal infection, but still, better than nothing).

Am I too sick to do a two hour run today? Of course not, that is, I am not in bed and running a fever. Am I contagious? Of course I am, that’s how viruses work. How long are we contagious with the so-called crud?  You can spread the common cold from a few days before symptoms appear until all of the symptoms are gone. Most people will be contagious for up to 2 weeks. Symptoms are usually worse during the first 2 to 3 days, and this is when you’re most likely to spread the virus.

Staffing shortages, determined people who work through all their illnesses and ailments, and a system — First Student — that seemingly forces contagious people to work and then possibly pass around a mutating virus is not the rodeo I want sign up for.

This is much more worse than some thin skinned punk like me jumping ship. In reality, the revolving disease conveyor belt is what is killing people, old people, and again, there are special needs youth who are especially vulnerable, and in the mainstream classrooms, there are many many youth with allergies, chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems. The sprays, the antimicrobial junk, the stupidity of closed in classrooms, or classrooms in general, all of that, plus bad food, bad air and bad medicines and jabs, we have these super varients and super bugs and new bugs, all mixed up because US is a society of closed in thinkers, broken on every level, both in preventative medicine, and just working with people with major physical and psychic issues.

There are no free clinic, no free dental outfits, for people who do not have insurance or anything that covers preventative and immediate ailments, so we work sick. Again, I could have stuck it out, but truly, I have had this crud for a week, and this morning, I didn’t think the upper respiratory system would be so clunked up since I take a million micro grams of amazing supplements and tons of veggies and fruits in smoothies and get outside and find sun hitting my face whenever I can.

This entire planned bioweapon has done the first stage of a five stage freefall. First, messing with bat viruses and messing with gain of function and serial passage and so much more tied to mRNA and DNA morphing has created this new stage of the next stage of making people pawns in the controlled demolition of work, safety nets, food safety nets.

Now, I’ve written about my job applications here over four years, and the interviews, and then, the rejections. Amazing, no, and I have yet another today, from the same County outfit for the same position I applied for and interviewed for less than a year ago. I went onto that Oregon government jobs page, logged in, and, bam, I see (it’s depressing) dozens of job applications since 2013.

Well, I am not a lying, cheating dude like King Sisyphos, but it seems so apropos the image above.

Again, so many people in the billions have it so much worse than I do, don’t get me wrong. Yep, and here we are with my country (sic) that sanctions Syria, that is playing this CosPlay with Elensky (remember, ZioAzovNaziLensky banned the letter “Z” in his comedy central country). How many dead or soon to be or long to be dead in Ohio? While Biden and his Bumblers shoot down weather balloons, and while the EU sanctions Russia in the form of “no more toilets of port-a-potties”?

Hundreds of thousands on the brink of death and disease in Turkey and Syria, while the weather balloons get shot down:

But really, AMR — There’s even an awareness week in November, and then, see the dumb-downed video below informing adults about AMR!

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) develop the ability to continue to grow, even when they are exposed to antimicrobial medicines that are meant to kill them or limit their growth (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics).

As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spreading to others.

Drug resistance is one of the most serious health threats facing humanity. It could cause 10 million deaths per year(link is external) and an overall cost of $100 trillion to the global economy by 2050(link is external).

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is celebrated from 18-24 November every year to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance. The 2022 theme is ‘Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together’. It encourages all sectors to use antimicrobials prudently, to work together and strengthen preventive measures addressing AMR.

Now, I wonder why workers go to work sick? Cuz they miss the office, the driver’s seat, the forklift, the hospital food? Never ever do these oppressors ask what is wrong with the SYSTEM?

Year after year, as cold and flu season approaches, employers, their managers and their HR departments remind workers to stay home if they’re sick.

Year after year, employees come to work anyway—with bad colds, full-blown flu and other maladies.

In fact, 9 in 10 employees admit going to work sick, according to new research from global staffing firm Accountemps, a Robert Half company.

They do it despite warnings that by coming to work, sick employees risk infecting others, who, in turn, can go home and infect their families. All it takes are cold or flu germs left on the workplace’s microwave or elevator buttons, bathroom faucet handles, coffee machines or refrigerator handles to spread illness.

Accountemps’ online survey, which included responses from 2,800 workers employed in offices in 28 U.S. cities, found that:

  • One-third said they always go to the office with cold or flu symptoms.
  • Most employees who admitted to going to work while sick live in Charlotte, N.C., and Miami.
  • 54 percent of those who report to the office with cold or flu symptoms said they do so because they have too much work to do. Most respondents who said they report to the office while ill because of an overwhelming workload were from New York City, Minneapolis and Miami.
  • 40 percent said they went to work ill because they didn’t want to use a sick day.
  • Miami, Phoenix and San Diego professionals felt the most pressure from their bosses to be present when sick.
  • More employees ages 25 to 40 reported going to work sick than respondents of other ages. (source)

Look, being part-time (that’s the gig that First Student has set up so there are NO benefits, including paid sick leave) is what the USA and the Billionaires and the Manipulators want. Work sick or lose pay? The high cost of being sick when you don’t get paid sick days

Well, let’s deep six this piece now. I could go on and on about collective bargaining (this outfit, First Student, is anti union, though there are school districts that get the unionization as part of the deal). Go to the Cinncinattie headquartered First Student and see what they do by gaming the tax payers, since this is that famous (infamous) public-private partnership, AKA ripoff.

The PR spin makes it sound like a philanthropy: “Today, First Student, the leader in home-to-school transportation in the Northwest, announced it has agreed to assume 30 school bus routes initially awarded to its competitor Student Transportation of America (STA), acknowledging it could not provide the district with sufficient drivers or buses to fulfill the terms of the contract awarded in April 2021. First Student delivers reliable, quality services, including full-service transportation and management, special-needs transportation, route optimization, and scheduling, maintenance, and charter services with a fleet of about 44,000 buses. (source)”

Let me say that for Lincoln County School District, the contract, I was told, was $1 million for 2022, and will be renegotiated for more. That’s 11 schools, and the diesel is paid for by TAXPAYERS. And, this million dollars doesn’t include field trips and sports trips. Those are extra gravy train.

It is all a fraud, and when you figure out First Student is a Belgium equity firm, you get the picture: With a workforce of 50,500 employees and a fleet of 44,050 vehicles, the company bus fleet drives over 550 million miles every year. Formerly a division of FirstGroup, First Student was sold to EQT Infrastructure on 21 July 2021.

One of the great enduring disasters over the last half a century is the relentless assault on the notion that government is, in fact, an *efficient* force for good. That attack has been carried out by the endless droning on by media talking heads, politicians and “economists” that somehow the private sector is more efficient and better managed than government services. No matter how many times CEOs bankrupt their companies or loot companies for outrageous pay and benefits, the myth of private sector “efficiency” continues and also, as an aside, breeds the unconscionable attack against government workers.

It’s almost comical actually and exposes how deeply ideological the canard of private sector “efficiency” really is. It’s an attack on government as an idea by those who want to enrich themselves endlessly and want no countervailing force to slow down their robbery of the people. It’s a fraud—on the facts, on the numbers. (read on = source)

Oh, we are all pawns in this madness, in these billionaires’ and millionaires’ schemes to steal from the public, and boy do they steal. First Student was involved in a lawsuit in Oregon, class action, involving wage theft. This is a rampant problem with bus drivers who show up early, have to get the bus through an 90 point inspection in the dark, and have only so much time to do that before the route starts.

Here, the letter response to my resignation. It could have been worse:

Thank you for your detailed account of the situation at the Waldport office. When I am not on route myself, I make it a habit to visit all areas and check in with our employees. As I am currently driving a bus, I am not able to visit while employees are on the premises. This means that I need to rely on lead drivers and other staff to provide operations reports to me on a regular basis.

I am also sorry that your experience with First Student has been so negative. I understand your concerns; however, I do not agree with your statement that we force ill employees to report to work.

I expect an employee who shows any symptoms of an illness that could be contagious to inform management within the parameters of our Attendance Policy. This way we can be prepared for the next run that needs to be covered. Of course, there are moments when we have last minute callouts, during which we have to make quick coverage decisions. Another issue is that employees/areas decide not to report any illnesses to management. As already mentioned, I rely on those reports to make the decision to send someone home…and I am known for sending people home when they are sick. 

Again, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, as they lend themselves as points of constructive criticism, and opportunities for improvement. I wish you the best for your future.

Your final check will be processed today.

Respectfully, D

There you have it. As if I didn’t know the attendance policy or that last minute cancellations due to health occur (there were many in my few weeks with the company). As if I don’t know what “forcing” people to work sick really means when you are flagging and in need of income in a place where prices are out the roof, and when a company like First Student DOESN’T pay for sick leave early in our tenure. And what is PTO, that formula, after a year, working 20 hours a week, plus or minus?

Later: “US Workers Need a Non-Accrued Paid Sick Leave Guarantee/ A social insurance model would protect all workers against sickness.”

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