A Worker Speaks: COVID-19 Coverup in Spanish Lake, Missouri

Anonymous Submission

On February 8th, 2021, I was informed that an employee in the seafood department of the Sierra Vista Schnucks in Spanish Lake, Missouri had been sent home the day prior (Feb 7th) after testing positive for Covid-19. This is a store in a majority Black area, with majority Black staff. The management team is majority white. The remaining staff, having been possibly exposed, were sent home the next day, the morning of Feb 8th. Rather than closing the department for the safety of its employees and customers, the vast majority of whom are black, the white store management chose to reopen the department prematurely, without informing its customers of the exposure. To my knowledge, it was not sanitized adequately in the meantime, nor were the replacement employees informed until they had already started working in the contaminated environment.

Such practice is not surprising to me. Already, the store often keeps its management of the pandemic to a strictly surface level, with its sanitation only being performed to the degree that it is publicly visible, if that, along with mask and glove wearing not being enforced, except on the sales floor. In essence, possible infected employees are handling food. In fact, numerous health code violations are to be found behind closed doors, either unnoticed, or more likely, ignored, by the health department. Customers are often allowed into the building without masks, and there is no enforcement of social distancing protocols.

The quick and quiet reopening of the seafood department after a confirmed case of Covid-19 from one of the employees there is not surprising, although it is a particularly heinous example of the lax attitude the store has taken towards the pandemic, even if the corporation makes a performance of its concern for stopping the spread of this deadly disease.

It is my opinion that the store should have kept the seafood department closed, given the department a deep clean and sanitization, and paid for the testing of all its employees for Covid-19 after a confirmed case by one of its employees there, along with hazard pay. Indeed, the Schnucks Corporation ought to be paying for the regular testing of all of its employees along with strict enforcement of safety protocols, if it really cares about its employees, its customers, and the neighborhoods in which it operates. Obviously, this is a corporation, so we can determine that they care only about how much money they can take from customers’ wallets and how they can cheat us, the employees, out of the value of our labor. The fact that it does not seems to me a clear indicator that this corporation values its quarterly earnings over the lives of the people it serves and employs. This callous attitude should be exposed for all to see and confronted by all those who work and shop there.

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