A Simple Mask of Stanchless Avarice

Just when we think we’ve seen everything, out comes Wabtec to teach us we haven’t.

Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, the economy-over-people open-the-country side or the people-over-economy keep-it-closed side, I think we can all agree on one point: masks help slow the spread of this nasty and often fatal virus.

Surprisingly, in a country bombarded with rules and regulations, our surgeon general and NIAID director failed us. But we shouldn’t point blame at them. They had no idea how low surviving rust-belt-city companies could bend their backs to get under that net-profits limbo pole. If they had known, surely they would have added a regulation: do more than cut holes in sheets to protect your employees.

Think this mask is a joke? You’re wrong. Pictured above is an actual mask passed out to an employee. Ridiculous? Yes. Appalling? Yes. Surprising? No. Nothing big companies do to meet regulations and maintain profits surprises me anymore.

I truly believe the best, most protective masks should land in the hands of the medical professionals, health-care workers, and first responders who come in direct contact with COVID-19 patients. Yet, any worker deserves more than two holes cut in a sheet.

I don’t know the details. I’m not sure who issued the masks, or where the Local 506 Union stands on them. I do not know how hard it is to obtain masks for employees. I just know I had to say something—for those who can’t.

I no longer live in Erie, my husband retired, and we’ve moved to be by our daughter. One of my proudest memories of Erie will always include how resilient families—my own included—weathered through the decline of the rust-belt years. Hard-working men and women who simply wanted a decent wage. My biggest disappointment was how, when the chips were down, many residents—even hard-nosed democrats and blue-collar comrades—criticized the GE/Wabtec workers. I’m still shocked. That some middle-class residents took the side of corporate leaders earning tremendous bonuses over their neighbors, stunned me.

Now this. An embarrassing, degrading mask to workers who deserve so much more.  If I sewed, I’d make a batch of masks for Erie shift workers, mark them up with something like “people matter” or “proud blue.”

Hang in there. Stay safe. Get yourself a good mask. This too shall pass.

With the utmost respect and prayers,

Cyndie Zahner





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s