USA Today | Corporations exploit workers even amid COVID. They don’t deserve to run the economy: Sherrod Brown

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USA Today | Corporations exploit workers even amid COVID. They don’t deserve to run the economy: Sherrod Brown

Biden appealed to people who rely on paychecks, not the stock market. His 81 million votes show America has had enough of Wall Street running the show.


In the early months of this pandemic, as businesses and feel-good news stories hailed America’s workers as the heroes of our time, I published an open letter to America’s corporate leaders, imploring them to live up to their ad campaigns and invest in the workers who make their businesses successful. I wrote: If you truly believe that workers are essential to your companies, then treat them that way.

Since then, CEOs have not been beating down my door to discuss renewed efforts to invest in their workers. It has been six months, and all that has changed are that corporate profits have gone up, hazard pay has disappeared, and more workers have died. Since the pandemic started, hundreds of thousands of American workers have died of COVID-19 after contracting the virus on the job.

Even as small businesses have shuttered in communities all over the country, profits for the largest retail companies have soared during the pandemic. Workers’ pay, predictably, has not. The Brookings Institution studied the 13 biggest retailers in the country and found that their earnings have shot up 39% compared with last year, and stock prices are up 33%. But wages have only gone up by about $1 an hour.

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