Merced County Times Newspaper
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Democratic Socialists: Atwater’s ‘Sanctuary for Business’ Resolution Endangers the Lives of Workers

Editor’s Note: The following is from a press release / opinion piece sent to the Times by the Democratic Socialists of America, Merced & Mariposa.


‘Workers Are Essential, Not Sacrificial’

As members of the working class and the Democratic Socialists of America, Merced & Mariposa we condemn the recent actions of the Atwater City Council.The resolution by the City of Atwater to become a “sanctuary city for businesses” was advocated for by, and passed to please, the business owning class without taking the needs of workers into consideration.

Workers we have spoken to are already concerned for their health due to lack of enforcement of existing safety measures and precautions. Many across California have already protested the lack of assistance being given to workers themselves, including immigrant and migrant worker advocates, and nurses.  The resolution passed by the City of Atwater will only exacerbate those issues by downplaying the reality of this crisis. In addition, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke’s stated refusal to enforce any state-mandated safety measures will only cause more harm. His statement and past actions show he is only interested in enforcing “sanctuary” laws when they are anti-immigrant and anti-worker.

We believe the concerns of the working class should be advanced, not the desires of business owners. Without the labor of workers, nothing of value can be created. By opening up businesses before it is deemed safe to do so workers and their families are risking their lives so that a small minority of owners can profit.

We are also appalled by the xenophobic and classist language used by the City of Atwater in their media comments prior to the vote and its usage against immigrant and migrant workers, and our unhoused neighbors.

We demand hazard pay for all those who are working and are deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, increased access to PPE for workers, and enforcement of public health guidelines to protect workers and the general public.

Merced County’s COVID-19 related deaths and confirmed cases continue to rise. We must protect workers as numbers continue to rise. No amount of money is worth the life of a single worker.

This crisis has made clear the priorities of Capitalism, profits are placed above people. As always, solidarity and collective action are the tools of the working class. Workers should reach out to their union representatives if they feel unsafe, and if they are not union members they should begin banding together with their coworkers to demand a safe and dignified workplace. Workers are essential, not sacrificial. Workers needing help to organize for better pay and health protections can fill out this form to speak with labor organizers from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE):


Democratic Socialists of America, Merced & Mariposa is a local Organizing Committee of Democratic Socialists of America the largest Socialist organization in the United States. DSA is a democratically governed, member-run organization of 60,000+ members of the working class.

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