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Rantz: Costco coronavirus plan cites ‘equity’ in remarkably bad decision

Costco initially refused to heed public health requests on head office staffing during the coronavirus crisis. Why? Equity! It was the latest move from members of the least talented, most insufferable superhero group: the Woke Brigade.

Public health officials asked businesses to allow for telecommuting where appropriate, to cut down on unnecessary exposure to the coronavirus. They understand that the fewer people in the office, the lower the chances of exposure. But Costco won’t allow it.

Social Justice means expose everyone to coronavirus

In an email memo obtained by KUOW, Costco CEO W. Craig Jelinek explained why they prohibited telecommuting at the time: Not everyone can do it.

Since a warehouse worker can’t work from home, Jelinek won’t let someone at their Issaquah home office telecommute, even if their job could be done there. They won’t even allow online streamed meetings be viewed outside of the office, according to the report.

“This decision may be unpopular with some, but we consider it a matter of equity and fairness,” the email reportedly said.

It’s not so much that the Costco coronavirus staffing plan is unpopular. It’s nonsensical and dangerous. Equity means you’ll needlessly expose everyone to coronavirus, including employees who may have older relatives living with them?

Stupidly woke

Costco is a woke company — ask them and they’ll brag about it. They apparently believe, as many Progressives do, in equal outcome, not equal access.

Equal access makes sense. Equal outcome does not.

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I want the ability to compete for a job. I don’t want us all to get the same job. I’d like to compete for higher pay. I don’t want to make the same as people who do less work than me. I want to work harder to succeed, not be guaranteed that no matter what, I’ll be treated the same as someone less motivated. I want to win in a competition, not just get a trophy for showing up.

Costco doesn’t believe that.

You work in a warehouse? Well, we know you can’t do your job remotely. Accountant at the headquarters? You can do the work from home but since your warehouse colleague can’t, we’re holding you back. And yes, that means you’ll have a higher risk of coronavirus exposure. But if your colleague can’t work from home, neither can you per the Costco coronavirus scheme.


Does that accountant make the same salary as the warehouse worker? Nope.

So why is it when it comes to salary, equity doesn’t quite matter? Is it fair that an accountant — who had easier access to a college education — make more than a warehouse worker who couldn’t afford college?

And speaking of equity and fairness: Not everyone can afford Costco’s annual membership. You have to pay to get into their exclusive club. That seems rather inequitable and unfair.

The update.

Public health pressure finally changed their minds, perhaps helped when KUOW shined a spotlight on their plan since the email was sent the same day of publication.

Jelinek emailed staff: “Based on recent developments, we’ve decided to allow some employees at Costco’s corporate offices to work remotely.”

A Costco worker shared an updated email memo with the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, but asked their name not be attached. The email explains this accommodation is temporary and will be reviewed weekly

Remote-work arrangements will be a test, for corporate office employees only, which will be reassessed week by week. This should not be seen as a dramatic shift in our perspective on broad remote-work arrangements in general; they’re not ideal for our business under normal conditions. However, under the current circumstances, we believe we can cooperate to make it work, on a temporary and limited basis, both for the business and for employees, particularly those with unique needs and risk factors.

Jelinek did not explain why equity no longer matters. Indeed, he acknowledges that “Not everyone will be allowed to work remotely…”

Pick a lane

Amazon is in a similar position as Costco, though they have significantly more workers who can telecommute. Amazon did the right thing by letting their workforce work from home, while still maintaining a staff presence in warehouses. They can’t just shut down operations.

Members of the Woke Brigade trashed the decision.

Last week, State Senator Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines) criticized Amazon for choosing to protect their workforce from the coronavirus. But now, on Twitter, she’s offering up prayers, hoping the coronavirus crisis doesn’t worsen. You don’t get to do that: You have to pick a lane.

The coronavirus is either a serious public health threat that must be addressed, or it’s yet another issue to diminish by looking at it through an indescribably myopic social justice lens.

We’re either focused on protecting people or we’re focused on “equity” where it puts people in danger. You can focus on the public health aspect of this or be a social warrior. You can’t be both. And with their updated action, perhaps Costco should acknowledge they initially picked the wrong lane.

(Updated at 8:03am with new memo walking back their equity position.)

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter.

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