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Mini-cast 89: Anti-Mask is Anti-Employee

Bret Keisling shares his view that there is no more blatant way to show disdain for employees than going into a place of business without wearing a mask.


Mini-cast 89 Transcript

Announcer: 00:03 Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast, a great way to wrap up the week.

Bret Keisling: 00:13 Hello, my friends. Thank you for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. We often cover general business topics on our podcasts because we've always understood that employee owned businesses are first and foremost businesses.

Bret Keisling: 00:32 Similarly, those of us who advocate for employee ownership understand that what we preach about goes so much further than the company's capital structure. To be an employee owner is only part of the story; first and foremost, they're employees. So to advocate for employee owners should be by extension advocacy for employees generally.

Bret Keisling: 00:56 As we release this episode on July 3rd, 2020, the United States in the world continue to roil from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, the United States has surpassed 128,000 deaths and infection rates are increasing in 36 states. Indeed, the United States saw two days this week, where new cases exceeded 50,000.

Bret Keisling: 01:21 Many states are either imposing or re-imposing mask requirements as a result of the increase in infections. Just yesterday, the Republican governor of Texas made mask wearing mandatory and a day or two before in Pennsylvania, where I'm based, the Democratic governor has once again made mass squaring mandatory. Despite some bipartisan movement on state and local levels, I think it's reprehensible how mask wearing has become so politicized. I can think of no clearer way for someone to show their disdain for employees by refusing to wear a mask in a place of business.

Bret Keisling: 02:01 One of the silliest arguments I've heard both in the media and in my personal experiences is the customers or business patrons rights are being denied when they're forced to wear a mask. This argument can be put to bed quite simply. Try walking into the average restaurant or business anywhere in the country without wearing shirt or shoes. We all understand you're not going to be served. You're going to be asked to leave. So why do people think businesses can require shirts or shoes, but not masks? It's simply ridiculous.

Bret Keisling: 02:38 There are a couple of restaurants and retail establishments in central Pennsylvania that I've continued to patronize while following all of the CDC guidelines regarding social distancing and mask wearing. I'm horrified at how ugly customers have behaved by taking out their venom on employees in ways that in other circumstance would have them be barred permanently from the premises. Now you've probably seen media reports and I have as well about the outliers where violence or real ugliness occurs. And hopefully that is infrequent and maybe amplified a little bit. But I've seen potential customers walk in, be told they have to face - wear a mask - and get angry and ugly with team members and then call the corporate office to complain.

Bret Keisling: 03:30 The employees, first of all, are just doing their job. If the business chooses, and I hope they do, to follow CDC guidelines, then the employee, you know, this, the employee is simply doing their job. So for them to be the target of venom is reprehensible. And that's why the premise of the mini cast: anti-mask is anti-employees. I can give you a number of examples from friends, people I'm actually friends with, who work in the service industry. The young lady who isn't particularly at risk is in the service industry, but she lives with her elderly grandparents. Or the assistant manager at the restaurant who has a 10 month old child at home, who's terrified of bringing, COVID not just to the baby, but wonder who would care for her child if she got sick. Her colleague who has four children under the age of six at home. I have a couple of friends who are bartenders, one who has had chronic pain issues for years, and therefore is at higher risk for COVID-19. Another bartender is perfectly healthy in her late twenties, but she does all of her errands running for her parents in her sixties. She, again, is afraid of getting COVID and bringing it home to someone she loves folks. If you take a couple of minutes and get to know or talk to the people where you frequent, you'll find plenty of stories. There's the retail manager who went through life changing surgery himself a year or two ago and he's also the primary caretaker for an 80 year old mother. The owner of that retail establishment had some heart trouble a couple of years ago, he's at risk.

Bret Keisling: 05:22 And there's also one thing that I want to make clear about the people that I'm talking about. They are very much afraid of getting COVID-19, but they're also worried about their customers. They're worried about providing an environment where it could spread. I understand the economic realities about wanting to open up the economy. But the fact of the matter is, I don't know any business owner who emotionally is prepared and I've had conversations, emotionally prepared to be the site of an outbreak. Meanwhile, the people in these that I'm talking about are least likely to have insurance, in many cases, because of the nature of their work. They're also least likely to have the options about when to go to work.

Bret Keisling: 06:10 They also very much want their businesses to thrive. They want to be part of the reopening. They want to earn a living. They want to be a place for their customers to come and buy their products, but they shouldn't put their health or their lives at risk, particularly when some people are just being jerks.

Bret Keisling: 06:33 So for me, here's the line in the sand. If someone goes into a business and they're not wearing masks with the exception of those who truly have medical exemptions, but if the average person just goes in not wearing a mask because they're asserting their "rights," then as far as I'm concerned, that person is against the employees.

Bret Keisling: 07:03 Folks. It is the July 4th weekend. I tend to love Independence Day. Our country is in a lot of pain right now. It's people are in a lot of pain right now. I hope you'll find a little bit of beauty and grace over the weekend. Find some things even in these troubling times to celebrate and be optimistic about. Make the world a little bit better for yourself and those around you. And please support employees, wear a mask. This is Bret Keisling, thanks for listening.

Bitsy McCann: 07:36 We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Temi, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The ESOP Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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