Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Candle Factory Bosses Commit Murder by Tornado

Deadly tornadoes ripped through the southern and midwestern United States on Friday. Reports since reveal that Kentucky candle factory bosses threatened to fire workers if they stopped to take shelter prior to their shifts ending. Under capitalism, candles are even more important than human lives.

Mike Pappas

December 14, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share
Image by https://fox8.com/

As the death toll from the deadly tornadoes that ripped through the southern and midwestern United States last Friday continues to rise, horrifying new details have come to light regarding just how little bosses care about the wellbeing of workers. At an Amazon warehouse in Illinois, worker Larry Virden texted his girlfriend, saying “Amazon won’t let us leave.” He was killed by the tornado and by a company that has always put profit over the safety of its workers. Virden leaves behind four children. 

Examples are not limited to big, bad Amazon. Take Mayfield Consumer Products in Kentucky, a now-destroyed candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky. As NBC News reports, “At least five workers said supervisors warned employees that they would be fired if they left their shifts early.” And further, “For hours, as word of the coming storm spread, as many as 15 workers beseeched managers to let them take shelter at their own homes, only to have their requests rebuffed, the workers said.”

As reported by one forklift operator at the factory, “That’s the thing. We should have been able to leave … The first warning came and they just had us go in the hallway. After the warning, they had us go back to work. They never offered us to go home.”

According to CNN, the “factory had been ‘going 24/7’” to meet the holiday demand for candles. In the aftermath of the tornado’s destruction, the factory’s labor practices — including using incarcerated workers from a local jail to help with the Christmas rush — have come under greater scrutiny. As the storm approached, pumping out candles and pouring money into capitalist pockets outweighed worker safety — with bosses threatening workers to keep them producing.

Let’s make this very clear: Workers were forced to continue working even as tornado sirens were blaring. They were threatened with losing their jobs if they left their shifts early. Could there be a more glaring example of how workers — and even workers’ lives — are expendable under capitalism? 

No matter job, owners and management pretend they are workers’ friends. It’s all part of their manipulation and control. They’ll pretend they’re “looking out” for worker “partners” with bullshit rhetoric like “we are all one family” or “we’re all on the same team” type rhetoric, but it’s really just about the bottom line. Workers under capitalism are expendable, and the bosses and management are not “friends.” They are enemies of the working class who literally threaten our lives. 

What else could it mean when we see the Mayfield example? Candles for sale are more important than human lives. 

Going to work should never be a death sentence, but as the capitalism-induced climate crisis progresses, it is becoming clearer than ever: the capitalists will never hesitate to sacrifice workers in pursuit of profits. In instances like at Mayfield Consumer Products, the bosses are responsible for those killed. Workers should demand compensation for families, along with a full investigation into the bosses’ actions — with trials and punishment for company leaders for their criminal negligence. 

Workers’ lives matter;  the profits of the bosses — who won’t keep us safe — do not. The capitalists have never concerned themselves with workers’ lives except to make sure we can come back to work the next day, and they never will. 

It’s time to fight for better workplace conditions, with worker-led health and safety commissions in every workplace empowered to shut them down whenever conditions are deemed unsafe. We workers must be the ones with the power to ensure our safety. If it’s left up to the bosses, more of us will die. 

Facebook Twitter Share

Mike Pappas

Mike is an activist and medical doctor working in New York City.

United States

Activists in Detroit speaking at a press conference condemning repression of the pro-Palestine movement on May 20, 2024.

Detroit Activists Hold Press Conference to Condemn Repression of Pro-Palestine Protesters

Detroit Will Breathe organized a press conference to discuss the police violence and repression against pro-Palestine protesters. The movement must stand in solidarity and unite to combat the increase of repression.

Kyle Thibodeau

May 23, 2024
Protesters carrying Palestinian flags march on a street in front of a line of cops

Activists, Including Left Voice and Detroit Will Breathe Members, Arrested at Protest of Biden in Detroit, Free All Arrested and Drop All Charges

Detroit police brutally arrested activists who were protesting outside of Biden's speech to the NAACP.

Left Voice

May 19, 2024
Tents at the Rutgers University in NJ during the Palestine encampment in May, 2024

What the Movement for Palestine Can Learn from the Rutgers Encampment Deal

The Gaza solidarity encampment at Rutgers New Brunswick ended in a deal between the administration and a negotiations team at the camp. It’s been a highly controversial decision. The experience at Rutgers shows the need for a truly democratic, bottom-up fight for Palestine.

Jason Koslowski

May 17, 2024
Pro-Palestine encampment at UCLA in May, 2024.

“The Working Class has the Power to Stop this Genocide”: Interview with a UAW 4811 Rank and Filer

On Thursday May 15, 48,000 UAW Academic workers voted to authorize a strike, the largest academic workers union in the country to do so. Left Voice interviewed UAW 4811 member Peter Ross about what sparked this historic vote, and the labor movement’s fight for Palestine

Julia Wallace

May 16, 2024


Two large signs that read "UC Divest from Genocide" and "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" behind the two signs a "UAW on Strike sign" pokes out

Dispatch from Day 2 of the UC Santa Cruz Picket Line

Left Voice member and City University of New York worker Olivia reports on the second day of her trip to Santa Cruz for UAW 4811’s historic strike to talk to workers.

Olivia Wood

May 25, 2024

Why Won’t PSC-CUNY Stand with Palestine Now?

While other higher education unions are going on strike in defense of their workers and against the genocide in Gaza, the bureaucratic leadership of PSC-CUNY just crushed a resolution calling on the university to divest from Israel and to drop the charges against Palestinian activists arrested on April 30. 

James Dennis Hoff

May 24, 2024

Attack on Pro-Palestinian Protestors at UMich Latest Example of Democrats Defending Israel’s Genocide in Gaza

Capitalist apologists from the Democratic Party have chosen their business partners in Israel’s far-right government over Palestinian lives. In Ann Arbor, those same so-called “progressive” Democrats decided to bring felony charges against protestors earlier this week, encouraging harsh police violence against the University of Michigan encampment.

Ryan McCarty

May 24, 2024
A sign for the University of California at Santa Cruz with a line of UAW signs in front of it

Dispatch from Day One of the UC Santa Cruz Picket Line for Palestine

Left Voice member and City University of New York worker Olivia traveled to Santa Cruz for UAW 4811’s historic strike to talk to workers. This is her dispatch from the first day of the strike.

Olivia Wood

May 22, 2024