“We want better equipment, protective gear; we have no masks,” one of the sanitation workers told the television station WPXI. “We want hazard pay. Hazard pay is very important.”

At a Kroger warehouse in Memphis, 200 workers walked out after learning that a co-worker had the virus.

“The ones that is here, they so tense they scared to touch the equipment,” said Maurice Wiggins, a Kroger forklift driver and father of two. (He also complained about being forced to work a 97-hour, seven-day workweek.)

These workers are demanding what everyone else wants during the worst epidemic in a century — safety. They feel their companies are taking them and their safety for granted, and they don’t want to risk their lives for a paycheck, often a meager one. Many workers are angry that, while their employers are doing a lively business, they haven’t given them raises or hazard pay, which some other companies have provided.