While many imagined revolution might arise from a factory, few thought the Cheesecake Factory would fit the bill, but the firm has inspired scores of netizens after refusing to pay its landlords, some vowing to join in solidarity.
As Covid-19 brings swathes of the US economy to a standstill, workers and businesses alike have taken a beating, many facing layoffs and closed doors as the pandemic sweeps the country. The downturn has prompted the Cheesecake Factory – based out of California, among the states hit hardest by the virus – to declare that its landlords won’t see a dollar when bills come due in April, citing the “tremendous financial blow” dealt by the outbreak.
Though the company was polite in declining to pay its rent, with CEO David Overton asking for “patience” and “help” from landlords in a letter published on Wednesday, the denizens of social media saw a new movement in the making, calling on the Cheesecake Factory to lead the charge to proletarian revolt.
“Je suis Cheesecake Factory,” one commenter joked – repurposing a French slogan popularized after the lethal 2015 shooting at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper – while another declared: “In support of the Cheesecake Factory, I will not be paying rent either. Let the revolution begin.”
Some netizens were skeptical of the company’s supposed plunge into revolutionary politics, however, accusing the Factory of skipping out on sick leave for employees and putting “shareholder value” above all else.
Californians have been rocked particularly hard by the economic slump brought by the virus, with Governor Gavin Newsom disclosing on Wednesday that more than 1 million workers in the state had filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March. The unprecedented surge of furloughed workers has overwhelmed the state’s unemployment offices, prompting officials to look to a forthcoming $2 trillion federal stimulus package for additional assistance.
Still making its way through the Senate as lawmakers wrangle over last-minute details, the sweeping aid package is expected to provide workers with cash transfers – cutting checks worth $1,200 for those who earn under $75,000 annually – and expand unemployment benefits. It will also likely give some $367 billion in loan guarantees to small businesses, inject $100 billion into the healthcare sector and disburse funds to step up testing for the coronavirus nationwide, among other provisions.
California has confirmed more than 3,000 cases of Covid-19, putting it in the top three worst-hit states, behind only New York and New Jersey. Over 66,000 infections have been tallied across the US, with nearly 950 fatalities in total.
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