Sean Penn sent a strongly worded email to staffers of his nonprofit, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), after several of them left anonymous complaints under a New York Times article about a day at a Covid-19 vaccination site, where Penn's organisation is assisting.
Commenters on the 28 January article wrote critical takes around what it was like to work for CORE within the wider framework of Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium mass vaccination site. One commenter, who referred to themselves as a “CORE staff” member, said employees worked 18-hour days, six days per week, “without the opportunity to take breaks".
Another commenter called out the inaccuracy of a description of meals staffers would receive, aka “Krispy Kreme for breakfast and Subway for lunch”.
“We usually DON’T get breakfast, just coffee,” the commenter wrote. And the lunch is “NOT” Subway, but “the same old lettuce wraps every day. It’s free lunch for staff/volunteers so I’m not complaining but still ... not Subway.”
Penn's email to staffers, which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times, was more than 2,000 words and lambasted the “dissent in the low-hanging fruit of cyberspace”.
“To whoever authored these [comments], understand that in every cell of my body is a vitriol for the way your actions reflect so harmfully upon your brothers and sisters in arms," he wrote. "I have taken counsel and here will refrain from using the words with which I would otherwise choose to describe the character of your actions.”
As for the excessive work hours, Penn wrote that CORE’s mission may ask workers to “push that envelope". If anyone has an issue, he urged staffers to utilise “internal avenues for productive criticism”.
Penn did, however, praise his staff, writing, “You rose up. You did. Not me. All of you. And I will admit something. It made me weep. Not with some stupid self-presumed sense of fatherly pride, but simply a human pride in experiencing that people like you exist.”
Anyone “predisposed to a culture of complaint” and “broad-based cyber whining”, however, should leave, he wrote.
“It’s called quitting. Quit for CORE. Quit for your colleagues who won’t quit. Quit for your fellow human beings who deeply recognise that this is a moment in time. A moment of service that we must all embody sometimes to the point of collapse."
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