Why Sean Penn Is So Angry With Staffers At His COVID-19 Vaccine Site

Sean Penn is firing back at a couple of staff members of his nonprofit organization, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), who took aim at the working conditions of his COVID-19 testing and vaccination site at Dodger Stadium in the comments section of a New York Times story last month.

In a leaked memo sent by the 60-year-old actor to his employees and obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Penn responded to an alleged unidentified "CORE staff" member who claimed to have worked 18-hour days "without the opportunity to take breaks" and another who suggested members of the CORE staff are given "the same old lettuce wraps every day."

"It's called quitting," Penn wrote, according to a report shared by People on Feb. 4. "Quit for CORE. Quit for your colleagues who won't quit. Quit for your fellow human beings who deeply recognize that this is a moment in time. A moment of service that we must all embody sometimes to the point of collapse. And to whoever authored these, understand that in every cell of my body is a vitriol for the way your actions reflect so harmful upon your brothers and sisters in arms. 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."

Sean Penn is proud of his CORE staff

According to Penn, the allegations against his organization, which he founded in 2010 in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, are nothing more than "shameful entries" and "obscene critiques."

CORE "does everything in its power," Penn explained, to provide its staff with a safe workplace that follows regulations. However, because of the need to so urgently test and vaccinate the many people who continue to flood the site, staffers may need to "push that envelope" in an effort to assist in the flattening of the COVID-19 curve.

Despite the criticism, Sean Penn went on to applaud his CORE staff members for working so hard to make a difference during such a trying time. "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," Penn shared.

CORE has vaccinated over 170,000 people

Since its start over a decade ago, CORE has provided aid in a number of different locations, including North Carolina, Florida, and Puerto Rico, that were hit with severe storms in recent years, and in March 2020, CORE began creating COVID-19 testing sites, starting with their first location at Dodger Stadium, which is currently being maintained by 350 staff members.

Although CORE is a nonprofit organization, Sean Penn's staff members receive hourly pay and work eight-hour shifts. In a statement to People, Penn's rep, Mara Buxbaum, confirmed the staff's compensation and revealed that Penn does not take a salary for himself. Buxbaum also said that when it comes to the complaints of the unnamed staff members, Penn's memo "speaks for itself."

Late last month, after hosting a number of testing sites throughout 2020, CORE began offering COVID-19 vaccinations. Since then, the organization has vaccinated over 170,000 people, Buxbaum said, including Penn himself, who shared the news on Twitter.