Monday, May 18, 2020
Tell Congress: Essential workers deserve essential protections
Why is this important?
Essential workers are on the frontlines of this pandemic, and many are working in high-risk conditions without appropriate equipment, safety standards, or job protections. Workers who remain on the job without the ability to telework during this emergency include doctors, nurses, home care workers and other healthcare workers, grocery store and drug store employees, domestic workers, food service workers, federal, state, and municipal employees, janitorial staff, farm workers, delivery drivers, warehouse workers, transportation workers, and child care workers. These workers put their health on the line when they go to work every day.
In New York City, 41 transit workers have died as of April 8, and reports of essential worker deaths are on the rise. There are grocery workers who are denied sick leave and whose companies won’t provide masks or allow masks to be worn in stores. And health care workers including medical technicians, orderlies, EMTs, nurses, doctors, hospital employees are working long hours to save lives while their own families are on the edge of health and financial disaster.
The country has a moral responsibility to protect essential worker’s health, to create financial security for their loved ones, and to offer peace of mind during a time of heightened mortal and emotional stress.
This includes policies like healthcare, paid sick leave, and workplace health standards to protect against more workers getting sick. We need hazard pay and childcare to properly compensate the risk workers are taking to benefit us, and enable them to keep coming to work. And we need to hold corporations who don’t follow these guidelines accountable because lives are on the line.
Congress continues to debate more relief efforts as the coronavirus pandemic deepens the health and economic crisis hitting our nation. The next bill must meet the needs of people and our communities, with an essential worker bill of rights, and not provide more corporate bailout funds. Congress should ensure that any taxpayer dollars handed to corporations go to help workers, not wealthy CEOs, rich shareholders, or the President’s cronies.
Congress should pass an Essential Workers Bill of Rights, including:
1. Health and safety protections
2. Robust premium compensation
3. Protections for collective bargaining agreements
4. Truly universal paid sick leave and family and medical leave
5. Protections for whistleblowers
6. An end to worker misclassification
7. Health care security
8. Support for child care
9. Treat workers as experts
10. Hold corporations accountable for meeting their responsibilities
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