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We need an Essential Workers Day

In the midst of this uncertain time, it's no surprise that my friend Senator Elizabeth Warren has a plan. The latest? An Essential Workers Bills of Rights to be included in the next relief package to be heard in Congress. Here's a brief summary of what the Essential Workers Bill of Rights says:

  • Health and safety protections. Every employee, including employees of contractors and subcontractors, should be able to do their job safely, which means having the necessary amounts of personal protective equipment provided by employers at no cost to the employee.
  • Robust premium compensation. Every worker should be paid a livable wage, and essential employees are no exception. During this pandemic, essential workers should also be paid robust premium pay to recognize the critical contribution they are making to our health and our economy.
  • Protections for collective bargaining agreements. Collective bargaining agreements must be protected from being changed or dissolved by employers during this crisis, including during bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Truly universal paid sick leave and family and medical leave. Congress must pass paid family and medical leave, so essential workers can care for themselves, family members, or dependents, without being required to submit unnecessary paperwork.
  • Protections for whistleblowers. Workers who witness unsafe conditions on the job or know about workplace coronavirus exposure must be able to openly identify their concerns and have them addressed, without fear of retaliation.
  • An end to worker misclassification. The pandemic has highlighted the longstanding problem of employers misclassifying workers as independent contractors in order to avoid providing the full suite of benefits and protections available to employees.
  • Health care security. All essential workers should get the care they need during this crisis, including those who are uninsured or under-insured, regardless of their immigration status.
  • Support for child care. At a time when child care providers across the country are closing their doors and struggling to survive the pandemic, Congress must commit robust funding to help these providers and ensure essential workers have access to reliable, safe, healthy, and high-quality child care.
  • Treat workers as experts. Any time a public health crisis hits, the government should work with employers and workers to craft a response and set safety and compensation standards. Essential workers, and their unions and organizations, must be at the table in developing responses to coronavirus.
  • Hold corporations accountable for meeting their responsibilities. Congress should ensure that any taxpayer dollars handed to corporations go to help workers, not wealthy CEOs, rich shareholders, or the President's buddies. That means taxpayers and workers should have a stake in how funds are used.

I support the Essential Workers Bill of Rights, and I hope you do, too. Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #StandWithEssentialWorkers.


Posted on April 27, 2020.

Meet Jim

Jim McGovern represents the 2nd District of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He has earned a national reputation as a tireless advocate for his district and as a champion for food security, human rights, campaign finance reform, social justice and peace.

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