Many of the workers most essential for society, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, are also among the most low-paid, exploited and undervalued professions. I'm talking about farmworkers, service and hospitality industry staff, gig economy contractors, healthcare workers, and others. Even in the best of times, these people are often denied basic health and safety precautions, subjected to unjust layoffs and not paid a living wage.
They deserve more - far more. To beat this pandemic, we need to give our frontline workers all the support they need. Just as we need to remedy the economic inequalities that divide our society in order to address the root of the climate crisis, we need economic justice to grapple with the outcomes of this pandemic.
The good news is that there is already incredible people-powered work happening to make this a reality. Just this week, workers have successfully organized for: temperature checks, face masks nationwide at Amazon distribution centers (although labor disputes continue), free safety kits for Instacart shoppers and Target and Walmart have (finally) promised to provide face masks and gloves for all employees.
Here are four ways you can support workers on the frontlines in Washington state.
- Call on Governor Inslee to provide immediate protection for farmworkers in Washingotn State.
- Sign the Petition: Gig economy companies must provide essential protections for essential services. All workers in ‘essential’ jobs deserve basic protections such as sick leave, hazard pay, safety standards and compensation for lost income. This is especially true for workers in the gig economy. They are literally saving lives right now while working for corporations infamous for denying workers rights. Sign this petition if you think so too.
- Support Union Families: Donate to the Foundation for Working Families. The Foundation for Working Families is a non profit that assists union families during times of hardship. Donations go directly into the hands of families suffering from COVID-19 and it's economic fallout.
- Sign the Petition: Stand with Nurses and Healthcare Workers. Nurses and healthcare workers deserve Personal Protective Equipment to perform their duties, for workplaces to follow basic safety protocols and paid sick leave. Over 15,000 people agree and have already signed this petition by some of our labor union partners calling on state hospitals and health care employers to provide basic protections for nurses and healthcare workers who are showing up around the clock to fight this pandemic.
And three ways you can support frontline workers in Oregon: