Filling the Gaps in Public Health

Because none of us is safe unless all of us are safe.

The COVID-19 crisis is an urgent reminder that everyone in our communities is interconnected. The safety and future of every one of us depend on each other, and an injury to one is truly an injury to all. This national emergency exposes the serious gaps in our workplace standards, our health care system, our access to affordable housing, and our food security. NOW, in the midst of this crisis – each sector must implement emergency changes for the safety of our community. On behalf of low-wage workers across our community, the Center for Worker Justice (CWJ) calls on employers, landlords, and government agencies to implement the following emergency standards for the sake of all our grandparents, friends, and loved ones:

We call on LOCAL EMPLOYERS to take emergency action:

  • 14 paid sick days. There is currently unprecedented bi-partisan agreement that employers must implement emergency sick days, so that sick workers in restaurants, nursing homes, childcare facilities, and other workplaces can stay home and avoid infecting others without financial ruin. While legislation is being debated that will provide employers tax credits and other incentives, we call on local employers to voluntarily implement an immediate policy providing 14 fully-paid sick days for workers who are 1) themselves sick or, 2) caring for sick family members or, 3) caring for children whose schools or child care facilities have closed.
  • No attendance-related discipline during the COVID-19 crisis. The low-wage workers we represent rely on our work in order to live. Many do not qualify for unemployment or public assistance. They do not miss work if they can possibly avoid it. But the COVID-19 crisis has created daily disruptions beyond workers’ control and will affect their childcare, schools, and lives in unexpected ways. This week Amazon – not known as a leader in workers’ rights – announced that it will issue no attendance points during the month of March. We call on local employers to honor a moratorium on attendance-related discipline during the COVID-19 crisis.

We call on LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND HOSPITALS to take emergency action:

  • Universal access to COVID-19 testing and related health care. Many low-wage workers in our community lack access to health care, do not qualify for Medicaid or “Obamacare”, and rely on the Free Medical Clinic, county public health programs, and charity programs of local hospitals as their only source of medical attention. People will not get the essential testing and care they need if they fear financial ruin as a result of their care. We call on our local governments and hospitals to provide free, universal COVID-19 testing and related health care and look forward to meeting with leaders of these programs to ensure that they are provided in a way that is culturally responsive and accessible to all.
  • Emergency funding for food banks and basic supplies during the crisis. Those who can afford it have been stockpiling food, toilet paper, and cleaning products – but many families cannot afford this luxury. Many families are facing difficulty finding these supplies in the stores, or at local charitable programs, when they need them. We call on our local governments to provide emergency funding for food banks and essential household supplies during the COVID-19 crisis, and we look forward to meeting with leaders of these programs to ensure they are provided in a way that is culturally responsible and accessible to all.

We call on LANDLORDS of apartments, houses, and modular home communities to take emergency action:

  • Moratorium on evictions for late payments related to financial pressures of the COVID-19 crisis. A national emergency has been declared. These are not normal times. Everyone is affected by the health and economic effects of this crisis – and the most economically vulnerable people will inevitably be hardest hit. It is unconscionable and a threat to public health to throw families out on the street, and into already overcrowded shelters during the COVID-19 crisis. We call on landlords of apartments, houses, and modular home communities to implement a moratorium on evictions for late payments related to the financial pressures of the COVID-19 crisis.

We call on all COMMUNITY MEMBERS to help!

  • YOU can help deliver this message to the employers, landlords, and elected officials and urge them to commit to immediately implement these common-sense emergency measures. As you visit retailers, restaurants, or other workplaces in the community, please ask to speak with the manager and discuss the importance of these policies for the health of our community. Speak with your elected officials about the critical importance of funding for food, essential supplies, and access to testing and health care during this crisis. Let us know what they say!

CWJ will be accepting donations to distribute to the workers who have suffered the COVIS-19 or their workplace is closed or slowdown.  Here is the link: https://cwjiowa.salsalabs.org/SupportWageWorkersCOVID19/index.html