COVID-19 underscores urgent need for worker protections in the next bailout and a Green New Deal for the future
The following statement is attributable to Kyle Bragg, President 32BJ SEIU:
“Working people and communities of color disproportionately feel the impact of tragedies from COVID-19 to climate change. Workers of color have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and 32BJ members, mostly immigrants and people of color, are no exception. Dozens of our members have died from COVID-19. This pandemic has ravaged our cities, our neighborhoods and our union community. Not only have we lost precious lives, this horrible pandemic has laid bare the brutal inequities of our economy. Thousands of our members are on the front line keep buildings clean and safe and many are in the unemployment line worried about feeding their families and going without health care.
“32BJ SEIU is demanding that Congress take urgent action to protect essential workers with the PPE, essential pay and layoff protection every worker needs to take care of themselves and their families. These protections are necessary to get workers through this crisis in the short-term.
“In the long-term, we need to address the horrible structural inequities that this pandemic has exacerbated. We cannot afford to sideline our efforts to address climate change as COVID-19 bears down on our communities. COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, making the need for clean air and water a public health emergency. Many working class communities and communities of color have high rates of asthma or are near other contaminated land, have residences with lead paint or unsafe water. These factors make it harder for our communities to survive the disease. Working class communities, rural communities and communities of color often have less access to quality health care.
“A Green New Deal is more important than ever to create millions of green jobs, enact a $15 minimum wage, invest in renewable energy, fight for clean air and water for our kids, and mitigate the COVID-19 crisis that has disproportionately affected workers of color. This is a moment to dream big—and to fight big—for the kind of society that reflects our values. We demand a Green New Deal to combat climate change, create good union jobs and raise standards for all of us. Let’s remember those who have died by continuing to organize for a sustainable planet and justice for working people.”
With 175,000 members in 11 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country