The following statement may be attributed to Kyle Bragg, President 32BJ SEIU:
“32BJ SEIU’s members are the office cleaners, security officers, airport workers, school custodians and other property service workers who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are the unsung heroes of this crisis. They go into their jobs every day to make buildings clean and safe for everyone.
“As a union, we are closely monitoring the situation and working hard to ensure that all our members are safe. 32BJ SEIU is coordinating with employers in thousands of workplaces across the East Coast to make sure we are effectively dealing with issues stemming from this crisis—from ensuring proper protective gear to demanding that workers have to right to refuse dangerous work. Our ability to be united in our union to address this virus is yet another example of why all working people need the opportunity to join together in a union, no matter where they work.
“The nature of this global health emergency is rapidly changing, and property service workers at the front lines of public hygiene, have had to adapt their work accordingly. In many of our members’ workplaces, there has been an increased demand for cleaning and other services.
“The COVID-19 pandemic puts into stark relief our nation’s shameful lack of sick days, affordable health care and unions on the job. Far too many working people across the country do not have paid sick leave and must forfeit wages in order to take time off. As this moment demonstrates, paid time off is a crucial public health necessity that prevents the spread of any illness. In addition to paid sick days and affordable health insurance, workers must be have immediate access to unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs due to this crisis. Everyone, no matter where they work or what they do for a living, should have healthcare and sick days they can count on, make a living wage and have a voice at work through a union.
“While our members have performed their jobs admirably under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, the Trump administration has failed to protect them—and all working people. Not only has the Trump administration ignored the advice of its own public health experts; it has mounted a disinformation campaign that has been disastrous and even deadly. And as the public grapples to understand this pandemic, the administration has signaled its plans to use it as an excuse to cut Medicare and Social Security while no one is looking. The Trump administration has made it clear that they prioritize the health of oil companies and the stock market over the health of working families and the elderly. If working people come together and demand immediate change from Washington, this crisis should serve as a crucial turning point in the fight for affordable health care, paid sick days, living wages and unions for all.”
With over 175,000 members in 11 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.