Workers Generate Over 100,000 Messages, Calls to Congressional Offices Urging Essential Pay, Layoff Protection
Washington, D.C. – More than 354 state and local office holders throughout the northeast, including D.C., Maryland and Virginia leaders, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Speaker Pelosi, urging them to adopt measures to protect property service workers who are vital to keeping the region running during the COVID-19 crisis.
The officials called for essential pay, layoff protection and adequate PPE for essential workers such as building cleaners, security officers, residential service workers, contracted airport service workers, cafeteria workers, and parking workers and others.
Many essential workers are immigrants and people of color who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Most workers who perform essential property service functions live in low-income neighborhoods and must commute to commercial centers, airports, or more affluent neighborhoods to get to work, further risking exposure to the Covid-19 virus on public transportation. While essential workers are keeping others safe, they and those close to them risk getting sick and dying. And after they have risked themselves to keep others safe, many are being laid off, left without paycheck or health care.
To prevent further layoffs that could slow the re-opening of key sectors of the economy, the letter also called measures to keep contracted property service workers on payroll, and maintain any health benefits they normally are provided. They noted that this will also alleviate the strain on overburdened state unemployment insurance programs.
“If I were laid off, I might not be able to put food on the table or support my daughter,” said Jose Ventura, a 32BJ commercial office cleaner in D.C. “Losing my job would also mean losing my health insurance and I can’t imagine how I could afford medical care without it.”
The letter comes as essential building service workers strengthen their demand for protection in the next bailout. On Monday May 4, thousands of workers will call their members of Congress for a national call in day. To date, building service workers desperate for protection in the next bailout have generated 92,000 email messages to Congress and thousands of calls.
The essential building service workers’ demands are outlined in the letter:
1. Essential pay for essential property service workers.
2. Contracted worker-centered economic relief and stimulus: keep contracted and subcontracted property service workers on payroll, and maintain any health benefits they normally are provided.
3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Marc Elrich, County Executive, Montgomery County
Wanika B. Fisher, Maryland House of Delegates
Alonzo T. Washington, Maryland House of Delegates
Brandon M. Scott, Council President, Baltimore City Council
Tom Hucker, Council Vice President, Montgomery County Council
John T. Bullock, Baltimore City Council
Evan Glass, Montgomery County Council
Will Jawando, Montgomery County Council
Hans Riemer, Montgomery County Council
Deni L. Taveras, Prince George’s County Council