At-Risk Workers on the Frontlines of COVID-19 in Virginia Urge Governor Northam to Enact Specific Measures to Protect Their Physical and Financial Well-Being

Julie Karant: 646-584-9001;

At-Risk Workers on the Frontlines of COVID-19 in Virginia Urge Governor Northam to Enact Specific Measures to Protect Their Physical and Financial Well-Being

Working people on the frontlines of this pandemic need healthcare, paid sick leave and moratorium on evictions and utility shutoffs.


Washington, D.C. – Jaime Contreras, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU and David Broder, President of SEIU Virginia 512 today thanked Virginia Governor Ralph Northam for expanding unemployment insurance to provide a critical lifeline for working families. They are urging him to enact additional measures in a joint letter on behalf of over 8,000 workers in Virginia:


“Working people are on the frontlines to mitigate the effects of and fight against COVID-19. Hospital and home care workers, childcare providers, airport workers, janitors, security officers, educators, public employees and fast-food workers are united in our efforts to stop the spread of this virus and ensure that all working families are safe, healthy and able to thrive in our community. Contracted airport workers like cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants, security officers, and baggage handlers are on the front lines of the coronavirus and play a critical role in controlling infections and stopping them from spreading throughout the U.S. aviation system and into cities and towns across the country. The workers who clean airplane cabins, escort elderly and disabled passengers to their gates, and clean our airport terminals come into close contact with millions of travelers every single day, yet the majority don’t have sick leave, healthcare or even adequate breaks to wash their hands.


Additionally home care workers are on the frontlines of preventing the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19, working with high-risk populations in their homes. Yet, home care workers lack even basic protections. Medicaid consumer directed home care providers lack access to protective gear, health care, and paid sick days. On behalf of SEIU members and all working families in Virginia, we write to urge you to enact and advocate with the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority and the Department of Medical Assistance Services for the policy recommendations detailed below that will support and protect workers who are already on the frontlines of preventing further spread of this pandemic.”


Among the policy measures, Governor Northam is asked to enact:  


Immediately enact emergency Paid Sick Leave for All Virginians.


Provide unemployment benefits for all workers who are impacted by illness, caring for a loved one, reduced hours or business closure.


Expand the MWAA Airport Workers Wage Policy to include 10 days of paid sick leave on a permanent basis.


Provide comprehensive health care coverage.


Lift Overtime Caps for Support Workers.


Protect the rights of immigrants by ensuring all emergency efforts are communicated in multiple languages, and conduct outreach and prepare educational materials that are tailored to community needs and call on the federal government to suspend ICE raids so that vulnerable patients won’t be deterred from seeking help.



With 175,000 members in 11 states, including over 20,000 in the D.C. area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.


SEIU Virginia 512 represents a membership of 3,000 County employees and Home Care in Virginia.

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