Janitors, security officers & property service workers on the frontlines of COVID take fight to Congress for essential pay, PPE and layoff protection in economic relief and recovery package
~African American and immigrant workers hardest hit by COVID, now face mass layoffs~Philadelphia – As the situation becomes dire for many of the property service workers on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, the property service workers union, 32BJ SEIU is demanding urgent action from Congress. With the House returning on April 20, essential workers—such as building cleaners, security officers, residential service workers, contracted airport service workers, cafeteria workers and parking workers who keep the public safe during the COVID-19 pandemic—are demanding that fourth bailout package protects them and their families. Alarming new data out of NYC shows that African Americans and Latinos are twice as likely to die of COVID-19 than white Americans. Most workers who perform essential property service functions are immigrants and people of color who 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. Many property service workers have little or no protective equipment or PPE, even though they face exposure on the job. “Essential workers –janitors, security officers, airport & food service workers– put their health and well-being on the line every day to keep our cities safe, secure and healthy,” said Gabe Morgan, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU for Pennsylvania and Delaware, which represents over 22,000 property service workers in Pennsylvania and Delaware. “While essential workers are keeping others safe, they and those close to them are getting sick and dying. Property service workers are struggling without any additional pay for their essential work during this crisis and many have no personal protective equipment (PPE). “Now, after putting their lives on the line to protect others– thousands are facing layoffs—putting their livelihoods and access to health care at risk. Congress should do all it can to protect the economic health of the nation, but it is critical that essential workers who are exposed have full access to emergency relief like layoff protection, essential pay and personal protective equipment to avoid infection.” “I give my job my all. I’m having my first child. I set at the front desk welcoming workers into my building every day. I don’t have any PPE. I’m concerned about my safety and that of my unborn child,” said Danielle Quillen, a 32BJ security officer. “I’m on the frontlines and essential too. Where is the concern for me?” Proposed protections include: Essential pay for essential workers and PPE (1.5 times regular rate of pay) supported through employer tax credits to address extraordinary costs associated with additional transportation and childcare needs, as well as heightened exposure risks. Worker-centered economic relief and stimulus: keep contracted property service workers on payroll: Layoff protection so that essential workers can maintain wages, healthcare to support their families and our economy when the crisis is over. Build Worker Power through mandated worker-industry sectoral bargaining structure to improve working conditions for transit hubs receiving government assistance.
With more than 175,000 members in 11 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.