Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ro Khanna’s proposal unveiled Monday for an “Essential Workers Bill of Rights” is being cheered by leading progressive organizations who are demanding the next coronavirus relief package take care of those on the frontlines of the pandemic.
“It should be simple: the frontline workers who are risking their lives to keep Americans healthy and safe deserve to be protected as well. That’s what the Essential Workers Bill of Rights Act would ensure,” said Angel Padilla, national policy director of the Indivisible Project.
“But as we saw with first responders who risked their lives on 9/11, it took Congress a full decade before it provided them with the healthcare they desperately needed,” Padilla continued. “Congress shouldn’t make the same mistake twice.”
The new proposal for the group including healthcare workers, food service workers, domestic workers, janitorial staff, and farm workers comes as the U.S. remains the epicenter of the pandemic, with over 568,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 21,000 deaths. President Donald Trump is under fire for his handling of the outbreak as his administration continues to threaten the safety of workers and public health of all Americans with its focus on “re-opening the economy.”
“This crisis needs to open our eyes to the value of workers who are often invisible,” said Khanna, “and we need to give them the pay and benefits they deserve.”
Indivisible—along with other groups rallying behind the new proposal including the American Federation of Teachers, MoveOn, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance—says the three legislative packages addressing the coronavirus crisis passed thus far have fallen far short on worker protections. Instead of making this essential group sacrificial lambs, federal lawmakers must ensure they have the protections they need.
And those protections stretch far beyond making sure the workers have PPE to include a broad range of progressive policies.
On social media, Warren and Khanna shared the policies included in their “bill of rights”:
60 million Americans are still going to work every day to keep our country running.
Even in the digital age, so much work can’t be remote.
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) April 13, 2020
“The next relief package must put all workers front and center—but it must also specifically include the policies in our Essential Workers Bill of Rights,” said Warren.
According to Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, it’s time for lawmakers to pass economic relief legislation that puts people, not big business, first.
“If we can find the resources to bail out the cruise and airline industries and other big corporations, we can support the people who risk their lives every day to care for the ill, stock store shelves, and care for children,” said Mitchell.
“Congress has a moral responsibility to pass the Workers Bill of Rights to ensure these workers have what they need to protect themselves and their families while they protect us all during this pandemic,” he said.