As millions of Americans have sheltered in place, working people have kept our country afloat. Unfortunately, the lack of federal leadership is now threatening these same working people with cuts, furloughs and unemployment.
Public workers are carrying out essential duties, often risking their own health and safety to keep our communities running. But, while big corporations have been cashing out billions of dollars in bailouts, public workers across Southern California have been at the frontlines without adequate protection and now with the added threat of having their jobs cut in the near future!
Members like Natalie, a nurse at LAC+USC, who said, “This is what we do. We stand by people who need us because if not us, then who will do it?”
And wastewater workers like Simboa, who prevent raw sewage from flooding our neighborhoods.
“Even though people are scared, they still show up to work, because they know how important the work is,” Simboa said.
Natalie and Simboa are emblematic of the nearly 100,000 SEIU 721 members who are sacrificing and braving a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic in order to keep our communities safe and functional.
Frontlines workers have already tested positive for COVID-19, and some have given the ultimate sacrifice. Yet despite these real sacrifices on behalf of working people, elected officials are ready to slash public jobs across the board, turning today’s heroes into tomorrow’s unemployed.
This is the great truth that the COVID-19 crisis has revealed – how little the people in charge value working people.
In this new reality, Natalie and her healthcare colleagues had to band together and fight for adequate personal protective equipment, social workers in Riverside are making home visits through screen doors to keep children safe, LASAN lab workers like Stacee Karnya are producing hand sanitizer for other city workers like Simboa to use, and organizations like L.A. Black Worker Center and St. John’s are providing free COVID-19 testing to the community.
Meanwhile, congress has passed a series of Coronavirus stimulus bills that have given away hundreds of billions of dollars to giant corporations and wealthy executives, while workers on the frontlines face cuts and unemployment.
When asked about providing federal aid to states, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that it would be better for them to go bankrupt, saying, “I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route… My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don’t have to do that. That’s not something I’m going to be in favor of.”
Let’s be clear: A state bankruptcy puts all of the essential services SEIU 721 members provide on the chopping block. Public jobs would be left with no funding. Your career, your community and your pension would be at risk.
Bailouts and giveaways for rich bosses, cuts and take backs for workers?
We cannot allow them to leave workers behind, we have to come together and demand a #Stimulus4Workers that includes:
- $500 billion in aid to fund the vital services that our communities need and that public service workers provide.
- Working families at the center of every emergency relief package.
- Job, wage and economic security for every worker.
- Immediate investment in the health and safety of every worker.
- Fully-funded and accessible healthcare for every worker in America, including paid leave and 100%-paid testing and treatment for COVID-19.
It’s time to come together and fight for our jobs and public services!
We may not be able to take to the streets, but in the coming days we will take over Congresses’ phone lines and make it impossible for them to ignore our voices.
Get ready, get angry and watch for coming messages from our union on what steps to take next.