Louisville, KY – As the White House and Senate Republicans push for a quick reopening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) failed to join a Thursday evening tele-town hall and address concerns from Kentucky service workers who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) and KY Governor Andy Beshear’s Special Assistant, Rocky Adkins listened to workers’ heartbreaking stories and pledged to fight to ensure that the next Congressional bailout includes essential pay, PPE and layoff protections.
“We are working overtime to make sure that folks can put food on their tables, while we risk our own health and safety, and that of our families, yet Senator McConnell couldn’t even bother to simply listen,” said Thomas Robinson who works at the Grayson, KY Smithfield Foods plant. “My two oldest children are Type 1 diabetics, and I’m putting them at higher risk to COVID-19 just by going to work. The least McConnell and Paul can do is save lives by passing a relief package that includes essential pay and protections for essential workers.”
“I have a disabled wife with health conditions that put her at higher risk of COVID-19, I don’t want to bring this virus home to my family because I don’t have the PPE that I need to be safe,” said Greg Bass, a Jefferson County Public School custodian. “I’m grateful for the support of my Congressman and Governor, but what is Senator McConnell going to do to ensure that frontline workers like myself have the PPE that we need to do our jobs in a safe and healthy way?”
Yarmuth and Adkins also heard from a laid-off Aramark food service worker at the University of Kentucky and a Louisville Metro Housing Authority maintenance worker. As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Yarmuth plays a key role in the oversight of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that is providing critical, initial support to American families during the coronavirus pandemic.
Congressional offices have already received thousands of emails and calls from essential 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:
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, including funding for contractors to keep employees on payroll so that essential workers can maintain wages, healthcare to support their families and our economy when the crisis is over.
Build Worker Power: Mandated worker-industry sectoral bargaining structure for transit hubs receiving assistance. Bargaining power to improve working conditions now–so that we can pull through this crisis, together.
With over 175,000 members in 11 states, 32BJ SEIU is the nation’s largest property service workers union