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SEIU Issues 4-Point List of Demands to ‘Protect All Workers’

March 18, 2020

By Joe Maniscalco

“We demand that the largest, wealthiest and most powerful corporations and industries show leadership by looking past their bottom lines to ensure the health, safety and financial security of all workers.”– SEIU President Mary Kay Henry

New York, NY – Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and workers in the Fight for $15 campaign on Wednesday called on private industry to ‘Protect All Workers’ — rolling out a list of demands aimed at helping to provide protection for workers across a wide range of industries from airlines to hospitals, fast-food restaurants and beyond. 

SEIU is the nation’s second-largest labor union and the largest union of healthcare workers. Fight for $15 and a Union is an international, worker-led movement that has fought for annual raises for more than 24 million workers in the U.S. 

The four national demands on corporate America include the following:

  1. Fully-funded and accessible health care for every worker in America, including paid leave and 100%-paid testing and treatment for COVID-19. 
  2. Job, wage, and economic security for every worker. The campaign calls for industry funds to be established to reimburse those who lose wages by cutbacks to jobs or hours, at a rate of at least $15/hour. Also, industries must provide emergency child care funds, debt-relief, and housing assistance. 
  3. Immediate investment in the health and safety of every worker. Emergency relief must be provided for states to hire and train more healthcare workers and first responders, and expand healthcare, long term care, and child care coverage. Additionally, corporations and industries need to take immediate measure to ensure clean, safe and sanitary work environments, with access to personal protective equipment and training.
  4. Working families at the center of every emergency relief package. Elected leaders must act to make the health, safety, and financial well-being of American workers first. Any industry relief or bailout must prioritize healthcare and financial support for workers.

Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU issued a statement saying, “Times of national emergency require us all to move beyond business as usual. The responsibility for our national response in this moment should not fall solely on the shoulders of taxpayers and government. We demand that the largest, wealthiest and most powerful corporations and industries show leadership by looking past their bottom lines to ensure the health, safety and financial security of all workers.”

SEIU member Francis Hall is Minnesota nurse and home health aide who works with disabled clients, in addition to caring for a grandson with a suppressed immune system. According to Hall,  she has not been supplied with proper protective equipment by the state or any other agency and is forced to go from store to store on her own, trying to procure the supplies she desperately needs. 

“It’s not safe,” Hall says. 

San Jose resident Maurilia Arellanes works at McDonald’s and says the corporation is putting tremendous pressure on low-wage employees like her to make their shifts no matter what. 

“We are paid so little that we are dependent on every cent,” Arellanes says. “When we feel ill, calling in isn’t an option.”

Val Pappas-Brown, an adjunct professor at the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland, has a PhD. in molecular biology and over 18 years of research experience in infectious diseases. 

“All of us from the higher education industry…stand with every worker who is directly on these front lines,” he said in a statement of support. “We are all impacted…we demand [protection for] these workers.”

March 18, 2020

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