There is a debate raging in America. The debate is driven by the COVID-19 virus but the issues for workers is always similar. I am extremely irritated by the divisive dynamics of the arguments. But America thinks this is necessary.
The debate rages between the Health and Safety of American workers caused by the health care crisis versus the Economic Health of workers and their families to
- Find and buy food and home products
- Keep their jobs
- Secure and keep health care benefits
- Confront the unthinkable tragedy of not keeping a roof over their home
Like 2007, we could be that close to another economic collapse.
The corporations and the rich are insisting that all public policy and economic stimulus and assistance be left in their hands because they know best. Paternalistic bullshit to give the bosses all the money without guaranteeing it being used for any worker safety net.
We have members and coworkers who are generally feeling unsafe and fearful during this health crisis. Union members and other workers are afraid to go to work. They are also fearful that their families are going to be ignored when our checkbooks are depleted and job security disappears. Both are important. We cannot pick one over the other.
We must listen to these cries. It is my and your cries.
The California Building and Construction Trades Council has pushed hard to keep construction jobs open, but many leaders have tempered that unilateral response in the “debate.”
We need to push for safety as much as we push for jobs.
Let’s be clear: We are all “necessary workers.” Whether health care, food service, or construction workers building houses and hospitals, roads, water and sewer systems and other critical infrastructure.
We are the workers who keep America alive. We built America. We make America work. If we don’t work, America doesn’t work.
The American labor movement isn’t about any single job or industry. The labor movement – the building trades councils and the labor councils and the AFL-CIO should be about “all of us.”
And now is the time to prove again that we are.
When certain jobs shut down (or not) due to Coronavirus we demand:
Full pay, if furloughed or laid off, until we get back to work
Continued full health care benefits to keep our families safe
No construction shutdown of any project where social distancing and other safety practices are met. (I had a construction worker tell me that he/she has worked on a highrise commercial construction project for two years. “No accidents, no sickness no problems. Why can’t I continue to work? I need my paycheck.”
Full PPE equipment as condition of safe employment
Complete moratorium of Mortgages and Rent for housing and businesses shut down by government and other directives
Engagement of the San Francisco Building Trades Council in any Department of Public Health (DPH) discussions related to “necessary work.”
This is just the minimum that your union expects.
Keep safe and keep fighting.