AFL-CIO national has compiled a list of recommendations for what should be done at the state level in order to help mitigate the spread of Coronavirus.
- Fund the Public Health Crisis- This involves providing emergency and continuing funds in order to purchase the supplies necessary to keep front line workers safe during this time. This also means making enough money available that the state isn’t pulling resources from other critical needs and services. States should also declare a State of Emergency in order to access federal funds and actively look down the road to preemptively address any potential budget crisis that may arise.
- Protect Workers on the Frontlines- Firefighters, EMTs, nurses and medical staff, teachers and school employees, transportation staff, mail carriers and handlers, grocery workers, and home and childcare workers are the ones in the trenches doing the necessary work to fight this pandemic. They should have access to personal protective equipment and be prioritized for testing and any available treatments. They should also be receiving overtime and hazard pay. The state must help municipalities cover the costs for firefighters and emergency worker overtime pay.
- Workers Need to Stay Home if They’re Sick- This means paid sick and family leave. The available days should also be extended to match quarantine and recovery timelines. Paid family medical leave is essential because many workers will need to take care of family members dealing with COVID-19 and as a result they will also need to self-quarantine. States also need to ensure assistance to construction workers, who do not get paid sick days. States must also provide resources on the patchwork of leave options and which to use first in possible. Paid sick days should always be used first because they are a full salary replacement where unemployment insurance is partial pay. We’re fortunate in Montana that Governor Bullock and the Department of Labor and Industry acted quickly to streamline and expand unemployment insurance, but we need them to enact guaranteed paid sick leave in order to guarantee the financial health of the state’s working families.
- Shut Down Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut Offs- Keeping people in their homes with the lights on is essential to getting through this. State governments need to step in to guarantee that workers won’t have to face any additional challenges during the pandemic.
- Maintain Food Assistance for Children After School Closures- This is taking place in Montana with our MFPE Members taking the initiative to make sure no child goes hungry during this time.
- Provide Child Care Assistance- Workers on the front lines need to be able to make sure their children are being cared for while schools are closed and they meet the ever growing demands of their jobs. Schools and school districts should explore all options providing extended care to the children of emergency workers.
- Workers Should Not Face Retaliation for Acting in Their Own Interest and the Public Interest- Any worker who reports concerns, makes the decision to self-quarantine because they’re showing symptoms, or wear protective gear while they’re on the job. This includes no medical terminations for missed work as well.
- Communicate to Workers and Employers on Options and Assistance- This includes making sure all channels are equipped to handle the increased traffic. State governments need to make sure websites and call centers have the staff needed to meet the demands.
- Ensure Free, Fair and Safe Elections and an Effective Census Count- The Democratic process must continue. Many of our elected officials are showing just how anti-worker they are with their responses to this pandemic. The American people deserve to have their voices heard at the ballots more than ever. An accurate census is absolutely necessary to ensure that states receive enough population based support through situations like this.