Essential workers’ rights take center stage in proposed bill
Bay Area-based U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Santa Clara, teamed up with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, on Monday to propose a federal “Essential Workers Bill of Rights,” demanding that frontline healthcare workers, federal and state workers, grocers, pharmacists and janitors be covered in the next Covid-19 coronavirus federal stimulus package.
The proposed Essential Workers Bill of Rights asks for 10 specific things directly related to the health and wellness, physically and financially, of workers deemed essential during the pandemic.
The 10 rights would include: health care, child care and worker safety provisions, bolstered workplace protections – including oversight of employers and safeguards for whistleblowers to allow employees to report unsatisfactory work conditions – and “truly universal paid sick leave and family medical leave,” among other things.
Khanna said in a statement:
“Nearly 60 million Americans are still working to keep our internet running, to deliver our groceries, to make sure we have electricity and to care for the sick.”
“In an age of automation, we are reminded of the dignity and importance of work that is not remote. This crisis needs to open our eyes to the value of workers who are often invisible, and we need to give them the pay and benefits they deserve.”
Warren, a 2020 Democratic primary candidate for president who dropped out of the race in March, said essential workers are the backbone of the country’s coronavirus response.
She said in a statement:
“We have a responsibility to make sure the essential workers have the protections they need, the rights they are entitled to and the compensation they deserve.”