Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, workers and labor unions have stepped up in unprecedented ways. They are winning new protections for essential and frontline workers, protecting their communities, and lifting up their co-workers in tragic moments. The demands the labor movement has been making for years are at the forefront of the national and state agenda as the only way we can meet the needs of this moment.
Pennsylvania labor unions have been at the forefront of pushing for a better future. Below are ten ways workers and unions are using their power in the Commonwealth to fight a better future:
1) SEIU Healthcare PA has been leading the fight for PPE for healthcare workers.
Frontline hospital workers are facing the effects of the coronavirus as they work to care and bring patients suffering from the virus back to health. In doing this, they are also fighting against further spread in their communities.
2) Teamsters Local 623, along with One Pennsylvania, are driving a conversation in Philadelphia about what an essential worker bill of rights should look like.
This legislation would continue putting Philadelphia on the cutting edge of passing labor laws and ensure the workers who have kept our day to day lives moving are fairly compensated and protected.
3) City sanitation workers in Teamsters Local 249 demanded protections from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and won further PPE after a wildcat action.
The action spurred an important dialogue about essential public sector workers and how cities must step up to protect them.
4) SEIU 668 members, including county public servants processing unemployment claims, have been demanding action on CDC guidelines in public buildings.
Their recently negotiated protections work to ensure their members have the necessary protections they need to serve their communities in this time of economic hardship.
5) The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is raising funds for their brothers, sisters, and cousins in the labor movement in Local 1199C.
They are calling on their membership to help contribute to frontline heroes in need of PPE.
6) Health care workers protested the ReOpen Pennsylvania rallies encouraging rally-goers to continue practicing social distancing for their own health and the health of their families.
Yetta Timothy delivered this powerful message, “I’m sitting here and I’m looking at signs saying open PA with no testing. It’s like they don’t care about lives. the people around them, or the people they love.”
7) PASNAP (Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals) released report cards on hospitals to alert the public about the lack of PPE.
Their findings helped shed light on the lack of protections for frontline workers and helped start a national dialogue on these protections.
8) District Council 47, 1199C, and District Council 33 Local 159 have worked in partnership with criminal justice reformers like Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner to call for a humane release of incarcerated individuals who face some of the most dangerous outbreaks of the coronavirus inside jails.
9) UFCW Local 1776 has thousands of members across Luzerne and surrounding communities who work in food processing operations. The union has fought to classify these workers as essential.
These workers are the lifeblood of our food chains and working to ensure everyone is still being fed while facing unprecedented challenges.
10) Unions and workers in Pennsylvania and across the globe are meeting the needs of this moment, finding new ways to organize and build power with a stronger sense of purpose and solidarity.
Despite the numerous challenges workers and the labor movement are facing during the coronavirus pandemic, they are still committed to building a better future for all of us.