Dozens of cars rallied through the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco to demand protection for essential workers who are often invisible due to their migration status or the color of their skin.
Janitors, security officers, and airport workers--members of United Service Workers West (USWW)--along with their families, friends and supporters drove, honked and chanted through Los Angeles and San Francisco to demand Congress hear their concerns for the proper personal protective equipment--like masks, gloves and sanitizer--to work safely.
“Covid tests are extremely limited so paid quarantine measures are no help to those of us in the workforce who can’t get tested until they have a fever of 100.4 or higher, said Lintz Scott, a security officer at the San Francisco International Airport. “Employees are already given a limited amount of sick hours especially if they are newly hired. Emergency sick hours would protect our entire workforce by ensuring that ill employees who have exhausted their sick leave do not come in and can do so without fear of financial stress from unpaid workdays.”
Many of these essential workers, in California and elsewhere, are Black, women and immigrants who have been invisible for many until very recently. The report “Essential But Vulnerable: California Airport Workers in Crisis” details the ways that the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 are not being felt equally, due to existing racial and socioeconomic inequalities.
They are demanding protection from the economic consequences of the pandemic. Essential workers risk their health, and the health of their families, to keep everyone safe and deserve essential pay and layoff protections so communities can recover from the pandemic.
“I worked at LAX for over 25 years,” said Tim Maddox, who was just laid off from his job as a wheelchair attendant. “After all those years, I was suddenly let go on April 30th, one day before my first child was born. Now I have to worry about having no healthcare for my family during this crisis. United just received billions of dollars in bailout money on the condition they keep workers, but now they are taking over our work and just kicking us out the door. It’s inhumane.”
Essential workers like janitors, security officers and airport workers in California and other places such as Washington State, Colorado, Missouri, Florida and D.C. will continue to take the streets, creatively while keeping social distancing, to demand elected officials pass legislation that recognizes and protects the essential work they do and ensure our communities are not left behind in the recovery.