By Lynn Jackson, Janitor, SEIU Local 1
I haven’t been able to sleep soundly ever since President Trump was elected. Although I worry about my present-day life, I’m more concerned about the future of my grandchildren. Every day I wake up dreading the workday ahead and wondering if today will be the day I contract COVID-19 or, even worse, if I’ll bring it home to my family. On top of the long hours, emotional pain and stress, I still have had to make the difficult decision to keep going — for them.
What many don’t understand is that this is a matter of life and death, not only for me but many in my profession. As a janitor, I appreciate that everyone recognizes me as important during this crisis mainly because I’ve always known that my work is essential. But essential shouldn’t mean sacrificial. What would make me feel valued would be paying me what I’m worth, including hazard pay. Providing cleaners essential pay for the additional level of risk would also help me stay on the job.
As a 64-year-old Black woman, I know the odds are stacked against me. Not only are Black people disproportionately affected by this illness, older populations are more vulnerable to contracting coronavirus as well. At work, I do everything within my power to stay safe such as wearing a mask and socially distancing, however many others still refuse to wear a mask. When Former Vice President Joe Biden said all Americans should wear a face covering when outside for the next three months at a minimum, he had my vote.
Janitors are keeping our communities safe. We need strong leadership to help us find our way out of this pandemic. My vote is essential because my life is essential. That’s why I’m voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in November and I hope you do too.
Joe Biden cares for essential workers. He has a plan to strengthen unions and fights for a $15 minimum wage for all workers. He understands that when workers have power, America is more powerful because of it. That’s the America I believe in and look forward to living in.