Watson Coleman Urges Expanded Definition and Protections for Essential Workers

Warehouse, nursing home, sanitation and other workers are equally exposed in keeping essential services running

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Washington, April 17, 2020 | comments

Ewing, NJ (April 17, 2020) – In a letter sent today to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) insisted that further COVID-19 relief packages expand the definition of essential workers to include warehouse, sanitation, transportation, nursing home, and other workers outside of the medical setting whose labor keeps the country running. The letter further enumerates specific protections that should be offered to these workers.

“Our collective lived experiences during this crisis demonstrates that the sacrifices of these individuals, often working invisible jobs, have helped to save lives, frequently costing their own,” wrote Watson Coleman. “Given the ultimate sacrifice that so many of these hard-working individuals have paid it is critical that we address workers’ rights and worker protections in the next relief package.”

The letter lists proposals that Congresswoman Watson Coleman believes should be included in future COVID-19 related legislation including, elevated “hazard pay,” health and safety standards for the facilities in which these individuals work that is in line with CDC guidelines, paid leave while exposed employees self-isolate, and protections for whistleblowers who bring awareness to breakdowns in protections.

In New Jersey, employees at numerous distribution warehouses as well as non-medical employees at hospitals and other essential workplaces have been left exposed without legal safeguards, protective equipment, and the ability to follow isolation guidance, leading to calls for safer working conditions as well as elevated compensation.

The full letter can be read here


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