The coronavirus not just plaguing first responders and medical workers — the deadly disease is also claiming the lives of other essential workers like doormen and janitors.
At least 58 service industry employees unionized under 32BJ SEIU have died due to COVID-19 across the country — with 45 of those deaths taking place in New York City, the union announced Thursday.
Of the 45 city deaths, 19 were from the union’s essential division, which includes doormen and women, supers and porters.
Many of the workers have been provided with little to no personal protective equipment like masks or gloves, according to the union.
“Essential workers — janitors, security officers, airport and residential workers — put their health and well-being on the line every day to keep NYC safe, secure and healthy,” said Kyle Bragg, President of 32BJ SEIU, in a statement. “While essential workers are keeping others safe, they and those close to them are getting sick and dying.”
Bragg is calling on the House of Representatives to pass legislation that includes economic relief and other protections for the typically low-wage workers tasked with keeping the city moving.
The union has proposed three measures for the next congressional bailout for its workers. The proposals include “essential pay” supported by the government to increase workers’ wages to 1.5 times their regular rates and guaranteed personal protective equipment.
It’s also asking for layoff protection for contracted workers.
“Now, after putting their lives on the line to protect others — thousands are facing layoffs — their livelihoods and access to health care are at risk,” Bragg said.
It was not immediately clear how much such measures would cost, though the union has gained support from the likes of Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY).
Congress passed a massive, $2 trillion emergency economic stimulus package late last month, which included individual checks to Americans and bailouts businesses, hospitals and local governments.
But a $350 billion small-business relief program included in the package to prevent layoffs during the coronavirus crisis ran out of money after two weeks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Both Democrats and Republicans appeared to be at a standoff this week over details in the next stimulus package.
“Small businesses, hospitals, frontline workers and state and local governments across the country are struggling to keep up with this national crisis,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Monday in a joint statement with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY). “They need more help from the federal government and they need it fast — our nurses, doctors and health care workers need it as much as anyone else.”
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