March 5, 2020
Workers Should Be Made Whole for Any Pay Lost Due to COVID-19
As COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak spreads through our community, our foremost concern is with the victims and their families. During this public health crisis, Union members are on the front lines of combatting the virus and caring for patients. Health care workers, first responders, janitors, and many others are putting their own lives at risk in order to keep us healthy and safe, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
As recommended by public health officials, we have decided to cancel our March MLK Labor delegates meeting and encourage people to obey the recommendations by the King County public health department to avoid large gatherings and postpone non-essential meetings.
As the virus spreads, it is inevitable that people’s work lives will be impacted. For many workers — in particular, those in the service and hospitality industry and gig economy — this will be extremely disruptive. Many workers will be forced to go without pay if their shift is canceled. Sick people will need to decide between missing a paycheck or contaminating others because they don’t have access to adequate paid sick leave.
Our response to COVID-19 must address the impact it will have on workers:
- We call on public officials and businesses to commit to ensuring workers are made whole for any time missed due to COVID-19. Large businesses should pay workers if their shift is canceled. Workers at small and low-margin businesses should have access to unemployment insurance funds if they are forced to miss time.
- State and local labor agencies should aggressively enforce sick leave laws.
- Hospitals and similar entities should do everything they can to ensure the safety of their workers, especially those on the front lines of infection control. They should ensure adequate tools, equipment, and training are provided.
- And, as a community, we must oppose any racism and discrimination directed at Asian-owned businesses and workers.
During this uncertain time, working people are here to keep our community healthy and safe.
MLK Labor is the central body of labor organizations in King County, Washington. We represent more than 150 unions and 100,000 workers. United, we are a voice for the interests and needs of working people in King County.