Essential workers are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, and many are working in high-risk conditions without appropriate equipment, safety standards, or job guarantees. They put their lives on the line every day, and we must do all we can to protect their health and financial security.
Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Ro Khanna have proposed an Essential Workers Bill of Rights to protect those on the frontlines during this crisis. It’s not enough to thank those who are putting themselves at risk by going to work — we must get them the resources and protection they need.
These past few weeks, I’ve been reading on Facebook of the disappointment of several of my more progressive friends, especially my friends who supported Bernie Sanders. I felt the same way a month ago when my preferred candidate, Elizabeth Warren, dropped out of the race.
I read a few weeks ago an article advising those who supported Warren and Sanders to keep organizing for social movements to pressure Joe Biden on issues like paid sick leave, health care and universal child care. History has shown that a combination of grassroots social movements working outside the system and reformers within the system can push governments towards progressive social change. In the 1860s, abolitionists and Radical Republicans pushed Abraham Lincoln towards the Emancipation Proclamation, accepting black soldiers in the Union Army and lobbied for the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery. In the 1930s, labor organizers, community activists and reform politicians like Eleanor Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, and Robert Wagner pushed the Roosevelt administration to pass laws protecting the rights of workers to collective bargaining, passed Social Security for the elderly and passed the Civilian Conservation Corps to put millions of unemployed people to work. Civil Rights activists pushed John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to advocate for the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. LGBTQ activists pushed Barack Obama to take stronger stands for LGBTQ rights and for marriage equality.
Even though they have dropped out of the race, Warren and Sanders are still advocating for progressive ideas. Warren continues to release policy plans to influence public debate on child care, paid sick leave, and health care coverage. Though Sanders has dropped out, he is still keeping his delegates in the hopes of influencing the platform of the Democratic convention. Both Warren and Sanders knows that Joe Biden cannot win against Trump in November without a large turnout of progressive voters.
For me personally, I am going to vote for Joe Biden this coming November and I will find time to volunteer for his campaign. But I will also fight for progressive ideas that I believe in, hoping to persuade more people of the importance of universal child care, paid sick leave, and greater access to health care for lower income people.
As COVID-19 spreads to communities nationwide, financial and logistical concerns about its impact are rising. Among the major questions are whether employers will require workers to take unpaid sick leave, and who will pay for potentially significant medical bills. PBS News Hour correspondent William Brangham talks to Georgetown University’s Sabrina Corlette and Joseph Leitmann-Santa Cruz of Capital Area Asset Builders.
During her campaign, Elizabeth Warren proposed a bold new plan that guarantees high-quality child care and early education for every child in America. It will be free for millions of families, and affordable for everyone.