Day: May 18, 2020

Working People Need Equal Rights to Fight Back During the Pandemic

It is clear that the government has failed us.

Across the U.S. working people are suffering from either record-high unemployment or being forced to work in unsafe conditions without any health protections.The government has allowed our frontline health care workers–doctors, nurses and home attendants–to work long hours without basic protective equipment. Housing and food insecurities ravage communities as families find themselves on the brink of homelessness and poverty. On both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans have cut deals to use billions of dollars in taxpayers money to enrich the CEOs of large corporations, while thousands of workers still have not seen any type of relief.

From the beginning, the government has failed to conduct widespread testing, treatment, and isolation of the coronavirus, allowing the pandemic to spread, and is now pushing workers back to work under these dangerous conditions! While it is imperative that working people come together to fight for ourselves, we also find ourselves more divided than ever.

Across the country, workers from nurses and home-attendants, to sanitation workers, to workers of big-box stores like Target and Amazon are organizing and going on strikes or sick-outs. But it is not enough to demand protective equipment, hazard pay, or rent relief. The current crisis reflects deep-seated systemic inequalities and division that has been growing for working people long before this. And because not all workers have the right to organize, these gains will inevitably be limited to one group of workers in the exclusion of others, while the government continues to divide the working class and weaken our collective power.

At the root of the division among working people is the employer sanctions provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (1986). This law criminalizes and creates an underclass of workers without any rights by making it illegal for undocumented workers to work, and therefore to organize for better conditions. In effect, this law gives employers the power to smash organizing efforts of workers by pitting undocumented workers, who have no rights, against others. Time and time again, working people have seen that any attempt to organize and ensure safe working conditions has been undermined by this division.

Both Democratic and Republican Parties have been exploiting this division among working people for the benefit of the 1%. While Republicans like Trump fuel hatred towards the undocumented immigrants and call for their deportation, Democrats like Cuomo preach love towards them even while they force them to endure deplorable working conditions like 24-hour workdays in the NYS home healthcare industry. Both sides of the aisle act to divide working people, detract workers from holding our common enemy accountable, allowing the super-rich to profit off our backs. It is no coincidence that, as labor conditions continue to decline, the super rich continue to see their profits increase, comfortably sitting on top of a weakened and divided labor force.

We need the right to organize and the right to refuse to work so long as the government refuses to protect our health! Without the equal right to organize, any refusal to work is a hollow demand. Let’s unify working people for our common interest and join us to demand that the government:
1. At all levels, establish disaster relief funds for workers affected by COVID-19, regardless of immigration status
2. Ensure equal rights to organize and unionize by:
– Protecting the rights of all workers under the National Labor Relations Act, regardless of immigration status
– Ending the criminalization of undocumented workers by repealing the employers’ sanctions provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act
– Establishing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers