Weekly Update: Safety and equity must be our top priorities

Dear friends and allies,

Our communities have been ravaged by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet there have been many, including a few in our state, that have benefited from the crisis. Some corporations are earning profits hand over fist despite the dire situations our communities have witnessed over the past 6 months. From private equity firms to major health insurers, they have all reported big profits while Massachusetts residents suffer through high rates of unemployment. This divide in our society is unacceptable, and we must continue to fight for a just recovery for all, especially for working people and people of color.

To make a change, we must speak out and work together to break down the systemic barriers that have for too long affected certain sections of our communities. This week, parents from the MA COVID-19 Response Alliance demanded the safe and equitable reopening of our schools. This powerful parent panel emphasized how essential it is for state leadership to fully fund our schools and implement a plan that puts the safety of students, parents, educators and our communities over padding the pockets of a few on the top. You can watch a recording of our event here. 

Thank you to Jordan Berg Powers, Mass Alliance; Lily Huang, Mass Jobs with Justice; Michelle L’Italien, Social Worker, Lynn Public Schools; Jodi Sugerman-Brozan, MassCOSH; Mara Power, Former Special Ed, Worcester Public Schools; Tami Hale, Massachusetts Nurses Association and Sandra Perez, Framingham Parent for joining the panel and calling on the state authorities to ensure a safe reopening of Massachusetts public schools.

You can help us continue the fight by sharing our Facebook posts and by following and retweeting us on Twitter. You can also receive regular updates from CLU by registering on our website

A Just Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Care That Works Storytelling Series: Orlena McQueen’s Story

Orlena McQueen has lived in the Dorchester area for nearly 40 years. The kind people, vibrant businesses, and welcoming churches in these neighborhoods occupy a special place in her heart. After having her daughter, it was her role as a child care provider that made her even more invested in her community. Orlena worked in different settings as both a teacher and eventually a director, learning both sides of the business. Her voice, however, becomes filled with sorrow when she recounts how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected young people in the community.

Read her full story here to learn about the challenges faced by child care providers.

Reimagining Our Schools

Right now is an opportunity to reimagine our schools and create a more equitable education system for our students, especially students of color. We know that to achieve this goal, districts must listen to their stakeholders — students, working parents and caregivers, school staff, and educators. That’s why our partner Jobs with Justice (JWJ) is bringing the community together to envision the schools and public education our students and communities deserve. Please complete the survey below to share your experience as a working parent, guardian, or caregiver at this moment and ask your questions here: 

Also, join JWJ for a virtual event: 

A Seat at the Table: a Community Conversation on School Reopening
Monday, August 17 at 6 p.m.
Zoom link
Facebook link

You will hear from working families on how the closing of schools in March impacted them, how the lack of summer camps and child care disrupted their summer schedules, and how the little to no communication and collaboration for the fall has put every one of us at risk.  


TAKE ACTION: Support Hazard Pay for Essential Workers!

“Grocery store workers, delivery drivers, caregivers, and janitors have continued showing up for work, putting their lives on the line to keep the country functioning. Some have been hailed as heroes and awarded hazard pay. But even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage nationwide, many temporary wage increases have come to an end. The lawn signs hailing front-line workers are fading; the thank-yous have dwindled,” writes Katie Johnston in the Boston Globe. “None of the relief bills passed by Congress have included protections for essential employees, and that seems unlikely to change with the new measure being debated. A bill being considered by the Massachusetts Legislature would mandate time-and-a-half hazard pay for essential workers, but it has made little progress since it was filed in April.”

Read the full story here.

Take action by signing your name to the petitions below to ensure that corporations are fairly paying essential workers for the necessary work they are doing during this pandemic despite the high levels of risk involved:

Sign the UFCW 1445 Hazard Pay Petition here.
Sign the UFCW 1459 Hazard Pay Petition 
Sign the SEIU 1199 Hazard Pay Petition here.

Continue Affecting Legislative Change

Making Environmental Justice A Reality

We are encouraged by the Massachusetts House’s recent step toward climate justice. As an amendment to the larger climate action bill, the State will be required to take environmental justice principles into account, when deciding whether to approve projects or take an action and conduct meaningful public input processes that are accessible to people in environmental justice communities. We are proud of our partners Neighbor to Neighbor, GreenRoots and members of the Massachusetts Environmental Justice Legislative Table for the progress they’ve made. CLU will continue supporting the effort as it moves into a conference committee at the State House.

Tell Your State Legislators that Forcing People Back to Work Without Emergency Paid Sick Time is Dangerous!

Emergency Paid Sick Time (H.4928/S.2882has been reported favorably out of the Labor and Workforce Development committee! The next stop for our Emergency Paid Sick Time legislation is the Ways and Means committee of both the Senate and House of Representatives.

For activists, community groups, and grassroots organizations like us that means it is time we reignite the urgency for Emergency Paid Sick Time on Beacon Hill. Like COVID-19 itself, the need for this legislation never went away but now is our window of opportunity for movement on beacon hill. Massachusetts’ COVID-19 case numbers have risen over the past few weeks, so it is essential that all workers have the ability to stay home if they are sick or may have been infected.

Please take two minutes to email your State Representative and State Senator right away! Personalize your letter if you can – one or two sentences of your personal reason for championing this legislation or how it would impact your life makes a monumental difference. You can contact them here!

Email your State Representative to Co-Sponsor the Immigrant Driver’s License Amendment to the Police Reform Bill

Allowing Bay Staters to apply for driver’s licenses regardless of their immigration status is a common sense public policy that benefits everyone. The Driving Families Forward coalition, therefore, asks you to send a letter to your lawmakers in the Massachusetts State Legislature to urge them to pass An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility (H.3012/S.2641) this legislative session. This legislation would enable all qualified Massachusetts drivers, regardless of immigration status, to apply for a standard license, which could only be used for driving, not for benefits, boarding a plane, or voting. Click here to email your state representative.

Tell State Legislatures: Massachusetts needs FULLY funded schools!

Due to uncertainty about the state’s commitment to funding public education, school districts all across the state are making budget cuts and laying off educators, and our public colleges are slashing their already-bare-bones budgets. The federal HEROES Act, passed by the U.S. House in May, would provide Massachusetts with $1.5 billion in education funding. Senate Republicans are refusing to bring it to a vote. Tell your elected state officials to commit to fully funding public schools and colleges in Massachusetts, and ask Governor Charlie Baker to use his relationships with fellow Republicans to push for the passage of the HEROES Act.

Contact your legislators for the Guaranteed Housing Stability Act!

HELP WIN THE GUARANTEED HOUSING STABILITY ACT – HD.5166 in the Massachusetts State House. Tens of thousands of families across Massachusetts will be at risk of eviction when our state’s eviction moratorium expires on October 17. This bill will prevent a massive surge of unjust evictions and foreclosures due to COVID-related debt, prevent rent hikes and no-fault evictions as we recover from COVID-19, and help establish a Housing Stability & Recovery Fund to relieve small business owners. Here is how you can take action:
Call your legislators
Email your legislators
Call your legislators (Spanish)
Email your legislators (Spanish)

Thank you for reading!

In Solidarity,
Community Labor United

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