TAYLOR, Mich., June 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) union said today that it supported the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus plan for safely reopening the state's economy, called the "Workers First Reopening Plan," as the state continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This plan ensures that the reopening of our economy prioritizes the safety of workers, families and communities over the profits of corporations," said Michael Bolton, director of USW District 2, which represents tens of thousands of workers in Michigan and Wisconsin. "We all want to go back to work, but we can't do so at the expense of the very people we need to ensure that our economy can function."
The plan, a package of 11 bills, includes measures such as expanded paid sick leave and workers compensation, extended hazard pay for front-line workers, strict health and safety standards, scheduling policies, mental health assistance, and safeguards against retaliation against workers.
In an April 27 letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Bolton called for hazard pay, sick leave and other benefits to be extended to workers at long-term care facilities, hospitals and other medical facilities. The USW represents nurses, nursing assistants and support staff at many hospitals and nursing homes in Michigan. In an earlier letter, Bolton called for extending paid sick leave to all workers in Michigan.
"Our first concern is, and must remain, containing this dangerous virus and making sure our people stay healthy," Bolton said. "In doing so, we must ensure that nobody has to make the choice between their health and a paycheck. We must ensure that workers have the resources to adequately care for themselves and their families. This plan accomplishes those goals."
Bolton pointed out the dangers inherent in some locations where workers labor in close proximity, such as long-term-care facilities, which have become COVID-19 hotspots in some states.
"Sadly, in looking at other areas of the country, we have seen what can happen when we move too fast or when companies value profits above people," he said. "We can't make that mistake in Michigan."
The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.
Contact: R.J. Hufnagel, [email protected], 412-562-2450
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SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)