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Senator Ron Wyden joins SEIU members to discuss COVID-19 response Calls on the federal government to provide PPE and essential pay for essential workers

Salem, OR. May 8, 2020

SBJ Newsroom– Senator Ron Wyden joined frontline workers from SEIU Local 503 and SEIU Local 49 for a digital town hall discussion of the federal government’s COVID-19 response and the impact on essential workers. Senator Wyden and Oregon SEIU members agree that the fourth federal stimulus package must center policies that protect the health, safety, and long-term economic well-being of all working people, regardless of what they look like, where they’re from, or what they do for a living. The town hall may be viewed here.

Senator Ron Wyden

“If you really care about a hero deeply, you don’t send that hero into battle unprepared. In addition to PPE and testing, we want to provide a $25,000 per person pandemic premium pay increase for all essential frontline workers that is paid on top of current salaries. For me, it’s all about workers, it’s all about healthcare costs, and it’s all about small businesses.”  

Melissa Unger, SEIU 503 Executive Director

The next federal legislative package has to address the intertwined economic and health challenges facing working families in this national emergency and protect all workers. We can’t go back to business as usual, no matter what the Trump administration says. The workers risking their lives every day to provide us with healthcare, food, and other essential services still lack necessary personal protective equipment, sufficient sick leave, and hazard pay.”

Meg Niemi, SEIU 49 Executive Director

“The federal government’s leadership is critically important in determining how Oregon will survive and recover from this crisis. Decisions made in Washington, DC will drive what our state and local governments can do as well as the impact that will be felt by every Oregonian, especially people of color and our immigrant communities.”

Irene Hunt, Home Care Worker, Springfield, Oregon, SEIU 503 Member

“We need Congress to hold the Trump administration accountable by enacting a transparent national coordinated plan to produce, procure and provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all essential workers. And Congress must require higher pay for essential workers of at least time and a half of their current pay.”

Rhonda Morgan, Department of Human Services, Salem, Oregon, SEIU 503 Member

“We need congress to invest in public services, not big corporations, so I can continue to provide the services that people count on now more than ever. Will our federal government support funding for state and local governments, including Medicaid funding, so we can keep our jobs and our communities have access to the vital services they need?”

Renato Quintero, Janitor, Beaverton, Oregon, SEIU 49 Member

“How we clean buildings has never been seen as essential and is often the first on the cuts list. Our workforce is mostly people of color and we are being devastated by this crisis. We need Congress to step up and protect those who need it. That means we need a plan to collect race and community data about people who are affected by COVID-19 and make sure our response is targeted accordingly to help the people who are most impacted.”

Jose Avalos, Kaiser EVS worker, SEIU 49 Member

“My family was barred from receiving benefits provided by the CARES Act because my wife files taxes with an ITIN rather than a Social Security Number. It is unacceptable that immigrant communities have largely been left out of the previous bills – this must change. Legislation must provide immigrants access to testing, healthcare, and economic relief.”