Front Line Food Workers Need Protections NOW

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To Our Governors, Representatives, and Senators

Food workers who serve, deliver, distribute, process and harvest our food are doing critical work in this moment of crisis and everyday. Food workers are still on the job throughout the food chain. Every sector of the food supply chain provides essential services for the public, as many recent government orders have recognized.

Yet, food workers on the front lines are facing dangerous working conditions, a loss of wages, and a lack of access to healthcare, while many corporations are profiting off this crisis. Urgent action is needed by all levels of government to protect food workers--and not just big business--now and in the long-term.

We call on all levels of government to ensure worker protections, paid sick days, healthcare and emergency income for all, including:

HEALTH AND SAFETY GUARANTEES FOR FOOD WORKERS:

  • All employers must be required to provide workers with information on how to protect themselves from the virus and guarantee safe workplaces including providing protective equipment, frequent and regular hand-washing breaks, and the required space for “social distancing.”

  • Farmworkers must be provided easy access to a sufficient amount of clean water at close proximity to the work site and the same health & safety information and protective equipment must be given to workers in crowded and substandard employer-provided housing.


EXPAND WORKPLACE STANDARDS AND THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE:

  • Employers in industries expanding worker hours, including retail, warehousing and distribution, and delivery, must make overtime voluntary and guarantee overtime pay.

  • All food workers continuing to provide essential services should be entitled to receive HAZARD pay at a premium of time and a half.

  • All food workers must have the right to organize so they can meaningfully exercise their labor rights and protect themselves and their communities.


INCOME FOR ALL:

  • Ensure that all workers receive the supplemental income they need to survive, regardless of immigration or employment status by:

    • Expanding access to unemployment insurance to all workers

    • Setting up lost wage funds that covers full replacement of wages for both workers and for employers who pay lost wages

    • Providing monthly cash payments to all residents to support workers and their families during this crisis.

    • Providing financial assistance to small businesses like street vendors, bodegas, and local eateries.

PAID SICK DAYS AND HEALTHCARE FOR ALL:

  • Access to free testing and healthcare coverage for all workers regardless of immigration status, including H2A and migrant workers.

  • Legislate a minimum of 15 paid sick days per year, additional paid sick days in public health emergencies, and paid family leave, regardless of size of workplace.


PROTECTIONS FOR IMMIGRANTS:

  • Immediate moratorium on the Public Charge Rule which would disqualify immigrants who use public assistance from obtaining permanent residency status.

  • An immediate moratorium on all immigration enforcement, including repatriations and deportations of guest workers and non-status migrants  

  • An immediate release of all immigration detainees from detention centers and detention camps, and adequate health services for all.

  • A removal of restrictions on work permits for guest workers and migrant workers who have been laid off or terminated, or who fall ill and need to remain in the country to access health care.  


SUPPORT STREET VENDORS:

We join Street Vendors in New York City and elsewhere calling for:

  • Immediately suspending city and state enforcement of street vendor compliance violations – regardless of whether the vendor has a permit or a license.  

  • Waiving outstanding tickets issued since January 2020, as vendors won’t be able to work for the foreseeable future, and waiving all late penalties for late tax filings   .  

  • Creating and expanding granting opportunities for low-income sole proprietors for street vendors and other small business

  • Ensuring street vendors and delivery workers are included in city child care plan for frontline workers  

It’s time to value the labor of food workers.  As food workers have been saying for years -- our work makes it possible for the world to eat. We need you to take swift action now.