Protect our workforce!

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz


The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a health emergency but also an unprecedented economic crisis.

We are asking Mayor Ethan Berkowitz to change the policies around COVID-19 emergency leave in the name of public health. We can't continue serving the citizens of Anchorage if we all get sick due to inability to stay home and prevent the spread.

There are displaced workers across the country — those who have lost their jobs and those who have seen cuts in their hours and pay — and they need economic support at least until the crisis passes. For many of these displaced and "nonessential" workers, the "essential" workers are now the sole provider in their household. Many AMEA workers have been placed in this group, and are supporting the citizens of Anchorage by continuing to work in the face of a health crisis, while simultaneously supporting their friends and families during an economic crisis.

These AMEA workers, whose labor keeps our city functioning and keep essential services working for the public, are being put in a precarious position as they or their families become impacted by COVID-19. They are being told that if they feel sick, need quarantine, have a sick family member, a lack of childcare, have traveled recently, or many other COVID-19 related issues; that they must deplete leave balances and take leave-without-pay.

An employee with 14 hours of leave saved up, who knows the right thing to do is to quarantine for two weeks, is forced to do the math and realize they are out an nearly entire paycheck worth of bills if they do the right thing. They have mouths to feed, communities to support, rent to pay, and many other obligations during this crisis. So they come to work, and possibly spread the virus to their coworkers, because they have no choice if they want to continue to keep their bills paid.

We are asking Mayor Ethan Berkowitz to change that, in the name of public health. We can't continue serving the citizens of Anchorage if we all get sick due to these policies.

To: Mayor Ethan Berkowitz
From: [Your Name]

It is in the interest of the public health that we place the safety of our workforce, and thus the general public, at the forefront. If we continue to ask workers to deplete leave balances and take leave-without-pay if they are exposed to COVID-19 issues or need to quarantine, we are incentivizing the spread of the virus. We cannot ask workers to choose between their immediate economic safety or the safety of the public. They still have bills to pay, even if the right thing to do would be to stay home.

While we wait on the Federal Government to act and implement protections for workers during this crisis, we are calling on the Municipality of Anchorage to lead the change. ​Send all nonessential workers home with pay until such time that they can return to work safely, and restore the annual leave of workers already forced to use it. ​If anyone can demonstrate a need to stay home because of a COVID-19 issue, grant them emergency leave. Workers who remain on the front-lines should be authorized to receive courageous-duty-pay. To do any less endangers us all, because it forces people to choose between the greater good or their immediate needs.

So please, Mayor Berkowitz, announce to all division heads that you intend to take the lead in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, and join dozens of other Municipalities across the country by implementing these measures immediately. The health of our workforce depends on it.