You are here

healthcare workers

Resilience Before Disaster: The Need to Build Equitable, Community-Driven Social Infrastructure

By Zach Lou, et. al. - Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Blue Green Alliance, September 21, 2020

This report, jointly released by APEN, SEIU California, and BlueGreen Alliance, makes the case for California to make long-term and deep investments in the resilience of its most vulnerable communities.

As California faces devastating wildfires, extreme heat, power outages, and an ongoing pandemic, the need to proactively advance climate adaptation and resilience is more clear than ever. However, these efforts typically focus on improving hard infrastructure–roads, bridges, and other physical infrastructure–to the detriment of social infrastructure, the people, services, and facilities that secure the economic, health, cultural, and social well-being of the community.

Traditional models of disaster planning have also proven deeply inadequate: They are coordinated through militarized entities like local sheriff’s departments and rely upon protocols like evacuating to faraway and unfamiliar sites, sharing emergency alerts in only one or two languages, and requiring people to present identification to access services, thus shutting out many from the support they need.

Through these crises, we’ve seen new models of disaster response emerge. In some places, neighbors have formed mutual aid networks to share their resources with one another, schools provided food to tens of thousands of families each day, and libraries were turned into cooling centers during extreme heat waves. What these approaches have in common is that they are rooted in the existing social and public infrastructure of communities.

This report provides a policy framework for community resilience by building out models for Resilience Hubs and In-Home Resilience. This dual approach to resilience captures the need for both centralized spaces and distributed systems that promote resilience within a community. Importantly, these are not models for just disaster response and recovery. Resilience is built before disaster.

Read the report (PDF).

Green Strings: Principles and conditions for a green recovery from COVID-19 in Canada

By Vanessa Corkal, Philip Gass, and Aaron Cosbey International Institute for Sustainable Development, June 2020

Key Messages

  • The COVID-19 crisis, while difficult and tragic, also provides a critical opportunity to align efforts to meet Canada’s climate goals with the challenge of economic reconstruction post-pandemic.
  • IISD has developed seven "green strings" recommendations: key principles, criteria, and conditionalities that should be applied to government measures for economic recovery from COVID-19 to ensure a green recovery.
  • Canada’s leading environmental groups, representing close to two million people, have signed on to the recommendations, including the Pembina Institute, Climate Action Network Canada, David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, Greenpeace Canada, Équiterre, Ecojustice, Ecology Action Centre, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Stand.earth, Leadnow, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, and Wilderness Committee.

The reasons to set and apply "green strings" are clear:

  • Conditions in the public interest are the government’s right and duty.
  • The benefits of green stimulus and recovery measures are backed by evidence. 
  • We need a new economic model for the workers of today and tomorrow.
  • Urgent action is needed to address the climate crisis. 
  • Health and climate change imperatives go hand in hand. 
  • There is strong public support for ensuring a green recovery. 

The following seven “green strings” should be attached to COVID-19 recovery measures announced by Canada’s government:

  1. Support only companies that agree to plan for net-zero emissions by 2050.
  2. Make sure funds go towards jobs and stability, not executives and shareholders.
  3. Support a just transition that prepares workers for green jobs.
  4. Build up the sectors and infrastructure of tomorrow.
  5. Strengthen and protect environmental policies during recovery.
  6. Be transparent and accountable to Canadians.
  7. Put people first and leave no one behind.

We can no longer continue with the status quo, worsening the climate and biodiversity crises and locking our country and the global community in to stark health, environmental, and economic outcomes. We must seize this difficult moment to transform our economy and our institutions to serve vital public policy goals from environment to equity. The stakes are high.

Read the text (Linked PDF).

Unifor's Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery

By staff - Unifor, June 2020

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy.

The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

Unifor brings a modern approach to unionism: adopting new tools, involving and engaging our members, and always looking for new ways to develop the role and approach of our union to meet the demands of the 21st century.

Every person of working age in Canada has a right to a good job and the benefits of economic progress.

Unifor is presenting this plan in June 2020, four months after the novel coronavirus arrived in Canada, at a time when restric-tions on movement, activities and business operations are begin-ning to lift, but infection rates and illness continue to grow.

Read the report (PDF).

A Fair and Sustainable Economic Recovery Program for California

By Robert Pollin - Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated severe public health and economic impacts in California, as with most everywhere else in the United States. This report proposes a recovery program for California that is capable of exerting an effective counterforce against the state’s economic collapse in the short run while also building a durable foundation for an economically viable and ecologically sustainable longer-term recovery. This is an anti-austerity recovery agenda, including the following main elements:

Establishing Effective Public Health Interventions. This will generate millions of jobs through allowing the state to recover safely. Some of the industries in which workers have been hardest hit include restaurants and hotels, in-person retail trade, and health care. Workers in these industries all need to be provided with adequate Personal Protection Equipment so they can perform their jobs safely. They also need their rights at work to be fully protected, including the right to paid sick leave.

Upgrading California’s Public Infrastructure. California’s economy would receive a major boost, both in terms of short-run stimulus and longer-term productivity, by undertaking a large-scale public infrastructure investment program now. The study estimates that $25 billion in annual infrastructure investments in California will generate about 315,000 jobs within the state. Roughly half of these jobs will be in the construction industry, including new opportunities for carpenters, electricians, glaziers, plumbers, pipefitters, and construction laborers. Most of the rest of the jobs will be in manufacturing and a range of services.

Clean Energy Investments and High Road Job Creation. This study estimates that public and private investments in California to achieve the state’s mandated emissions and climate stabilization goals are capable of generating about 725,000 jobs in 2020 – 2021 through $80 billion in public and private investments in 2020 – 2021, and larger numbers thereafter to 2030. These investments will entail both: 1) greatly enhancing the state’s level of energy efficiency, including through deep energy retrofits to public buildings; and 2) massively expanding the state’s supply of clean renewable energy sources, starting with solar and wind power. New job opportunities will open for, among other occupations, carpenters, machinists, environmental scientists, secretaries, accountants, truck drivers, roofers and agricultural laborers.

Just Transition for All Displaced Workers. Some workers in California’s oil and gas industry will experience displacement over time through the state’s clean energy transition. This study estimates that about 1,400 oil and gas workers will be displaced per year between 2021 – 2030 and another 1,400 will voluntarily retire each year. All of these workers require Just Transition support, including pension guarantees, health care coverage, wage insurance, and retraining support, as needed. In addition to the oil and gas industry, a substantial share of jobs in hard-hit service industries such as restaurants, hotels and retail are likely to not return in the aftermath of the recession. Workers in these industries also need just transition support, including the extension of 100 percent unemployment insurance, Medicare health insurance coverage while unemployed, wage insurance, and high-road job training and placement support.

Download (PDF).

A Low-Carbon Economy Will Be Built By Nannies, Caregivers and House Cleaners

By Mindy Isser - In These Times, October 22, 2019.

Reinvigorated movements are charting new terrain to build worker power and reverse the dramatic climate crisis facing society. Uncompromising mass mobilizations are on the rise, as more workers participated in strikes in the U.S. in 2018 than any of the previous 31 years, and historic demonstrations, like climate strikes, have taken off to demand action around climate change. Migrant workers, many of whom are climate refugees working in the care industry are waging a tremendous struggle against the Trump administration’s relentless, racist attacks, like the new “public charge” rule, which stops immigrants who receive public benefits from obtaining a green card or permanent residency. The Green New Deal offers an opportunity to bring these fights together around a broad program that tackles not only climate change, but also advances a vision of what a society that prioritizes people—not profit—could look like. But this future can only be won if the labor and climate movements find more ways to act together, and if they strategize more seriously about how to ensure low-carbon work is also good work. 

The lowest carbon jobs are the ones that don’t extract anything from the land, don’t create any new waste and have a very limited impact on the environment—an idea put forward by writers and activists Naomi Klein and Astra Taylor, along with striking West Virginia teacher Emily Comer. These jobs include teaching, nurturing and caring— invaluable jobs like cleaning homes and caring for children, seniors and those living with disabilities. Care work is generally ignored or looked down upon because it doesn’t create commodities that can be bought and sold, and because it is typically done by women. The shift towards low-carbon work should necessarily include a dramatic expansion of care work. But in order to make that possible, the standards and conditions of that work must be urgently raised. 

Care work is not only immensely important for individuals and families who depend on it, but for the economy at large. The National Domestic Workers Alliance (my employer) describes it as “the work that makes all other work possible.” By taking care of young children, nannies and child care workers allow parents to produce at their jobs. And by caring for seniors, home care workers, Certified Nursing Assistants and other caregivers keep those in the “sandwich generation,” caring for both children and parents, in the workforce. If there were no more caregivers—or if there were a nationwide caregiving work stoppage—our economy would crumble almost instantly.

The history of domestic work and care work, however, is stained by our country’s legacy of racism and sexism. In 1935, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was passed, giving workers the legal right to organize, and recourse if they were intimidated or fired for doing so. But not all workers were afforded these rights—domestic workers and farm workers were purposefully excluded as part of a compromise in order to pass the NLRA. Democrats in the South feared that allowing farm and domestic workers to unionize would give black workers—who were the vast majority of farm workers and domestic workers—too much economic and political power. 

We’ve seen how this legacy affects care work today: low pay, no benefits, and it’s often illegal to unionize. In addition to their lack of labor protections, these workers’ social standing makes them even more susceptible to abuse at work, including wage theft and sexual harassment or assault. The vast majority of domestic and care workers in this country are women of color, many of whom are migrants.

By understanding this connection, we can build deeper solidarity between care workers organizing for power on the job and the climate movement more broadly. The exclusion of domestic workers from the NLRA, and the ensuing degradation of their working conditions and lack of rights at work, was a compromise rooted in economic injustice and political exclusion—two historical wrongdoings that the Green New Deal seeks to undo.

Registered Nurse Response Network Sends Nurse Volunteers on Second Deployment to Standing Rock

By Charles Idelson - National Nurses United, November 7, 2016

National Nurses United (NNU)’s Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN), a national network of volunteer nurses, will deploy a second team of RN volunteers to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation—to help with existing medical and first aid support for land and water protectors—NNU announced today.

“As a nurse, I understand the necessity of preserving and protecting our water. Water equals life, and the Dakota Access pipeline threatens the health and well being of millions of Americans,” said RNRN volunteer Amy Bowen, RN, who traveled to Standing Rock in October and will return again this month. “Nurses honor the sacrifices being made by the water protectors while they stand up for what is right, against corporate greed.”

RNRN volunteers will assist medic tents at the North/Oceti Sakowin and Sacred Stone camps. RNRN is also working with local partners to establish the Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) clinic to meet the ongoing healthcare needs of the Standing Rock Sioux community and the water protectors. Donations for the Mni Wiconi clinic can be made here: https://crowdfund.ucsf.edu/project/2913/updates/1

NNU has released several statements of solidarity with the standing Rock Sioux tribe and fellow water protectors, who, for months, have sought to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which nurses say poses great risk to public health. The nurses’ latest statement sharply condemns the violent attacks on protectors.

“This has become a seminal battle over the First Amendment protection of public protest. It is also a challenge for everyone who is concerned about the rights of First Nation people and their sacred sites and water sources, as well as the threat the pipeline poses to environmental degradation, public health, and to accelerating the climate crisis,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.

“It is long past time to call into question all these dangerous pipeline projects that have become increasingly common, generally with far less public notice than the Dakota Access pipeline, or the similar successful campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline, has garnered. These projects pose a continual threat to public health from the extraction process through the transport to the refinery.”

Pipelines have proven to leak, including the recent Colonial Pipeline leak in Alabama and subsequent explosion at a second site. Nurses say spills from ruptured pipelines that contaminate water supplies can lead to numerous problems of respiratory ailments and other health symptoms associated with the spills.

RNRN Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, says nurses will continue to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock and condemn the violence committed against water protectors—with reports that clearly identified medics have also been attacked and arrested.

“Nurses will stand with the protectors at Standing Rock, and with our fellow caregivers, the medics — to say that DAPL is bad for public health, and those enforcing its construction cannot speak to its safety while simultaneously targeting for attack the very people with the power to heal,” said Castillo.

"As a registered nurse, it was a profoundly moving and humbling experience to live with and serve the water and land protectors at the Sacred Stone encampment on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation,” said DeAnn McEwan, who volunteered at Standing Rock in October. “Nurses feel a moral commitment to lend our skills and do whatever we can do to help protect and promote their health and right to the fresh, pure water that sustains all our lives." 

RNRN is powered by NNU, the largest organization of registered nurses in the U.S.

National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.

IWW Member Brenna Cain: Why I Am With Labor For Standing Rock

By Brenna Cain - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, November 3, 2016

Brenna Cain from IWW 610 talks about the importance of defending the human rights of Native Americans and supporting their efforts to protect the Missouri River.

Stand with Standing Rock: Pittsburgh Native Americans, healthcare workers to join #NoDAPL protest

By Sarah Anne Hughes - The Incline, October 31, 2016

A group of more than a dozen people including Native Americans and healthcare workers from the Pittsburgh area will travel to North Dakota this week to join a protest against a pipeline they say threatens a tribe’s drinking water and sacred land.

Jared McCray, a night-shift housekeeper at UPMC Mercy, is helping organize the trip. McCray said he had discussed the protests happening near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation with a co-worker and close friend who has Native American ancestry. She has a son with her boyfriend, who is also a Native American.

“This is something that’s very deeply rooted for her family,” McCray said. “She really wanted to try to get out there to bring supplies and to bring people to [show] support.”

McCray can’t make the trip to Standing Rock, but he started a GoFundMe page to help get others there. The delegation — which includes members of Pittsburgh’s Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center — has raised about half of its goal: $5,000 for transportation and shelter costs.

“We’re raising money to get them there to represent workers and the Native community in Pittsburgh and to show solidarity with Standing Rock,” McCray said.

In September, hundreds of activists gathered in Downtown Pittsburgh to protest the pipeline, which the Texas-based corporation Energy Transfer Partners wants to send under the Missouri River — the Standing Rock Sioux’s main drinking water source — as well as through sacred land and burial sites.

The tribe says the pipeline’s planned course puts its water at risk, and hundreds of indigenous people and allies have been camped for months near Standing Rock to block construction. Police have arrested more than 400 protesters, referred to as water protectors, since August; 141 people were arrested Oct. 27 alone, as law enforcement in riot gear shot people with beanbags and rubber bullets and deployed pepper spray and concussion grenades. Some of those arrested said they were kept in “dog kennels.”

UPMC workers like McCray are locked in a struggle of their own in Pittsburgh. Service Employees International Union has been trying to organize UPMC workers for several years, as the National Labor Relations Board has accused the hospital chain of violating workers’ rights.

Some of those who plan to go to Standing Rock, McCray said, are workers who are fighting to unionize and for a $15 minimum wage. McCray and his friend reached out to SEIU for support when organizing the trip, he said.

As a person who works in healthcare, McCray said the risk of a ruptured pipeline is a health concern.

“If that were to happen here, that would have a drastic impact,” he said.

McCray said he believes “we’re definitely at a critical point in history.” It’s time, he said, to take human rights seriously, to call for civil rights and environmental justice, and to show solidarity with people who are having their lives’ threatened.

“If we let people pollute water in North Dakota, they can pollute water anywhere.”

Nurses Condemn Attacks on Water Protectors Opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline Project

By staff - National Nurses United, October 27, 2016

National Nurses United today sharply condemned police and armed guard attacks on members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, other First Nations, environmental activists, and other protectors who have bravely participated in protests against the Dakota Access pipeline project.

Reports of police using pepper spray, military grade equipment, and other military style tactics follow physical attacks on protesters by armed security guards who have who have used dogs in ways reminiscent of assaults on peaceful protesters during the Civil Rights movement, as well as arrests of media covering the protests.

“This has become a seminal battle over the First Amendment protection of public protest. It is also a challenge for everyone who is concerned about the rights of First Nation people and their sacred sites and water sources, as well as the threat the pipeline poses to environmental degradation, public health, and to accelerating the climate crisis,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.

NNU, through its Registered Nurse Response Network, a national network of volunteer RNs, has deployed nurse volunteers to assist with first aid needs for the land and water protectors. NNU remains committed to continuing that program in support of the DAPL protests as needed, said Ross.

“We are proud of those who are raising their voices for all of us. We are gratified to see the many public figures, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have stood with the Standing Rock Sioux and other protectors, as well as our union brothers and sisters in the Communications Workers of America, Amalgamated Transit Union, American Postal Workers Union, and Service Employees International Union who have also expressed solidarity for this historic fight,” Ross added.

NNU voiced its support for the protectors in early September, and also challenged claims that pipelines are a way to ensure safety of the transport of dirty, polluting crude oil.

“Contrary to claims of supporters, pipeline transportation of this volatile oil is far from safe. We have already witnessed many examples of pipeline spills from ruptured pipelines that have contaminated water supplies and led to numerous problems of respiratory ailments and other health symptoms associated with the spills,” Ross said.

We can have good jobs and healthy communities

By SEIU Healthcare Minnesota’s Indian Healthcare Board* - Medium, October 28, 2016

In too many communities across our country, children and families suffer from exorbitant asthma rates and other respiratory ailments from air pollution caused by corporate activities that burn fossil fuels and contaminate our air. Toxins leeched into our drinking and bathing water from this same fossil fuel industry causes serious skin, digestive, and even cancerous impacts on young and old alike. As healthcare workers, we stand on the front lines of trying to help families deal with these life-altering impacts.

Our families and children deserve clean air and water and we must do all that we can to stop allowing corporations to corrupt our livelihood unchecked. Where possible, we must choose clean alternative options so that our economy and our families can thrive. It is not a one or the other choice. We can have good jobs and healthy communities by shifting away from an economy dependent on fossil fuels to one that creates jobs for workers through a just transition to a clean energy economy.

We can and must be the change we want to see in the world and we have the chance to do it right now. In North and South Dakota, construction of a crude-oil pipeline, known as the Dakota Access Pipeline, threatens the lives and livelihoods of the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The pipeline would pass under the Missouri River (at Lake Oahe) which is just half a mile upstream from the boundary of the Standing Rock Sioux’s reservation and provides their drinking water.

Over the last three years there have been over 200 known pipeline leaks in the United States. A spill at this site would be a health, economic and cultural catastrophe for Standing Rock Sioux families. Further, the pipeline would pass through incredibly precious culturally significant sacred lands, like burial grounds, for the tribe and infringe on their freedom to practice and protect their culture and beliefs.

We are so proud that our union, the Service Employees International Union, along with other labor unions, didn’t stand idly by and let this injustice prevail. Instead SEIU along with like-minded good jobs and justice-focused partners have stood strong with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

Not only do the Standing Rock Sioux deserve the respect and protection of their sacred grounds, but they deserve to know the water they are drinking is uncontaminated and safe. This is yet another instance where a low income, community of color is subjected to contamination at the hands of powerful corporations and an unresponsive government. It’s a scenario that’s all too familiar to SEIU members, having struggled through the water crisis in Flint, MI and the recent flooding in Baton Rouge.

We stand with our union and the people of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, as well as the thousands of others who could be harmed by the construction of the pipeline. As energy technology and transportation infrastructures change to reduce harmful emissions, so should the focus of the unions that fight for a better future for all families. We can let go of environmentally and racially unjust practices and look to create the good jobs and safe communities of the future.

From asthma to cancer, America’s workers suffer at the hands of big polluters. We have a choice. We can find a solution that protects people’s health and good jobs and wages. The time is now. Our government must stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, protect the interests of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and transition the jobs of those whose lives and livelihoods could be impacted by ending this pipeline to good family-sustaining jobs of the future.

Pages

The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

Further: the inclusion of a link on our site (other than the link to the main IWW site) does not imply endorsement by or an alliance with the IWW. These sites have been chosen by our members due to their perceived relevance to the IWW EUC and are included here for informational purposes only. If you have any suggestions or comments on any of the links included (or not included) above, please contact us.

The Fine Print II:

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc.

It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.