WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and a group of their colleagues sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urging the inclusion of provisions to protect the health and safety of property service workers in the next coronavirus relief bill, including personal protective equipment, hazard pay, and strengthened labor protections. Many property service workers --building cleaners, security officers, contracted airport service workers, cafeteria workers, parking workers, and others—have been deemed “essential” but have not been provided adequate protection and compensation for their work during this crisis.

“We appreciate your efforts to support low-wage and unemployed workers in previous COVID response legislation, including through expanded unemployment assistance, direct cash payments, and expanded paid sick and family leave for certain workers. Nonetheless, many workers, including property service workers, have been largely left behind, despite their essential roles,” the senators wrote.

The senators continued: “We cannot continue to allow property service workers to face the risks associated with continuing to do their work during a pandemic without proper protection and compensation. Therefore, the next legislative package must include provisions to protect the health and safety of these workers, particularly by detailing requirements to provide personal protective equipment provided by employers at no cost to the employee and by establishing federal safety standards, as proposed in Senators Baldwin and Duckworth’s Every Worker Protection Act of 2020[1]. Legislation should also include provisions providing for premium pay for property service workers, potentially through the model described in Senator Schumer’s proposed “Heroes Fund” providing for increased hazard pay to essential workers[2] or Senator Warren’s Essential Workers Bill of Rights[3]. Critically, legislation must also include assistance to employers for maintaining payroll and benefits for both the contracted and subcontracted workers. Lastly any legislation must strengthen labor protections, through the protection of collective bargaining agreements and curbing the misuse of worker misclassification. Property service workers, and all essential workers, should be provided these protections as well as those previously outlined in the Essential Workers Bill of Rights[4] proposal.”

The full text of the letter is below:


May 19, 2020

 

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell                                                         The Honorable Charles Schumer

Majority Leader                                                                                   Minority Leader

United States Senate                                                                            United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510                                                                      Washington, D.C. 20510


Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer:

As we continue to address the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, we urge you to take a worker-centered approach to the next phase of legislation to promote economic relief and recovery. Forthcoming legislation must protect the essential workers, including property service workers, who are keeping the nation moving in this time of crisis. 

Property service workers—building cleaners, security officers, contracted airport service workers, cafeteria workers, parking workers, and others—have been declared to be essential in numerous state “stay-at-home” and “shelter-in-place” orders, and for good reason. The duties of property service workers are critically important to keeping the public healthy and our buildings and facilities safe, secure, and functioning. 

We appreciate your efforts to support low-wage and unemployed workers in previous COVID response legislation, including through expanded unemployment assistance, direct cash payments, and expanded paid sick and family leave for certain workers. Nonetheless, many workers, including property service workers, have been largely left behind, despite their essential roles.

We cannot continue to allow property service workers to face the risks associated with continuing to do their work during a pandemic without proper protection and compensation. Therefore, the next legislative package must include provisions to protect the health and safety of these workers, particularly by detailing requirements to provide personal protective equipment provided by employers at no cost to the employee and by establishing federal safety standards, as proposed in Senators Baldwin and Duckworth’s Every Worker Protection Act of 2020[1]. Legislation should also include provisions providing for premium pay for property service workers, potentially through the model described in Senator Schumer’s proposed “Heroes Fund” providing for increased hazard pay to essential workers[2] or Senator Warren’s Essential Workers Bill of Rights[3].  Critically, legislation must also include assistance to employers for maintaining payroll and benefits for both the contracted and subcontracted workers. Lastly any legislation must strengthen labor protections, through the protection of collective bargaining agreements and curbing the misuse of worker misclassification. Property service workers, and all essential workers, should be provided these protections as well as those previously outlined in the Essential Workers Bill of Rights[4] proposal.  

 

We ask that these measures to protect essential property service workers are given a high priority in the negotiations in the next relief bill.

 

Thank you for your leadership and commitment to supporting our working families through this crisis.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Cory A. Booker                                                            Elizabeth Warren

United States Senator                                                   United States Senator

 

Tammy Baldwin                                                          Edward J. Markey

United States Senator                                                   United States Senator

 

Chris Van Hollen                                                         Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator                                                   United States Senator

 

Richard Blumnethal                                                     Christopher S. Murphy

United States Senator                                                   United States Senator

 

Mazie K. Hirono                                                          Sheldon Whitehouse

United States Senator                                                   United States Senator

 

Kamala D. Harris                                                         Robert Menendez

United States Senator                                                   United States Senator

 

Gary C. Peters                                                              Benjamin L. Cardin

United States Senator                                                   United States Senator

 

Amy Klobuchar                                                           Jack Reed

United States Senator                                                   United States Senator

 

Robert P. Casey, Jr.                                                      Tina Smith

United States Senator                                                   United States Senator

 

Jacky Rosen

United States Senator