COVID-19 Task Force calls on Governor Parson to protect Missouri workers
Jefferson City – The Missouri AFL-CIO formed the COVID-19 Task Force to bring together leaders from the retail, service, building trades, manufacturing, health care and education sectors, both public and private. Below is the open letter the task force drafted to Governor Parson.
Because the number of Missouri workers that test positive for COVID-19 continues to rise at an alarming rate, the Missouri AFL-CIO formed a COVID-19 Task Force made up of members of our Executive Board from the retail, service, building trades, manufacturing, health care and education sectors, both public and private. Missouri is moving too slowly to protect workers during this crisis. Our state needs to take action to support Missouri workers. After deliberation and hearing the plight of each sector, the Missouri AFL-CIO calls upon you to enact the following immediate protections for all Missouri Workers from both the health crisis and the incurring economic conditions.
- Ensure that all workers that are employed by remaining essential businesses are given the status of first responders for the purposes of all safety precautions as those firefighters, police officers, nurses, medical staff, schoolteachers, etc. This section would include but not be limited to, home healthcare workers, building and construction trade workers, grocery store workers, prison guards, convenient and gas station workers and all other workers that could be required to be at work by their employer. All safety and/or personal protective equipment will be provided by and paid for by said employers or the State of Missouri.
- A State of Missouri Task Force shall be assembled that includes at least three representatives of Labor and shall be appointed by the Missouri AFL-CIO.
- Issue a directive to health insurance providers that when an emergency or illness is related to COVID-19 all co-pays and deductibles shall be paid by the insurance carrier and COBRA benefits will be extended without cost to workers and their families.
- Issue a directive to employers that essential employees and their families (aka first responders) shall immediately be covered under the employer’s health plan for any health event caused by COVID-19 as described in response 3 above. If the employee had previously opted out of employer provided health coverage enrollment periods shall be opened.
- All employers shall adopt a paid sick leave policy for at least 14 days of missed work. This shall apply to employees impacted by shut-downs, furloughs, lay-offs and closings.
- All employers shall adopt a paid leave for FMLA Policy for all workers and family members impacted by COVID-19.
- The State of Missouri shall suspend all waiting periods for unemployment insurance and extend all benefits throughout the time period of the state and or national emergency: Waive the requirement that workers and their families must be healthy to receive unemployment assistance; Waive the requirement that workers demonstrate they are looking for work; Extend unemployment assistance to last twenty weeks beyond the end of the declared emergency. Work with Federal authorities to ensure access to disaster-related unemployment assistance covering the self-employed, freelance and other irregular workers.
- Essential employees that are high risk as described by CDC or who live with a person in the high-risk category shall not be required to report to the workplace and shall not be in any way penalized or disciplined for taking leave and will be covered under unemployment insurance benefits.
MIKE LOUIS JACOB HUMMEL REGINALD THOMAS
President Secretary Treasurer Vice President