Washington (PAI) — Workers union and non-union responded magnificently to the coronavirus pandemic, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says. Business and President Donald Trump are another matter.
“Workers of every stripe are supporting the sick, the isolated and the vulnerable,” Trumka said in a March 19 Facebook telecast. “Even in the face of this emergency, working people are showing no crisis is too great and no task is too small.
“Our values are needed more today and more than ever before. We can rebuild America and we will,” once the immediate coronavirus pandemic health care crisis has run its course, he said.
GUIDANCE AND SUPPLIES
Trumka’s positive outlook was tempered, however, by the federal government’s uneven response to the crisis.
Workers need the federal government to step in and provide guidance and supplies, he said, and they’re not getting that from the Trump administration.
Trumka spoke as Congress was starting work on a $1 trillion-plus emergency spending package designed to help the economy and workers who have lost their jobs due closures in a wide range of industries, from restaurants and hotels to airlines and construction.
Trumka warned businesses against taking advantage of the pandemic to line their pockets and trash their workers.
When those firms get money from the trillion-dollar aid bill, he said, they must use it on workers, not themselves.
“No layoffs, no wage cuts, no benefits cuts, no stock buybacks, no bonuses. No way, no how, no more,” he emphasized.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, not counting those who are carriers and don’t know it (asymptomatic).
But workers, especially health care workers, face particular shortages, of N95 masks and respirators to protect themselves as they treat coronavirus victims, of hospital beds to put those victims in, and of a vaccine against the virus.
Marshalling and providing resources to protect workers and aid victims is where Trump has fallen down on the job, Trumka said. He particularly faulted the president’s rush to deregulate everything – including Trump’s shelving of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration planned rule forcing health care workplaces to craft and implement anti-viral protection plans.
“They were woefully unprepared” Trumka said, before demanding the president “put someone in charge to make sure the national stockpile” of N95 masks, respirators and other protective equipment gets to nurses and other health care workers.