These workers led successful campaigns to improve COVID-19 policies
DECEMBER 3, 2020 | COWORKER.ORG
During the first several weeks of the pandemic, as much of the United States was placed under “stay-at-home” orders, workers launched hundreds of campaigns on Coworker.org pushing employers to adopt critical policies to protect employees and customers alike. In March and April of 2020, activity on our site was up 2600% -- that’s one million people who went to Coworker.org in the first three weeks after the U.S. national lockdown was announced. Food system, grocery, and childcare workers began calling for hazard pay; nonessential retail, service, health, and café workers demanded paid sick leave or full closure with pay; and people working in the U.S. and Canadian postal services and other delivery and logistics operations argued for basic health and safety equipment and procedures.
Here are some of the stories of workers who took action together and won workplace changes during the pandemic:
When COVID-19 first became widespread in the U.S. in March, thousands of Starbucks employees joined this barista-led campaign on Coworker.org calling for the company to suspend business with pay. The campaign took off quickly; gathered media attention from outlets including the Wall Street Journal, TODAY, Business Insider, VICE and more; and, in less than one week, the company announced it would close cafes for 30 days, with pay for baristas.
Early in the pandemic, employees at REI launched their own campaign calling out the outdoor retailer’s response. REI quickly announced that it would also close stores with pay. Since REI stores have reopened, employees are continuing to fight to be prioritized during rehiring and for additional workplace precautions.
Frontline workers -- especially at grocery stores -- have also organized for hazard pay. In the spring of 2020, workers at Albertsons/Safeway, H-E-B, Kroger, Market of Choice and New Seasons Market won hazard pay and/or boosts in compensation. Since that time, some of these wage enhancements were rescinded by employers, so workers at grocery chains like Market of Choice and New Seasons Market have joined together to keep fighting as the dangers of the pandemic continue -- or even grow in many locations.
And that’s not all:
- Baristas at Starbucks and workers at Kroger successfully pushed their companies to require customers to wear masks.
- Transit workers and healthcare workers at a hospital in Wisconsin improved their access to paid sick leave.
Live Nation workers won some compensation for postponed or cancelled shows in March.
Do you want to support active coronavirus-related campaigns from workers or are you looking for resources about how to take action in your workplace? Check out the coronavirus page on our website. You can also browse the coronavirus petition category in our Campaigns Library or check out this page where we’ve compiled some of the campaigns from grocery store workers.
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Every day, people are launching and joining campaigns around issues large and small - from improving an office breakroom to providing paid sick leave to employees.