Worker COVID-19 Organizing Toolkit

Contact us: workers@c19mutualaidsea.org or  on Instagram @covid19mutualaid

Who we are

This toolkit was prepared by the recently formed Seattle/King County COVID19 Mutual Aid Network. We work on horizontal mutual aid, worker solidarity and workplace organizing, and system demands to lift up our love and solidarity for each other under the crisis of COVID19, Capitalism, Mass Incarceration and Racism. We believe in solidarity, not charity and are fighting for collective safety, health and liberation under class conscious solidarity. If nursing home workers at LifeCare were organized and protected, we would not be in this state of crisis. Management knew that patients were exposed, and they didn't tell their own workers. It wasn't until firefighters told them, that they find out, the system will be willing to sacrifice you. Capital is making attacks in this time of crisis. How do we as a class fight back and organize to advance class demands in this time. Please link with us if you can support or if you need support on Instagram @covid19mutualaid or email us at workers@c19mutualaidsea.org 

Points of unity for worker organizing

  1. Amplify, support and strengthen worker self activity -- it keeps us safe and organized
  1. We forefront rank and file worker led model of organizing
  2. Workers understand the urgency of getting organized right now
  3. We support rank and file workers in and out of unions. We support rank and file union workers pressuring their bureaucracies to step up for them.
  1. Acknowledge precarity and vulnerability differs in each workplace -- we support the leadership of workers in each field and workplace
  2. Principle of solidarity -- we all have something to gain because we are all impacted right now
  3. Define work as any form of labor that keeps a society going- waged and unwaged- people doing caring labor such as caregivers, nursing home workers, etc
  4. We support industrial unionism over craft unionism. We resist the division of the working class based on race, gender and professional classification. We aim to bring together workers based on the labor that they do to keep our society going, not based on their professional classifications. Educators are people who support the education and well-being of our youth, and are not limited to licensed teachers or professionals; Healthcare workers are CNAs, nurses, MAs, doctors who keep our healthcare system running and care for our sick.
  5. Building a united front of rank and file workers
  6. We center undocumented workers, and people who cant access insurance and state resources in our distribution of resources

Outline

  1. Goals of toolkit
  2. Organizing tools for worker demands
  3. Sample demands for COVID 19 workplaces
  4. What can community offer you?
  5. COVID-19 101: Workers Education

1. Goals of toolkit

  • Our primary premise is that we reject the false choice between economic survival and health that many workers have to make at this time. We believe that workplace organizing tools that have been developed over the years can and should be utilized now to support workers prioritization of their health and well-being.
  • Collectively pressure on employers who won't let people take time off -- phone calls, boycotts, letter writing
  • Support for front line workers who are still out there because they do crucial direct service work. Such as supporting social service workers, nurses and other healthcare workers.
  • Support workers’ self activity and advocacy
  • Help workers who aren’t getting help from unions, aren’t able to work from home, are vulnerable or precarious workers to organize around their basic conditions to stay healthy and build class solidarity

2. Organizing tools for worker demands: if you and your coworkers aren’t allowed to take time off, have your hours cut, don’t get paid, or feel like you are exposed at work

Initial worker survey for organizing at your workplace:

First reach out to @covid19mutualaid. Before the first contact, it would be helpful (though not necessary) to know a few things about your workplace:

1) Talk to your co-workers and understand what are the issues and let us know what is going on at your workplace.
2) Consider reaching out across different departments, roles, learn what is happening for different people at your workplace. Consider how many people work in each department.
3) Find out the percentage of your coworkers who are currently concerned about the outbreak and worried about your own safety.  How many would be neutral or opposed to doing something? Do you think your coworkers at work need to know more about how to organize for a healthy workplace?

4) Bring this information to @covid19mutualaid or email us at workers@c19mutualaidsea.org   so we can connect you with other people in your same industry and make a plan together about to address these problems collectively.

Sample letter for employers to allow employees to work from home:

  1. Nonprofit sample letter

Sample demand letter to send to your boss to improve cleanliness, working conditions and fight for sick time. 

Click here for sample letter

Expectations for employers during COVID-19 from Unite-Here representing Hotel and Service workers:

Letter from Unite Here Local 8 here

Sample outreach letter to bring people into organizing:

As workers and organizers, we are well aware of the financial and social impact of Covid-19. While some large unions have successfully won admin leave or sick pay for workers who are directed to quarantine, we know there are just as many un-unionized, hourly, invisibilized workers who will bear the brunt of the financial burden from this epidemic. It is good to see a few community funds set up to support these workers. We hope these can reach those who most need it. At the same time, we want to strategize ways to empower workers to fight their bosses for pay, landlords for rent cuts, patrons of gig workers for support in the coming weeks. Would you be down to help us outreach and organize with us?

Sample workplace organizing campaign template// How to organize in your workplace  

Workplace Action Planning Checklist

Building a solidarity network guide - SEASOL  (Vic adding this but idk if it’s what we’re needing)

  1. A4 paper size http://libcom.org/files/seasol-pamphlet-expanded-A4.pdf 
  2. US paper size: http://libcom.org/files/seasol-pamphlet-expanded-US.pdf 

If your employer says they don’t know how to prepare:

Send them this link from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) with guidance for how to prepare workplaces for COVID19

3. Sample demands for COVID-19 at work:

General Demands:

  1. Quarantine wage

  1. Demand workers comp for time off include: medical testing, cover treatment expenses, time-loss payments for those who cannot work if they are sick or quarantined.  

  2. Demanding quarantine/social wage or hazard pay

  1. Clean workplace safe from contagion and exposure
  2. Don’t cut hours, make us disposable.
  3. Reject speed up- dont let them roll back on labors demands

Industry specific demands:

Healthcare Workers

  • Expanded sick time hours
  • Sick hours used for childcare
  • Admin leave for workers placed on quarantine
  • Differential pay for workers in Covid-19 specific units
  • Differential pay for housekeepers being asked to double their workload
  • New housekeeper hires
  • Employer provided scrubs and laundry
  • Fit testing for N95s
  • Plan for staffing shortage
  • Plan for PPE shortage
  • Free testing for all employees
  • Immediate notification of patient Covid-19 status
  • Droplet precautions for all rule-out patients
  • Daily updates on facility caseload and predicted capacity to care for patients

Hospitality Workers

Food Service Workers

Social services/Homelessness services

  • A Moratorium on Sweeps during the pandemic
  • Cuts to vital life services MUST be met with an investment towards providing these resources throughout the community
  • Agencies need to staff to reduce the curve
  • Service providers and clients need testing
  • Our agencies need to be open and trusting with their flow of information

Teachers and Public Employees

Restaurant Workers

Artists

Tech Industry Workers:

  • Microsoft agreed to pay wages for hourly employees impacted by the response to the coronavirus outbreak.  
  • Facebook, Amazon, google and Twitter committed to pay their “contingent” workers.  Apple has not come up with a plan.  
  • “Tech giants promise to pay hourly workers while employees telecommute,” available at:  https://www.axios.com/tech-giants-promise-to-pay-hourly-workers-while-employees-telecommute-7c1dce8b-8522-4ada-90f2-fb7c30c74288.html
  • Microsoft will continue to pay all of their vendor hourly service providers their regular pay during the period of reduced service needs, google and Twitter confirmed that they were following.
  • Facebook is recommending that their staff works from home and it is working with its partners to make sure the hourly workers aren’t affected???  No confirmation about whether they will be affected or not.  
  • Thousands of workers still need to go to facebook offices including staff who work on safety and security issues.  
  • Amazon will only pay 10,000 hourly workers that support its Seattle-area office.  No mention about workers in warehouses.

4. What can the community offer you if you decide to organize?

  • First reach out to  @covid19mutualaid  Or email us at: covid19mutualaidsea@gmail.com 
  • Before the first contact, it would be helpful (though not necessary) to know a few things about your workplace:
  • Access our fundraising for workers to take time off if they need
  • We can support your demands to pressure employers to listen to you

5. Coronavirus 101: Worker Education

I got my hours cut, or I got fired! How to request standby unemployment

  • Workers who have a probable return-to-work date with a current employer within four weeks (28 days) can request standby approval for up to four weeks. (eight weeks currently under covid19 rules from governor)
  • Workers starting a new job with a new employer may also request standby within two weeks of an expected start date.
  • Go to your eServices account, click on your current UI claim and look under I want to. Call the claims center at 800-318-6022 to request standby or make the request online.
  • Employers can request standby for employees with a probable return-to-work date within eight weeks (56 days) of the date of the request.
  • Employers should request standby using the "Request for Separation Information" form we send when a worker has applied for unemployment benefits.
  • Our decision: Workers and employers will receive a standby decision in the mail.
  • If approved, it starts with the date we receive the request.
  • If denied, the requester can appeal our decision.

Paid Sick Leave and Other Benefits

Workers' Compensation