Workers Demand Action on Paid Sick Leave

Essential workers delivered letters to elected officials outlining the risks they have experienced while working through the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of SEIU Local 105 detail the risks and difficulties they have faced and how the lack of mandatory paid sick leave and whistleblower protections exacerbated the situation.

Janitors, airport workers, and care workers are all considered essential workers, but many of them feel they are not treated as such. Md Wahiduzzaman, a Passenger Assistant Service at Denver International Airport, wrote that their coworkers lack PPE, gloves, or hand sanitizer but are afraid to ask after seeing coworkers experience retaliation from management. Mary Walker, a member of SEIU Local 105 and Colorado Care Workers Unite, expressed similar concerns shared by caregivers.

“I will not let the clients live in dirty rooms or be cared for with the care providers not wearing proper personal protective equipment,” Walker wrote. However, she claims the problem is management using retaliation tactics, such as random intrusive inspections, to silence her and discourage others from voicing their concerns.

The lack of health insurance has been disastrous to essential workers who were exposed to the novel virus. Jesus Bautista Lopez contracted COVID-19 while working in an assisted care facility. “I have no health insurance and had to pay $100 for a test out of pocket. I’m still unsure what the amount of my medical bills is going to be,” he wrote.

After being asked to quarantine for two weeks, Lopez learned that his employer only offered vacation days, not sick leave. “One of my co-workers is currently in the ICU with COVID19 and her organs are failing. If she makes it back to work is she going to be required to use vacation days for the time she was in the ICU?” Lopez asks.