Healthy Long Beach mobilizes community to ask for protection of working families

The Civic Center in downtown Long Beach.

COVID-19 has taken over everyday life and as such Healthy Long Beach is asking the community to push for policies that will protect working families during the crisis.

Healthy Long Beach is an initiative run by the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community.

In a petition sent out to Long Beach community members last week, the initiative asks residents to sign in order to urge the Long Beach City Council to take the needed steps to protect workers during the stay at home order.

Their demands include:

• 14 paid sick days; the coalition believes no one should be punished for taking time off for being quarantined or feeling sick and no one should be unable to take time off.

• “’Just cause,’ ‘right of recall’ and ‘worker retention’ policies to stop unscrupulous employers from unjustly terminating workers during this crisis, and to ensure that when it is safe to return to work, they still have jobs to return to.”

• “Mandated paid time for and access to hand-washing and sanitizing, provision of appropriate personal protective equipment, and appropriate training for those still at work, especially grocery workers, food service workers, hospitality workers and delivery drivers.”

• “Require delivery platforms to provide drivers with hand sanitizer, disinfectant cleaning products and other personal protective equipment, train delivery drivers on food handling requirements, and prohibit companies from retaliating against drivers who change their work schedules, and offer drivers and shoppers a ‘non-contact delivery’ option.”

According to Victor Sanchez, director of Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, the goal of the petition is to protect the most vulnerable while making sure they have their rights and protections in this critical time.

“Workers and community members from all walks of life are coming together to alleviate the collective hardship this public-health crisis has brought upon us,” Sanchez said. “We’re all interconnected, and our lives depend on us getting through this crisis together with dignity for everyone.”

Healthy LB recognized the work the Long Beach City Council has done recently in response to COVID-19.

“[The] city council has already taken some positive steps to address housing needs, but it is crucial that their next actions be bold, decisive and for the good of Long Beach workers and their families,” the statement in the petition said.

Earlier in March, the city council voted unanimously to direct City staff to generate an economic-resiliency program to aid Long Beach families, workers and small businesses affected by the pandemic.

According to a March 18 press release by the City, a “wide-ranging” package was being reviewed by the City manager working in conjunction with the City attorney’s office and other relevant offices at the direction of the city council.

“This public health emergency is also an economic emergency,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in the press release. “We are taking decisive action to support families and small businesses that need support. No one should lose their home due to this crisis and this economics package is just the beginning.”

The package includes a number of measures to support laid off or furloughed employees. This also includes those at risk of either action.

Also included in the package is a “review of sick and disability leave processes and enhancements for City employees who must miss work due to COVID-19.”

Additionally, training opportunities for businesses in the tourism and restaurant industries by Health and Human Services on COVID-19 prevention are listed.

The ordinance will be presented before the city council for adoption sometime soon.

Sanchez said that failure to act on the demands is not an option.

“This crisis is unprecedented, and bold action is needed to stem the economic disaster this public health crisis has brought to working families,” Sanchez said. “We will continue to mobilize residents until we ensure adequate worker protections are passed by the Long Beach City Council.”

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