Workers’ rights group urges Washington legislators to support minority workers in 2021

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Workers’ rights group Working Washington has proposed a plan to help minority workers in the coming year, in the wake of the economic devastation these workers experienced in 2020.

“Black, brown, and immigrant workers are bearing the greatest impacts — more likely than white workers to be essential workers exposed to COVID, more likely than white workers to lose their jobs, and less likely than white workers to collect unemployment benefits,” the group said in a statement outlining its reconstruction agenda in 2021.

In order to address these underlying inequities that disproportionately affected minorities, Working Washington called on elected officials to support the workers in the following ways:

Support workers who have lost income

-Repair the unemployment system: Address the crisis in our state’s unemployment system by making immediate fixes to speed processing of claims, address inequities, and maximize the number of workers who can successfully collect benefits.

-Support immigrant workers: Implement a program that provides immigrant workers with income replacement comparable to unemployment insurance. Administer the program in a manner that addresses unique privacy challenges faced by immigrant workers, is accessible, and does not trigger public charge implications.

-Universal income support: Move towards a bold no-fault state program to provide income support to everyone who loses work income, regardless of the reason income is lost.

-Recovery Rebate: Put cash back into the pockets of low income Washington residents, regardless of immigration status.

New Tools to Enforce Workers’ Rights:

-Worker Protection Act: Allow whistleblowers to enforce existing labor standards and anti- discrimination protections on behalf of the state by filing qui tam actions, a proven and cost effective tool already used elsewhere in government.

-Washington Wage Recovery Act: Allow workers who are victims of wage theft to put a temporary hold on the known assets of their employers, a tool that has already been used effectively by farmworkers and construction workers in Washington for years.

-Pass HB 1072 to ensure Office of Civil Legal Aid funded services are accessible to all Washington residents, regardless of immigration status.

-Make the Gig Economy Pay Up: Require DoorDash, Instacart, and other gig companies to pay minimum wage plus expenses to workers they treat as independent contractors.

-Strengthen Labor Standards: Strengthen health and safety standards to respond to risks associated with public health crises. Ensure all workers are protected under state health and safety law, increase penalties, and make it easier for workers to file retaliation complaints.

-Include All Workers In Our Labor Standards: Eliminate loopholes in state law that exclude domestic workers and agricultural workers from basic labor protections.

Fund a just recovery

-Invest in our future: Jumpstart our state’s economy by renewing and expanding investments in healthcare, housing, food assistance, and other critical needs.

-Close corporate loopholes: Ensure Amazon, Boeing, and other large corporations pay their fair share in taxes.

-Tax the Wealthy: Eight people in Washington have gotten $138 billion richer since March, all while 2.2 million people in our state are facing food insecurity. Those who have profited during the pandemic must contribute to the common good through an excess compensation tax on pay above $1 million, a capital gains tax on profits from the sale of stocks & bonds, a wealth tax on billion-dollar estates, and additional similar sources of progressive revenue.

If you have a workers’ compensation, L&I, or other employment law claim, contact Emery Reddy for a free consultation. You won’t get better advice.

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