COVID-19 crisis: Immediate demands of the labor movement

The following statement was written by the Labor Commission of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), representing trade unionists across the United States.

Chicago, IL – The U.S. capitalist class has shown the world that it is completely unprepared to manage a crisis. Instead of creating a comprehensive plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to treat those infected, the Trump administration has left the states to determine what is best, leaving hundreds of millions of people vulnerable to infection. Instead of establishing paid sick leave for all, they have spent $1.5 trillion in a single day to try to shore up the investments of Wall Street. We, the multinational working class of the United States, have been left to fend for ourselves.

As working people, we need to practice solidarity now more than ever. We will bear the brunt of the suffering from this crisis, from being the only ones forced to work throughout this pandemic to being the ones forced out of work from the impending recession. Our class will suffer unemployment and horrendous health care conditions while the rich continue to rake in their plunder. The day will come when we will demand everything from them. They have no right to run this country, nor this planet. Some day soon, the working class will come knocking on their doors looking to collect.

Today, however, all efforts must be put into immediately heading off the disaster our country faces. As the Labor Commission of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, on behalf of the multinational working class of the United States, we are issuing the following demands on the Trump administration and all businesses in the country:

1. Immediately close all non-essential and non-emergency businesses and services. This is a public health pandemic that impacts every square inch of this country. We need to act accordingly.

2. No worker shall suffer a loss of income as a result of the crisis. Whether someone misses work because of a quarantine or a lockdown, misses work because they are sick, or works for a company that closes either temporarily or indefinitely because of the crisis – every worker will continue to be paid.

3. Every worker forced to work needs to be kept as safe as possible. Everyone who works in essential or emergency services needs to be provided with the adequate training, personal protective equipment and supplies in order to do their job with the lowest risk of exposure.

4. Every worker forced to work needs to receive additional “hazard pay.” Millions of workers are going to put their lives on the line to keep the population safe and prevent the worst pandemic in a lifetime. They need to be compensated accordingly.

These are the demands that must be raised from the labor unions, on behalf of their members and the working class as a whole.

As a movement of working people, we have a single, central tenet: “An injury to one is an injury to all.” We are all in this together. We need to take care of each other, of our families, our workers, and our sisters and brothers in the labor movement. In our hands – the hands of the hundreds of millions of working people in this country – lies the strength to build any future and weather any storm. We can unite, we must unite, to ensure that the greedy capitalists do not drag us into the abyss.