Millions of Americans have come together to show their support for essential and healthcare workers around the nation as they show up for others and work around the clock. While many are grateful for the recognition, millions of workers belonging to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s largest union of healthcare and service workers, are calling on President Trump to provide more support and protection as they work on the frontlines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent survey, nearly 90% of U.S. mayors said they lack sufficient test kits, face masks, and other PPE for their emergency responders and medical workers. As of mid-April, nearly 9,300 U.S. healthcare workers had contracted COVID-19, and 27 have died.
On Monday, the union released a new digital ad campaign in targeted battleground states lifting up the voices of workers who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, fighting for their lives and the lives of millions of Americans. Over half of SEIU’s members are from black, Latinx, or Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, which have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
A Call for Action
In the ad, workers are using their voices to make their requests for proper protection on the job known and condemn President Trump’s lack of leadership during the pandemic. The six-figure ad campaign will run in both Spanish and English and is expected to reach 2.6 million infrequent voters of color in the critical battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
During the pandemic, many essential workers are on the frontlines without essential protective gear like face masks, gloves, and a number of workers have reported a shortage of supplies. And, they are exhausted and over the lack of support.
In a statement released by members of SEUI, Dr. David Woolsey, a doctor at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, the largest public hospital in the country, who is featured in the ad campaign, said, “Healthcare workers are fighting for our lives. But neglect and lack of planning have left too many workers across this country without basic protective equipment. President Trump needs to use the full power of his authority and lead. Help us protect all workers and keep everyone safe.”
Lives Are on the Line
Dr. Michael Hall, a resident at Howard University Hospital and a member of SEIU’s Committee of Interns and Residents who is also featured in the ad campaign, affirmed, “Access to PPE can be a matter of life or death for those of us on the front lines.”
He added, “Healthcare workers still sorely lack the protective equipment we need to keep ourselves and our patients safe. I am proud to do this work, but it’s been challenging; it’s like being in a battle without enough armor.”
As essential and healthcare workers show up for America, they are concerned about their well-being.
“I am deeply afraid of contracting the virus and bringing it home to my family. As essential workers, we are saving lives and keeping our communities running. In return, we are simply asking for basics like PPE,” said Elizabeth Frascati, a pharmacy technician and member of 1199SEIU.
At a time when President Trump’s approval rate is at 43% and 6 in 10 American’s believe that he does not take COVID-19 seriously—SEIU’s six-figure ad buy is a timely investment in voter engagement ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
To read more about how COVID-19 is impacting communities of color, click here.