Larry Willis, President of the Transportation Trades Department spoke with America’s Work Force on April 27 to discuss frontline workers putting their lives at risk, just by showing up to work.
Transportation workers fall under the category of essential workers and are still required to show up to work. Willis expressed disappointment in the federal government and lamented about how they have let their workers down. He said that they have not been providing personal protective equipment to workers, putting them at a high risk to catch the virus. Although the workers have been purchasing their own masks, gloves and disinfectants, they should be provided with this equipment since it could potentially save their lives as they are working. Willis discussed that he called on the Department of Labor and Department of Transportation to do more to protect these essential workers who are actively keeping the industry going during a global pandemic. With Workers’ Memorial Day approaching on April 28, Willis stressed the importance that unions play in worker safety and other safety standards on the job.
Willis then spoke about freight rail carriers taking advantage of emergency waivers during the pandemic. The freight rail carriers are saying that they are in need of workers because of the shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic to keep up with the heavy work load, yet over the past couple of years, railways have furloughed thousands of qualified workers. He explained that the Transportation Trades Department reached out to the Federal Railroad Administration to address this issue. The FRA responded by saying they would not bring workers back unless there is clear evidence that they will not be able to complete projects due to the shortage of workers.
Dr. Hans Rechsteiner, doctor from northern Wisconsin, spoke about the need for “Medicare for All.” He explained that the COVID-19 pandemic is the best reason we have to adopt Medicare for All. No one should be left out of medicine just because they can’t afford it. Dr. Rechsteiner explained how the Affordable Care Act helped lower the amount of uninsured, but still left some Americans underinsured. He said that the higher the deductible, the more “underinsured” a person was. Lastly, he said that in other countries, people are getting more healthcare per dollar than people in the United States.
AWF host Ed “Flash” Ferenc spoke about meat packing workers being on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic and deserve an increase in pay to justify their dangerous conditions and higher risk of contracting the virus.
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