Sen. Elizabeth Warren Calls for an Essential Workers Bill of Rights to Protect Those on the Frontlines Fighting COVID-19

Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined Pastor Michael McBride, the director of LIVE FREE, and CNN host and comedian  W. Kamau Bell for a Facebook Live discussion Wednesday about their Masks for the People campaign and the Essential Workers Bill of Rights.

“Here we are in the middle of a crisis and it turns out that the essential workers in this country are not investment bankers,” said Warren. “The essential workers…are doctors and are nurses — but it so much more. It’s the people that are cleaning the hospitals. It’s the people who are stocking the grocery stores,” she continued. “It’s the people that are making the deliveries and it’s the people who are still going out into people’s home to take care of the elderly.  She argued that these “heroes” deserve more than a “thank you” for putting their lives on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19. “We owe them full medical protection. That means the masks, the gowns,” she said. “We need to make sure that they are fully protected and that their employers are providing those masks and gowns at no costs to them.”

Sen. Warren co-authored and introduced the Essential Workers Bill of Rights in April. The bill advocates to provide essential workers with health and safety protections, universal paid sick leave, family and medical leave, and support for child care.

“This is ultimately about respect for the people that are putting their lives on the line for us every day,” said the former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. “Stand with essential workers because now is the moment to do this and recognize the importance of human dignity. If somebody is going to put their lives on the line to stock the grocery shelves. They must get hazardous pay.”

Launched on April 6, Masks for the People is sponsored by the nongovernmental organization Live Free and Black Church Action Fund. The campaign aims to secure a supply chain of needed supplies like masks, sanitizers, and coronavirus tests for urban neighborhoods and poor rural communities.

In April, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey donated $1 million to the Masks for the People humanitarian campaign. The donation will also go toward providing free personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing kits for those who are incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, violence interrupters, essential workers, and the elderly in communities of color.

“Less than a week ago we pulled together an unprecedented coalition of activists, faith leaders, artists and entrepreneurs committed to securing a supply chain of PPE and preventative care for Black and Brown communities,” said Pastor McBride. “Thanks to Dorsey’s generosity, and the generosity of others who have given, we can scale immediately and expand beyond the initial eight to 10 cities. It’s just a blessing.”

Click here to view the full discussion.