Ro Khanna

From the office of:

Ro Khanna

Sending Office: Honorable Ro Khanna
Sent By:

        Request for Signature(s)

Include an Essential Workers Bill of Rights in the next COVID-19 Response Package: Deadline Tuesday 4/21, 9AM


Co-lead: Senator Elizabeth Warren

Co-Signers: Castro, García, Pocan, Schakowsky, Tlaib


Supporting Organizations: , AFT,  AFSCME, American Family Voices, Americans for Democratic Action, Be A Hero Fund, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, BMWED, Brave New Films, Color of Change, Courage Campaign, CPD,  Demos,
Friends of the Earth, GreenPeace, HCAN, Iliana Americas, Indivisible, MoveOn, NDWA, Omidyar Network, Penn-Fed BMWED-IBT, People for the American Way, Resistence Labs, SEIU, Sunrise Movement, Tax March, Teamsters Local 804, NYC, United for Respect, We Are,
Progressive Democrats of America, We Are UltraViolet, Working Families Party


Dear Colleague,


Please join me and Senator Elizabeth Warren in sending a letter to Congressional Leadership urging the inclusion of an essential workers bill of rights in the next COVID-19 response package. Our 10-point proposal includes necessary protections and benefits
for the essential workers who remain on the job, keeping us safe and healthy during this public health emergency. Essential workers are on the frontlines of this pandemic, and many are working in high-risk conditions without appropriate equipment, safety standards,
or job protections. We owe it to them and their families to ensure they are properly protected and compensated for their work during these challenging times.


Thank you for considering signing onto this letter. If you would like to sign on or have any questions, please contact Geo Saba, in my office by COB Tuesday 4/21 9AM.



Ro Khanna

Member of Congress






April XX, 2020


The Honorable Mitch McConnell                              The Honorable Charles Schumer

Majority Leader                                                          Democratic Leader

United States Senate                                                   United States Senate

317 Russell Senate Office Building                           322 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510                                            Washington, D.C. 20510


The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                     The Honorable Kevin McCarthy

Speaker                                                                       Minority Leader

United States House of Representatives                    United States House of Representatives

1236 Longworth House Office Building                    2468 Rayburn Housing Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515                                            Washington, D.C. 20515



Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy:


We write to request that any future COVID-19 pandemic legislation include an Essential Workers Bill of Rights that includes necessary protections and benefits for the essential workers who remain on the job, keeping us safe and healthy during this public
health emergency.


Essential workers are on the frontlines of this pandemic, and many are working in high-risk conditions without appropriate equipment, safety standards, or job protections. Workers who remain on the job without the ability to telework during this emergency
include doctors, nurses, home care workers, and other healthcare workers, grocery store and drug store employees, domestic workers, food service workers, federal, state, and municipal employees, janitorial staff, farm workers, delivery drivers, postal workers,
warehouse workers, transportation workers, and child care workers. These workers put their health on the line when they go to work every day.


Congress took important steps to protect workers in the CARES Act by enacting a historic expansion of the unemployment insurance program. The needs of all workers must be at the forefront of the next round of policymaking to address the coronavirus crisis,
including keeping workers on payroll even when they must stay home.


But we must do even more to specifically address the needs of essential workers, who are the backbone of our nation’s response to coronavirus. Reports indicate that these workers may be contracting COVID-19 at a higher rate than the general public.[1]
Our nation has a responsibility to ensure essential workers have the protections they need, the rights they are entitled to, and the compensation they deserve. Furthermore, these protections must apply to all workers, no matter their industry, employer size,
job type or immigration status, who do not have the ability to telework and whose job requires going to a worksite and interacting in person with colleagues or the public.


The next coronavirus relief package to pass Congress must include an Essential Workers Bill of Rights containing a comprehensive set of policies to protect frontline workers during this public health emergency.


These policies must include:


1. Health and safety protections. Every employee, including employees of contractors and subcontractors, should be able to do their job safely, which means having necessary amounts of personal protective equipment provided by employers at
no cost to the employee. Employers should be required to take proactive actions when someone at the job site may have contracted coronavirus, including informing employees if they may have been exposed and evacuating the job site until it can be properly cleaned.
And the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should be required to immediately issue a robust Emergency Temporary Standard to keep employees safe.


2. Robust premium compensation. Every worker should be paid a livable wage, and essential employees are no exception. During this pandemic, essential workers should also be paid robust premium pay to recognize the critical contribution they
are making to our health and our economy. Premium pay should provide meaningful compensation for essential work, be higher for the lowest-wage workers, and not count towards workers’ eligibility for any means-tested programs. It must be retroactive to the
start date of the pandemic, and not used to lower the regular rate of pay for any employee.


3. Protections for collective bargaining agreements. Collective bargaining agreements must be protected from being changed or dissolved by employers during this crisis, including during bankruptcy proceedings. Workers’ rights to vote for
representation in a National Labor Relations Board election in a fair and safe manner must also be protected during the pandemic.


4. Truly universal paid sick leave and family and medical leave.
Congress must pass Senator Patty Murray’s PAID Leave Act, which provides 14 days of paid sick leave and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, so essential workers can care for themselves, family members, or dependents, without being required to
submit unnecessary paperwork. And we must ensure that President Trump is not allowed to arbitrarily exclude workers to roll back these protections.


5. Protections for whistleblowers. Workers who witness unsafe conditions on the job or know about workplace coronavirus exposure must be able to openly identify their concerns and have them addressed, without fear of retaliation.


6. An end to worker misclassification. The pandemic has highlighted the longstanding problem of employers misclassifying workers as independent contractors in order to avoid providing the full suite of benefits and protections available
to employees. At a time when too many essential workers are being denied basic employment protections, Congress should crack down on worker misclassification.


7. Health care security. All essential workers should get the care they need during this crisis, including those who are uninsured or under-insured, regardless of their immigration status. We must use public programs to provide no-cost health
care coverage for all, as quickly as possible. Congress should also listen to workers who have called for a full federal subsidy for fifteen months of COBRA for employees who lose eligibility for health care coverage. 


8. Support for child care. At a time when child care providers across the country are closing their doors and struggling to survive the pandemic, Congress must commit robust funding to help these providers and ensure essential workers have
access to free, reliable, safe, healthy, and high-quality child care.


9. Treat workers as experts. Any time a public health crisis hits, the government should work with employers and workers to craft a response and set safety and compensation standards. Essential workers, and their unions and organizations,
must be at the table in developing responses to coronavirus – from determining specific workplace safety protocols to helping develop plans for distributing personal protective equipment to holding seats on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.


10. Hold corporations accountable for meeting their responsibilities. Congress should ensure that any taxpayer dollars handed to corporations go to help workers, not wealthy CEOs, rich shareholders, or the President’s cronies. That means
taxpayers and workers should have a stake in how funds are used and companies should be required to use funding for payroll retention, put workers on boards of directors, and remain neutral in union organizing drives. CEOs should be required to personally
certify they are in compliance with worker protections, so they can face civil and criminal penalties if they break their word. And any federal funding should be designed to ensure that employers cannot skirt the rules by firing or furloughing workers or reducing
their hours or benefits in order to access a tax credit or avoid a worker protection requirement.










____________________________                                        ________________________ 

Elizabeth Warren                                                                    Ro Khanna

United States Senator                                                             Member of Congress






[1] ACLU Massachusetts, “Data Show Covid-19 Is Hitting Essential Workers And People Of Color Hardest,” April 8, 2020,

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information:Economy, HealthCare, Labor

icon eDC logo e-Dear Colleague version 2.0
e-Dear Colleagues are intended for internal House use only.