May 12, 2020

Back to work?

Like most people I know, I'd like things to get back to normal...preferably a better normal than the one we had before the outbreak. However, the rush to reopen could mean a spike in infections and even fatalities.

AFSC in WV was proud to sign on to this letter to Governor Jim Justice and key members of his administration. There's a lot to it, but the main point is that when businesses reopen, many people with compromised immune systems--or who live with those who do--will have to choose between losing unemployment insurance or risking life and health. Those workers most at risk of this are disproportionately low wage earners, women and African Americans.

The letter makes several recommendations, the most important of which are that the administration:

*Confirm that individuals with health conditions that put them at risk for complications due to COVID-19 are entitled to unemployment benefits if they leave or turn down work that risks exposure.

*Allow individuals who live with at-risk individuals to continue to collect unemployment if they turn down or leave work that risks exposure.

It's a pretty radical idea: just this once, let's pretend that human life is more important than squeezing every drop of profit out of the labor of low wage workers.

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