New Campaign Aims to Make Pandemic Pay Permanent for Essential Care Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has focused the spotlight on the difficult and dangerous working conditions that health care workers face. From feel-good television ads to the regular banging of pots and pans, health care workers are rightly being thanked.

The provincial and federal governments have partnered to provide pandemic bonuses to essential frontline workers. USW District 3 has launched a campaign to make these wage increases permanent and apply to all workers involved in providing care. Their work does not stop being essential when the pandemic ends, and their pay increases should not end either.

Many Steelworkers in this sector are women and/or workers of color who are fighting entrenched pay inequity and undervaluing of their work because of who they are.

“No matter where our members work, they care about their fellow Steelworkers providing the health care our communities depend on. Governments are learning what we’ve always known; our members are essential every day,” said District 3 Director Stephen Hunt.

This is why the district has launched the “Essential Everyday” campaign website to make these pay increases permanent and apply to all workers involved in providing care, from health care aides to support staff who keep facilities clean and operating.

Anyone in Canada who visits the website can use it to send a letter of support for the campaign to their federal Member of Parliament. If you live in District 3, the letter will also go to your provincial Member of the Legislative Assembly.

The union is also asking that essential health care members visit the website to fill out a survey and submit personal stories about working in this industry during the pandemic.

District 3 continues to offer targeted health and safety training to health care members, including the right to refuse unsafe work. “Our first priority is safety,” added Hunt. “Essential doesn’t mean sacrificial. This campaign is a vehicle to hear from our frontline members and ensure their employers are treating them with the respect they deserve.”

Please visit the campaign page and send a letter here.

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