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Sign the Petition:

Protect Front-Line Workers

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Add your voice to those calling for front line worker protections from COVID-19!

To the members of the Oregon Legislature:

In these unprecedented times, working people in our state are desperate for support. For Oregon workers at the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, the financial and health toll has been immense. This is especially true for our Black, Indigenous and people of color neighbors, who make up a large share of workers in frontline industries, and who have been disproportionately impacted.

Oregonians are counting on you to make it right for these workers, many of whom are employed in the lowest wage jobs in our state, by recommending the strongest possible presumed Workers' Compensation eligibility for COVID-19. No one should have to worry about how they are going to pay for medication or buy food because they have been exposed to or gotten sick with COVID-19 in their workplace.

Among the professions we would ask you to prioritize are:

 

• First responders;

• Health care industry workers (including janitors, caregivers in long term care and senior living facilities, and home health care workers);

• Food chain workers, from farm workers to processing plant workers to grocery store workers;

• Transit workers;

• And other workers whose employer has had a notable outbreak of the virus within their business.

Our renowned Workers' Compensation system, with its low rates and strong reserves, is well funded and resilient, and capable of taking care of Oregonians in this time of need. Further, it will be critical for the inextricably combined recovery of the economic and physical health of Oregon and Oregonians that we ensure workers are able to stay safe and stay home if they are sick or exposed, and that businesses are being incentivized to act responsibly as they reopen.

We can get through this crisis if we can come together to do what is right. It is right for Oregon to join the 17 other states that have already added a COVID-19 presumption to their Worker's Compensation systems. For the health of Oregonians, for the future of our state, we urge you to pass the strongest possible measure. Oregonians have waited long enough.

Problem

Without any real Workers Compensation protections, front-line sick workers in our food supply chain face an unthinkable choice: Keep working or lose their income.

 

These workers are more vulnerable to COVID-19, and are starting to see more contagion and more deaths.

Many workers who believe they were exposed at work don't bother applying for Workers Compensation protections because the system is set up to drastically favor the employer.  (Employer groups may say that there have not been many denials of claims, but this is only because many employees give up once they see that their claim will likely be denied.)

Oregon grocery stores with confirmed cases of COVID-19 contagion:

53

Known employees with COVID-19:

123

Solution

Oregon's labor community has repeatedly urged the State Legislature and the Governor to do what 12 other states have already done and 8 more are preparing to do: Provide an Occupational Presumption for Workers Compensation for COVID-19 (for certain workers).

Currently, front-line workers close to the food supply chain who contract COVID-19 are unlikely to be able to use their Workers Compensation coverage, since there's no good way to "prove" that they were infected at work. 

 

Under this policy, such workers would be eligible for coverage, unless their employer were able to show otherwise.  This means that employees who got sick were able to take time off work to get the medical attention they need and to keep from infecting others.

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WHY SIGN UP?

The Oregon Labor Policy Network (OLPN) was formed to promote and advocate policies that benefit Oregonians.  Our priorities include living wage jobs, access to housing and health care, and collective bargaining and organizing rights.  Read more about our priorities here.

Our efforts depend on the collective action of Oregonians to counter big-money interests.  By signing up, you're staying updated about our action items and ready to add your voice to those calling for economic justice!

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