Fairfax County residents call for raises, sick days for essential workers

During a public hearing Sunday, Fairfax County, Virginia, residents said they want the next legislative session to focus on taking care of essential workers.

In the hearing ahead of the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session, David Broder, president of the Service Employees International Union in Fairfax County, said, “The pandemic has shown a spotlight on the inequities in our economy.”

He said lawmakers should be focusing on three things in the next session, including funding vital services for struggling families, pay raises and paid sick days for essential health care workers and expanding collective bargaining rights for the union.

Broder said he’s proud of the work that lawmakers have already done to ensure hazard pay and PPE for the home care and public service workers he represents.

The public hearing was a chance for the Fairfax County delegation to hear concerns from the public.

Ed Kringer with the Accotink Unitarian Universalist Church in Burke, Virginia, said sick pay for essential workers should be a public mandate.

Kringer said not having paid sick days “creates a crisis for low wage workers who must choose between taking a day for sickness and getting paid.”

He said “workers who go to work sick endanger their co-workers and the public.”

Kringer was part of a growing number of residents who support paid sick days not just for full time workers, but part time workers too. Locals at the hearing also expressed a desire for raises for essential healthcare workers who have been on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic.

The general assembly is scheduled to meet for the first time this year Jan. 13.

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