Florida Grassroots Organizations Call on Legislature and Governor to Respond To Community Needs

Community Leaders Demand to Stop Corporate Giveaways and Instead Focus on Paid Sick Leave Florida Grassroots Organizations Call on Legislature and Governor to Respond To Community Needs Community Leaders Demand to Stop Corporate Giveaways and Instead Focus on Paid Sick Leave On Friday, a coalition of Florida grassroots organizations held a press call to demand…

Community Leaders Demand to Stop Corporate Giveaways and Instead Focus on Paid Sick Leave

Florida Grassroots Organizations Call on Legislature and Governor to Respond To Community Needs

Community Leaders Demand to Stop Corporate Giveaways and Instead Focus on Paid Sick Leave

On Friday, a coalition of Florida grassroots organizations held a press call to demand the Legislature and the Governor provide relief to working families, not large corporations in the midst of a public health crisis due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus. 

Read the demands from coalition members urging the Legislature and Governor to act. 

While the Coronavirus pandemic threatens Florida’s economy and public health, the Legislature is considering passing a tax package (HB7079) that includes no relief for working families, and has refused to repeal Florida’s $540 million corporate giveaways.  The coalition of community groups is urging lawmakers and local officials to make corporations pay their fair share, and invest revenue to enact emergency measures, including paid sick leave, waiving costs associated with COVID-19 testing and treatment, expanding Medicaid, and placing a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs.

The following are statements from grassroots leaders who spoke on the press call:

Andrea Mercado, Executive Director of New Florida Majority

“The current coronavirus outbreak is a public health emergency that demands real solutions from lawmakers. ON the last day of session, the Legislature should not have been trying to pass huge tax breaks to large corporate interests, but instead directing their attention to legislation that could help families and save lives. By coming together to pass basic measures, like providing paid sick leave to workers or waiving costs associated with COVID-19 testing and treatment, we can help Florida’s families weather this crisis without being forced to choose between their health and a paycheck.” 

Debbie Soto, Board President, Organize Florida

“Many of the workers in Florida do not have the option to stay at home when they are sick or when they need to care for a sick loved one, this causes many of our working families, who already live paycheck to paycheck, to come to work sick. This is the last thing we need in the middle of a pandemic. We are demanding paid sick time and the coverage of all lost wages.” 

Dale Ewart, Acting Executive Vice President & Florida Regional Director for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.  

“Healthcare workers are the first line of defense in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and protecting Florida families. We’re all in this together, and we need employers and government agencies to ensure caregivers not only are protected with the proper supplies and CDC protocols, but also necessary paid time off. Nursing home workers, for example, are among the lowest paid staff and often have limited health benefits and sick time. This places the elderly—who are most at risk of the virus —at even greater peril. The fight against COVID-19 highlights the great public need for access to affordable, quality health care, and for all workers to always have sufficient paid sick time, health insurance and other essential benefits.”

Sharona Barnes, member of Organize Florida

“Communities of color are one paycheck from being homeless, one major rent increase from being homeless. The corona virus is a public emergency and an economic crisis. The state of Florida should follow Miami’s lead and halt all evictions immediately. If we do not stop evictions, foreclosures and rent increases, it’s going to be a homeless crisis.” 

Valencia Gunder, Campaign Director, New Florida Majority

“We are asking our legislators locally and statewide to consider the ripple effect of this type of quarantine and measures they’re taking on how they affect working class individuals, people who are on fixed income, families who lack access to food and who live in food deserts, people who lack access to transportation and people who live in affordable or public housing. I hope that our legislators and elected officials make sure that, during this pandemic of CoronaVirus, all our people are safe and have what they need to survive.” 

Martha Baker, President, SEIU Local 1991

“Our doctors and nurses at the emergency departments are fighting to get patients tested who are showing up with symptoms. We need our leaders, from our Mayor and our Governor all the way up to DC, we need elected leaders to fight to get the tests released.”

Melissa Laratte, Domestic worker and member of Miami Workers Center.

“I am a domestic worker. As a nanny I used to take care of three kids. Since the pandemic of the coronavirus I’ve been asked to stay home. As a single mother I don’t know what I’m going to and the bills are not stopping. This is the time for domestic workers’ bill of rights to be taken into consideration, which includes sick leave, equal pay, insurance and so on. Domestic workers and caregivers do not have the same work protection that is provided to others workers in the United States. Most of us are black women and other women of color; domestic workers we are excluded from basic protections and equal pay and we just ask for the chance to be included and be part of the solution.”

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