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The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions are working together to protect all who live in Washington state amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. In particular, we are working to protect the workers on the front lines of this crisis, the people who protect the rest of us, including nurses and healthcare workers, fire fighters, medics, police, and nursing home workers, to name a few. Many other workers are putting their personal safety at risk to keep public spaces safe and clean, including janitors and sanitation workers, grocery workers, hotel workers, airline and airport workers, public health workers, and others. Below are some important resources for Washington workers impacted by this outbreak and its negative economic impacts:
► PROTECTING YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY — Washington state government resources, including public health information and how to get health insurance.
► LAID OFF, LOST HOURS, OR QUARANTINED? — Paid sick leave, Paid Family & Medical Leave, unemployment benefits, and job opportunities.
► ASSISTANCE FOR UNIONS AND UNION MEMBERS — Help with your bills, child care, industry-specific safety information, and the Foundation for Working Families.
PROTECTING YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY
Washington state’s official COVID-19 site – This site provides links to official information from a wide range of trusted sources, including government and community services.
Public Health Information — The Washington State Department of Health has everything you need to know about the respiratory illness COVID-19, how it’s spread, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you think you might have contracted it. The Dept. of Health’s Coronavirus Hotline is 1-800-525-0127, press #. Learn more here.
Governor’s Announcements — The latest information about how Gov. Jay Inslee is responding to the outbreak, including the phased county-by-county reopening plans and specific guidance on various events and activities. Learn more here.
Department of Labor & Industries — L&I offers coronavirus Workplace Safety Guidance, including industry-specific information. This information is also available in printable PDF format. L&I also has COVID-19 information regarding paid sick leave, workers’ compensation, and workplace safety and health. Learn more here.
Uninsured? — Although the regular 2020 open enrollment period for the state’s Health Benefit Exchange is over, if you’ve had certain life changes, you may be eligible to get coverage through the Washington Health Care Authority’s special enrollment. Learn more at Washington HealthplanFinder or check out their FAQ for more info. Meanwhile, Apple Health (Medicaid) enrollment is year-round.
Wash your hands often, don’t touch your face, and keep your distance from others (preferably at least six feet).
LAID OFF, LOST HOURS, OR QUARANTINED?
Paid Sick Leave — If you are missing work because you are sick or quarantined, Washington workers have access to paid sick leave. If your employer’s business was shut down due to new public-health restrictions, you may still have access to paid sick leave. Learn more here.
Paid Family and Medical Leave — If you can’t work because you are sick with COVID-19 or are caring for a family member who has it, you may be able to apply for partial wage replacement through Washington’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave program. (Some union workers with long-term collective bargaining agreements aren’t eligible to participate until their contracts are renegotiated, reopened or expired.) Learn more here.
Unemployment Benefits — If you have been laid off or had your hours reduced, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits, which is partial wage replacement from the state. Under the new emergency rules, benefits are also available to workers who have been quarantined due to exposure or are self-quarantined because they are immune-compromised. The Washington State Employment Security Department is where you apply for these benefits. Here are step-by-step instructions, a schedule of webinars on how to do it, and an Eligibility Checker form to see if you are eligible. (This information is available in multiple languages.) Below is ESD’s easy-to-read comparison guide explaining the most common scenarios and what benefits that may apply, plus the enhanced benefits available through the federal CARES Act. Learn more here.
Problems With Unemployment? — If you are experiencing delays and technical issues applying for unemployment, you’re not alone. The Employment Security Department updated its system to include new federal COVID-19 benefits, but the system has been overwhelmed by the many thousands of people trying to apply at once and has been hampered by fraudulent applications. Get the latest ESD updates here.
Denied Unemployment? — If you have been denied unemployment benefits, contact the Unemployment Law Project. With offices in Seattle and Spokane, the ULP provides low-cost representation and free advice and counsel to people in Washington state who have been denied unemployment benefits or whose award of benefits is being challenged. Learn more here.
Know Your Rights — This one-pager explains that ALL workers have the right to be safe and protected on the job. All workers also have the right to join together and negotiate with co-workers and negotiate for a safe workplace and a fair return for your hard work. These rights apply to ALL workers, regardless of immigrant status.
Why Union — If you don’t have a union at your job, learn more about how to organize one. Today’s economy is so out of balance — with all the economic gains going to the top — more and more people are looking into joining unions so they can share in the prosperity their work creates. You can be one of them! This explains how to get started and how to contact a union organizer to answer your questions.
AFL-CIO “COVID-19 and Immigrant Workers” Fact Sheet — The AFL-CIO is committed to protecting all workers, regardless of immigration status, and ensuring we are all safe and can access needed testing, treatment and benefits amid the coronavirus crisis and recovery. Despite our best efforts, many gaps in coverage remain, elevating the risks for our entire workforce. This fact sheet provides a brief summary of where things stand for immigrant workers across a range of issue areas.
Assistance for Immigrant Workers — Immigrant workers face unique challenges amid the coronavirus outbreak, including some fearful of seeking medical attention or help because of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant “public charge” rules. The City of Seattle’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, along with El Comite and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, have answers to frequently asked questions posted here.
Benefits Information for People Without Immigration Status — Prepared by Columbia Legal Services.
Immigrant Access to Health Care — Unsure about what health care coverage options and services are available? Northwest Health Law Advocates has some answers.
OneAmerica’s Resources for Immigrants — A list of resources in Washington state to ensure everyone in our communities are able to receive the care and necessities they need.
Relief Fund for Undocumented Individuals in Washington State — To support our community, the Washington Dream Coalition, in partnership with Scholarship Junkies, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network are providing financial relief to undocumented individuals. Click here to apply or learn more.
RESOURCES FOR UNIONS AND UNION MEMBERS
Help with your bills — If you have seen a reduction in pay due to COVID-19 and are struggling to pay for…
Credit cards or loans, contact your lender right away. Explain your situation and ask about hardship programs that may be available. Regulatory agencies have encouraged financial institutions to work with customers impacted by the coronavirus. The state Department of Financial Institutions, has more information here.
Electricity and utilities, visit your provider’s website. Many offer Emergency Assistance Programs to help low-income customers. See the COVID-19 response pages at Puget Sound Energy, Avista, Cascade Natural, Pacific Power, Northwest Natural, Washington Water, City of Seattle, Tacoma Public Utilities, or your local provider, for more assistance. In addition, Comcast is allowing free Internet access. More information here.
Rent, be aware that Gov. Jay Inslee has announced a temporary moratorium on all evictions statewide. For assistance, get Housing Counseling from HUD. A local counselor can help answer your questions.
Child care information — The Child Care Aware of Washington Family Center has expanded its operations to serve as the statewide child care response, resource and referral hub. It’s Child Care COVID-19 Communications, Response and Referral Center can be reached at 1-800-446-1114. When essential workers call, you can specifically ask to be placed in a UNION child care facility. For more information, here is CCA’s COVID-19 fact sheet. (Also available in Chinese, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.)
Industry-Specific Information — The AFL-CIO is collecting and sharing industry-specific COVID-19 guidance and resources from its affiliated international unions. It also has the most up-to-date materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the World Health Organization, research experts and others. Learn more here.
Safety information for Washington employers — L&I’s Department of Safety and Health offers safety guidance for businesses and employers that remain open. In a special notice to healthcare and other employers, L&I reminds all that Ethylene Oxide (EtO), which is used to sterilize a wide range of equipment, is NOT approved for the sterilization of masks, respirators, PPE or items worn by humans. L&I also offers guidance and fact sheets with information specific to construction, grocery stores, long-term care, agriculture industry, food-processing warehouses and farmworker housing.
Help for apprentices — ANEW is supporting apprentices in the construction trades and their families. Make an appointment with them to see if you qualify for assistance with rent, utilities, work gear, tools, and more. Learn more here.
Assistance for Union Families in Need — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is urging all organizations and individuals interested in helping union families suffering economic hardship amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Washington state to make contributions to the Foundation for Working Families, a nonprofit formed by the WSLC and its affiliated unions to assist union families in times of hardship or disaster.
Click here to make a contribution online or mail a check to the Foundation for Working Families, 321 16th Ave S., Seattle, WA, 98144. The FFWF is a 501(c)(3) organization — federal tax ID 91-1702271 — and all donations are tax-deductible charitable contributions.
Families can apply for FFWF assistance by downloading its Hardship Assistance Form. Assistance is restricted to union members and their families. For more information about the FFWF, email Karen White or call her at 360-570-5169.
Check back — and visit The Stand, the WSLC’s news service — for more information as it becomes available.