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’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.
Uninsured? — Take advantage of the Washington Health Care Authority’s special open enrollment period on the Health Benefit Exchange, running through April 8. Sign up at Washington HealthplanFinder. 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. But keep in mind that they are experiencing long wait times due to high demand. Below is their easy-to-read comparison guide (also available in Spanish) explaining the most common scenarios and what benefits that may apply. Learn more here.
ALSO see the UNITE HERE Local 8 fact sheet (in English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Amharic, and Vietnamese) on applying for unemployment benefits in Washington state.
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.
Job Opportunities — Many employers are HIRING right now. Thousands of of good union jobs with good wages and benefits are available in grocery stores, supply chain positions, and even at the aforementioned Employment Security Department. Learn more here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Safety Information for construction workers — The state Department of Labor and Industries has prepared this fact sheet with guidance for construction companies still at work, and how to keep workers safe and healthy.
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.