Trade unionists around the country are doing all sorts of activities
to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. From Fire Fighters
saluting health care first responders to Bakery Workers running their ovens non-stop to make needed goods to Steel Workers at paper mills producing much-wanted home supplies, the fight is never-ending.
In Honolulu, affiliates of the Hawaii Ports Maritime Council are
volunteering with other union members at a drive-by food bank to help
those who through no fault of their own need assistance to feed
themselves and their families.
Hawaii PMC Secreatry-Treasurer Hazel Galbiso is one of those showing
the “aloha” spirit to help others. She is working with the AFL-CIO
Labor Community Service Program to distribute food on Saturdays in the
state’s capital city.
This isn’t the first time the Port Council has provided such
assistance. During the 2017-18 partial federal government shutdown,
the PMC set up at the Seafarers hall in Honolulu a similar
drive-through program to help those in need.
“We know many of our fellow union members and their families don’t know when they’ll be going back to work,” Galbiso said. “We want them to know the union family cares for them and is here to help.”
Back in the nation’s capital, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
outlined what the labor federation seeks to safely reopen the economy:
1. Workers must have a say in these decisions at every level:
workplace, industry, city, state and federal;
2. Decisions must be based on worker safety and sound science;
3. Strong, clear and enforceable workplace health and safety standards
must be in place;
4. Workers must have stronger protections against retaliation;
5. There must be a massive increase in adequate levels and types of
personal protective equipment for workers currently on the job, and
then for those returning to the job;
6. There must be a massive increase of rapid and reliable coronavirus testing;
7. The federal government must oversee a system of recording,
reporting and tracking worker infections; and
8. Employers, in coordination with local and state public health
departments, must trace the contacts of infected workers and remove
exposed workers from work with pay and without retaliation.
“We must do what the federal government has refused to: protect
America’s workers,” Trumka declared in releasing the statement. “We
should not be focusing on when we can reopen the economy but rather on
how we should reopen it to ensure the health and safety of working