Rep. Ro Khanna Co-Authors ‘Essential Workers’ Bill of Rights

As Congress begins crafting its fourth coronavirus stimulus package, Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have proposed an Essential Workers Bill of Rights to help protect laborers on the frontlines of the crisis.

The pair of progressive Democratic lawmakers have called on their colleagues to wrap some of the policies from their proposal into the upcoming relief package.

“Essential workers are the backbone of our nation’s response to coronavirus,” Warren said in a press release. “We have a responsibility to make sure essential workers have the protections they need, the rights they are entitled to, and the compensation they deserve. The next relief package must put all workers front and center—but it must also specifically include the policies in our Essential Workers Bill of Rights.”

Warren and Khanna’s initiative has 10 core concepts. Namely, to:

  • Ensure that employers create a safe work environment and require them to provide necessary personal protective equipment to their employees at no cost.
  • Pay workers a livable wage—especially the lowest-wage essential workers.
  • Protect collective bargaining agreements from being changed or dissolved by employers during the pandemic.
  • Enact Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-Washington) PAID Leave Act, which provides workers with 14 days of paid sick leave and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
  • Protect whistleblowers who report unsafe working conditions due to the coronavirus.
  • End worker misclassification to ensure misclassified independent contractors receive benefits and protections typically only available to employees.
  • Ensure all essential workers—regardless of insurance or immigration status—have access to health care through public programs that provide no-cost health care coverage for all.
  • Commit funding for child care for essential workers.
  • Work with employers, workers and their unions and organizations in crafting “safety and compensation standards.”
  • Hold corporations accountable by ensuring federal funding goes to workers and not executives.

Khanna told San Jose Inside that he sees two different United States amid the coronavirus outbreak: one in which people get to work remotely and the other in which employees have to face the pandemic on the front lines.

“Those workers need to be paid,” he said of the latter. “They need to be safe, they need to have child care and healthcare, so this is long overdue. These workers are often invisible, but finally we’re see in their worth. … It’s time that we pay them like they deserve.”

Khanna said the Essential Workers Bill of Rights is especially important for Silicon Valley, where many employees have been forgotten amid the “age of automation.”

“It’s important that we take time to reflect on those workers that don’t always get the credit and aren’t always seen in Silicon Valley,” he said in an interview. “They need to have equity in the tech economy. They need to have the sense that they can afford to live her or afford a middle-class life.”

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

17 Comments

  1. Ro Khanna’s job is not essential. Let some of these elitist public “servants” get laid off. Go home. Apply for unemployment. Good luck.

    • Agree John. Communist Bernie is out, his communist fellow Khanna must be next! Biden does not need these fake democrats to win. He needS swing voters to do that. The “progressive” are communist loosers. Democrats fear their extreme ideas more than the Corona virus. They went to vote using their masks!

  2. > Rep. Ro Khanna Co-Authors ‘Essential Workers’ Bill of Rights

    GO AWAY!

    GET OUTTA HERE!

    STOP THE GRANDSTANDING!

    We have serious, serious problems and we don’t need any more noise making politicians trying to get attention by spending money.

    It’s all we can do to stop Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer from looting the treasury.

  3. “Ensure all essential workers—regardless of insurance or immigration status—have access to health care through public programs that provide no-cost health care coverage for all.”

    Kind of says it all….

  4. Ro, I am a pharmacist working for independent pharmacy as lead pharmacist in NY city. Staunch progressive supporter and contributor. Though these pharmacy owners make enough money but deny any benefits even making us face all hazards. they take the cover of small business. No sick leave, no medical leaves, no pension, not even holiday pay or holiday, or over time. These small business condoning our rights must be addressed.

    • News from East San Jose. Carrasco and Omar Torres have refused to assist small businesses seeking loans as a payback for their lack of support in her supervisorial bid, though both Torres and Carrasco are seeking federal stmulus money.

  5. Um, Patty Murray is one of the state of Washington’s senators, not Massachusetts. Elizabeth Warren is a Massachusetts senator.

  6. So, Ro has hooked up with Pocahontas. Two totally non-essential people. Neither are workers. Their staffs do everything and they take the credit. How much funny money will have to be printed to dig us out of the bloody mess the Chicken Little politicians have gotten this country into in just two months? Small businesses are closing up shop by the hundreds of thousands, throwing tens of millions out of work, but all the snowflakes are worried about are a few thousand schizophrenic drug addicts.
    The press screams bloody murder when a few Governors who haven’t swallowed too much Kool-Aid take their jackboots off the necks of thier constituents. Yet, when the President closes the borders to keep more people from flooding our country , the press takes the opposite position, because Trump proposed it.
    The new progressivism is a mental disorder.

  7. It should be clear to these “progressive democrats” that within the Democratic Party they are the 4%! The Democratic voters spoke loud and clear. Their extremist and communist tendencies are NOT WELCOME in the Democratic Party. Khanna is a representative because in his district even a glass of water with a D on it will win. The Democratic Party is moderate. Bernie Sanders and Trump’s monkeys are not welcome. Bernie Sanders’ monkeys make the Democratic Party a favor by forming your own communist party. Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara can be part of your party’s logo. Good luck with that!

  8. It’s pretty clear. To Democrats and to the mainstream media, immigrants are essential and American citizen workers are non-essential.
    Trump’s got his faults. But the other side wants to oust me from my own country.
    Go Trump!!!.

  9. Looks like corporate money seekers and their agents have hijacked democratic party. Down with corporate capitalism/socialism, Medicare for all, college for all. NO Guns, clean energy is the agenda of Bernie, the great Bernie. No more wars on the name of corporate ammunition companies.

    • > Medicare for all, college for all. NO Guns, clean energy is the agenda of Bernie, the great Bernie. No more wars on the name of corporate ammunition companies.

      Do you ever talk to anyone? You seem like kind of an isolated loser.

      When you get your free college, what are you going to learn? You seem to know everything already.

      What plans do you and Bernie have for Republicans? Labor camps? Internment? Extermination.

      Will the guards at the camps have guns? Or, will they just appeal to the prisoners’ sense of social justice to get them to remain in the camps?

      What are you going to do with all the clean energy? Electric cars? Mass transit? Electric ventilators for all the coronavirus patients?

      Your agenda is a bit sketchy. Could you and Bernie provide a little more detail?

  10. There’s no way people working at (for example) McDonald’s would make a “middle class salary” in Silicon Valley.

    That would require McDonald’s to pay someone $100,000 per year as their first job when they get out of high school. This would bankrupt McDonald’s.

    Plus, do we really want to say there is no increase in skill with additional training after high school? I certainly do not.

    • Peoples Health is prime subject. A Human working as essential health worker must be backed by Fed/ State based complete insurance, sick leave. If he/ she sick should not come to work as not to worry about bread and butter and make more people sick by spreading bacteria / virus by coming to work. Must submit a MD note. A sick customer walking to your door, counter, sneezing, coughing, touching your pen pad, and you get sick in serving that customer. A fedex guy, a mail man, a grocery cashier all needs to be covered by their employer. There should be a provision in TAX Returns for filing non paid sick leaves, unpaid holiday pays, hospital bills to be directed to employer ITN or FEIN numbers, so that these employers should be required to pay to IRS and the employee should be compensated. Small businesses are abusing their employees besides big corporates. A belt should put around small businesses too including grocery stores, pharmacies ,and all shipment workers.

      • > There should be a provision in TAX Returns for filing non paid sick leaves, unpaid holiday pays, hospital bills to be directed to employer ITN or FEIN numbers, so that these employers should be required to pay to IRS and the employee should be compensated.

        What if the employer chooses not to be an employer and instead goes out of business? Who pays for the medical bills and the paid sick leave for the employer-less employees?

        So, who’s going to pay the IRS so the employee can be compensated?

        I’m not following your plan. Did you leave something out?

      • Well, that’s fine, but Ro Khanna said, “they need to have the sense that they can afford to live her[e] or afford a middle-class life.””

        I was replying to that. There’s no way we can say that someone is going to graduate from high school, get no additional skills, and yet their high school level skills are going to be worth $100,000 per year. Google hires people who don’t have college degrees, but they have proven skill in writing software. McDonald’s doesn’t need people to write code. They just need them to clean floors and take fast food orders. It isn’t worth 100k. Capitalism and the free market says that the McDonald’s worker is free to study and gain additional skills and thereby get a better job.

        I agree with you about sick leave etc. That’s a different thing. Getting sick leave is not “afford[ing] a middle class life” in Silicon Valley. :)

        To my knowledge, employers in California are already required to give 3 days of sick leave, and I know that the company I work for has already given several people 14 days of paid time off because they had to quarantine for COVID-19. We’re still working in person because it’s a medical device company; we have to ship products to hospitals etc.

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