Colorful artwork of people all wearing masks and words Our Rights and Our Vote!

As part of a new national campaign to deliver better treatment and pay to all “essential workers” the Columbus City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting an Essential Workers Bill of Rights last Monday. 

Essential Worker resolutions have also passed in Lakewood, Toledo, and Dayton, and are under consideration in Fremont and other cities across Ohio. The Columbus resolution can be read here (search “To Support an Essential Workers Bill of Rights”). 

“The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare the contradiction in our economy between the necessity of essential work and the struggle that workers in these roles face,” said Columbus City Council President Pro Tempore Elizabeth Brown. “All levels of government must commit to the principles of an Essential Workers Bill of Rights to level the playing field for every family, by addressing longstanding inequities like low-wages, lack of paid leave, and inadequate health benefits.”

Sarah Ingles, Board President of the Central Ohio Worker Center, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of essential work and the workers who make it so strong. However, during this time, we also see that unfair workplace practices and lack of workplace protections at the state and federal level have had sincere, and often unjust, effects on our workers and their communities. All workers deserve fair pay, safe working conditions, and to be treated with dignity and respect on the job. We applaud Columbus City Council for standing with workers throughout our city and look forward to working together to advocate for better protections for all who work in Columbus.”

By passing the resolution, the city of Columbus commits to advocating for state and federal legislation that includes 1) health, safety, and whistleblower protections; 2) truly universal paid medical and family leave; 3) an end to shoddy practices to deny labor protections to workers; 4) healthcare security; 5) affordable child care; and 6) real accountability for companies who break labor laws. 

Mónica Ramírez, is Founder & President of Justice for Migrant Women and a leader with #EssentialOH, the state-based component of the national campaign.

“The Essential Workers Bill of Rights and the Essential Ohio campaign is a commitment to honor those we have lost to COVID-19 and to fight for the working people who truly are essential to our communities,” said Ramírez. “Workers in the food supply chain, medical, and care-giving sectors, as well those who serve other vital functions that keep our nation in operation are often paid poorly and forced to work in grueling and even dangerous conditions. They have always put their health and safety on the line to care for us. The least we can do is ensure that their rights and contributions are cared for, too.” 

#EssentialOH is powered by ABLE, Justice for Migrant Women, the Ohio Immigrant Alliance, Cleveland Jobs with Justice, La Conexión, Policy Matters, and others. The national campaign is anchored by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Jobs with Justice, Justice for Migrant Women, United for Respect, Bargaining  for the Common Good, and other organizations.

Follow us on Twitter @EssentialOH