A Fair Deal for Essential Workers

When the story of the American economy is told, the CEO is usually cast as the hero or the villain. In both cases the CEO is framed as the essential character.

The Covid-19 pandemic has provided us with a different perspective on who is most essential to the functioning of the economy.

From this new vantage point the most essential characters are workers who shield us from risk: janitors who clean residue of Covid-19, delivery people who keep food and medicine coming to our doors, grocery store clerks who navigate people and products exposed to Covid-19, nurses who keep tending to patients with Covid-19, and others who put themselves in harm’s way so that the rest of us can avoid exposure to Covid-19.

Image for post
Image for post

Many of these essential characters in the American economy have been left behind. While the stock market boomed and executive pay skyrocketed, many of these workers’ incomes stagnated. Too many of them have lived the past decade on the edge of bankruptcy, and the Covid-19 crisis has only worsened their financial situations.

As these hard-working people put themselves in danger’s path so that the rest of us don’t have to, they are asking the rest of us to offer them the fair economic deal that has eluded them

We believe that this request for economic respect is reasonable. As state executives tasked with looking out for the financial well-being of our citizens, we are asking that this request be acknowledged with prompt action by the policymakers, executives, corporate boards, and investors who are depending on these essential workers for personal and professional support.

We believe that this fair deal should include:

  • A wage that the worker can live on without public assistance
  • Risk-appropriate hazard pay
  • Affordable and sufficient health insurance
  • Paid time off that removes the penalty for staying home if their presence on the job would be a risk to their customers, their co-workers, or themselves
  • Appropriate protective gear
  • Disability and life insurance that provides for these workers’ dependents if their ability to earn is disrupted as a function of their work Covid-19
  • A contribution to retirement savings.

America’s economy is strongest when everyone — investors, entrepreneurs, executives, consumers, and workers — all have a fair economic deal. When the economy prioritizes the wants of the powerful over the needs of the powerless, we all eventually lose.

That’s because giving workers a fair deal isn’t a favor. It is in our self-interest. The economy is stronger when our actions acknowledge both the value of competition and the fundamental truth that we are in this economy together.

The deal that America offers these essential workers will be our first step in rebuilding the economy. We believe that the economic recovery will be built on a firmer foundation if that deal ensures that we all grow together.

We further believe that the management and governance teams of any company accepting a government bailout have a special responsibility to offer a fair deal to their essential workers both for the work they do during the current crisis and for the work they do after the crisis.

Over the past few weeks, essential workers have had our backs. Let’s start the process of rebuilding our economy by giving them a fair deal that proves we have their backs.

Signed,

California Treasurer Fiona Ma

Colorado Treasurer David Young

Connecticut Treasurer Shawn Wooden

Delaware Treasurer Colleen Davis

Iowa Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs

Massachusetts Treasurers Deborah Goldberg

Maryland Treasurer Nancy Kopp

Maine Treasurer Henry Beck

New Mexico Treasurer Tim Eichenberg

Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine

Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read

Pennsylvania Treasurer Joseph Torsella

Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner

Wisconsin Treasurer Sarah Godlewski

The Startup

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store