#EssentialOhio Campaign Seeks to Pass Essential Workers Bills of Rights Across Ohio

The Glass City is the first in the nation to take up a resolution supporting an Essential Workers Bill of Rights as part of a new national campaign to deliver better treatment and pay to all “essential workers.” Mónica Ramírez, Founder & President of Justice for Migrant Women, announced Essential Ohio (#EssentialOH), the Ohio arm of this national campaign, today at the City Club of Cleveland and at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute 2020 Leadership Conference.

Ramírez said: “The Essential Workers Bill of Rights 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. 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 are putting 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.”

The resolution was introduced yesterday at a Toledo City Council meeting by Council Member Theresa Gadus. Eugenio Mollo, an Attorney at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), presented in favor of the resolution. A vote is expected in October.

Council Member Gadus said: “The pandemic has pulled back the curtain and reminded many people of the importance of essential workers to a strong, robust economy. These courageous workers have stood on the frontlines, risking their health, their families, and their lives. Many essential workers have made the hard decisions to separate from their families in order to serve their communities; to provide financial stability for their families and support our economy. They deserve the dignity that comes from equity, security, protections, and benefits for their labor and for their labor to take place in a safe environment that values their contributions. I am proud to present this resolution before the Council of the City of Toledo and to support the National Essential Workers Campaign.”

“Toledo is the perfect city to launch this national campaign,” Ramírez added. “Recognizing the dignity of work is a Toledo value. We applaud Council Member Gadus for taking this first step, and look forward to celebrating the resolution’s passage in October.”

By passing the Essential Workers Bill of Rights, municipalities commit to transforming their laws and standards to “ensure equity, security, and benefits for workers that are worthy of their labor and their dignity,” regardless of the workers’ status. Local governing bodies also commit to advocating for Federal and State improvements.

The Essential Ohio campaign is calling on cities across the state to follow Toledo’s lead, and introduce ordinances in their own city councils and county boards. Read the full draft of the Toledo ordinance here: http://bit.ly/EssentialToledo.

“#EssentialOH is part of a broader national push to ensure that workers who have always been essential, but are now being recognized as such, have the rights they are owed, and are treated with respect, both during the pandemic and beyond,” Mollo said.

“It’s a robust set of commitments to workers, and it’s the only right thing to do. These workers have our backs, and we have to have theirs,” he added.

The Essential Ohio campaign is supported by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), Justice for Migrant Women, the Ohio Immigrant Alliance, Cleveland Jobs with Justice, La Conexión, Chicago & Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United, Local 10. We welcome others to join the efforts.

The national campaign is anchored by National Domestic Workers Alliance, Jobs with Justice, Justice for Migrant Women, and other organizations. For more information and a full list of national partners, see https://honoressentialworkers.com/.