Workers are now being labeled “essential” because now, under the threat of global pandemic and death we are seeing that all jobs matter.  Every job is worthy of dignity and respect.  Here at The Rick Smith Show we have been called for better wages, hours, and conditions, as well as, dignity and respect of work and workers since our inception in 2005. When we saw the victory by the 14,000 University of California and California State University workers we asked their union representative Teamsters Local 2010 Secretary Treasurer Jason Rabinowitz to come on the program to share their victory.

Here is an excerpt of our discuss which can be heard in its entirety here.

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Rick Smith: As I’ve been saying we need to be fighting for safe working conditions, we need to be fighting to ensure that essential workers are truly treated as such and everyone else is cared for as well.  This is a once in a lifetime occurrence, once in a hundred year occurrence.

The more people who are desperate, the more people who have to go out and work the more exposure there’s going to be and the longer this is going to take. It just seems well, duh. Here to share some thoughts on the victory that has happened out in California at the University of California system.

I’ve asked Jason Rabinowitz to come talk with us. He’s the secretary of treasurer of Teamsters local 2010. Jason, thanks for taking time for us.

Jason Rabinowitz: Well, thanks for having me. Glad to be with you.

Rick Smith: So you guys are pretty substantial victory with the university system out in California. Tell me what you guys accomplished.

Jason Rabinowitz: I was interested to hear you talk about essential workers because where in(Teamsters) Local 2010 we represent about 14,000 University of California and California State University workers where clerical administrative, skilled trade, 911 dispatchers. All different kinds of workers that keep you seeing CSU running all the time.

Some of our folks have been brought in to work even through this crisis. Others have been allowed to work from home. We’ve fought for thousands of our members to be able to telework safely from home. And then there were some that have to take time off because of covid 19 related reasons.

When we say that we are all essential, and I like to hear you say, Rick, that we should all be taken care of. That’s been our mantra through this thing. And so from the very beginning we said, Hey, we want no layoffs, no reductions in time, uh, for all CSU workers during this crisis.

We just had petition campaigns and we were out there speaking to the regents and a meeting with leadership. And we finally did get a agreement just a couple of days ago from University of California that no workers will be laid off for covid-19 related reasons through the fiscal year through June 30th.

We’re very happy we were able to attain that win for our members.

Rick Smith: That’s a huge victory for your members. And it’s one that I would like to see replicated across all industries because isn’t that what the CARES Act was supposed to do?  To keep people on the payroll to ensure no one was detached from their job or their benefits in this time of crisis?  And then give people the ability to stay home so that they don’t go out and end up spreading this and making things worse longer.

Jason Rabinowitz: yes, absolutely. Our number one priority is worker safety.  We have some folks who work in the hospitals and clinics, we have skilled trades workers that are called into work to keep systems running safely. And so there are folks that are called in and the number one priority is that should be done safely. We should have proper PPE, proper training, social distancing.  Cleaning everything that needs to be done to keep people safe. So we’ve been pushing on that day in and day out.

Then the other thing is we’ve got thousands of call center workers that do payroll and collections for the hospitals. They sit in call centers that sometimes there’s hundreds of workers in a room shoulder to shoulder in cubicles making the calls at keeping the place running. So we said, Hey, you have to get everybody a computer and send them home to work safely and within a matter of a week or two we were able to get that done and to the University’s credit, they bought a couple thousand workers computers sent them home. So that was important to keep people safe.

But then the issue is we need to make sure people keep getting a paycheck. And if the university’s still running they’ve collected tuition, they’re getting their money from the state, then workers need to be taken care of too, because we need to put food on our tables, pay our rent, and our mortgage. If you see where to lay people off, it would have a big impact on the greater economy as well. So we’re glad we’ve been able to keep people working for now and recognize many people are suffering in this economy and through this crisis. We think that you see CSU should be leading on this issue and We’re glad they’ve made the decision they did.

Listen to the entire interview here

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