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Our Lives Intertwined with Veatch Grantees

This is a moment when we can truly appreciate the importance of the grassroots organizations long supported by Veatch. As the impact of the coronavirus comes into focus, we can see how Veatch grantees are protecting those disproportionately impacted by the country’s response — low-income workers, immigrants and people of color.  
At the same time, this moment elevates our interdependence.  Solutions to inequality that Veatch grantees have long fought for, such as paid sick days and family medical leave, are now above the radar. Americans are learning that the people who prepare food in restaurants, work the register at local stores like Walmart, and who care for children and elders, often do so while sick. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid.  And despite working multiple jobs, they often live at or below a level of poverty that forces them to work under any conditions. 

In times of national and global crisis we can see how our lives are connected with those of Veatch grantees. In that, we take heart, as we do all we can to support them. Below are some of the ways Veatch grantees are responding to the crisis — and ways we can support them in their work. 

Joan Minieri
Executive Director

From left to right: Carol Garbarino, Chair; Joan Minieri, Executive Director; Corinne Hayden, Vice Chair   

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Tonight — Veatch Grantees Organize Mass Call with Senator Elizabeth Warren 

Tonight, at 6pm Eastern, Veatch grantees including United for Respect and Jobs with Justice have organized a call with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and workers in retail, grocery and other low-wage industries to strategize around ways to win comprehensive paid leave and other worker protections for all. The recently passed Family First Coronavirus Response Act provided critical paid sick and family leave for millions, but it also left out 80% of workers by exempting large private employers like Walmart, Amazon, and Aldi.  Register here

United For Respect — Protecting Low-Income Workers

In response to the economic devastation threatening low-wage workers across the country, Veatch grantee United For Respect — which organizes Walmart workers, the country's largest employer — has unveiled a three-point action plan. 
  • Expanding Care and Support: The group is seeking to connect low-wage workers displaced from jobs with resources, and have started a fund to help offset the losses of their members. 
  • Fighting to Put People Over Profit: Paid leave and earned sick time — two policies advocated for by Veatch grantees for years — will likely be provided to workers impacted by the coronavirus. United For Respect is fighting to ensure these policies are robust and made permanent at the governmental level, while targeting large corporations like Walmart to do more to protect their vulnerable workforce. 
  • Transitions to Remote Work: It's an organizing staple: the best way to move people is through one on one contact. With that no longer possible for the foreseeable future, United For Work is offering a series of workshops to train organizers, unions, and other social justice organization in digital outreach and organizing strategies.

Maine People's Alliance Launches Community Fund

To help blunt the economic impact of COVID-19 on people in Maine, Veatch Grantee Maine People's Alliance has launched a new campaign called Mainers Together. As the group said in an email announcing the new effort, "In Maine, where we have the oldest population in the nation, many people have heath conditions that put them at higher risk for serious illness, and lots of people are working low-wage jobs and living in poverty. The impacts of mass-infection will be especially devastating."

The group has committed $25,000 to launch this community fund, which will be used to help Mainers whose households are facing economic crisis due to employers closing or needing to stay home from work to care for children while schools are closed. Their goal is to raise $300,000. If you can help, donate here.

Nation Domestic Workers Alliance: Calling For Protections for Caregivers 

Ai-Jen Poo, founder of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, penned an op-ed in the New York Times demanding that caregivers be adequately protected. “Millions of Americans rely on professional caregivers to look after their children and aging parents,” she writes. “As the coronavirus spreads, who will care for them?” Her organization is working to push the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to direct more of their resources toward the front-line care professionals who work in the home and the community.

Democracy Now! — Creating an Informed Citizenry

Veatch grantee Democracy Now!, an independent media organization that launched in 1996, has been working overtime to provide the public with clear, helpful information about the ongoing pandemic — and to uncover the virus's disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations. As the organization wrote in a recent update to supporters, "Unlike the corporate media, Democracy Now! is connecting the dots between the coronavirus pandemic and scores of issues—from Medicare for All to paid sick leave and mass incarceration."

On Friday, for example, the show's hosts interviewed Juan Moreno Haines, who is incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison, who talked about how COVID-19 is impacting the prisons.
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