Workers on the
Front Lines Need Our
Support During Crisis
By Stuart Appelbaum, President
Retail, Wholesale and Department
Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW
During this unprecedented public health
crisis, working men and women are on
the front lines in the battle to keep New
Yorkers safe and supplied, and to slow down the
spread of the Coronavirus; so our health care professionals can keep
the situation from spiraling out of control.
RWDSU members in New York – including those at pharmacies
and grocery stores – have an incredibly important role during these
unprecedented times. Fortunately for them, they have a union voice,
and it’s a voice we are using to ensure their workplaces are as safe as
possible for workers as well as the general public. Workers need to be
provided with the proper protective equipment and sanitizer, clean
workplaces, and enough space or protective barriers to make workers
safer. Workers also need proper security on hand to control crowds
and keep workplaces safe.
For other retail workers, we need to protect income as stores close.
The economic disruption in their lives is going to be massive, and we
need to ensure that they aren’t missing paychecks as this pandemic
The general public should be thankful for the heroic efforts of these
brave workers who are still doing their job amidst this unprecedented
crisis. And, we need to do our part to keep them healthy; wash hands
constantly, use sanitizer, and keep safe distance from others and
workers as much as is possible. We need to address the growing
childcare needs for service workers who don't have the option of
working from home.
We also need to give stores time to receive deliveries and re-stock
shelves, and we must not panic to a point that we are adding to the
stress and chaos in stores.
At the same time, it’s important to be mindful of the impact this is
going to have on all workers. For non-union workers, without a voice
on the job and without contract protections and benefits, this is an
even scarier time, since they are depending solely upon management
to keep their workplaces safe. And for all workers, we are entering an
economically precarious time, the likes of which we haven’t seen or
The goal of any recovery action and legislation needs to be simple:
no worker should suffer loss of income because of this pandemic,
including those who aren’t sick or caring for the ill. Any bailouts to
corporations needs to be tied to job retention guarantees. There should
not just be a bailout for corporate executives; any bailout needs to help
everybody from the ground up – or our workers, communities, and our
economy will be unable to recover. We cannot leave any worker behind
when it comes to paid time off legislation at the
federal and state level, and we must include
undocumented workers at any size of business.
As we rebuild our economy and our state,
we can leave no one behind. We will only have
one chance to get this right.
Caribbean Life, March 27-April 2, 2020 23
Making Sense of the Census
By Julie Menin, Director of NYC Census
During these trying times we are in,
we want to share one bit of good news,
readers! Thanks to you and your fellow
New Yorkers, New York City is already
making great strides in the 2020 Census.
After being available for just one
week, 15.1% of NYC households have
already responded to the 2020 Census.
These are good starting numbers, but
let’s take a moment to appreciate why
this is so significant.
In 2010, after one week, just 6% of New
Yorkers had responded to the census by
this point, compared to the national average
of 16% at the time. Now in 2020, as
of March 23, the national average is 21%,
and NYC is at 15.1%. That means we are
closing the gap between New York City
and the national average.
That alone is incredibly significant.
But we have to remember that this is
even more important than ever because
of the unprecedented challenges we’ve
faced in the 2020 Census: the fear, misinformation,
and disinformation stemming
from the protracted, multi-year
battle surrounding the citizenship question;
a deep and widespread distrust of
the federal government; the census being
primarily available online for the
first time; and now, New York City is one
of the national epicenters of the battle
against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now more than ever, to keep each
other safe and healthy, it’s never been
more important for New Yorkers to selfrespond
to the census, as more than 15%
of us have already done. And luckily, it’s
never been easier, since you can fill it out
in just five minutes online or by phone.
So if you haven’t filled out the census
yet, fill it out now at my2020census.gov
or by calling 844-330-2020. And if you
have already done it, take a moment to
pat yourself on the back for being a part
of this historic effort — then tell your
friends, family, and neighbors to do the
“Making Sense of the Census” is a
weekly column from Julie Menin, Director
of NYC Census 2020. Every week we
will be publishing pieces from Julie and
guest authors laying out the facts and
answering tough questions about this
year’s census. Fill out the census now at
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