Front Line Workers Need Our Help Now

Victoria Johnson of AFSCME Local 744, Council 5 at the Minneapolis Veterans Home in Minneapolis, Minnesota experiences the COVID-19 pandemic every day she steps into work. Since the beginning of the pandemic, hospitals, group homes, secure facilities, and veterans' homes have experienced significant outbreaks of COVID-19, yet public service workers continue to go to work every day to care for and protect our fellow Minnesotans. Although they repeatedly dawn their masks, gowns, face shields and gloves, the COVID-19 pandemic is not getting any easier for front line workers, in fact it's getting worse. Minnesota continues to see spikes in COVID-19 positivity rates and deaths and front line workers are stretched to their maximum capacity -all while we remain hopeful that vaccines will be distributed quickly to every Minnesotan.

We cannot become complacent to this virus while vaccines are being delivered to health care workers and those living in assisted living facilities and nursing homes and then additional tiers of high risk Minnesotans. We still need to do right by our front line workers and stay home whenever possible, wear a mask, social distance, limit our gatherings, and wash our hands frequently. 

Victoria and her co workers at the Minneapolis Veterans Home have experienced the devestating passing of veterans and their fellow co workers, including the recent tragic loss of Doorga Hanuman who was also an AFSCME Local 744, Council 5 member and cared for our veterans since 1989 and lost his life to COVID-19 related complications. As Kelly Lopez Gill of AFSCME Local 744 said in tribute to Doorga, "He just had that special gift of caring about people and making people laugh... I will miss you so much my friend and I'm so sorry your life was cut so short from us. I really am truly honored to have known such a great guy." 

"Front line workers need our help now," said AFSCME Council 5 Executive Director Julie Bleyhl. "They need rapid COVID-19 testing, abundant personal protective equipment, and robust health and safety plans in every workplace. We will continue our fight to protect their health care and push for the passage of additional federal funding to provide state and local aid and hazard pay. The federal government's recent COVID-19 relief package deal is inadaquate and fails to properly invest in the lives of public service workers who are making our state and country work during these difficult times. Although it is a good step forward, we will continue our campaign to push for the passage of the aforementioned provisions that are contained in the Heroes Act."

COVID-19 In Memoriam