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Legislative fixes for essential worker problems

By Jamie Eldridge

Commonwealth Magazine

Essential workers have always played a significant role in our society, but their roles were especially amplified since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Elected officials, the public, and many business owners continue to praise the critical work these essential workers do. They had the difficult task of keeping our society afloat by being on the frontline of many services including healthcare, groceries, and mail delivery. But still, the workforce has been suffering from a lack of government support. The unemployment rate in Massachusetts has faced a 4.4 percentage point increase, with 165,423 more workers unemployed compared to March 2020.

Just as COVID-19 laid bare the racial and economic disparities present in sectors from education to healthcare, the deep inequities that create an uneven playing field for workers and working conditions have become more visible and severe.

For instance, despite the national unemployment rate sitting at 6.2 percent, black unemployment remains significantly higher at 9.9 percent. We need our government to support and protect workers in our more vulnerable industries, to ensure they get the dignity they deserve.

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