Barb Andrews said she worries that concerns highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic are falling to the wayside as the Minnesota Legislature mandatory end date looms.
“I’m really hoping we can all join together and make a change for Minnesota,” she said.
Andrews, a member of the Service Employees International Union, who works in food service at Mayo Clinic, said statewide employee protections, including paid sick time and access to protective gear, are needed.
Currently on furlough, Andrews said she’s been able to keep her health coverage, but knows others are struggling to ensure their families have access to needed care amid high unemployment.
“I want all Minnesotans to have that relief and protection,” she said.
Andrews expressed her concerns during an online forum with local media outlets. It was arranged through a partnership with Faith in Minnesota, SEIU, Education Minnesota and Land Stewardship Partnership.
Also addressing concerns was Christina Valdez, the founder and executive director of Listos Preschool and Childcare, a bilingual English-Spanish child care program in Rochester.
“As the economy works to reopen, we cannot ignore the underlying problems the COVID-19 crisis have brought to light. Instead, we need to have a conversation of what our families, our children and our child care centers need to survive and thrive,” Valdez said, adding that the Legislature could help by increasing the child care assistance rate and making sure workers are adequately paid.
Janaé Bates of Faith in Minnesota, an arm of ISAIAH, a coalition of Minnesota congregations and mosques, said Thursday’s effort was intended to push for passage of bills that have made it through the DFL-led House but have struggled or died in the Republican-led Senate.
She said she hopes legislative action is seen before the session is required to end Monday.
“We know as Minnesotans, that when we work together across race, across religion, across income, across the region, we can actually get all the things we need, not just to survive COVID-19 and this pandemic, but to be able to thrive and create a state that we know benefits each and every one of us, with no exceptions,” she said.