Current Policy Demands:
Starting today, we must invest in people and communities to save lives and alleviate economic hardship in this public health emergency.
We must protect and empower frontline workers who continue to go to work for the public good.
First, we must ensure everyone has the personal protective equipment and emergency sick time they need to stay safe and care for their families. Essential workers should receive hazard pay or extra duty pay as they risk their health to keep our households and the economy running and should be free from retaliation for refusing to work because of the lack of protective equipment.
We must collect and report data on occupation and industry and presume exposure and infection is work-related in frontline workers, to ensure they get the protections and compensation they deserve.
Confront Racial Injustice
We must confront the structural racism that means people of color—especially immigrants and African Americans—have much higher infection and death rates than white people (infection rates are 3.2 times higher for Latinxs, and 2.5 times higher for African Americans). While long-term transformational work is necessary to achieve racial justice, we must act right now to blunt the worst racial inequality.
We must ensure adequate and equitable public health funding so communities of color and low income communities have access to free and widespread protections, testing and universal access to treatment for COVID-19, including safe access for immigrants who may fear reprisals. We must make information available in the major languages spoken in Massachusetts, including Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Haitian, French, Khmer, and Vietnamese.
We must remain vigilant to ensure that COVID-19 Crisis Standards of Care never deem people of color and people with disabilities as less worthy of life-saving medical treatment. The people who are likely to be most impacted need to be at the decision making table to develop and revise these kinds of standards.
Structural racism has led to extreme racial disparities in incarceration, and now, people in jails, prisons and detention facilities are at high risk of COVID-19 infection. We must reduce the number of people who are incarcerated, and ensure they have access to housing and healthcare upon release.
We must collect and report data on race so we can track and improve outcomes and eliminate racial disparities.
Alleviate Economic Hardship
As hundreds of thousands of people in Massachusetts face unemployment, we must ensure that everyone—regardless of documentation status–has the economic support they need to weather this crisis.
Unemployment insurance and sick leave should be strengthened and extended to help people weather illness and unemployment.
Renters and homeowners impacted by COVID must have rent and mortgage relief—without the threat of future escalating debt. Utility services must be restored and maintained for all, regardless of ability to pay, and without penalties for non-payment.
People who are unhoused should have a safe place to stay and receive expanded help and services at this time.
All people should have the help they need to put food on their tables.
No one’s documentation status, or use of an ITIN instead of a SSN, should prevent them from receiving the help they need.
A Just Recovery
Even when we reopen the economy, we will not return to the pre-COVID “normal.” Structural inequalities transformed a public health emergency into compounding crises of housing instability, food insecurity, and financial distress. Our resilience in the face of the next crises – economic recessions, climate-related natural disasters, and future public health emergencies – depends on our ability to build a more equitable, secure, and democratic society.
Invest in our communities, not corporations
Austerity will not lead to a just recovery. With state and municipal revenues falling just as needs escalate, we must find equitable and creative ways to fund investment in our communities, not impose cuts that will make life worse for people. Decision-makers should prioritize progressive taxation and rolling back tax breaks for corporations and high-wealth individuals. We must fund universal childcare and free public education from kindergarten through college, forgiving existing student loan debt. And we must improve and expand public transit and other critical public needs, prioritizing equity and access. Public goods and services should be protected from corporations hoping to profit from privatization.
Protect and Empower Workers
The pandemic has made it clear how many working families in Massachusetts live from paycheck to paycheck, with inadequate safety protections or a voice on the job. We should protect workers’ right to organize, ensure the state minimum wage continues to rise, invest in workforce development programs, secure robust labor representation on public decision-making boards. We must end the misclassification of gig economy workers and stop the privatization of our public agencies. We must ensure all workers have adequate protections against wage theft, sexual harassment, discrimination and occupational hazards.
Democratic governance is essential to chart our way out of this crisis. We must enable people to vote safely by enacting vote-by-mail and Election Day voter registration, as well as boost democratic participation by instituting ranked-choice voting. We must retain maximum democratic control at the local level by safeguarding Gateway Cities from receivership and preventing state takeovers of municipal school committees. We should protect the will of the people by limiting corporate interference with public governance. We must provide free broadband internet to ensure everyone in Massachusetts has the information they need to make informed voting choices.
Protect our Homes and Neighborhoods
COVID-19 has shown the importance of neighbors and communities in providing mutual aid and emotional support. We can protect our communities against displacement and gentrification by expanding truly affordable housing throughout the state, preventing evictions, and rolling back the state ban on rent control. We must ensure everyone lives in a healthy neighborhood free from toxic pollution, with access to ample green space.
The pandemic has highlighted the dangers of incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color, especially black and immigrant communities. There should be no new spending on prisons and sheriff departments, and Massachusetts should do everything possible to protect people without immigration documents from persecution by federal officials. We should continue to reduce the number of people who are incarcerated now, and ensure they have access to housing, healthcare, and jobs upon release. We must address the roots of high incarceration rates by dismantling the cradle-to-prison pipeline.
Build a Sustainable Future
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown we are dramatically unprepared for disaster. With that in mind, we must take bold action to mitigate and prepare for the future of climate change. We need to ensure a just transition to a green economy, with good jobs and a voice at work. We must invest in public transit and other public initiatives that can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We must enforce and strengthen environmental standards, especially to protect communities of color who have suffered disproportionately from toxic pollution.
Sign on to the current policy demands
Current Policy Demands
- Accessible information about the COVID-19 outbreak for all Massachusetts residents. Communications must be available in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Haitian, French, Khmer, and Vietnamese.
- Broadband in every possible geography.
- A strong state-level response addressing the UI and stimulus support gaps faced by people without documents and those filing with individual taxpayer identification numbers.
- Accessible economic relief that prioritizes workers, not solely business owners.
- Collection and reporting of data on race during the outbreak.
- Moratorium on evictions and foreclosures and a rent freeze for tenants who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.
- Restoration of all utilities, and a moratorium on utility shutoffs.
- Safe elections through enacting vote-by-mail and Election Day Registration and lengthening the time period for early voting.
- Full funding for the Student Opportunity Act and cancellation of the MCAS.
- Expanded SNAP, WIC and school lunch programs and suspending regulations that weaken food assistance.
- Adequate and equitable public health funding so all have access to prevention and public health protections. Everyone needs health insurance coverage, which is not linked to their employer.
- Free testing and health care access for all.
- Expanded unemployment benefits and emergency paid sick time.
- Funding for legal services for low-income people and people facing economic hardship.
- The equitable distribution of federal stimulus funds and other federal support.
- Decrease in the number of people in jails and prisons by continuing to reduce arrests and releasing people in pre-trial detention, people who are eligible for parole, people over the age of 50, and people with health conditions plus coordinated access to housing and healthcare for people when they are released.
- Full enforcement of clean water and air pollution standards to avoid additional health burdens, particularly in low-income and communities of color.