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We owe front-line workers a debt of gratitude for their courage and compassion

American workers are the best in the world. Hard-working, dedicated, committed and innovative. We can achieve anything with American might and ingenuity. In the history of this country, times have tested us but we always emerge stronger, better prepared, more enlightened and together.

This COVID D-19 crisis is one of the most challenging times for American workers in a century, if not the most challenging in our history.

Throughout history, America’s greatest natural resource has been the hard-working men and women of our communities. During World War II, “The Arsenal of Democracy” showed up and build a military might that could not be defeated. Now, “The Arsenal of Health” has been deployed to meet the needs of these critical times.

Nearly 80 years ago, Rosies went to work turning out aircraft – one every 45 minutes at Michigan’s Willow Run Bomber Plant. Now, Ford’s Rawsonville plant – just miles from Willow Run – went from making fuel pumps and other components to making ventilators. Ford went from making the complicated vehicles to building complicated medical equipment in three weeks. GM as well in Kokomo, Ind. All three auto makers Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – with the help of many suppliers – are producing respirators, masks, gloves, gowns and other PPE equipment.

Every sector, every worker, every student, and every American is affected by the coronavirus crisis.

As in other times in American history, each and every person all has a role to play – whether it’s staying home or working in a front-line, essential industry.

There are not enough words of appreciation in the dictionary to capture our community’s gratefulness for the essential services our frontline workers provide. Our appreciation is deep and we must demonstrate our recognition with action.

Hard-working essential workers need access to real paid sick leave, should be entitled to hazard pay compensation, and most importantly, the safest possible workplace to ensure their continued safety under these circumstances.

As policymakers, we need to support front-line workers now and the workforce as we slowly return to work. We must keep them safe.

This is a transformative time for workplace safety, and our laws and regulations must change and reflect these times. We cannot ask workers to make the impossible choice between not reporting to work and potentially losing their job or working in an unsafe environment, risking exposure to this deadly virus. I’ve led nearly 50 lawmakers in calling for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue emergency temporary standards followed by permanent guidance and standards for worker safety and health.

The effects of the virus will ripple through our economy for a long time. We will never be able to rebound without the hardworking men and women of this country, but as our most important asset protecting their public health and safety must be a top priority.

There is dignity in all work. The doctors, grocery store workers, nurses, and bus drivers are as important to our response as are every one of us who stays home.

No one would have guessed, that me of all people, could spend more than 40 days at home, by myself. I did stay home because that is my job right now and will stay home until it is no longer necessary. We all have stayed home, because our first priority must be stopping this virus, stopping the spread, and saving lives – especially of the most vulnerable among us.

For all the front-line workers, we clap from our doorsteps and we make signs saying thank you. But the way we show our strongest appreciation is through giving you the support you need, our staying home, mitigating the spread and thanking your courage, your compassion, your kindness in fighting to keep us safe and giving us hope.

Debbie Dingell represents the 12th District of Michigan and is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She is co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

Tags Conquering Coronavirus COVID-19 Debbie Dingell

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