Labor and Community Groups Demand Funds Go To Frontline Workers and Impacted Communities

Massachusetts residents, labor and community groups convened on the steps of the State House last week, demanding that billions in federal relief aid allocated to Massachusetts from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) be distributed to help those most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic — frontline workers, communities of color, and low-income communities.
Advocates are calling for the estimated $5.3 billion in ARP funds to be used for frontline workers who put their lives on the line to keep our economy and our communities afloat during the pandemic. 
“There must be an equitable distribution of these funds to help those most impacted by the pandemic,” said Lee Matsueda, Executive Director, Community Labor United. “During the pandemic, working families across the state were on the frontlines protecting our communities. Now the legislature must ensure that we are paid for our hard work, and use these funds to build systems that will support Massachusetts working families.”
Advocates made recommendations for the disbursement of the funds — including hazard pay for frontline workers, for housing preservation and redevelopment, for child care tax credits, and more.
The action comes on the heels of the hearings being conducted by the Joint Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Federal Stimulus and Census Oversight. This action has been organized to raise collective voices for the systemic changes necessary to build a just society, eliminate structural inequalities, and call for the investments Massachusetts communities deserve. 
“Frontline workers, including those in the health care and public transit sectors — many of whom were already underpaid — deserve hazard pay for the risk and pressure they faced during the pandemic,” said Roxana Rivera, Vice President, 32BJ SEIU Local 615. “They came to work in the worst of the surge, without basic safety-net protections, including a lack of adequate PPE, emergency sick time, and potential denial of workers’ compensation claims if exposed to COVID-19.” 
More than 8 million Americans fell into poverty in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Many of these families faced a compounding crisis exacerbated by the lack of access to affordable child care and housing. The crowd at the State House demanded that legislators take action to help Massachusetts residents. 
The ARP funds have provided the state with a unique pathway to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by families and communities across Massachusetts.

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