SEIU 1021

SEIU members from across California rally in Sacramento to support the Healthcare and Essential Workers Protection Act


Today, healthcare workers gathered at the Capitol to ensure the passage of SB 275, the Healthcare and Essential Workers Protection Act.  The Act will create a comprehensive PPE plan for California to ensure frontline workers never again find themselves without appropriate protective equipment during a pandemic or other emergency.

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed how ill prepared our hospitals, providers, and other essential industries are when a pandemic hit — and the catastrophic number of infections and deaths that result. In California alone, healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 100 have died as a result of becoming infected.

Jennifer Esteen, San Francisco General Hospital Psychiatric Registered Nurse, was one of the essential workers at the Capitol expressing the need to send the legislation to Governor Gavin Newsom to make into the law.

“Last week the hospital I’m employed by, San Francisco General, had a 16 percent increase in worker illness.  That’s only one hospital in one city in this state. A 16 percent increase in one week, imagine what happening to all of our healthcare workers throughout the state.  We are all at risk and this pandemic does not care if you are rich or poor.  Does not care if we are black or white.  We need to be protected. SB 275 gives us an opportunity to make sure we are better prepared in the future. Also will make sure that California workers produce 25% of the stockpile,” said Esteen.

SB 275 would be required to create a 90-day stockpile of pandemic-level PPE:

  • The stockpile must include N95 respirators and other types of PPE that protect the eyes, face, head, and limbs.
  • The purpose of the state stockpile is to ensure all healthcare and other essential workers have access to PPE. In hospitals, this includes housekeepers, certified nursing assistants, transporters, and other essential workers — not just doctors and other higher-paid workers.
  • Low-income, medically underserved areas and populations are prioritized to ensure communities of color have access to PPE if they don’t have enough.
  • Require that 25% of the PPE is produced within California to ensure that the state, healthcare, and other essential industries won’t have to scramble for PPE from suppliers outside California or outside the country, or find ourselves completely at the mercy of unscrupulous suppliers.