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Organizing Public Health

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

With the increased concerns of COVID-19 from the past few months, we must be critical about the government’s current efforts to mitigate public health issues. Public health is also an issue concerning the livelihood of workers in the United States. This issue can be alleviated by union organizing power that can improve public health for workers and others who are disproportionately affected by health issues due to their inadequate health coverage.

COVID-19 will most likely affect business investment, household consumption, and international trade.[1]As the world is increasing their concern for public health improvements due to the virus’ disruption on the economy through supply chains, labor organizations should be at the forefront on organizing around these issues. Unions can have a critical impact on the public health improvements, yet they have been largely ignored as key actors around this issue.[2]Work sites and workplace issues should be active organizing causes in public health efforts. Healthier workers and work sites can equate to generally healthier households throughout the United States.

The main issue concerning the avoidance of this new virus is the U.S.’ labor policies concerning paid sick leave. If a worker does get sick from the virus and needs to self-quarantine, then they will lose a significant amount of their income. The worker’s best option is to stay home to avoid spreading the virus to others, while continuously sacrificing receiving income that will help pay for the hospital bills later due to the inadequate health insurance. This is a possible situation for many people in the United States as they struggle to balance their need to generate more income while still managing their health.

As this pandemic continues, we must look at possible improvements for standard health care business models that addresses issues affecting workers even outside the workplace. It is the government’s responsibility to handle such issues for the sake of improving the livelihoods of workers because of their need to have workers provide the necessary services for critical workplaces that are necessary to maintain the economy.

[1]Vinelli, Andres, Weller, Christian E., and Divya Vijay. “The Economic Impact of Coronavirus in the U.S. and Possible Economic Policy Responses.” Center for American Progress [2]Malinowski, Beth, Meredith Minkler, and Laura Stock. "Labor unions: a public health institution." American journal of public health105, no. 2 (2015): 261-271.

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