COVID-19 has already had severe health, employment, and financial impacts on Gulf Coast workers, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation (ALF), AFL-CIO.
Two-thirds of respondents to the survey indicated that their members had already been furloughed or laid off, with government workers being the few exceptions. 44% of respondents said that their members were already struggling to afford basic necessities, such as food and rent.
ALF President Lacy Wolf said, “This survey makes it clear that the crisis is not coming for Gulf Coast workers – it’s already here. No sectors have been spared from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Workers experiencing layoffs, furloughs, and reduced hours need immediate relief.”
For some industries, the impacts have been devastating. The Theater Workers (IATSE) and Actors (SAG-AFTRA) unions report that 99% of their members have already been laid off. UNITE HERE!, which represents hotel and airport concession workers, also says that their members are experiencing devastating layoffs.
“Our members have been hard-hit, and we’re seeing massive layoffs that are unlikely to end anytime soon. Many of us were already struggling – and the Coronavirus has made things much worse,” said Darnell Tingle of UNITE HERE, Local 23.
Metro bus drivers and mechanics indicated that they were not experiencing layoffs, but they emphasized the dire need for protective equipment. In general, unions representing critical infrastructure workers expressed deep concern about the lack of protections at work.
ALF Executive Director Hany Khalil said, “We raised the alarm two weeks ago – workers are suffering, and they need immediate action from city, state, and federal authorities.”
The ALF’s survey was conducted online and via phone between March 16th and March 20th. 33 unions representing a broad range of sectors (public sector, transportation, building and construction trades, services) responded.
The full report can be read here.