Covid-19 Webinars

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May 17: COVID-19 Update: Vaccines and the NJ Vaccine Distribution Program

Over 8 million shots have been administered in NJ with approximately 3.5 million people having received the two doses needed to provide maximum protection. Eligibility has recently been expanded to include everyone above the age of 16, and the Pfizer vaccine is now approved to be administered to children aged 12-15.  Supply has vastly improved as demand for the vaccine has diminished. The state has further ramped up its outreach efforts in order to reach the goal to vaccinate 4.7 million adults.    We were joined by Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, MD, NJDOH Medical Advisor, Professional Advisory Committee Chair, and public health physician with board certification in internal, pulmonary and preventive (occupational/environmental) medicine. Dr. Bresnitz is former NJ State Epidemiologist and Deputy Commissioner of Health. Dr. Bresnitz spoke to the latest CDC recommendations and provided information for the Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen vaccines. Dr. David J. Adinaro, MD, M.Eng., FACEP, joined the New Jersey Department of Health as Deputy Commissioner for Public Health Services in June 2020. He also chairs the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force that is coordinating the planning for this state-wide effort. Dr. Adinaro looked back at NJ’s initial goals in addressing the pandemic and gave updates on where we are [...]

By |2021-05-19T12:18:00-04:00May 18th, 2021|Covid-19, Covid-19 Webinars|Comments Off on May 17: COVID-19 Update: Vaccines and the NJ Vaccine Distribution Program

April 27: Workers Memorial Day – The toll of Covid-19

This week, in our last regularly scheduled episode, we observed Workers’ Memorial Day and the deadly toll that COVID19 took on workers this past year. We heard from co-workers, community leaders and labor leaders who paid tribute to fallen workers and their families. We were joined by: Yadhira Alvarez, Chief of Staff for the Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board (LDFS Union), Workers United, SEIU Lou Kimmel, Executive Director, New Labor Tiffany Beavers-Busby, RN in the medical intensive care unit at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ and a Vice President of HPAE Local 5058 Our guests spoke to the horrible toll COVID19 took on their communities and workplaces, the stunning failure of our federal government in responding to the crisis at the behest of hospital lobbyists seeking to cut their losses and accountability, the importance of belonging to a labor union in times of crisis for workers, and why we must continue to march and observe Worker Memorial Day until we can go an entire year without a single worker death. Tiffany shared this important perspective with us: "The inescapable fact is that our employers needlessly exposed Frontline Healthcare Workers to the COVID-19 virus, lagged in informing [...]

By |2021-04-28T15:59:52-04:00April 28th, 2021|Covid-19, Covid-19 Webinars|Comments Off on April 27: Workers Memorial Day – The toll of Covid-19

April 20: COVID-19 and the New Housing Crisis

Today’s webinar explored how COVID-19 has worsened a pre-existing housing crisis in New Jersey, what protections exist for New Jerseyans struggling to pay rent, and what policies we need to prevent post-pandemic evictions and guarantee secure, affordable housing for all. Eric Seymour, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Policy Development at Rutgers’ Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, shared context on the relationship between income loss throughout the pandemic -- particularly severe for those employed in the service sector -- and inability to make rental payments. Recent research showed that New Jersey tenants indicated the highest rate nationwide of “no confidence” in their ability to pay monthly rent -- a result of both COVID-19 and the long-term impact of recession-era foreclosures and prohibitively high housing costs. Prof. Seymour’s research in other states indicates that New Jersey is at risk of a wave of evictions following the end of the current eviction moratorium, which could be exacerbated by the entry of more large, private equity-backed landlords into the state housing market. See Prof. Seymour’s presentation for further information informed by his research, including a set of graphs and visuals illustrating the relationship between COVID-19, race and class, and recent developments in housing insecurity. Staci [...]

By |2021-04-22T16:40:34-04:00April 21st, 2021|Covid-19, Covid-19 Webinars|Comments Off on April 20: COVID-19 and the New Housing Crisis

March 30: COVID, Immigration Status, and Hazardous Working Conditions

This week's webinar focused on how COVID-19 has impacted undocumented workers, the risks that undocumented workers face when they organize against unsafe conditions, and how workers are fighting back despite threats of retaliation. More than 40 people attended this webinar. Vineeta Kapahi, Policy Analyst with NJ Policy Perspective, offered context for why COVID-19 has hit undocumented New Jerseyans particularly hard. Undocumented workers make up a large portion of the workforce in industries deemed essential during the pandemic, and many have been forced to work in unsafe conditions, particularly in sectors already governed by poor or poorly enforced labor protections such as farmwork and warehousing. High rates of workplace exposure, as well as lack of access to health insurance and paid sick leave, have caused disproportionately high COVID-19 death rates in undocumented communities. Undocumented workers are also disproportionately represented in sectors that have experienced the most job losses due to COVID-19, yet they have been excluded from many forms of relief, including CARES Act payments. Immigration enforcement has also exacerbated the dangers of COVID-19 for many undocumented people. All four of New Jersey’s detention facilities have had COVID-19 outbreaks, meaning detention by ICE can be a death sentence. Enforcement also allows for employer [...]

By |2021-03-31T16:45:33-04:00March 31st, 2021|Covid-19, Covid-19 Webinars|Comments Off on March 30: COVID, Immigration Status, and Hazardous Working Conditions

March 16: COVID-19 and Paid Time Off for New Jersey Workers

We were joined by guests from the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers SMLR and the New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund to learn about how paid time off intersects with community health and well-being - and worker health and safety - and where and when the NJ policies can be applied. Debra Lancaster from CWW summarized the body of research on the benefits of paid family and sick leave, including addressing gender and racial disparities as well as improving health outcomes and work-family balance. Yarrow Willman-Cole from NJ Citizen Action gave an overview of the overlapping web of job protections available at the national and state level and income replacement programs available at just the state level. They outlined current state and federal laws that make most employees in New Jersey eligible for Temporary Disability and Family Leave insurance (TDI/FLI), and discussed the positive impact these protections have for everyone, but especially for marginalized communities and women highlighting among other points: Longer leaves among new mothers is associated with fewer depressive symptoms When new fathers take paid leave, they are more likely to be engaged caretakers Lower odds of infants being re-hospitalized when paid leave is available to parents Decreased participation [...]

By |2021-03-23T14:10:32-04:00March 17th, 2021|Covid-19, Covid-19 Webinars|Comments Off on March 16: COVID-19 and Paid Time Off for New Jersey Workers

March 9: One Year of the COVID-19 Series – Lessons Learned & Looking Forward

  This week Todd Vachon, Rutgers, Learn, Debra Coyle McFadden, Executive Director, WEC, and Cecelia Gilligan Leto, Program Director, WEC reflected on the 42nd webinar episodes they have developed and hosted over the past year. Through those webinars, they were joined by 97 guest speakers and more than 4,000 attendees tuned in.Speakers included: Barry Kushnir, President, IFPTE Local 194 who spoke about how terrifying the start of the pandemic was because of all of the unknowns. Barry stated that “the webinars provided a hub of free resources which was very helpful.” Kushiner also expressed how wonderful it was to be able to collaborate with other organizations on this issue. Marcia Kleinz, UniServ Field Rep. Region 29, NJEA, works with higher education locals and spoke about how she was able to use the tools and ideas from the weekly webinars to support solidarity among members. She felt that “regardless of the topic, there was something I could take back.” Moving forward, Marcia said that she feels that stronger health and safety language is needed in contracts and that the information she received from the webinars will help her “advocate better for members and to negotiate for it.” Nancy Miller, Membership Assistant Program Coordinator, UFCW Local 1262 provides [...]

By |2021-03-23T14:19:46-04:00March 10th, 2021|Covid-19, Covid-19 Webinars|Comments Off on March 9: One Year of the COVID-19 Series – Lessons Learned & Looking Forward

March 2: Collective Bargaining & COVID-19

This week, two experienced labor representatives and collective bargainers -- Peter Dooley, Industrial Hygienist with National COSH, and Jim Howe, President of Safety Solutions -- facilitated an interactive workshop on best practices for collective bargaining in the age of COVID-19. Peter and Jim have compiled a shared Google Doc with collaborative notes from our session and a comprehensive set of instructional resources and sample documents that cover pre-planning and information gathering ahead of the bargaining process, writing effective proposals, and bargaining itself. Participants are invited to reach out to Peter ( or Jim ( to request editable copies of any of these documents for use in their own workplaces. Some take-away points from Peter and Jim: It’s important to have worker engagement in the collective bargaining process. The more your demands are based on what workers want, the more powerful they will be to management. There are tremendous opportunities to gain improvements in Health and Safety issues through bargaining with employers. It’s important for H&S representatives to help the union or worker organizations recognize and realize these improvements. The bargaining process in health and safety should be happening all the time with the employer. The most important part of the process is to have any [...]

By |2021-03-03T15:08:55-05:00March 3rd, 2021|Covid-19, Covid-19 Webinars|Comments Off on March 2: Collective Bargaining & COVID-19

February 23: COVID-19 Vaccines and the NJ Vaccine Distribution Program

Today we heard from two public health experts helping to guide the planning and execution of New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination program. Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, Medical Advisor to the NJ Department of Health and chair of the state’s Professional Advisory Committee, began by summarizing what New Jerseyans need to know about the two available FDA authorized vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna mRNA), including the following: Both vaccines are approximately 95% effective. Adolescents ages 16 and 17 are eligible to receive the Pfizer Biotech vaccine. It is not yet known how well the vaccine prevents COVID-19 transmission, so those vaccinated should still mask, social distance and take other measures to protect others. The vaccine’s durability is not yet known - it may require booster doses. The vaccine may be administered to people with underlying conditions who have no contraindications to vaccination. Those who are immunocompromised or have autoimmune disorders should consult with their doctor before vaccination. Dr. Bresnitz also provided an update on New Jersey’s tiers for priority vaccination: in Tier 1A, which includes those working or volunteering in healthcare with potential for direct or indirect exposure and all residents and workers of long-term care facilities, “everyone who wants a vaccine has gotten one.” Those now [...]

By |2021-02-24T16:25:59-05:00February 24th, 2021|Covid-19, Covid-19 Webinars|Comments Off on February 23: COVID-19 Vaccines and the NJ Vaccine Distribution Program

Feb 9: An Agenda for Worker Safety and Health – COVID-19 and Beyond

This week, were were joined by Marcy Gelb, Co-Director, National COSH and Al Vega, Director Policy and Programs and Vice Chair of National COSH Board of Directors, who discussed the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s (National COSH) eight-point National Agenda for Worker Safety and Health, developed with more than 100 labor and community-based organizations. Marcy outlined the devastating increase in mortality COVID-19 has brought to workers, and the enormous disparity in mortality between white and black and latino workers. She emphasized that COVID-19 is not just a workplace hazard, but a hazard for our entire community. It is critical that workers are protected from not just COVID-19, but from all hazards and retaliation from employers for speaking up about them. Al elaborated on conditions for workers on the ground, and stressed the importance of setting a baseline of safety at the federal level, instead of leaving it up to state governments to decide whether or not workers have a right to be safe in their workplace. You can learn more about the national agenda here. More than 75 people attended this webinar. NOTE: There is no webinar next week. We will be back on Tuesday, February 23 @ 10am.

By |2021-02-11T15:46:49-05:00February 9th, 2021|Covid-19 Webinars|Comments Off on Feb 9: An Agenda for Worker Safety and Health – COVID-19 and Beyond

February 2: Public Health, Worker Safety, and Transit Equity During Covid

This week we heard from two transit union representatives - Corey Gallman, Recording Secretary of Amalgamated Transit Union’s NJ State Council, and Jerome Johnson, General Chairman/President of Smart-TD Local 60, representing New Jersey bus and train workers respectively at NJ Transit. ATU and SMART joined us on the series last summer to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their members. Today, both unions came back to share updates on PPE, cleaning and other safety measures, on-the-job violence that transit workers face. We were also joined by Janna Chernetz, Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Deputy Director and Director of New Jersey Policy. Janna shared statistics revealing the disparity in returning ridership between inter-city and commuter buses and trains during the pandemic -- proving that while many white-collar workers are able to work remotely, large numbers of essential workers still depend on public transit to get to work. Janna spoke about the Bus Rider Bill of Rights as a vehicle for transit equity - a document now proposed as NJ state legislation that declares the rights of all riders to affordable, accessible, reliable and safe bus service. More than 78 people attended this webinar. Janna also spoke about Transit Equity Day - a national day of action coming up this Thursday, February [...]

By |2021-02-04T16:46:28-05:00February 3rd, 2021|Covid-19 Webinars|Comments Off on February 2: Public Health, Worker Safety, and Transit Equity During Covid
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