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Oxfam Response to Executive Action on Hunger and Worker Safety

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In response to Friday’s Executive Order that bolsters assistance to struggling Americans, Gina Cummings, Oxfam America’s vice president of Advocacy, Alliances and Policy, issued the following statement:

“Oxfam warmly welcomes President Biden’s executive action today that takes significant measures to speed assistance to people who are feeling real pain and anxiety at this time and protecting workers and their communities.

“The pandemic has stolen and damaged countless lives and has ravaged our economy. Each week, roughly a million people in the US file for unemployment; behind every lost job is a household missing income, and the means to put food on the table and pay the rent.

“In particular, Oxfam welcomes the recognition that food insecurity and hunger have become a new reality for millions of Americans. There is no excuse for this. We have the means to restore and provide a robust safety net. Increasing SNAP benefits for roughly 12 million families and providing money to replace free meals students would have been receiving in school are the right thing to do in the midst of this crisis.

“President Biden’s request to the Treasury Department to find new ways to get stimulus checks to as many as eight million people who haven’t received them yet will help families and bolster the economy as a whole.

“In addition, acknowledging that workers have, for too long, been facing dangerous conditions and paltry compensation is desperately overdue. This has the potential to benefit those who have been hit the hardest--particularly historically marginalized populations, such as immigrants, Blacks, and women.

  • Many have been compelled to report to jobs that are patently unsafe and put their lives in danger. Today’s executive action stipulates that workers have the right to “refuse employment that will jeopardize their health,” and still quality for unemployment insurance.
  • An Executive Order issued on Thursday mandates the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to consider an emergency standard on COVID-19 in the workplace—a move that could save thousands of lives.
  • The Executive Order directs federal agencies to determine which workers earn less than $15 an hour, and to develop recommendations to get to $15. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for more than 11 years, stranding millions of working families in poverty.

“While we thank the President for taking swift and effective action to help families, it is absolutely urgent that Congress acknowledge the reality of the dire situation in our country. They must take a good look at the long lines at food banks, the countless businesses that have shuttered, the loss of support systems that have caused parents, especially women, to leave the workforce in droves, and take urgent action.

“Congress must work quickly with President Biden to enact a transformational COVID-19 recovery plan that helps families cope with the economic impacts of the pandemic, get people back to work, rein in corporate power, and help rebuild our economy from the bottom up. It is time to work together to tackle the economic, gender, and racial inequalities that have been exacerbated by this crisis, here and around the world.”

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