By Anna Quinn, Patch
BROOKLYN, NY — A massive protest asking for more funding for workers excluded from coronavirus relief packages shut down the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges on Tuesday morning.
The stream of “excluded workers” and their supporters took to the streets in Brooklyn before marching and driving across the bridges, shutting down traffic on the inter-borough connectors, videos and photos show.
The demonstration is at least the second time the #FundExcludedWorkers movement has shut down the bridges in the last year as they push for money for those who have been excluded from coronavirus relief because of their status as formerly incarcerated, self-employed or undocumented.
This year, the workers are hoping for $3 billion more to be added to a $2.1 billion fund the state created for the workers in 2021. The fund has since ran out of money for everyone who applied, according to officials..
“The pandemic laid bare the holes in our social safety net, which left hundreds of thousands of Black and brown low-wage workers to fall through,” said Comptroller Brad Lander, who marched with the coalition on Tuesday. “People who deliver meals, sanitize our subway stations, take care of our homebound elders, harvest our crops, and so many other essential tasks to keep our society going deserve the same social support when hard times cause them to lose work.”
— New York Communities for Change (@nychange) March 8, 2022
Only 5 percent of households in immigrant, Black and brown communities received unemployment insurance despite nine in 10 of those surveyed losing their job or income, according to a 2020 study by one of the organizations, Make the Road New York.
The workers include taxi drivers, salon and restaurant staff, street vendors, and countless others who have been on the frontlines during the coronavirus crisis. More than half of New York City’s essential workers are immigrants, according to the coalition.
New York’s Excluded Workers Fund, the biggest of its kind in the country, stopped accepting applications on Oct. 8, leaving thousands who applied without the assistance, according to reports from the time.