essential workers

Creative Commons

Let's Talk New Mexico 5/13 8 am: Some of New Mexico’s immigrant workers are undocumented and often employed in low-paid but essential jobs, such as early childhood education. And, despite the myths to the contrary, they pay taxes! In 2017, undocumented workers paid almost $70 million in New Mexico state taxes and $12 billion to the U.S. in federal taxes, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

No More Normal: A Year In Pandemic Part 2

Apr 4, 2021
Vanessa Bowen

2020 was a long year. We don't have to tell you. It was a constant barrage of reality-shaping events, and it hasn’t stopped. What is different for us now that we are on the verge of—maybe, knock on wood—coming out of the pandemic? How are the leaders we elected approaching their duties now? How are activists applying what they’ve learned to push their causes forward? How are the people who experienced hardship pre-pandemic adapting to a possible post-pandemic life? No More Normal reflects on last year while keeping our focus on the future.

Hannah Colton / KUNM News

People out in the streets protesting police brutality and systemic racism face the health risks of being in large crowds during the coronavirus pandemic. Health officials recommend wearing a mask, keeping your distance and getting tested regularly if you're attending mass gatherings. 

Mauricio de Segovia

Hospital staff are some of the most exposed essential workers during the pandemic, but cleaning staff who work in coronavirus units at UNM Hospitals say they don’t have the same access to personal protective equipment (PPE) or training on how to stay safe at work as other staff. While UNMH has COVID safety practices in place, staff say they don't reach employees who don't speak English or have regular internet access. Cleaning crew members are asking for hazard pay, better PPE, training on new cleaning chemicals, and paid quarantine leave if they are exposed.

Let's Talk Cleaning Crew

May 19, 2020
Hannah Colton/KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 5/21, 8a: Keeping our communities and public spaces clean is life-saving work as we fight viral spread. On this week's call-in show, we'll hear from those essential workers about the conditions they face during the pandemic. Do you work in sanitation or on a hospital cleaning crew? Do you clean homes or other businesses for a living? Are you a home health care worker? We want to hear from you about how things are going. Or do you have a special story or gratitude shoutout for someone who cleans the spaces you inhabit? Email LetsTalk@kunm.org or call in live during the show.

Wikimedia Commons via CC

Hospital custodians and houskeeping staff say that even though they clean the COVID wards and are in the room with patients, they aren't given adequate personal protective equipment. Three people we spoke with said because it is commonly known among other hospital staff that the sanitation workers are more exposed to the virus, they are treated unfairly and subject to discrimination.