Nina Turner talks about the risks faced by sanitation workers during the pandemic

Nina Turner, who served as campaign co-chair for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel Biden wins Hawaii primary Warren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden MORE’s (I-Vt.) 2020 presidential run, discussed a wave of labor actions by Louisiana sanitation workers deemed essential amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Turner said during a Thursday Hill.TV interview that the so-called wildcat strikes this month, in which the workers themselves decide to strike rather than union leadership, were spurred because “these essential workers, and the majority of them are African American men, are putting their lives in danger every single day to protect our health and safety.”

“They don’t have [Personal Protective Equipment], they’re not even making $15 an hour, that is not a lot to ask,” Turner added. “And they want hazard pay. So they’ve been out there trying to draw attention to this.”

Turner noted that in some cases contractors had brought in prison labor to replace striking workers, which she called “really unconscionable,” adding “the lives of those prisoners should matter as well.”

She went on to note that at the time of his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been in Memphis, Tenn., to support a strike by sanitation workers in the city, calling the current situation further evidence that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

“Their lives back in 1968 were not valued, and the lives of the 21st-century sanitation workers and other essential workers are not being valued either,” she said.

Turner pointed out similar actions from workers in other industries, including McDonald’s workers who had also demanded better protection and better pay.

“We shouldn’t even have to have these kinds of conversations to say to shareholders, to say to the people who own these kinds of corporations, that if you do right by your workers, that is good for the business bottom line,” she added.