Labor Day mural honors Chicago's essential workers during COVID-19

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new mural was just unveiled in Fulton River District to honor Chicago's essential workers who have worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mural was painted by South Side native and multimedia artist Sam Kirk, and it featured the portraits of four specific essential workers: Carilla Hayden, a USPS postal Worker; Juan Burrell, a school lunchroom manager at Chavez Elementary; Veronica Sanchez, a nanny and leader with the Latino Union of Chicago; and Maggie Zylinska, a domestic worker.

"I am very proud to have my portrait here, because my portrait is an example of the 2.5 million women (and domestic workers) in this country who are essential workers," Veronica Sanchez said in Spanish.

The mural was commissioned in part by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, or NDWA.

"This Labor Day is like none other in that we are in the midst of a raging pandemic, a pandemic that has our frontline workers risking it all," said Ai-Jen Poo, co-founder and executive director of the NDWA.

"Yet they're still working for low wages, without access to a safety net or healthcare, or adequate health and safety protections. (This mural) is hopefully going to inspire all of us to protect them and to take the necessary actions to deliver the protections that they deserve," Poo said.

Along with organizing the mural, the NDWA co-sponsoring a nation-wide of essential workers this Sunday at 8 p.m. with a livestream event on HonorEssentialWorkers.com.

Juan Burrell, a CPS lunch room manager with SEIU Local 1, said he loves his job and considers it an honor to work through the pandemic.

"Even though the COVID has been out here and we've been in fear of it, as essential workers we come out every day and put our lives and our families on the line," Burrell said. "I'll continue to come out here and be on the front line."
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