Press Release

AFL-CIO President Calls on DOL to Do Its Job and Protect Workers

Today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sent a letter to the Department of Labor (DOL) calling on the agency to do its job and take immediate action to protect the safety and health of workers from exposure to COVID-19 on the job. 

The DOL is not fulfilling its responsibilities to workers. Last week, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said falsely that he has all the tools he needs and will use them if necessary. It is long past time that action is taken to protect workers who risk our lives daily to respond to this public health emergency. 

“Thousands of workers have died and are sick. If that’s not necessary, I don’t know what is,” said Trumka. “The DOL and federal government have failed to meet their obligation and duty to protect workers. The government’s response has been delinquent, delayed, disorganized, chaotic and deadly.” 

The Labor Department, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) must change course and immediately take the following actions, as laid out in today’s letter:

  • Issue emergency temporary standards to protect health care workers, first responders, essential workers and other workers returning to work from COVID-19 exposure and infection.
  • Fully, aggressively and expeditiously enforce existing OSHA standards and regulations and employers’ general duty obligation to protect workers from recognized hazards, including exposure to COVID-19.
  • Utilize OSHA’s full authority to expand its enforcement of safety and health requirements.
  • Require employer recording and reporting of all worker infections and deaths due to COVID-19.
  • Protect workers from employer retaliation for taking action to protect themselves and co-workers from COVID-19.
  • Protect the nation’s miners from workplace exposure to COVID-19.
  • Protect public sector workers.
  • Protect front-line OSHA and MSHA inspectors.
  • Provide training and education for workers at risk of workplace exposure to COVID-19, and guidance and assistance to employers to protect workers and limit the spread of virus in workplaces and communities.
  • Work with the White House, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to immediately and massively expand the supply and availability of personal protective equipment.
  • Work with the White House, FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the states to expand rapid coronavirus testing and make it readily available to workers at high risk of workplace exposures to COVID-19.

Contact: Carolyn Bobb (202) 637-5018