Today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined President-Elect Joe Biden, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris and leaders from the business community and labor movement to share the federation’s vision for how to get people back to work safely in face of COVID-19.
Here are excerpts from Trumka’s remarks:
“We need to manufacture the respirators and personal protective equipment that continue to be in short supply. We need to make the investments to retrofit our workplaces and schools to meet the ventilation and distancing requirements scientists and workplace safety experts tell us are absolutely vital. We need to make sure all COVID-19 cases are counted and reported so we know where the major outbreaks are before they get worse.”
“But with close to 200,000 Americans becoming infected every day and workers dying at alarming rates, especially in communities of color, the most important thing we can do on Day 1 is to reestablish OSHA’s mission of protecting workers. For four years, OSHA has been AWOL. There’s been no full-time director. There are fewer inspectors today than at any point in the agency’s history.”
“OSHA has been totally absent during this pandemic, and workers across industries have been left to fend for ourselves. One of the best ways OSHA can reestablish its mission is through an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from COVID-19. We’ve petitioned for it. We’ve sued for it. I can tell you that working people voted for it. We cannot afford to wait any longer.”
“An emergency standard would quickly put in place requirements for employers across the country as we enter this very difficult period in the pandemic. And it would set in motion a six-month timeline to create a long overdue permanent standard so we are better prepared if and when the next outbreak occurs. The president-elect rightfully reminds us that a job is about more than a paycheck—it’s about dignity. And if we believe that all work has dignity, then all workplaces need to focus on safety. It’s not too late to save tens of thousands of lives.”
Contact: Carolyn Bobb (202) 637-5018