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Union-Backed Workplace Violence Bill Passes U.S. House

Published Friday, November 22, 2019
by Labor News Services & WNYLaborToday.com Staff
Union-Backed Workplace Violence Bill Passes U.S. House

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The Union-backed Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309) was passed in the House Thursday (November 21st) by a vote of 251-to-158.  The measure will help protect Hospital, Psychiatric, Behavioral Health Care, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Workers and others by requiring the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to issue a Federal Worker-Protection Standard.

Employers in the health care and social service fields will need to adopt tailored, specific plans aimed at protecting their Employees from workplace violence.  They will also be required to identify and control hazards, improve reporting and offer training for Workers and management, among other steps.

"Our Members mobilized all across the country and across industries to collect more than (80,000) signatures in support of this bill because they know it affects all Working People," United Steelworkers (USW) International President Tom Conway said. "This is how we make progress - by finding common ground and solidarity around issues that impact everyday Americans and making our voices heard."

American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) President Lee Saunders said: “Our Health Care and Social Service Workers deserve to be safe at work and to go home to their families at the end of the day.  We celebrate the passage of this bill as a major step forward in ensuring that workers are protected and urge the Senate to take this Bill up.”

Workplace violence is the third-leading cause of death on the job, and Health Care and Social Service Workers are among the most vulnerable.

Women are disproportionately affected, with two out of every three serious workplace violence events suffered by Women.

"It is past time for these Workers to have the protections they need," USW President Conway said. "We hope (Republican Senate) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does what's best for them, their patients and their families by bringing this Bill to a vote in the Senate, where we believe it will see the same support as it did in the House."

During a press conference celebrating the Bill’s passage, Miriam Doyle - a Social Worker at a maximum security state psychiatric facility and member of Local 557 (AFSCME Maryland Council 3), described the dangers she faces and explained how the law will improve her safety: “I know I am dealing with men who have committed serious, violent crimes.  I have been threatened by patients with physical or sexual assault as I walked across a common area to access a locked door.  H.R. 1309 is a game changer because OSHA will have a real deadline to issue a rule on preventing workplace violence.  My employer will have to seriously look at how their understaffing has contributed to my Co-Workers and myself facing violence at work.”

For More On This Labor News Story, Go To: www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/usw-backed-workplace-violence-bill-passes-us-house-300963353.html?fbclid=IwAR2_4f6irJ6kxDUKzTlMgyeQZQ8dLQkuV-qGw0slQEIMgU1sbDd8jKHS9yg And www.afscme.org/now/house-passes-afscme-backed-workplace-violence-prevention-act

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