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Workers Memorial Day 2021 – ‘Nobody Knows How Many’ Workers COVID-19 Has Killed

Published Thursday, April 29, 2021
by Press Associates Union News Service Via People’s World
Workers Memorial Day 2021 – ‘Nobody Knows How Many’ Workers COVID-19 Has Killed

(NAPERVILLE, ILLINOIS) - Just before Halloween last year, 23 Workers at the Midwest Warehouse and Distribution System Plant in the Chicago Suburb of Naperville got sick.

Days before, in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, they were close together in the company lunchroom.

On October 26th, they started feeling symptoms and told supervisors.

Midwest had Anti-Coronavirus procedures, but the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found it didn’t implement them.

It didn’t order quarantines, it didn’t enforce physical distancing and it didn’t warn the Workers.

The Workers’ complaints led the DuPage County Health Department to close the warehouse on November 4th and order it cleaned and disinfected.

But it was too late.

All had tested positive.

That day, one of them died.

The Worker’s death and the company’s stance led OSHA Naperville Area Director Jake Scott to cite Midwest on April 22nd for a serious job safety and health violation, with a $12,288 fine - the maximum possible.

OSHA did not disclose the Worker’s name and a check of newspaper obits for that month failed to find it.

“This case is a tragic reminder of the importance of fully implementing Coronavirus prevention measures that include wearing face coverings, physically distancing and quarantining Workers who exhibit symptoms to protect other workers from Coronavirus exposure,” Scott said.

But that’s not the point - the point is Workers, Unions and now the Biden administration’s OSHA want to force firms to protect their Workers via an Emergency/Temporary OSHA Standard against COVID-19.

The idea is to prevent more illnesses and deaths, which the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH) documented in its new report, Deadly Risks, Costly Failures

It discussed the report and the issue at an April 27th Zoom press conference to mark Workers Memorial Day, which was held on Wednesday, April 28th - now a memorial week.

OSHA sent its standard to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review the day before, to Union cheers.

National COSH, National Nurses United (NNU) and Workers and Unions will push to get it out of OMB and on the books fast so OSHA can enforce it.

Nobody knows how many Front Line Workers have died.

OSHA doesn’t track national COVID-19 illnesses and deaths.

And the point, both Workers and Unions say, is that an infected Worker can infect their families and communities.

And that’s what exactly happened in meat processing plants in the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Iowa.

So one way Unions, National COSH and Workers will push the cause is to emphasize the urgency by telling Workers’ stories about individual COVID-19 illnesses and deaths.

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