NYC Workers ‘Excluded From New’ COVID Protections ‘Call on Biden To Make it Right’
(NEW YORK CITY) – Front Line Workers hoping that President Joe Biden would provide them with the enforceable Workplace Safety Measures callously denied them under Republican Donald Trump’s watch, are charging the new administration with breaking its promise to American Workers toiling on the front lines of the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.
“They have certainly broken a promise,” Sonia Singh, who serves as the Co-Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance said. “It was very clear that the promise for the ETS (Emergency Temporary Standard) ‘was for all’ Workers.”
That, of course, was not what Front Line Workers ultimately got when the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), finally issued a new COVID Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on June 10th - roughly three months after it was expected.
The new rules requiring non-exempt facilities to conduct hazard assessments and formulate written plans to mitigate COVID’s spread, as well as providing Employees with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), social distancing and paid time off to get vaccinated or recover from illness - only applies to Health Care Workers and their bosses.
Everyone else - including those working in grocery stores, retail outlets and food processing and manufacturing industries - will have to make due with a loose set of unenforceable guidelines and recommendations.
“The Biden Administration ‘has missed a crucial opportunity to protect all’ Workers,” National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) Co-executive Director Jessica Martinez said. “This is a new insult on top of the injuries, illnesses and deaths suffered by Front Line Workers and their families. Vaccines have not reached all Workers and COVID-19 is not over.”
Last week, Workers up and down the food supply chain gathered outside OSHA Offices in Boston, Chicago, Trenton, Syracuse, the California Bay Area and New York City - to urge the Biden Administration to issue an ETS that actually protects all Workers across the U.S.
“Because of the organizing of Nurses and the amazing work that they’ve done across the country, they’ve been included in the Emergency Temporary Standard, which all of us applaud,” NYCOSH Executive Director Charlene Obernauer said. “But, we think this should be the standard for Workers ‘all over the country.’ Workers are getting sick, Workers are continuing to die from COVID.”
Tens of thousands of Workers in the agricultural and meatpacking industries alone have been infected and hundreds of them have died.
“We’re asking the Biden Administration to take these Worker deaths seriously - to take these Workers’ infections seriously - and to understand that just because we have a vaccine does not mean that Workers are not going to be infected with COVID,” Obernauer added.
Biden made a splash on Day One of his new administration by issuing an Executive Order directing OSHA on Worker safety, but that order merely suggested that consider issuing an ETS on COVID.
New rules aimed at compelling employers to take concrete steps to protect Workers from infection were expected back on March 15th, but never materialized.
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