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Labor Caucus Leads 100+ Members Urging Biden to Issue OSHA Standard for Frontline Workers

Jun 2, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Labor Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Steven Horsford (D-NV), and Tom Suozzi (D-NY) led over 100 members of Congress in a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to immediately issue the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect frontline workers from COVID-19. President Biden initially set a March 15 deadline for an ETS to be issued and the delay continues to put workers' safety in jeopardy.

“Our nation’s workers need an enforceable federal standard that will ensure that their employers provide the comprehensive protections they need, including ventilation, respiratory protection, testing and screening, exposure notification, and on-site vaccinations,” said the Labor Caucus Co-Chairs. “Frontline workers are working to provide health care, groceries, meatpacking, transportation, and other essential services that keep our country running, often without enforceable health and safety standards specific to COVID-19. We urge the President to issue the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard immediately.”

“Nurses and other health care and frontline workers across the nation continue to work without the critical protections we need to prevent Covid exposure, illness, and death,” said Deborah Burger, RN, president of National Nurses United (NNU). “The failure to protect workers has cost thousands of lives. For more than 15 months, NNU has been advocating for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard to ensure that employers protect their workers during the pandemic, a standard that has yet to be issued. We are grateful to the co-chairs of the Congressional Labor Caucus and the 106 Members of Congress who signed this letter, for standing with nurses and other frontline workers and demanding the workplace health and safety protections that we need,” she continued. “NNU strongly urges the Biden Administration to immediately issue an OSHA emergency temporary standard as mandated by the president’s Jan. 21 executive order.” 

The letter was also signed by Representatives Adams, Aguilar, Barragán, Bonamici, Bowman, Boyle, Brown, Bush, Cárdenas, Carson, Case, Castor, Castro, Christ, Chu, Cicilline, Clark, Cleaver  II, Cohen, Connolly, Cooper, Courtney, Craig, Davids, Davis, Dean, DeLauro, DelBene, DeSaulnier, Deutch, Doggett, Doyle, Escobar, Espaillat, Evans, Foster, Garamendi, "Chuy" Garcia, Gomez, Grijalva, Hayes, Higgins, Huffman, Jacobs, Jayapal, Jeffries, Bernice Johnson, “Hank” Johnson Jr., Jones, Kaptur, Keating, Kelly, Khanna, Kildee, Krishnamoorthi, Larson, Lawrence, B. Lee, A. Levin, M. Levin, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Lynch, Maloney, McGovern, Meng, Moore, Moulton, Mrvan, Napolitano, Newman, Norton, Omar, Pascrell, Pingree, Price, Quigley, Raskin, Rochester, Roybal-Allard, Ruppersberger, Scanlon, Schakowsky, Scott, Sires, Soto, Strickland, Takano, Titus, Tlaib, Torres, Torres, Trone, Vargas, Vela, Wasserman, Schultz, Waters, Watson, Coleman, Williams, and Yarmuth.

See the full letter here and below.


 

June 2, 2021

 

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

President of the United States 

The White House 

1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. 

Washington, D.C. 20500 

 

Dear President Biden:

We write to congratulate you on progress your administration has made in combatting the Covid-19 virus. Your administration’s efforts have saved the lives of countless Americans and have put our country on the path towards recovery.  However, we urgently request that your administration immediately issue the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect frontline workers from Covid-19. 

While your administration has made significant strides to protect workers and the public from the Covid-19 virus, frontline workers remain at risk as they face continuing exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace.  As you know, many frontline workers are working to provide health care, groceries, meatpacking, transportation, and other essential services that keep our country running, often without enforceable health and safety standards specific to Covid-19. 

On January 21st, you issued an Executive Order directing the Department of Labor to “consider whether any emergency temporary standards on Covid-19, including with respect to masks in the workplace, are necessary, and if such standards are determined to be necessary, issue them by March 15, 2021.” The ETS was only formally sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on April 26th, beginning a two-week Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) review. 

More than two months have passed since your original deadline for an ETS to be issued, and OMB has had a month to review the proposed ETS.  The consequences of these delays are dire, and for some workers the delay has been fatal.  Our nation’s workers need an enforceable federal standard that will ensure that their employers provide the comprehensive protections they need, including ventilation, respiratory protection, testing and screening, exposure notification, and on-site vaccinations. 

Further, on May 13th, the CDC issued new Covid guidelines which state that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, avoid crowds or large gatherings, or need to isolate after exposure or get tested unless they are symptomatic.  We are concerned that these new guidelines may put frontline workers across the country at further risk of illness and death while no OSHA ETS is in place.  We respectfully urge you to issue the OSHA ETS and ensure it covers all at-risk workers without further delay. 

 

Sincerely, 

Rep. Mark Pocan

Co-Chair, Labor Caucus

 

Rep. Linda T. Sánchez 

Co-Chair, Labor Caucus

 

Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi

Co-Chair, Labor Caucus

 

Rep. Steven Horsford

Co-Chair, Labor Caucus

 

Rep. Donald Norcross

Co-Chair, Labor Caucus

 

Rep. Debbie Dingell

Co-Chair, Labor Caucus

 

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