May 01, 2020
Calling the U.S. Department of Labor “missing in action” regarding protecting workers during the pandemic, a letter from the AFL-CIO urges the Department to require several measures to increase workplace safety and health.
The letter calls on DOL to:
"Workers should have the right to refuse to go to work if they believe it's unsafe,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a call with the media last week.
Individual unions weighing in: With intensive focus on the food manufacturing industry, the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) issued demands that employers ensure a number of specific protections, including distancing of workers 6.5 feet apart, safe travel arrangements, and child care allowances, among others.
Outlook: While Trumka has stopped short of telling the AFL-CIO's 12 million members to refuse to return to work unless new safety protections are implemented, it is quite possible they will take every advantage of their ability to file OSHA complaints.