Workers in supermarkets, transit systems, farms and especially health care facilities continue to serve under high risk of exposure to covid infection, yet OSHA refuses to issue a workplace safety and health standard to protect workers on the job. Thanks to dedicated coalitions in Virginia and Washington DC, however, some state and local authorities are stepping up to the plate. Responding to appeals from the Virginia AFL-CIO and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (and many others, including the Catholic Labor Network), on July 15 the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board adopted an emergency temporary standard setting out what employers must do to protect employees from covid infection on the job. Doris Crouse-Mays, President of the Virginia AFL-CIO stated, “Finally, Virginia has demonstrated that it values workers. We now have standards that will protect workers, families, and communities by keeping them as safe as possible during this unprecedented time.”
For the Catholic Labor Network, the fight now shifts to the District of Columbia, where Council Member Elissa Sliverman has introduced the Protecting Businesses and Workers from Covid-19 Emergency Amendment Act of 2020. We are part of a coalition of labor and community organizations urging the DC Council to adopt the legislation and ensure safer working conditions for those employed in the District.