April 27, 2020

Watson Coleman, Pocan, Carbajal, 150 Other Members of Congress Request Increased Protections for Frontline Federal Workers

Today, U.S. Congressmembers Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Mark Pocan (WI-2) and Salud Carbajal (CA-24) delivered a letter, signed by more than 150 Members of Congress, to Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy, requesting the inclusion of seven proposals that seek to protect frontline federal workers in future COVID-19 legislation.

On top of calling for OSHA to establish an Emergency Temporary Standard, the Congressmembers’ requests include: hazard pay, paid sick leave for those exposed to COVID-19, expanded telework support, and many other policies to support and protect federal workers. These proposals would cover healthcare providers and support personnel at the Department of Veterans Affairs, FEMA Employees, Transportation Security Officers, Food Safety Inspectors, and dedicated public servants elsewhere in the Department of Defense, VA, and Department of Homeland Security. 

“Our federal workers are putting themselves at great personal risk to keep each and every one of us safe. We have an obligation to do what we can to keep them safe,” said Watson Coleman. “These commonsense proposals, many of which have seen bipartisan support in Committee, should be included in upcoming legislation during our next session.”

“Federal employees are frontline workers and all frontline workers must be protected during this pandemic,” said Pocan.  “From health care providers at VA hospitals to air traffic controllers with the FAA keeping our skies safe, federal workers are some of the most at risk of contracting COVID-19. It’s time we expand telework policies to be utilized at every instance possible, and provide the necessary hazard pay and leave policies they deserve. Federal employees are allowing this country’s government to run across multiple agencies and departments, the least we can do is ensure they feel safe at their jobs.”

“We must lift up the coalition of people—like VA health professionals, food inspectors, air traffic controllers, emergency responders, Social Security workers and more—who live in all of our communities and are helping to keep our nation running during this crisis,” said Carbajal. “I’m proud that more than 100 of our colleagues are joining us to urge protections and rights for these workers in all future legislation. Hazard pay, health coverage, safety and workplace protections are necessary, and we won’t leave these essential workers behind.”

The letter was signed by more than 150 members of Congress including 15 Committee Chairs.