Washington, D.C. — As states around the country begin reopening many workplaces, a new column from the Center for American Progress Action Fund looks at the steps that state and local governments can take to strengthen worker power and ultimately protect the health and well-being of workers.
Dangerous conditions in workplaces ranging from meatpacking plants to mass transit systems have made headlines in recent weeks. As states move to reopen more workplaces, an increasing number of workers will be at risk of contracting COVID-19. Since the Trump administration has not adequately addressed workplace safety concerns during the pandemic, the responsibility for protecting workers is falling to state and local governments.
In “How State and Local Governments Can Support Safe Workplaces and Protect Public Health During the Coronavirus Crisis,” David Madland explains that workers have important insights into whether workplaces are safe, and they deserve to have a strong voice in helping shape working conditions. Madland recommends six actions that state and local governments can take to involve workers, strengthen their power, promote safe working conditions, and protect public health during the pandemic:
- Create workers’ boards and other safety bodies to set industry-wide standards.
- Promote worksite safety through worker safety inspectors or committees.
- Strengthen government enforcement of workplace safety standards.
- Provide striking workers with access to unemployment insurance.
- Make government contracts contingent on labor peace agreements.
- Allow public sector workers to join unions and bargain collectively.
“The Trump administration has completely abdicated its responsibility to protect workers during the coronavirus crisis,” said Madland, senior fellow and senior adviser to the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “In the absence of federal leadership on workplace safety, it falls to state and local governments to ensure that workers aren’t endangering their health or the public while doing their jobs. One of the best ways to do this is to support workers who are taking collective action to protect themselves, their colleagues, and the public from the coronavirus.”
For more information on this topic or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at firstname.lastname@example.org.