9 AFGE Priorities in HEROES Act

Categories: White House, Coronavirus

It’s been more than 100 days since the House passed the HEROES Act, a comprehensive COVID-19 relief bill, on May 15. For months, America’s workers have been risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones by going into workplaces without adequate safety measures.  

Since the passage of the HEROES Act, the Senate has come up with its own proposal, the HEALS Act. We urge House and Senate leaders to come together to urgently pass legislation that includes protections for workers in the midst of a pandemic. Lives have been lost. We can no longer wait. 

AFGE supports H.R. 6800, the “HEROES Act” and urges the Senate to bring the following 9 priorities, eight of which are included in the HEROES Act with one being included in both the HEROES Act and the HEALS Act:  

  1. Prevent USCIS Furloughs

Even though the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has cancelled its plan to furlough more than 13,000 of its employees, Congress still needs to provide $1.2 billion for the agency to keep our bargaining unit members on the job. This USCIS funding measure is included in both the HEROES Act and the HEALS Act. AFGE thanks members of Congress from both sides of the aisles for acknowledging that being furloughed during a global health crisis would be detrimental to workers and their ability to care for their families.  

  1. Premium Pay

The HEROES Act would provide premium pay for employees whose duties, work setting and interaction with the public place them in danger of contracting COVID-19, and make the pay retroactive to January 27, 2020 when the national emergency went into effect.  

  1. Presumption of Worksite Illness

Employees who must interact with the public, who have been quarantined, or who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the performance of their duties will be given a presumption that they contracted the virus at work. This will help expedite approval of workers’ compensation claims.  

  1. Telework

Requires agency leaders to allow telework for all eligible federal employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Agencies would be required to expand telework by creating incentives to increase its use and disincentives to reducing it.  

  1. Universal Testing

The bill allocates $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures, which will ensure that every American can access free coronavirus treatment.  

  1. Additional Personal Protective Equipment

The bill amplifies production and distribution of personal protective equipment and other supplies and requires the administration to see input from labor organizations and other stakeholders.  

  1. Paid Leave Clarifications

The bill ensures that federal employees will not be excluded from the paid leave provisions previously passed by Congress and clarifies that Transportation Security Officers and health-care workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs are entitled to the additional two weeks of paid sick leave.  

  1. OSHA Emergency Standard

The bill requires the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a temporary standard to protect front-line employees from exposure to COVID-19.  

  1. Funding for the District of Columbia

The bill treats D.C. as a state for the purposes of funding for prevention, treatment and recovery, and makes retroactive payments under that status for funds provided in the Coronavirus Relief Fund in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.  


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