U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) called on the Trump administration to stop its plans to bring back federal workers to their worksites amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russell T. Vought and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Acting Director Michael J. Rigas, the senators urged the administration to issue clearer guidance to implement maximum telework throughout the ongoing pandemic.
The senators said the current OPM/OMB guidance conflicts with those of state and local governments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia all urge employers to continue telework as much as possible.
“The current guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is encouraging these unsafe actions, and we urge you to issue new guidance to better protect the federal workforce and surrounding communities from the increasing spread of COVID-19,” the senators wrote.
They noted that prior to the pandemic, federal workers made up 40% of Metro commuters during rush hour in the National Capitol Region.
“Your current guidance is endangering the health and safety of federal workers and everyone in our region. And since 85 percent of federal employees work outside of our region, it endangers the entire country. We urge you to issue clearer guidance directing agencies to continue maximizing telework throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” they concluded.
The senators’ letter echoes AFGE’s demand that federal employees not be sent back to their offices amid the pandemic, which has infected more than 3 million Americans and killed 131,700. Read our union’s roadmap for successful government operations during the pandemic here.