WASHINGTON – Today,American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), District 2, representing 20,000 federal employees in the northeastern region, is decrying the continuing widespread lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and telework opportunities even as COVID-19 ravages the area.
“I am appalled that these front-line employees still don’t have the personal protective equipment necessary to protect themselves, their families, and their communities,” said Vincent Castellano Sr., AFGE District 2 National Vice President. “Employee safety should be the top priority. It is inexcusable that some employees have been working for over a month without masks, gloves, or hand sanitizer.”
AFGE District 2 members – employed by the Army, Army and Air Force Exchange Services, Border Patrol, Bureau of Prisons, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Department of Veterans Affairs, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Transportation Security Administration and others – have expressed fear of reporting to their facility, citing having to work in close quarters with others with no available PPE. Some employees have been prohibited from wearing PPE, due to “bad optics.”
“This is a governmentwide issue that must be resolved immediately,” Castellano added. “While federal employees provide critical services to veterans, the armed forces, and the American people, they should not have to risk their lives in order to do so.”
Many of these employees have also expressed frustration about being required to show up for work, although their work can be done from home.
“It is irresponsible to require non-essential employees to report to the facility if they can perform their job from home,” Castellano continued. “This Administration must allow all telework-eligible employees to telework and put non-telework-eligible employees on administrative leave until this pandemic is under control.”