March 23, 2020

Tim Kauffman

[email protected]

Largest Federal Workers Union Urges Congress to Prioritize Feds’ Health and Safety in New Coronavirus Package

Categories: Coronavirus

AFGE: Mandatory telework, emergency sick leave, hazardous duty pay must be prioritized to protect federal workers on front-line of pandemic 

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE), representing 700,000 federal and D.C. government employees across the government, is calling on Congress to prioritize the health and safety of federal employees in any new coronavirus-related stimulus legislation. 

“Despite this growing pandemic, our members are coming to work every day to deliver essential services to the American people,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley. “Congress must in turn provide them at least basic health and safety protections, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help prevent the spread of this disease.” 

Any new coronavirus legislation must mandate telework for all federal workers whose duties can be performed remotely and pay hazardous duty/environmental differentials to front-line federal workers. AFGE also urges Congress to include an automatic presumption of workplace illness for employees who interact with the public if they contract coronavirus, a temporary standard from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and equal treatment for American workers on paid family and medical leave. The recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided three months of paid family and medical leave, but excluded federal employees, among others. 

AFGE criticized the Senate Republican coronavirus aid package, which failed a procedural vote on Sunday night, as a step backwards for federal employees. 

“Just as Americans across the country are starting to take serious steps to control the spread of coronavirus, the Senate Republicans tried to impose unrealistic and unwise limits on emergency sick leave for federal employees who may be exposed to coronavirus in the course of their duties,” said Kelley. 

“Emergency paid sick leave for the federal workers who are risking exposure to keep our VA hospitals, airport terminals, prisons, and other vital services running for the American public must be expanded immediately. We encourage Congress to develop a package that puts working people and their safety first.”

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