United States public sector unions have called on President Donald Trump to prioritise the safety and security of Government employees in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to the President, the Federal Workers Alliance, representing 24 unions and 300,000 Federal Public Servants, said the safety of Government workers directly impacted the safety of all Americans.
“We must insist that you take these reasonable actions to ensure their safety,” the letter said.
“Anything less will put hundreds of thousands of dedicated Federal employees, their families, and the Americans they serve, in unnecessary danger,” it said.
The Alliance is demanding the Government implement 11 safety precautions before employees can return to their workplaces.
These include providing personal protective equipment (PPE); offering employees who suspect they may have been exposed to COVID-19 testing on request, and giving workers “immediate and thorough” notice if a person suspected of having the virus has been at their worksite.
“As Agencies prepare to recall workers into offices and other workstations, and necessarily back onto public transportation, into cities, and onto roads, the undersigned organisations strongly urge the Federal Government to prioritise the safety and security of its workers,” the letter reads.
It said that in areas where there was a higher threat to public health, the Federal Government “must allow employees to continue sheltering in place and working from home, unless and until it is safe to return to the office”.
The letter comes after the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a notice stating that the Federal Government would begin a “phased transition” to normal working operations.
The Alliance stated at least 126 Federal employees had died of Coronavirus and that, at some Agencies, employees had been instructed to continue working after being exposed to the virus.
The Agencies that have seen the highest death tolls include the US Postal Service, the Veterans Affairs Department, the Defence Department, the State Department, and Customs and Border Protection.
Washington, 3 June 2020