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Ministry of Labor vows to protect workers from Covid after delegation is blocked

US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh talks about trade unions during an event in the East Room of the White House on September 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Brendan Smiarovsky | AFP | Getty Images

After the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s vaccines and inspection rules for private companies, the Ministry of Labor vowed to use its authority to protect workers from Covid.

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said in a post-decision statement in the High Court that the Occupational Safety Agency is evaluating options for enforcing safety standards for Covid in the workplace.

“Regardless of the end result of these procedures, OSHA will do everything with its existing authority to hold the company responsible for protecting workers,” Walsh said Thursday.

OSHA still has the general authority to require employers to maintain a safe workplace, otherwise the business can be fined. Since the beginning of the pandemic, authorities have investigated thousands of Covid complaints with millions of dollars in fines.

A conservative majority of the Supreme Court called the federal mandate “indistinguishable based on industry and risk of exposure to Covid-19” and “blunt instrument” in its 6-3 decision.

However, the High Court said OSHA has the authority to regulate certain workplaces where workers face a serious threat from Covid.

“If the virus poses a special risk due to a particular characteristic of an employee’s work or workplace, targeted regulation is clearly acceptable,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion.

The court said there was “no doubt” that OSHA could implement safety measures to protect workers from Covid in particularly cramped and crowded environments.

In other words, according to Jordan Barab, Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA during the Obama administration, OSHA has introduced new regulations for high-risk industries such as meat stuffing, safety measures that do not include controversial vaccine rules. It can be adjusted with.

“There are several criteria OSHA can use to increase its risk base and will probably pass the Supreme Court’s convocation,” Barab told CNBC on Friday.

Trade unions are already moving in that direction. AFL-CIO, the largest union federation in the United States, called on the White House to issue new workplace safety standards that require improvements in ventilation, physical distance, masking, and paid leave for all workers. ..

“We are disappointed with this decision, but the majority of courts clearly acknowledge OSHA’s authority to protect workers at increased risk of becoming infected with Covid-19 at work,” AFL-CIO said. Liz Schler said in a statement. “OSHA’s responsibility to provide safe working conditions remains firmly.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union represents 1.3 million people, primarily in meat packaging and food processing, and provides free personal protective equipment to white houses and businesses in addition to the measures required by the AFL-CIO. I want

The Service Employees International Union, which represents two million workers, calls on Congress and the state to implement security measures such as universal vaccination and broader access to testing in the event of a White House failure. increase.

“Given the Supreme Court ruthlessly abandoned millions of essential workers, Congress and the state must act urgently to demand that employers protect all workers. “SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement.

More than 20 states operate their own workplace safety plans, and some states enforce Covid’s safety requirements. For example, in California, all employees and customers must wear masks indoors. Companies also need to implement Covid prevention plans, investigate outbreaks, notify employees within a day, and provide free testing to fully vaccinated employees, among other means. ..

New York City enforces vaccine obligations for all private companies. Mayor Eric Adams revealed on Friday that city rules are still in place.

In Chicago, everyone over the age of 5 must present proof of vaccination to eat indoors at a restaurant, go to the gym, or enter an indoor entertainment facility where meals are served. .. There are similar rules in Los Angeles.

President Joe Biden, as part of him, called on companies to voluntarily implement vaccines and testing rules. Many large companies, including Citigroup, Nike and Columbia Sportswear, have said they will begin dismissing unvaccinated workers.

“The court ruled that my government could not request this measure using the powers conferred by Congress,” Biden said. “But that doesn’t prevent me from using my voice as president to insist that employers do the right thing to protect the health and economy of Americans.”

However, other companies have already abandoned the rules. General Electric, which has 174,000 employees, said it suspended vaccines and testing rules on Friday.

Ministry of Labor vows to protect workers from Covid after delegation is blocked

Source link Ministry of Labor vows to protect workers from Covid after delegation is blocked

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