Washington D.C. – The National Treasury Employees Union supports the Senate-passed economic rescue package that includes emergency funding for agencies to better protect federal employees as they stay on the job throughout the coronavirus crisis.
The House is expected to pass the $2.2 trillion bill Friday and send it to the president for his signature.
“Congress clearly recognizes that hundreds of thousands of federal workers are essential to our nation’s response to the global pandemic, because this bill provides agencies critical funding to improve the safety of federal buildings where employees are still working,” Reardon said. “And for those employees who are able to work from home, this bill targets much-needed funding for technology to improve their remote access.”
For example, there is $275 million for coronavirus prevention and response in buildings managed by the General Services Administration for deep cleaning, enhanced screening and unanticipated space management issues required by social distancing practices. NTEU has repeatedly raised concerns that many federal workplaces lack basic supplies for federal employees including hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, and that buildings are not properly cleaned.
There is also $178 million for the Department of Homeland Security to stock up on more personal protective equipment for employees on the frontlines, including Customs and Border Protection personnel at the ports of entry. And there is $250 million for the IRS for costs associated with the extended filing season and implementation of the stimulus agreement itself, which can be transferred among the taxpayer services, enforcement or operations support accounts.
“NTEU understands that federal agencies cannot just close their doors, so it essential that the government do everything possible to protect those employees who are protecting us all,” Reardon said.
The stimulus bill also provides direct financial assistance to many taxpayers.
“We urge Americans to think of the IRS employees who will process these stimulus checks – and others across the federal government – who are still on the job providing necessary services to protect our public health, the economy and our security,” Reardon said. “Because of our contracts, many federal workers are able to telework during this crisis and continue providing services that American taxpayers depend on.”
NTEU also supports multiple provisions included in the House Democratic package that we will encourage Congress to consider in the anticipated fourth coronavirus response bill. Those include: hazardous duty pay for CBP personnel at the ports and other federal workers at greater risk of exposure to the virus; additional funding for IRS for taxpayer services, enforcement, and operations support; a provision to provide childcare and dependent care costs to federal employees who are required to report to their offices; and clarification that administrative leave is available for those federal employees who are prevented from working at their normal duty station, among others.
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.