Washington D.C. – The administration’s plan to send teleworking federal employees back to their offices while coronavirus infections are on the rise is a threat to their health and safety, according to all four U.S. Senators from Virginia and Maryland.
In a Thursday letter, Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Benjamin Cardin of Maryland and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia urged the administration to reverse course and allow federal workers, especially in the national capital region, to keep working from home.
“Federal employees and contractors have been teleworking successfully throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, keeping vital services running and implementing economic relief programs and measures to stop the spread of COVID-19,” according to the letter sent to the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget.
NTEU on Thursday applauded the Senators and others in Congress who are raising concerns about unsafe working conditions for employees in multiple federal offices around the country.
“Maximum telework policies have worked well across government during this health crisis, allowing agencies to continue functioning while also keeping employees safe at home,” Reardon said. “As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, there is no reason to end those policies now.”
Maximum telework is also important because it allows certain employees with jobs that are not portable to report to a less crowded worksite capable of providing adequate social distancing.
NTEU is working with agencies on a daily basis to make sure employees have as much flexibility to manage their work and family responsibilities during the pandemic; that their work sites are thoroughly cleaned; that supplies of personal protective equipment are ample; and that there are clear protocols for keeping employees at a safe distance from each other.
“We agree that forcing employees back onto public transportation and into crowded offices could be a setback and hasten the spread of coronavirus,” Reardon said. “And as long as normal child care providers like day cares and summer camps remain largely shut down, it is unrealistic to expect federal workers to be able to go back to normal office hours at this time.”
NTEU represents about 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.