Washington D.C. – Frontline federal employees would have a stronger voice in protecting their own health and safety in the workplace under legislation introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and endorsed by the National Treasury Employees Union.
The Federal Labor-Management COVID Partnership Act would create formal task forces across government to review policies that impact employee safety during the pandemic and make sure agencies consult with their employees on issues such as telework, leave, cleaning protocols and training.
“This is a smart idea from Sen. Schatz and the other co-sponsors because it goes straight to the heart of the matter: Federal employees deserve a say in how best to keep them safe at work,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “Federal employees shouldn’t have to risk their lives to do their jobs, and we believe these task forces would help lower that risk while also maintaining productivity.”
Schatz’s bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
“This bill is about protecting our federal workers during the COVID pandemic,” Schatz said. “By promoting a constructive dialogue between federal agencies and public servants, these task forces will help make sure the federal government creates good policy for its workers.”
Agency communication with NTEU during the pandemic has varied widely. While some managers take seriously the need to keep their employees informed, others have refused any such consultation.
“That is why this legislation is so important. NTEU has always believed that open dialogue between labor and management is the best way to make the workplace run more effectively and efficiently, by preventing problems and resolving conflict,” Reardon said. “Opposing basic communication and collaboration is a sign that employees are not respected, and we encourage Congress to pass the Federal Labor-Management COVID Partnership Act as soon as possible.”
NTEU represents about 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.