Washington D.C. – The National Treasury Employees Union supports President Biden’s executive order requiring face masks be worn on federal property and creating a high-level task force specifically focused on the health and safety of the federal workforce.
“I am pleased that President Biden is making the well-being of federal employees a priority,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “This clearly indicates that the Biden administration understands that federal workers are critical to our country’s success and there are important steps to take so they can remain on the job during this pandemic."
President Biden, soon after taking office on Wednesday, issued an executive order that includes a mask mandate in federal buildings and other steps to protect federal workers and their families, and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
"This is the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that the White House has issued strong safety protocols specifically to protect federal workers, and it is long overdue,” Reardon said.
Reardon said agencies already have mask-wearing policies in place that are not consistently enforced in every federal workplace around the country.
“We believe the executive order will give agencies and managers clear authority to enforce the policy across the board,” Reardon said.
NTEU continues to believe that telework, where possible, is essential for worker safety because it allows many federal employees to work from home while also reducing crowding at the workplace for those whose work is not portable.
The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, created by the same executive order, will be a much-needed resource for agency leaders on how to protect their employees during the pandemic with guidance informed by the best public health practices.
“We specifically applaud the task force’s focus on employee testing, contact tracing, PPE supplies, physical distancing, air filtration, workplace cleaning protocols, telework and vaccines, because these are all issues we have been fighting for since March,” Reardon said.
The order also instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and submit a COVID-19 testing plan for the federal workforce.
“Agencies have worked hard to protect employee safety but NTEU looks forward to assisting the Biden administration in developing a stronger national response that recognizes the risks that many federal employees face every day, especially those who interact with the public or are responsible for work that must be completed in a federal office,” Reardon said.
NTEU represents employees in 33 federal agencies and offices.