March 02, 2020

Senate Democrats Ask How Labor Department Plans to Protect Workers During Coronavirus Spread

CDC has urged businesses to plan for the coronavirus and its impact on workers; CDC has urged businesses to plan for the coronavirus and its impact on workers

Text of Letter (PDF)  

Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today joined HELP Committee Ranking Member, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and their seven Democratic HELP Committee colleagues to request Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia provide details about the Department’s coronavirus preparedness and response efforts and how the Department plans to protect the safety, health, and economic security of workers and their families in light of the increasing threat from the coronavirus.  

Last week, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged businesses to prepare for the possible spread of coronavirus, including potentially replacing in-person meetings with teleconferences or providing opportunities for workers to work from home.   

In their letter, the senators asked Secretary Scalia to provide more information regarding how the Department is communicating with federal public health officials, what information the Department has given to workers and employers, and what steps it has taken to ensure the safety and health of workers–especially those on the front lines of the government’s coronavirus response such as health care workers and federal and state employees. The senators also stressed to Secretary Scalia the need to protect low-income workers and workers who may not have the option to work remotely.    “

As businesses work to develop plans to respond to COVID-19, it is critical we ensure they are taking the best interests of workers into account. Businesses and workers must be provided with up-to-date information so they can base decisions on facts and science,” wrote the senators.   

In order to understand the Department’s role in the federal government’s coronavirus preparedness and response efforts and whether the concerns of workers and their families are being considered, the Senators requested answers to their questions no later than March 9.   

The letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).