April 13, 2020: A Message from Secretary-Treasurer Cales on COVID-19
New Guidelines from CDC Move Us Backwards for Worker Protections
Brothers and Sisters,
The CDC has just recently issued new guidelines pertaining to essential workers who have been or suspected to have been exposed to COVID-19. This guidance allows employers to have those employees continue working, provided that they remain asymptomatic and that employers take additional measures to prevent spread of the virus.
This new guidance specifies that employees who were in contact with another employee who tests positive for COVID-19 48 hours prior to that individual becoming symptomatic should be considered exposed. Employers are then encouraged to monitor exposed workers by taking their temperature prior to entering the facility and having them wear a face mask for 14 days following exposure, among other additional recommendations. If any worker becomes ill at work, they are told to go home immediately, and the employer should again assess who was exposed, and so on. Frankly, the new CDC guidance appears to be a compromise with the employer community at the expense to our health and safety.
Given the path we’ve been on so far, the CDC issuing these guidelines is puzzling, especially considering that many of our communities are either at the peak of this pandemic or are approaching it within the week. While earlier guidelines moved us forward in protecting our workforce, these move us backwards. It puts workers at risk. It puts our families at risk. It doesn’t make sense to cut back on protections now for our workers who are risking their health in order to keep our country rolling – it not only threatens their safety, but the safety of the entire country. It is crucial that our frontline workers are able to do their jobs in the safest way possible. Their work is extremely important and they must be treated as such. They should not be asked to continue to work if they have been exposed to this virus.
I encourage all of you to continue following the safety recommendations to practice regular hand washing, disinfecting of surfaces, and social distancing. Again, I have reminded your employers of your rights to a safe work environment through OSHA regulations and the Labor Management Relations Act. As I have said before, if you are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed, consult with your physician and follow their guidance. If you need any help, please contact the hall or your Business Agent immediately – We are here for you.