WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 7, 2020) — Congress has moved swiftly in recent weeks to approve historic levels of emergency funding to help the nation withstand the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet more help is needed for the federal workers who are on the front lines of this rapidly evolving health crisis.
The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, says the most essential thing its members need right now is an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, or PPE — such as masks, gloves, gowns and hand sanitizer. This will help stop the spread of COVID-19 in VA hospitals, at airport security checkpoints, inside federal prisons, and the many other places where AFGE members interact with the public.
TAKE A STAND — AFGE is asking all union members and community supporters to sign two petitions urging immediate action by Congress and the Trump administration to support and protect federal government workers. The first petition urges Congress to ensure proper PPE is supplied to all federal government workers and to take six other important actions to protect these workers serving on the front lines. The second petition urges VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, President Trump and Congress to ensure proper PPE and other protections specifically for employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Please take a moment to sign both petitions.
AFGE is urging the president to use the Defense Protection Act to ensure that sufficient quantities of PPE are manufactured, sold at a fair price, and delivered to all those whose work exposes them to possible infection. In addition, the union proposes additional actions to help. Here are six things Congress should do right now to protect federal employees and the communities they serve:
1. Restore labor-management relations
2. Ensure adequate funding and resources for PPE
3. Require presumption of workplace illness
4. Approve hazardous and environmental differential pay
5. Mandate telework or safety leave
6. Permit changes to workers’ health insurance plans