Brown, Senators Urge Vice President Pence & Coronavirus Task Force To Account For The Needs Of Frontline Workers

Senators Urge VP to Consult with Workers & Add a Labor Department Representative to the Task Force

Washington, DC - United States Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined senators in sending a letter to Vice President Michael R. Pence on March 6th, urging the White House Coronavirus Task Force to take into account the needs and concerns of frontline workers as it addresses the novel coronavirus public health emergency.

Read the full letter HERE.

"Because their jobs entail daily face-to-face interaction with large numbers of people, frontline workers such as nurses and other health care workers, flight attendants, and educators may be the most highly exposed individuals, and many of them will be a key part of the nation's response to this crisis," wrote the senators in their letter.

Their letter notes the Task Force does not currently include a representative from the Department of Labor (DOL) to represent workers' concerns, and reportedly has not communicated with frontline workers like flight attendants, nurses, and educators to identify the problems they face and gather their expertise in developing solutions.

"We urge you to reverse this startling omission by adding a DOL representative to the Task Force and by consulting with frontline workers through their unions and leadership as you develop the government-wide response to the virus," the letter continued. "Translating the insights of frontline workers into actionable preventative measures is necessary to protect workers, the economy, and the general public and to aid in preventing further spread of coronavirus."

The letter urges the Task Force to account for the needs of frontline workers and to consult with workers through unions and other leadership. The letter also asks whether the Task Force has reviewed letters and guidance documents on coronavirus submitted by unions representing frontline workers, how this information has been incorporated into the administration's response, and how the administration is ensuring frontline workers have access to personal protective equipment in their workplaces.

The senators requested a response to their letter no later than March 19, 2020.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Senator Brown has worked to ensure that the Trump Administration is effectively responding to the outbreak and that the U.S. has the resources needed to address this threat. His ongoing efforts include the following:

  • Last week, Congress passed a $8.3 billion Supplemental Coronavirus Spending bill that includes at least $15.6 million in immediate funding to help Ohio prepare for the coronavirus. Brown worked with his colleagues to ensure Ohio and local communities around the state have the funding they need to prevent and manage any potential cases of the coronavirus. The final package includes $8.3 billion in total funding, with $7.8 billion for immediate help to combat the coronavirus, and an additional $500 million authorization to enhance telehealth services.
  • Brown joined a group of seven senators in urging the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to commit that federal workers and contractors will not be penalized for following recommended health procedures to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
  • Brown joined a group of 14 senators in urging major U.S. employers to commit that workers will not be penalized for following recommended health procedures to protect the public from further spread of the coronavirus.