Trump Cut Workplace Safety Enforcement; Workers Died Begging for Help

Labor News

Reprinted from Jacobin by David Sirota on October 7, 2020.

To help their corporate donors boost profits and stock prices, Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers have pushed hard to force workers back into unsafe workplaces. During the pandemic, the GOP has brushed off science and reopened economies, demanded liability shields for employers, ended special pandemic unemployment relief, helped Amazon block a worker safety initiative, and encouraged states to punish workers who don’t return to their jobs.

For those forced back to COVID-19–infected workplaces, the Trump administration has weakened the agency that is supposed to be policing workplace safety. Had this specific agency taken adequate measures, such as introducing stringent measures, providing proper training (similar to the osha training in Atlanta), as well as putting the safety and wellbeing of their employees first, they might have been able to reduce the mortality rate. And now, a new study shows the results: death rates spiked almost immediately after workers pleaded with that agency to help, but were likely ignored.

The analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data comes from researchers at Harvard, Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. It shows that “there is a correlation between OSHA complaints and COVID-19 mortality” – in specific, COVID-19–related complaints to the agency “are correlated with [COVID-19–related] deaths 17 days later.”

Jacobin 10/7


Labor Agency Closes More than Half of Workers’ Coronavirus Retaliation Complaints without Investigating

Reprinted from The Washington Post by Eli Rosenberg on October 8, 2020.

The federal agency charged with upholding workplace safety has dismissed more than half of the complaints from workers who say they were retaliated against for raising coronavirus safety concerns, according to a new report.

Data given to The Washington Post on Thursday showed that through the beginning of August, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had opened up investigations for 348 of 1,744 complaints from workers who said their companies retaliated against them during the pandemic. Fifty-four percent of the complaints were dismissed or closed without investigation, according to the report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a worker advocacy group. And just 2 percent of the total were investigated and resolved.

Advocates and former OSHA officials say the agency’s lack of response to retaliation complaints is just the latest example of it favoring companies over the workers it is tasked with safeguarding. Plus, they say, the stakes are much higher in the middle of a pandemic that has made so many workplaces more dangerous. …

Washington Post 10/8

About Jeffrey Burman 861 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at