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