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Worker safety and more support for workers are interrelated keys to defeating the coronavirus: Tim Burga

Tim Burga

Today we are experiencing the greatest public health crisis of our lifetimes combined with economic challenges that we have not seen since the Great Depression. Front-line workers have been putting their health on the line to serve the public during this unprecedented time, and working families across our state are enduring the economic crisis that has left too many unemployed and in a financial crisis of their own.

The fact is, we cannot effectively address either of these tandem crises without addressing them both at the same time. Essential workers are delivering us all through the pandemic and we need to give these workers the highest consideration as we look to incrementally reopen the economy.

The DeWine administration has provided rules and procedures that seek to balance the need to revive the economy with the need to keep us safe from COVID-19. Unfortunately, there are employers either unaware of the workplace requirements and protocols or who are disregarding them. During the state-of-emergency, the administration should require employers to post this lifesaving information in common areas of workplaces.

Further, granting blanket immunity for health care providers and businesses from liability, as proposed in the General Assembly, is unnecessary and irresponsible in this environment. The immunity bills currently in the state legislature are way too broad in scope and have no real end date. We should not create an environment that rewards the irresponsible few at the expense of the majority who are acting responsibly.

As the state begins reopening the economy, worker voices must be included in the industry work groups that the administration has established. Now that we can cautiously initiate a safe economic restart, workers’ experience and knowledge will be a valuable addition to the advisory groups and the recommendations they provide to the administration. The confidence of the workforce and the public is necessary to reopen the economy; and the public can only have confidence in a process that includes a variety of voices, especially those risking their lives and their health to serve the public.

Read entire Op-Ed here

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