Today is Workers Memorial Day. Designated 50 years ago to remember and honor those who have been hurt or killed on the job, this somber holiday is taking on a new poignancy as our nation battles the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.
Across our country, tens of thousands of working people, including those on the front lines of our transportation network, are bravely seeing us through this pandemic. Transportation workers, specifically, are helping people get to their jobs, the grocery store, and medical appointments, ensuring we have access to food and other necessities, safely transporting home Americans who have been stuck abroad, and keeping our supply chain running. And they are being unnecessarily exposed to the deadly coronavirus thanks to lapses in oversight, direction, and enforcement of safety procedures by our federal government.
Despite their increased risk of exposure, too many transit, rail, aviation, maritime, and port workers — all who are deemed essential — still do not have the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to stay safe. Across our transportation system, lack of clear, federal guidance has created a patchwork response that varies from company to company and agency to agency, leaving too many workers exposed and fearful.
This failure by our federal government to keep frontline workers safe is why the labor movement has stepped up to fight for the rights, safety, and livelihoods of America’s working families. It’s why transportation labor has called on the Department of Transportation and Department of Labor to do more to protect our nation’s transportation workforce. And it is why we are demanding that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) and enforce sector-specific requirements.
Frontline workers across our economy are putting their lives on the line as they step up to serve our country and their communities and our time of need. These heroes deserve to know they are protected at work, and they need the federal government to fulfill its responsibility to them to ensure their safety, and the safety of their families and passengers.
Every worker deserves to be safe on the job. But as the Coronavirus crisis is making clear, safe workplaces don’t just happen — they are fought for. Transportation labor is proud to do our part to keep frontline workers safe — now and always. This Workers’ Memorial Day, we renew our commitment to improve the lives and working conditions of those in transportation and across our economy.
Listen to TTD president Larry Willis discuss the needs of frontline transportation workers as they work through the pandemic on the latest edition of America’s Workforce Radio. Click here to listen now.