Last week’s decision, followed by this week’s lackluster update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change guidance, and Federal OSHA’s decision to abandon protections for healthcare workers in the midst of the most transmissible surge of the pandemic is abhorrent, shortsighted, and irresponsible and makes workers in every sector of our economy less safe. To choose economic “needs” over the health, safety, and lives of frontline workers, the very people who have kept our economy and communities running to date is dangerous and unnecessary. Additionally, by removing all protections for healthcare workers - like the ability to stay home after testing positive - is dangerous not only for the individual worker, but also the patients they are caring for. From hospitals to classrooms to the airline industry, and every sector of our state’s economy in between, this decision will make work less safe at a time when we need to be expanding protections on the job.
Just over the last few days, we have started to hear reports of workers being forced to come back to work, even in hospital settings, while still being sick with COVID-19. Even with the recent attempts to incorporate testing recommendations, these rollbacks are unacceptable. The Oregon Labor Movement will continue to fight for the safety and protection of all workers despite this wrong-headed guidance and the dangerous actions resulting from these changes by the CDC.
We are proud to see the united lawsuit brought forward by national unions representing the country’s nurses and healthcare workers this week focused on ensuring that Federal OSHA issues a permanent standard requiring employers to protect healthcare workers against COVID-19.
Today, Oregon’s unions renew our resolve to strengthen protections for workers in-state, while recommending in the strongest terms that the CDC reevaluate this new guidance and put the lives of workers and their safety at the center of any future changes or updates.