Last December, Oregon State Senator Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) made national headlines when he ripped off his COVID-19 mask amidst a crowd of protestors, some of whom assaulted members of the press and the Oregon State Capitol in an attempt to gain entry to the Capitol building that day. This week Senator Heard is back in the papers after being exposed for having ties to a group maliciously outing Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety inspectors as well as people who file complaints over COVID-19 violations. Graham Trainor, President of the Oregon AFL-CIO, responded to Senator Heard’s actions:
“By aligning himself with ‘Citizens Against Tyranny,’ State Senator Dallas Heard is embracing a dangerous ideology and puts Oregonians at risk. His remarks and actions against face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are already inexcusable, but to support a group who is engaged in intimidation of anyone who complains about COVID-19 protections is simply reckless endangerment. With political violence already at a flashpoint, we cannot allow a seated State Senator to stoke the fires further. Oregon’s unions strongly condemn Senator Heard’s actions against COVID-19 protections.”
Senator Heard’s actions come as COVID-19 cases continue to rise: The Oregon Health Authority reports a 3% increase in new COVID-19 cases from last week’s total. With 71 deaths and over 15,000 cases associated with workplace outbreaks, there is serious concern about protecting people who report workplace safety issues related to COVID-19 from the sort of intimidation Senator Heard is embracing.
“Nobody should have to fear seeing their name on a website because they exercised their right to ensure safety in their community,” said President Trainor. “We still have work to do to protect Oregon’s workers from COVID-19, and look forward to seeing the draft Permanent Standard from Oregon OSHA next week to ensure everyone can go to work without risking needless exposure to this deadly virus.”
The Oregon AFL-CIO continues to update a database of all workplace outbreaks, which can be found at www.oraflcio.org/osha.