Protecting workers on the job


It’s clear that Ohio workers are the heroes of this pandemic.

At a time when we’re demanding more from them than ever before, you would think that they’d all be getting a huge raise, and that our government would be doing all they can to make sure these heroes are protected.

Instead, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and corporate lobbyists are trying to grant legal immunity to companies that fail to protect workers on the job. Leader McConnell said, “I don’t think we have yet felt the urgency of acting immediately” to put more money in people’s pockets and help Ohio communities, and has said he won’t pass another coronavirus relief bill unless it gives corporations a blank check to abuse workers.

He has it backwards – workers and consumers need protections from corporations, not the other way around.

That’s even more true during this pandemic, when millions of Americans are risking their health and safety to go to work. We’ve heard disturbing, widespread reports of unsafe workplaces leading to preventable illnesses and deaths.

We should be making it easier – not harder – to hold corporations accountable to keep workers safe.

That’s why I’m introducing legislation that would protect workers’ rights by extending the amount of time workers have to take action against companies that violate labor and employment laws. We know the pandemic will make it hard for people to take legal action against companies that break the law – offices are closed, people are worried about how to get groceries, pay the rent, and keep their family safe. They shouldn’t lose their day in court because of that.

I’ve also repeatedly pushed President Trump to issue a rule called an Emergency Temporary Standard that would require companies to implement comprehensive plans to keep workers safe when they come into work – and would lead to federal enforcement when they don’t.

The president has refused to do it – another betrayal of the workers he promised to look out for. So, I introduced the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act, which would force him to issue the rule and protect workers. The House passed it as part of their bill last week – the Senate needs to put it on the floor immediately.

Right now, we’ve seen a lot of corporations run feel-good ads saying “thank you” to essential workers. But workers don’t need a PR campaign, they need pay and protections. As one Ohio grocery store worker said, they need to actually be treated as essential – not expendable.


By U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown

Democrat Sherrod Brown represents Ohio in the U.S. Senate.

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