As Trump Travels to Minnesota and Wisconsin to Tout Record, New Report Spotlights Trump Administration’s Attacks on Workers, the Environment, and Jobs

Ahead of President Trump’s rallies in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the BlueGreen Alliance today released Misled: The Impact of the Trump Administration’s Agenda on Working Families and the Environment, an interactive report exploring the real world impacts of the Trump administration’s actions on workers’ rights and safety, environmental protection, job creation, and pandemic response.

“This report illustrates the many ways that Donald Trump is failing American workers, endangering the environment and our communities, and putting lives at risk,” BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh said. “Families and communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and all around our nation have suffered the consequences of the president’s decisions. This report focuses on the impacts of some of the most egregious actions by the administration on workers’ rights and safety, environmental protection, job creation, and pandemic response, as a comprehensive look at the negative impacts of this administration on the nation would fill the Library of Congress.”

The report found the Trump administration rolled back numerous policies designed to protect workers, communities, and the environment. Under the false premise that these actions would create jobs, President Trump dismantled worker safety regulations, starved the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of staff and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of power, and stepped away from environmental policies that keep the nation’s air and water clean. The report should provide workers and others with the information they need to understand the current impact of these policies and work toward changing them to protect workers and our communities.

The report further explores the impact of the Trump administration on communities of color. The group urged the Trump administration to reverse these actions.

“President Trump’s claims to be pro-worker, pro-family, and pro-environment are demonstrably false, as made clear by his actions over the course of the last three-and-a-half years,” Walsh said. “This president has put countless lives at risk in communities across the nation, he’s failed to protect workers during a massive global health crisis, he’s ceded tens of thousands of jobs to other countries, and he’s allowed for more pollution to be dumped into our air and water. It’s no wonder Trump is running around the country talking about America needing a ‘comeback,’ as every American is living with the consequences of his actions over the last three years.”

Click below to view the report.

Misled

Misled: The Impact of the Trump Administration’s Agenda on Working Families and the Environment

 This report should provide workers and others with the information they need to understand the current impact of these policies and work toward changing them to protect workers and our communities.

There is no doubt the negative impacts of this presidency on working families will be studied in great detail in the years to come. For the purposes of this report, the impacts of some of the most egregious actions on workers’ rights and safety, environmental protection, job creation, and pandemic response will be reviewed. This report sheds light on the Trump administration’s actions that have negatively impacted working families, communities, and workplaces.

Click below to view the report.

Misled

Maine Environmental Organizations Stand in Solidarity with Striking Bath Iron Works Workers

“Our role as stewards of the environment and advocates for workers and their families does not often lend itself to weighing in on labor issues, but we know that a fair economy and a clean environment must go hand in hand. Injustice in our economy often leads to—or is coupled with—environmental degradation, which is why the opponents of action on climate change are often the same opponents of working people demanding economic justice. It is also why many community and political leaders have been focusing on the need to address both economic injustice and environmental damage.

“In that light, we stand in solidarity with the workers at Bath Iron Works as they exercise their hard-won rights—at great cost to themselves—to ensure that the terms and conditions of their jobs at BIW continue to be fair and just.”

U.S. Sen. Duckworth Joins Labor, Environmental Leaders to Call for Senate Action to Establish an Enforceable Workplace Standard to Protect Workers

Listen to the press call.

“It’s been over six months since the first case of COVID-19 here in the U.S., and yet the Trump Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration has yet to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to protect workers,“ said Senator Duckworth. “It’s past time for Republicans in Congress to hold this administration accountable. They should include in the next relief package what Democrats have been fighting for since the onset of this pandemic: language requiring OSHA to do its job and finally issue an Emergency Temporary Standard protecting workers from COVID-19.”

“Under Donald Trump, OSHA—and its counterpart for the mining industry Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)—have failed workers by putting out only toothless guidance for employers instead of an enforceable standard for employers to follow. Guidance isn’t good enough because even OSHA admits it can’t be enforced; we need enforceable rules,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh. “Instead of requiring OSHA to do its job, Mitch McConnell has proposed a bill that further shields companies from liability if they endanger their workers. It is another example of just how out of touch Senate Republicans are to the realities facing workers every day.”

Almost 150,000 Americans have died due to COVID-19. Two of the largest sources of outbreaks are in food processing plants and long-term care facilities. Data from several countries early in the outbreak showed almost 50% of infections came from the workplace. That data is borne out in Colorado, where state tracking of the 8,278 confirmed COVID outbreak cases on July 22 found 49% were workers in the reporting facilities, most notably nursing homes, restaurants, food and beverage manufacturing, and construction.

During the call, the BlueGreen Alliance released a paper, Less Exposure and More Protection: What We Can Do Now to Protect More Black and Brown Workers’ Lives, which examines the impact of COVID-19 on workers’ health and safety, including the disparate impacts on the health and safety of workers of color. The paper found Black and Latinx workers are more likely to have jobs that require them to physically report to a workplace where there are lower wages and a higher risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. An analysis of 2018 census data shows 43% of Black and Latinx workers are employed in service or production jobs, while only about one in four white workers held such jobs.

“From the start of this pandemic, science has been pushed aside to the detriment of the health and safety of working people—especially working people of color,” said Kathleen Rest, Executive Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been derelict in its duty to protect the millions of teachers and support staff, nurses, manufacturing workers, food chain workers, janitors, utility workers, delivery drivers, and other essential workers that have continued to show up for work every day in the middle of this pandemic. OSHA’s failure to promulgate a standard to protect workers from COVID-19, combined with the push by Senate Republicans to shield employers from liability for the consequences of failing to protect their employees, is a double whammy for the millions of hard-working people who are putting their lives on the line. These workers are doing their jobs; it’s time for OSHA and Senate Republicans to do theirs as well.”

On May 20, Columbia University researchers published their analysis showing that 36,000 U.S. deaths could have been prevented by imposing social distancing one week earlier. Policy delays cost 36,000 Americans their lives. For each of the states included in the Columbia University analysis, the death rate for Black people is higher. In Illinois for example, Black people make up 14% of the population but 28% of the COVID deaths. The paper found that instead of addressing these inequities, all too often the official response to the shocking realities of this pandemic is to blame the victim themselves, frequently through racist tropes.

“We’ve seen the Senate under Mitch McConnell fail workers in America again and again. This is especially true for workers and communities of color. It’s time for his members to stand up to him and stand up for workers and require OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers on the job from COVID-19,” added Walsh.

The group also called for inclusion of much-needed relief to working families, measures to jumpstart the manufacturing of personal protective equipment here in the United States, and the necessary funds to local and state governments and schools.

Listen to the audio from the call.

Less Exposure and More Protection: What We Can Do Now to Protect More Black and Brown Workers’ Lives

Click the image to download the full report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) give this reason for their stark June 25th finding: Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put some members of racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting COVID-19 or experiencing severe illness, regardless of age.

Many of these “long standing systemic and health inequities” will take many years of focused attention and funding to address. The racism that produces higher rates of diabetes and hypertension, for example, cannot be cured through an act of Congress or a governor’s Executive Order.

Emergency policies, however, can effectively address some of the impacts of racism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The twice as high death rate for Black and Latinx people could be reduced by mandating COVID-19 safety protections at their jobs. The President and his administration have the power to lower the incidence of COVID-19 by enacting and enforcing an emergency temporary workplace health and safety rule that will give workers the equipment, distance, handwashing time, and working conditions they need to keep themselves safe.

If the president won’t act, governors must do what they can to protect workers, especially workers of color, in their state.

Click the link below to read the full paper.

McConnell and Senate Republicans Side Against Workers with COVID-19 Package

The BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh in response:

“Every day, people on the front lines are going to work and putting their own lives at risk to provide essential services and keep our economy going during a global pandemic. But today, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are callously prioritizing shielding corporations from liability if their workers get sick on the job.

“Instead of siding with corporations over workers, the Senate should immediately take up the Heroes Act, which includes an enforceable emergency workplace standard that will require companies to protect their workers on the job. This House-passed bill also provides much needed relief to working families, jumpstarts the manufacturing of personal protective equipment here in the United States, and provides necessary funds to local and state governments and schools.

“We urge the Senate to do what’s right and to pass urgently needed relief that prioritizes the safety and needs of workers and communities.”

Crafting State Policy That Protects Workers From Infectious Diseases – A Policy Toolkit

Click the image above to download the Toolkit.

This toolkit highlights policy response in four key areas: enacting state-level workplace health and safety standards to protect workers from being infected by COVID-19; protecting workers from retaliation if they refuse unsafe work or report dangerous conditions; ensuring that affected workers are financially protected through worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance; and collecting actionable information about the pandemic from workplaces.

The realities of the coronavirus pandemic are stark, and many workers remain vulnerable to this disease, especially workers of color. Workers of color have seen disproportionately higher rates of illness and death related to COVID-19, and recent information demonstrates that Black and Latinx workers are far more likely to report losing their jobs because of the Covid pandemic.

In some cities, black residents account for about 25% of the population, but 70% of the deaths from COVID-19. This tragic pandemic has occurred at a time of unprecedented administrative failures at the federal level. The Trump administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency charged with protecting American workers from unsafe workplaces, has declined to issue an emergency health and safety standard to protect workers from contracting COVID-19. Early on in the pandemic, OSHA even issued official guidance stating that it would not respond to most Covid-related safety complaints from workers, ensuring that OSHA would not intervene to make workplaces safer.

Many states have now begun the process of reopening businesses after the shutdowns of March-May 2020. But these reopening efforts have often been driven by public pressure, not by epidemiological data. As a result, reopening without having protections in place to protect workers from infection will force workers to choose between their job and their health. States can act now to ensure that reopening efforts do not place workers at increased risk.Some states are already seeing increased rates and there is a very real risk to see more increases in the fall, when a second wave of infections becomes likely, and at a time when precautions are rapidly waning. State policymakers must take action now to protect workers from the virus itself, and from the financial difficulties that come with job loss or reduced hours. This toolkit is intended to represent some of the policy responses that can help workers affected by the coronavirus, using examples drawn from state

Virginia Takes Action to Protect Workers

The new standard is the result of a request by Governor Ralph Northam to the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. The Virginia Emergency Temporary Standard is being issued while the U.S. Senate and the Trump administration continue to refuse to take action to implement a similar standard on the federal level.

Following the adoption of the emergency temporary standard, the BlueGreen Alliance released a statement from its Vice President of Health Initiatives Charlotte Brody, who is a resident of Esmont, VA:

“While the U.S. Senate and Donald Trump continue to fail to act, Virginia has put forward an enforceable set of rules for workplaces that will make every Virginian safer—every poultry worker in Rockingham and Accomack Counties, every nurse in Fairfax and Wise Counties, and every other worker and all of their neighbors everywhere in the state.

“This is especially important as a way to lower the rate of infections for workers of color in Virginia—the women and men who are more likely to not be able to do their jobs from home. While 28% of Virginians are Black or Latinx, they are 63% of reported COVID-19 cases and 36% of COVID-19 deaths according to the COVID Tracking Project. The emergency standard that was approved today and the enforcement of the new standard will make it easier for all workers, including workers of color, to protect their health and the health of their families and their communities.”

Winning with White Working-Class Target Voters on Jobs and the Environment

The poll focused on white registered voters with less than a four-year college degree in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin who are not hardline Trump supporters and are therefore persuadable. The poll found that there is significant opportunity for Joe Biden to earn the support of a critical mass of these voters—particularly the segment that voted third party or did not vote in 2016—with a focus on economic recovery, good jobs, and a clean environment.

Concerns around Trump’s environmental and worker safety rollbacks were strong. In particular, rollbacks on clean air, clean water, and worker safety gave voters doubts or concerns about supporting Donald Trump. In addition, 55% of voters surveyed said ensuring people have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink was a topic they were very interested in hearing presidential candidates speak about during the campaign, with 85% very or fairly interested.

Economic recovery was the top priority for most voters. The BlueGreen Alliance poll also asked prospective voters to rank the jobs that should be prioritized for rebuilding the economy. Manufacturing jobs and clean energy jobs are critical components of economic recovery and rebuilding the economy, with 49% and 47% respectively rating them as top priorities.

Click the link below to view the synopsis of the poll.

New Online Tool Launches to Shine Spotlight on Workers Left Unsafe During COVID-19

The BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations, today released a new online resource to help American workers understand their rights, give access to critical safety information, and anonymously report unsafe working conditions.

SafeJobChecklist.org includes six questions to help determine whether the “guidance” being issued by the federal government is achieving its goals without adequate oversight from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“OSHA is not doing its job to create enforceable rules that make sure employers are doing their part to keep workers safe on the job, so we’re taking action to get workers the information they need. This is an easy-to-use tool that informs workers about the steps their employer should take to keep them safe on the job during COVID-19 and gives them the opportunity to anonymously report their conditions,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh. “This is an important resource for anyone on the job or that is heading back to work as states reopen.”

Americans are being forced to work without adequate personal protective equipment amid this deadly pandemic, some even without the ability to take the simplest of measures to wash their hands or maintain social distancing while on the job. The daily death toll among workers risking their lives speaks for itself. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of emergency responders struggling to protect us, meatpacking, healthcare, and utility workers, and workers manufacturing, warehousing, and delivering the many essential goods and services we all rely on.

The new website’s focus on anonymity will help safeguard the identity of workers who are blowing the whistle on a lack of adequate protections on their job. It does not require workers to identify themselves to view or use the checklist.

“Workers have been targeted for speaking out for more safety protections on the job and we are making sure they can raise their voice without fear of retaliation,” said Walsh. “It is our hope that champions for the American worker in Congress can use this valuable information to make OSHA do its job.”

We Need More Than “Good Faith” to Protect the Lives of Meatpacking Workers, Their Families

Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to keep meat-processing plants open. The President’s Executive Order does much more than keep the poultry and pork production lines running. His action further attempts to shield Smithfield, Tyson, Perdue, JBS, and the other meat and poultry giants from any liability for worker harms, in an industry that has already seen extraordinary Covid-19 exposures and deaths.

Or to use less legalistic language, Trump is putting the Presidential Seal on forcing workers into unsafe conditions in meat processing plants.

It didn’t need to be like this. The president could have stood at the podium with the Secretary of Labor and announced an emergency OSHA standard for meat and poultry processing workers and employers. He could have explained that this will necessitate some big changes in how processing plants run, but that CDC, USDA, and OSHA experts are being dispatched to help. Trump could have said that we can have beef burgers and safe workers too. But he didn’t.

Instead, OSHA put out a guidance document. To quote OSHA’s own explanation of the difference between guidance and a standard: “This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations.” As in, you are free to ignore this advice. And then—if that wasn’t enough—the Department of Labor issued a memo that promised that the Department of Labor would not enforce the guidelines for meat and poultry workers. But even that wasn’t enough. The DOL memo further committed the agency to the side of the meat and poultry companies if workers file any lawsuits or if the courts or the states try to protect processing workers by turning the guidelines into rules.

… the Department of Labor issued a memo that promised that the Department of Labor would not enforce the guidelines for meat and poultry workers.

The Trump administration awarded this gift—that is unavailable to the factories making personal protective equipment or ventilators—to an industry already notorious for its danger and disregard for its workforce — a workforce that is predominately made up of people of color. Failing to require protections for these workers—while also failing to use the DPA to mandate the production of the equipment we need to stay safe—is both morally and legally unjustified. Instead, the administration has said that all companies must do is show “good faith attempts to follow” the safety guidance. And the definition of what is good faith is completely up to them. Protecting the lives of American workers needs more than the Trump version of good faith.

And the definition of what is good faith is completely up to them [the companies].

We are already in the middle of the worst occupational safety and health disaster since the birth of OSHA 50 years ago. Nurses, EMTs, retail workers, bus drivers, and janitors have all lost their lives to the COVID virus. At least 20 meat and poultry processing workers and two government inspectors have already died.

What Trump did yesterday will make the problem even worse. So what do we do? Everything we can.

Trump could have said that we can have beef burgers and safe workers too. But he didn’t.

Congress should act on H.R. 6559 that would require OSHA within 7 days to issue an enforceable Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), based on CDC guidance, to protect all workers from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. State and local leaders and grocery chains should insist on a higher than Trump level of meat packing safety.

If only some of us are in this together, then the sum of us need to do everything we can to save the lives of the women and men in the meat and poultry processing industry.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Former OSHA Official, BlueGreen Alliance Leaders Call on OSHA to Protect Workers on Workers’ Memorial Day

“We are calling on OSHA and the Trump administration to address the most urgent threat facing working people today: the Covid-19 pandemic,” said, Rep. DeLauro, chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees funding for the Department of Labor, OSHA, and the Department of Health and Human Services. “To date, OSHA has not released enforceable emergency standards to protect workers from the virus; instead, it has offered only non-binding guidance. As states begin to seek to re-open the economy, OSHA must uphold its mission, making sure employers are taking the necessary steps to keep their employees safe from this pandemic.”

To date, OSHA has not released enforceable emergency standards—instead offering only guidance, nor has it developed any strategy for safety training or workplace inspections at a scale the crisis requires.

“In OSHA’s own words, a guidance is ‘advisory in nature’ and ‘not a standard or a regulation’ and that means that an employer who wants to ignore it can ignore it without consequence,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh. “OSHA is putting out guidance that is non-enforceable by design, while workers are putting their lives on the line.”

A recent media investigation uncovered more than 3,000 Covid-19 related employee complaints filed with OSHA since the beginning of the year. The complaints come from a wide variety of sectors and raise critical issues such as lack of access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and even hand sanitizer or soap, employees being forced to work in close contact with other workers—including those who appear sick— and other concerns.

“We are grateful for those American workers risking their lives fighting to keep our nation healthy, fed, and to ensure we all have access to the vital resources we need. We owe it to them to fight for their safety,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “This pandemic has shown the glaring holes in the laws and regulations that exist to protect workers in this country, and frankly, this administration has done nothing to actually protect workers.”

“Health care, food service, and so many other essential workers who are caring for Americans during this Covid pandemic are working without protection and getting sick. Over 52,000 Americans have already died from Covid-19, many are our colleagues, our relatives, our friends and our neighbors,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “We must force OSHA to do its job and adopt an enforceable emergency standard.”

The leaders called on Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia to immediately enact and enforce an emergency standard to protect frontline workers, who are disproportionately people of color, and to use existing authority to existing agency standards for personal protective equipment, sanitation, and hazardous substances, as well as their legally required obligation to provide a safe workplace. In addition, they said they support two measures in Congress introduced by Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA)—H.R. 6139, the Covid-19 Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2020 and H.R. 6559, the Covid-19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020—that would force the agency to address concerns around Covid-19.

“Our union is pushing for a massive increase in appropriate PPE for all workers, more rapid and reliable coronavirus testing, and a system for reporting and tracking workplace infections, so that all workers can stay safe on the job,” said USW International Secretary-Treasurer John Shinn. “Most importantly, decisions concerning workplace safety during this pandemic must be based on sound science and worker involvement.”

“This crisis has underscored the value of a safe and healthy workforce.” said Michaels, who was the longest-serving administrator in OSHA history. “We see the vital importance of the previously invisible low wage workers who grow our crops, process our meat, and ensure food gets to our table. In this crisis, we now recognize our these are essential, indispensable workers—we have to ensure they are safe, not just for their sake, but for ours.”