U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) led a group of six senators in introducing the Federal Labor-Management COVID Partnership Act, a bill that would keep federal workers safe during public health emergencies, including the current COVID-19 pandemic, by creating formal labor-management task forces at both the Executive Branch and agency level. 

The task forces would be responsible for reviewing current telework, leave, cleaning and training policies, supplying policy recommendations and giving federal workers an avenue to provide input as the Executive Branch responds to the coronavirus and any future crisis.

To address the health and safety of federal workers, the legislation establishes a government-wide directive for agencies to consult and collaborate with employees and their unions to develop and implement policies that address the issues impacting them due to the pandemic. This includes the role of labor organization participation, telework, leave and safety, cleaning and disinfectants, preparedness acquisition and distribution of personal protective equipment and training.

The bill has been endorsed by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.

“As the largest union representing federal and D.C. government employees, the American Federation of Government Employees strongly supports Sen. Schatz’s legislation to ensure that agencies uphold their legal obligation to negotiate with employee representatives over policies and proposals that directly impact the health and safety of workers and their families. Some agencies under this current administration have refused to negotiate with the union over the coronavirus or other workplace matters, making the need for this legislation all the more critical,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley.