- Published: June 02, 2020
Yesterday, the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS) joined a coalition of federal employee unions in writing a letter to President Trump asking the administration to “prioritize the safety and security of its workers” as the government looks to call its workforce back to facilities after nearly three months of maximized telework during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We share in your desire to resume the vital work of federal employees as soon as it can be responsibly achieved, and we hope you recognize that it is paramount that workers be protected while performing their duties,” the letter states.
PASS represents 11,000 federal employees at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Defense who install, maintain, support and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment and inspect and oversee the commercial and general aviation industries.
PASS is one of 24 federal unions and employee organizations representing 300,000 employees, who signed the letter sent to the White House by the Federal Workers Alliance.
“We have been working closely with the FAA since this national emergency began,” said PASS National President Mike Perrone. “We expect that collaboration to continue as the agency formulates its own process for a return to normal operations.”
While each agency will decide how best to bring workers back to facilities, it is critical that there be uniform guidance from the top levels of government for all agencies to follow.
“In localities where local and state authorities are responding to discreet outbreaks and higher threats to public health,” the letter continues, “the federal government must allow employees to continue sheltering in place, and working from home, unless and until it is safe to return to the office.” Among the requests made by the coalition:
- Worksites must be deemed safe to return to by scientifically qualified public health professionals.
- Flexible schedules and telework need to be continued for employees balancing their families’ health care needs as well as childcare obligations.
- Accommodations must be made for employees considered at high-risk for contracting COVID-19.
- All individuals present in the facility should be expected to wear masks to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19 through respiratory droplets.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirators, gloves, and other PPE, must be provided and worn by employees to lessen the chance of transmission at work, where engineering and other controls have not fully reduced the risk of transmission.
- Hand washing and sanitizing stations must be provided, as well as time for employees to sanitize their work areas. All shared/common areas and equipment must be sanitized at regular intervals by personnel qualified and trained in disinfection of COVID-19.
- At a worksite where a person has been suspected of having COVID-19, employees must receive immediate and thorough notice to include information about the time, location, duration and nature of the possible exposure.
The group is also calling for on-demand testing for employees who suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19 as well as close cooperation with federal unions regarding return to work protocols.
“We must insist that you take these reasonable actions to ensure [federal workers’] safety. Anything less will put hundreds of thousands of dedicated federal employees, their families, and the Americans they serve, in unnecessary danger,” the letter concludes.