Under their leadership, OSHA has failed at its core mission of keeping workers safe on their job
The HEAL Food Alliance and over twenty-five local, state, and national organizations representing food and farm workers have come together to demand the resignations of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor Loren Sweatt, who oversee the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Despite the growing number of COVID-19 cases among food workers at meat processing plants, and the evidence that large corporations are doing little to stop the spread, Scalia and Sweatt are neglecting to use the power of their positions to protect workers’ lives. There have been reports of over 4,200 complaints from workers nationwide, over 55,000 positive cases of COVID-19 among meatpacking, food processing and farmworkers, and over 200 worker deaths. An OSHA director recently testified that he’d never consider the absence of social distancing or masks an imminent danger to these workers. One thing is clear – Scalia & Sweatt have failed to take even basic steps to protect working people, especially those who work in meat processing facilities, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There have been reports of over 4,200 complaints from workers nationwide, over 55,000 positive cases of COVID-19 among meatpacking, food processing and farmworkers, and over 200 worker deaths.
The Department of Labor was created “to assure so far as possible every working man and women in the nation safe and healthful working conditions” but the agency, under Scalia and Sweatt, has failed to fulfill this core mission. Here’s what’s been happening under their “leadership”
Scalia & Sweatt have failed to enforce CDC safety guidelines: During a July federal court hearing, OSHA testified it would never consider the absence of socially distancing or masks an imminent danger to workers.
Scalia & Sweatt have failed to properly investigate violations: OSHA witnesses explained that the agency’s default practice is not to inspect workplaces, except for medical facilities.
Scalia & Sweatt have failed to adopt Emergency Temporary Standard: Under Scalia & Sweatt, OSHA leadership has refused to take this crucial step in the face of the pandemic.
By refusing to take even the most basic steps to curb the spread of the virus and ensure workers have safe and dignified workspaces, Scalia and Sweatt have perpetuated a dangerous and often deadly situation for workers, especially for those from vulnerable populations. Latino, Black and Asian workers (including immigrants), comprise the majority of certain frontline industry occupations. Scalia and Sweatt are refusing to hold OSHA accountable and are putting frontline workers and rural communities at risk.
This is why we are joining the Food Chain Workers Alliance, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Public Justice and others to demand the resignations of Labor Secretary Scalia and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor Loren Sweatt.
You can join us. Here’s what you can do right now:
- Amplify: Share op-ed by Public Justice that lays out why we need Scalia and Sweatt need to go
- Act: Visit our Worker Action Center to tweet at Scalia, Sweatt, and the DOL and find out how to stay involved!
- Feed the movement: Donate to worker organizations on the ground like the Rural Community Workers Alliance, Venceremos, and CATA!