As the transition of governmental power is underway, there is still work being done on the COVID-19 pandemic frontlines and throughout the current government.
American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1410 President Felicia Sharp joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to talk about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), healthcare workers and more.
National Defense Authorization Act
AFGE Local 1410 represents those working in military health facilities in and around Washington D.C. This includes administrative staff as well as nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals.
The bill passed the House of Representatives and the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, which is rarely achieved in these times. Sharp said many AFGE wishes were granted, a credit to their legislative team.
The bill included increased parental leave for government employees to spend time with their newborns. They were also able to get additional antidiscrimination protections included.
Sharp said one of the biggest additions was a rollover of unused vacation time. Since many of those working at military health facilities have been unable to take their deserved time off due to the pandemic, this win is huge and could be a signal to the private sector to do the same.
Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic
Sharp said those on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic have been stellar. She commended all of her coworkers and fellow medical professionals for doing the best they can in unprecedented times.
She said the biggest issues happened early in the pandemic. The federal government was unprepared and it hurt their ability to limit the severity of the pandemic. The lack of personal protective equipment was highlighted as supply chains were slowed.
Additionally, workers were left without help as their workplace grievances have gone largely unheard and unanswered.
Looking ahead, Sharp said it will be important to distribute and provide the vaccine to as many people as possible.