Joyce Goldstein, a labor and employee benefits lawyer representing unions and employee benefit funds in Cleveland for over 30 years with Goldstein Gragel LLC, spoke with America’s Work Force Radio Podcast on May 8 to discuss workers rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first topic that Goldstein covered was unemployment compensation and employee refusals to show up to work. She explained that workers who are called back to work are eligible to refuse with good cause and continue to receive unemployment until it is deemed safe. If a worker refuses to come back, the employer must report it to the government for review and determine if their refusal was justifiable or not. If the cause is deemed insufficient, they will not receive unemployment.
Goldstein went on to discuss whistleblowers in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that as the pandemic continues, workers are growing more afraid to go to work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set regulations for businesses to open up and allow workers to do their jobs safely. Despite this, there are still organizations not following the standards as closely as they should. Goldstein continued by saying that it is the workers right to blow the whistle on their employer if they feel unsafe. She added that workers need to be prepared for their employer to try punishing them for blowing the whistle and to obtain a lawyer to ensure they are not wrongly punished. Lastly, she spoke about hospitals and their failure to adequately protect workers and supply them with personal protective equipment.
Jim Cullen, editor of the Progressive Populist spoke about President Trump downplaying the threat of the COVID-19 virus. He said that months before the pandemic, the President was given sufficient amounts of research from the Pentagon outlining the threat of a novel virus, only to brush it aside. According to Cullen, had the president taken the threat seriously, he could have prepared better and hospitals may have had the proper amount of ventilators, workers could have had the correct personal protective equipment and scientists could have worked sooner on developing a vaccination.
AWF host Ed “Flash” Ferenc spoke about the Amazon Vice President quitting, calling Amazon cowards for firing workers protesting for better working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.