Madelyn Hoffman, Green Party U.S. Senate Candidate of New Jersey spoke with America’s Work Force Radio podcast on May 13 to discuss workplace safety standards during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hoffman first discussed how she believes the government needs to increase standards and regulations for what will be deemed “clean.” In reference to dumping policies in New Jersey, Hoffman said that if the government is lenient on dumping policy, people will find ways to push the boundaries. Hoffman said that is unacceptable to the Green Party, who fight for a cleaner environment. She then discussed worker safety towards the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. With businesses opening back up or getting back to full-staff, workers will be within close proximity of each other. This begs the question, is this safe enough yet? Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set guidelines to follow, she believes more can be done to ensure the safety of the workers.
Hoffman continued by saying that if a worker is called into work, but they do not feel their workplace is safe enough to work, they are ineligible for unemployment. Workers are being forced to decide if they want to go to work and risk COVID-19 exposure, or stay at home without compensation. She explained that workers should be provided with personal protective equipment by their employers, have unlimited sick days and receive hazard pay until the COVID-19 threat is reduced.
Tom Germuska Jr., editor of The Labor Citizen gave a preview of the featured stories that will be in the May edition of the publication. The first story he discussed was about the Belmont County Cracker Plant project being put on hold. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many construction projects have been put on hold, and the Belmont County Cracker Plant was no exception. He said that roughly 3,000 construction workers would have been needed for four to five years in order to complete the project. The second story that Germuska previewed was the unemployment fund in Ohio being depleted. He said that it is estimated that the unemployment fund will run out by June. He then explained the big impact this will have on the construction industry. Lastly, Germuska spoke about Sheet Metal Workers in Ohio providing metal nose pieces for protective masks. He said that Sheet Metal Workers in Ohio volunteered their time to make nose pieces for masks and sent them to various states.
AWF host Ed “Flash” Ferenc spoke about the low rate of OSHA inspections and how it is allowing employers to get away with unsafe conditions.