AFL-CIO, nurses’ unions take OSHA to court to protect health care workers from COVID-19

As coronavirus infections and hospitalizations rise across the country, the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United, and other unions representing health care workers petitioned the United States Court of Appeals last Wed., Jan. 5, ordering the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a permanent standard that requires employers to protect health care workers against COVID-19.

OSHA announced on Dec. 27 that all of the non-recordkeeping provisions of the health care emergency temporary standard (ETS) issued by the labor secretary in June 2021 would be expiring, despite the massive surge of infections sweeping the nation. The labor groups’ petition asks the District of Columbia Circuit to order OSHA to retain and enforce the ETS until it is superseded by a permanent one.

“In the face of the Omicron variant, it is not the time to roll back protections, but to fully enforce and make them permanent,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler in a statement. “We have no choice but to turn to the courts to ensure that our healthcare workers are protected as they provide such critical care throughout this pandemic.”

The coalition of unions is requesting an expedited briefing from the court, with 10 days for a response and five days for a reply.

This petition came after multiple unions, including the USW, released a statement on Dec. 28 denouncing the Biden administration’s decision to discontinue the ETS.

Click here to read the full petition.

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