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Boston area frontline unions have submitted policy proposals and recommendations for reopening. See below to download copies of each union's plan. 

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With states reopening for business and millions of people heading back to work, the nation's largest labor organization is demanding the federal government do more to protect workers from contracting the coronavirus on the job.

What's happening: The AFL-CIO, a collection of 55 unions representing 12.5 million workers, says it is suing the federal agency in charge of workplace safety to compel them to create a set of emergency temporary standards for infectious diseases.

Amidst the ongoing crisis, our state must forge a new social contract that puts the health and safety of workers at the center of public policy.

Even Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia’s recent letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, intended to defend his agency’s performance, offers little in terms of real enforcement. The word “guidance” and its variant “guidelines” appear nine times, as well as the observation that “employers are implementing measures to protect workers” (emphasis in original). Absent from the letter: the word “citation.” The word “penalty.”
“This isn’t just about infection control, which is how the CDC looks at it, this is about exposure assessment,” said Rebecca Reindel, safety and health specialist with the labor organization AFL-CIO. “You look at how people are exposed. Your main source of exposure is other people and so where you’re mainly running into other people right now is the workplace.”

Marcus Johnson is a custodian at BC and member of 32BJ SEIU who has been reporting to work throughout the coronavirus crisis. Marus shares his story with us as part of the Greater Boston Labor Council's #FrontlineHeroes series. Our series profiles the work of union members and everyday heroes who are working on the frontlines during the global pandemic. Stories are updated weekly. To read other Frontline Hero stories, click here: https://gblc.us/tag/frontline-heroes.

Sticking to a here-and-now solution to coronavirus-caused joblessness, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka proposed the federal government guarantee paid employment – by actually shelling out the money – for all workers. Employers would be a pass-through, nothing more. In a 13-minute speech posted on the federation’s Facebook page, Trumka said that with unemployment at highs unseen since the Great Depression and with the future clouded by millions of jobless people, now is not the time for partisan politics. Instead he declared, lawmakers should unite, as some already have, behind federal subsidies straight into workers’ pockets, and not to CEOs or Wall Street. Trumka also warned, as public health specialists have, against reopening the economy too soon. Right-wing pressure has forced some states to yield and start reopening businesses, even without enough coronavirus testing, a lack Trumka pointed out. Doing so, he declared, could put us right back down again. “If we reopen before we’re ready, if we reopen because we’re impatient, if you send workers into unsafe workplaces, if you send consumers into an unsafe community, we’ll be reopening an economic wound that will make it much harder to heal down the road."

Entertainment workplaces need more time and data to prepare and change the way show business works. “Here’s the reality: Because of the nature of the industry, arts and entertainment professionals may likely be some of the last workers able to return safely to their jobs,” said Liz Shuler, the AFL-CIO’s secretary-treasurer. “And when they do, they’re not going to be returning to ‘normal’; it’s going to be a very different approach to the industry.