Texas AFL-CIO Criticizes Absence of Safety Standards In Requiring Texans to Return to Work

Working people in Texas should be able to choose to stay home without penalty if their workplace does not meet widely accepted safety standards in the pandemic, Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy said today:

“Too many Texas workers who are receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits face a terrible choice, starting tomorrow, between risking their health at work and the twin disasters of losing their jobs permanently and losing benefits. Coupling a premature green light for restaurants, movie theaters, retail and other businesses with an absence of enforceable safety standards puts workers in an unacceptable, vulnerable position.”

“We appreciate that Gov. Greg Abbott recognized the need to allow working people to stay home without penalty when they are ill, at high risk, caring for a family member or lacking access to child care. But he left a giant hole. Texas working families need enforceable safety standards and adequate safety precautions before they are required to return to their workplaces.”

“This is particularly true in light of reports today that the Texas Workforce Commission is coaching employers on how to keep workers from getting benefits when faced with dangerous conditions. We call on the TWC to keep the focus on getting benefits to unemployed workers and abandon these misguided and offensive efforts.”

“No workers should have to choose between their livelihoods and their safety on the job. Today’s order, while a step in the right direction, leaves too many workers with an unacceptable dilemma that could have life-and-death implications.”