American Workers Deserve Better from McConnell, Senate GOP

Statement of CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie

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Even as the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic skyrockets, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deserves blame for keeping desperately needed relief from the American people. 

Apparently, it’s not enough for Senator McConnell to deprive Americans of additional emergency unemployment, stimulus payments, hikes in SNAP benefits, or other relief. He is now proposing actions that would leave American workplaces more unsafe, both for employees and customers, by preemptively letting them off the hook for their negligence. Besides continuing to insist on a legal liability shield for unsafe business operators, McConnell wants the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to sit on its hands while workplaces like meatpacking facilities, nursing homes, and prisons continue to be major vectors for disease. Specifically, legislation advanced by McConnell and Senator John Cornyn, cynically named the SAFE TO WORK Act, would prevent OSHA from enforcing any standards it may issue to protect workers during the pandemic, so long as an employer took unidentified “interim” steps or “explor[ed]” their “options” toward compliance. 

It is increasingly clear that Senate Republicans are in deep denial about the grim and growing wave of new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths on the horizon. Trump and McConnell have surrendered to the coronavirus. We need to stop the spread of this disease, keep essential workers safe on the job, assure accountability if companies fail to act to protect their workers, and deliver economic relief that help Americans avoid hunger and homelessness.