Labor Council
News & Updates
Friday, May 22, 2020
Worker Safety and Support are the Keys to the Dual Crisis of COVID-19
By Tim Burga

Today we are experiencing the greatest public health crisis of our lifetime combined with economic challenges that we have not seen since the Great Depression. Frontline workers have been putting their health on the line to serve the public during this unprecedented time and working families across our state are enduring the economic crisis that has left too many unemployed and in a financial crisis of their own. 

The fact is, we cannot effectively address either of these tandem crises without addressing them both at the same time. Essential workers are delivering us all through the pandemic and we need to give these workers the highest consideration as we look to incrementally reopen the economy.

The DeWine administration has provided rules and procedures that seek to balance the need to revive the economy with the need to keep us safe from COVID-19. Unfortunately, there are employers either unaware of the workplace requirements and protocols or are disregarding them. During the state-of-emergency the administration should require employers to post this life saving information in common areas of workplaces.

Further, granting blanket immunity for health care providers and businesses from liability as proposed in the General Assembly is unnecessary and irresponsible in this environment. The immunity bills currently in the state legislature are way too broad in scope and have no real end date. We should not create an environment that rewards the irresponsible few at the expense of the majority who are acting responsibly.

As the state begins re-opening the economy, worker voices must be included in the Industry Work Groups that the administration has established. Now that we can cautiously initiate a safe economic restart, worker’s experience and knowledge will be a valuable addition to the advisory groups and the recommendations they provide to the administration. The confidence of the workforce and the public is necessary to re-open the economy and the public can only have confidence in a process that includes a variety of voices, especially those risking their lives and their health to serve the public.

Fiscally, our state and local governments are in dire need of federal aid to maintain critical services, while also mitigating the spread of the virus in our local communities. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a coronavirus relief package that provides funding and flexibility to pay for needed services, along with additional funding for worker hazard pay and protections for employee pensions. The U.S. Senate must now demonstrate its support for working families by passing these urgent measures. This is simply the right thing to do. 

Finally, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services has received recent scrutiny by asking employers to report employees who don't show up for scheduled work so they can be denied unemployment compensation. This narrow policy fails to spell out good cause exemptions and will exclude many working people, who have justifiable reasons for not returning to work. We urge the administration to make exemptions for workers who are susceptible to contracting the virus based on CDC guidelines, and parents that have to care for their small children as a result of day care, school and camp closures.

Governor DeWine has said that if workplaces are not safe, workers will not show up. For the restart of Ohio’s economy to take hold, workers and consumers alike need to have confidence that they are safe. Our frontline heroes have been deemed essential during this crisis, and now as the economy slowly re-opens, working people are to be supported, not considered expendable. By taking care of those who take care of us we will defeat the coronavirus and revive the economy.

Mr. Burga is president of the Ohio AFL-CIO
Executive Secretary-Treasurer Pete McLinden Goes LIVE with US Senator Sherrod Brown
(Video starts at 1:46 - forward to that point to watch.)

Should corporations be given legal immunity when they fail to protect workers on the job and put their lives at risk?

US Senator, Sherrod Brown talks with his special guest, Executive Secretary-Treasurer Peter McLinden of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO about his legislation to prevent this and more.
Ohio AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Melissa Cropper Testifies On School Re-openings
As Gov. Mike DeWine gradually reopens Ohio after a two-month coronavirus shutdown, schools, one of the first to close, remain off the list.

DeWine has asked local schools to begin planning but has made no decision on whether they will be permitted to open in August. The governor is waiting to see if the re-opening of businesses, restaurants, day cares, gyms and campgrounds causes a significant spike in COVID-19 cases before returning 1.7 million students back to the classroom. The state’s flatten-the-curve goal aims to keep cases lower than the number hospitals can handle.

On Tuesday, state senators weighed in and heard from education groups and teachers unions about re-opening schools for the 2020-2021 school year whether a complete return to the classroom, continued online learning as students did the past two months, or some combination of the two.

Finance Committee Chairman Matt Dolan commended educators for meeting student needs during the pandemic. “On Friday you had in-person classes as normal; on Monday you were teaching online,” he said. His panel is soliciting information about how best to safely reopen schools.

Union representatives for teachers and staff focused on safety.

“The ability to provide safe environments will be a large factor in determining how education will be delivered next year,” Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, told lawmakers.

She cited the need for personal protection equipment like masks, daily temperature checks, sanitization of desks and computers between classes, reduced class sizes of 12 to 15 students, and staggered arrival times and lunch periods to promote social distancing.

Lunch With Your Legislators This Morning
Join the Hamilton County Delegation at 11:00 AM this morning to discuss the reopening of restaurants, barbershops, beauty salons, and other small businesses in Ohio.
Taking the Pay Equity Pledge and Protecting Survivors of Violence
From the Desk of Denise Driehaus...

We formed the Hamilton County Commission on Women and Girls in 2017 to bring issues affecting women and girls to the forefront of county policy. In each year since then, the Commission has done incredible work to advance the interests of women in our community. Today, the Board of County Commissioners is voting to adopt new personnel policy as a direct result of the recommendations of the Commission on Women and Girls.

  1. Taking the Pay Equity Pledge. We have all heard the national statistics--women make less than their male counterparts for doing the same job. It's even worse for women of color. Hamilton County will formally adopt the pay equity pledge, ensuring that county workers are compensated fairly and equitably without regard to race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, ancestry, age or disability. The policy will require regular reviews of county payroll to check for compliance with the pledge.
  2. Help for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence. The County will extend sick time and leave protections to survivors of gender-based violence. It will also provide training for employees and supervisors on how to spot the signs of gender-based violence, and how to connect employees in need with support.

You can watch the watch to vote live on  Facebook   or  Youtube   at 1:00 pm!

Hamilton County is committed to closing the pay equity gap and providing a safe and inclusive community for everyone. There has never been a more urgent time to expose the cycle of violence that women and girls face. Providing extended leave for survivors while educating our workforce will lead to a safer community.

Hope you are staying well.

Best regards,
Denise Driehaus
Hamilton County Commissioner
and Commission Chair
The latest episode of the  Labor Radio-Podcast Weekly  features an Essential Workers Bill of Rights, Kooper Caraway and more. This week’s highlights include:

Belabored: Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen report on school employees in Minnesota fighting for safety on the job and an attempt to pass an Essential Workers Bill of Rights in New York City.

Stronger Together: The SEIU Local 503 podcast, where the latest episode focuses on the upcoming Oregon primary, which has both union members and strong union supporters running for office.

Workers Beat Radio: Host Gene Lantz talks with Sioux Falls Central Labor Council President Kooper Caraway, one of the youngest, most hopeful and most outspoken labor leaders in the country.

Labor History in 2:00: Brown v. Board of Education, the day the Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public education.

AFL-CIO Sues OSHA for Emergency Temporary Standard to Protect Workers
May 18, 2020
The AFL-CIO  filed a petition  for a writ of mandamus in the U.S. Court of Appeals to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) protecting U.S. workers against the coronavirus.

The petition demonstrates that thousands of workers have been infected on the job through exposure to infected patients, co-workers and unscreened members of the public. As the economy reopens and people return to work, person-to-person contact will increase and health experts predict the already shocking number of infections and deaths among workers will rise.

“It’s truly a sad day in America when working people must sue the organization tasked with protecting our health and safety,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “But we’ve been left no choice. Millions are infected and nearly 90,000 have died, so it’s beyond urgent that action is taken to protect workers who risk our lives daily to respond to this public health emergency. If the Trump administration refuses to act, we must compel them to.”

Even with overwhelming evidence that additional protection is needed, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia has been unwilling to fulfill the duties Congress entrusted him with. In response to a  letter from Trumka  demanding OSHA action, Scalia stated on April 30 that a mandatory standard specifically addressing the grave risk posed by the virus was not necessary.

“OSHA was intended to be that vehicle to protect workers, yet it is not. The dozens of OSHA complaints across the country we have filed have been met by silence as the Trump administration refuses to do its job to enforce a safe workplace standard,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “And this has had a huge effect: Our members are getting sick and dying—we have lost more than 160 members including public employees, health care workers and educators to COVID-19, many of which could have been prevented if they had been provided the proper protections. Health care and other essential workers can’t simply rely on their union buying them PPE, as we have done, or the gratitude of strangers. This action is needed to get the Trump administration to do its job.”

The AFL-CIO and several of its affiliated unions have pursued worker protections for years, petitioning OSHA to adopt a general infectious disease standard as early as 2009 in the wake of SARS and other threatened pandemics, and the agency initiated rule-making procedures but never issued a standard. The Trump administration abandoned the standard-making process once taking office in January 2017. OSHA has a duty to issue an ETS when it finds there is a grave danger to working people and that a standard is necessary to protect them. It is clear that now is the time for the agency tasked with protecting workers to do its job.

The AFL-CIO, together with 23 national unions, petitioned OSHA to issue an ETS on March 6, and National Nurses United did so on March 4, and to date OSHA has taken no action on the petitions.

Contact: Carolyn Bobb
National Media Manager
Phone: 202-637-5018,
Meet the New UWGC Team
Dear United Way Friends,
How would you like to start a new job in the middle of a pandemic, when everyone is working from home, with an organization moving at full speed because its support is vitally important to a devastated community?
Welcome to the job, my new leadership team! I am extremely proud to be supported by a fantastic group of people thrust into an intense situation. This is a perfect time to learn how important United Way of Greater Cincinnati is to the community and to fulfill a promise we intend to keep – that we will be relevant and make a true difference. They have all performed exceptionally well under pressure.
Our team is diverse and represents the community we serve. Each member has special skills and personalities that blend well; each brings strengths that complement others’ weaknesses, ensuring we have a solid team without holes.  Read more and meet the new team .
Moira Weir
Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council
National Zoom Panel Discussion
"Reopening America "
If you missed it live two weeks ago, here it is again. The Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council presents, "Reopening America," featuring:

Our elected leaders:
  • The Senior U.S. Senator from Ohio, Senator Sherrod Brown
  • The U.S. Representative from the 13th Congressional District, Congressman Tim Ryan
  • The Senator from Ohio’s 9th District, Cecil Thomas
  • Representative Jessica Miranda from Ohio House 28th District
  • Representative Brigid Kelly from Ohio House 31st District
  • Representative Catherine Ingram from Ohio House 32nd District
  • Representative Sedrick Denson from Ohio House (The Fighting) 33rd District
  • Hamilton County Commissioner and Commission Chair, Denise Driehaus
  • Cincinnati City Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld
And our many Labor Leaders:
  • President, Ohio AFL-CIO ― Tim Burga
  • President, Ohio Federation of Teachers and Secretary-Treasurer of Ohio AFL-CIO ― Melissa Cropper
  • President, RNA-Nurses (UC Health) ― Michelle Thoman
  • President, National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 43 ― Ted Thompson
  • President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Ohio Council 8 ― Sean Grayson
  • President, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Local 75 ― Kevin Garvey
  • President, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 627 ― Troy Miller
  • Bill Froehle ― President, Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council, and Business Manager, UA Plumbers-Pipefitters, Local 392
  • Peter McLinden, Esq. ― Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council