Don’t Endanger and Exploit American Workers During COVID-19 Crisis

Target: Loren Sweatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health

Goal: Advocate for workers and ensure employer accountability during and after COVID-19 crisis.

America’s employees and the unions that help fight for their rights are fighting mad over critical failures by the federal agency that is supposed to safeguard workers. Individuals in many employment sectors—from healthcare to teaching to the steel industry—have united in their urgent call to action to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This agency, they charge, is catastrophically falling down on the job and “has left workers to fend for themselves during the biggest health crisis in recent history.”

Perhaps the most tragic evidence of OSHA’s failure is found in the U.S. meat-packing industry. Despite thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the facilities and dozens of deaths, the president recently ordered these severely at-risk employees back to work. Every day, these human beings enter dangerous workspaces where the bare minimum standards for social distancing and protective gear are rarely met. Because four conglomerates have been allowed to essentially monopolize and control this industry, they possess all the power. And because workers in many of these facilities and in small businesses across the country do not have unionization opportunities, they cannot advocate for the safety standards and increased hazard pay that would better ensure their health and livelihoods.

OSHA should be stepping into this vital advocacy role, as the agency’s mission is supposed to be the safety of America’s workers. Yet the agency seems far more interested in the protection and safety of the rich employers routinely exploiting and endangering workers on the front lines. One of OSHA’s most recent actions during this crisis involved a pronouncement that they would be taking a hands-off approach to investigations of employee complaints. In other words, rather than doing its primary job, OSHA is instead telling the employers—the very people charged with wrongdoing—to investigate and punish themselves.

Sign this petition to demand the agency tasked with protecting America’s working men and women actually look out for their interests, not the corporate interest.


Dear Ms. Sweatt,

If a police chief went to an accused murderer and recommended this potential criminal lead the investigation into his own case, how do you suppose the reaction and ultimate outcome would go? You have set up just this scenario with the recent recommendation that employers investigate and resolve the complaints filed against them. For the working men and women of this country, this puzzling action (or inaction) is just the latest example in a troubling trend of ineptitude and inefficiency.

The U.S. workforce is enduring its greatest and most far-reaching challenge in modern history. Take the lead on these investigations where corrective action could literally mean the difference between life and death. Honor your mission and advocate for better conditions where the many non-unionized cannot.

Now is not the time to step back. Now is the moment when you must step up for every worker in this country.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: U.S. Government Accountability Office

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132 Signatures

  • Jillana Laufer
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