Department of Labor's Emergency Temporary Standard Too Weak to Protect All Workers from COVID-19

James Goodwin

June 10, 2021

Political Interference from White House Regulatory Office May Have Played a Role

The Labor Department’s emergency COVID standard, released today, is too limited and weak to effectively protect all workers from the ongoing pandemic. The workers left at greatest risk are people of color and the working poor.

Workers justifiably expected an enforceable general industry standard to protect them from COVID-19, and the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) has been calling for such a standard since June 2020. But what emerged after more than six weeks of closed-door White House review was a largely unenforceable voluntary guidance document, with only health care workers receiving the benefit of an enforceable standard.

The interference with the COVID standard by the White House regulatory office, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), sends the wrong signal about the Biden administration's commitment to improving the regulatory review process, which was announced in a Day One memo from President Joe Biden. CPR urges the president to double down on constructive regulatory reform and to advance policies that truly and effectively protect all people, especially those from historically marginalized communities.

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