Washington, D.C. — As lawmakers work to create new policies to mitigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, a new analysis from the Center for American Progress looks at the importance of including worker protections in any relief packages. The analysis also recommends several safeguards that Congress and the federal government can enact to enforce these protections:
- Empower workers to stand up for their rights. All coronavirus relief funds should come with the stipulation that workers will be permitted to take action when their rights are violated and that they will be awarded back pay, damages, attorneys fees, and injunctive relief when courts rule in their favor during a labor dispute.
- Establish enhanced government monitoring and enforcement of coronavirus funds. The federal government should create a board specifically to monitor workplace violations among coronavirus fund recipients.
- Partner with worker organizations to enforce the law. The federal government should provide grants to worker and community groups to inform workers about their rights, following the model of similar, successful programs in Seattle and San Francisco.
- Do not weaken existing enforcement authorities. Some companies and the Trump administration are leveraging the crisis to argue for fewer protections for workers, such as halting enforcement of anti-discrimination mandates. Congress should ensure that long-standing worker protections are upheld.
“Workers are on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the crisis makes them especially vulnerable to abuse. Mass layoffs have created an environment in which workers may feel they have more to lose if they report violations,” said Karla Walter, senior director of Employment Policy at CAP and author of the column. “As Congress passes coronavirus relief packages, it must also ensure that it is putting in place and enforcing safeguards to ensure that workers are benefiting and that people are being put before corporations.”
Read the column: “Making Worker Protections Real During the Coronaviurs Pandemic” by Karla Walter
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at email@example.com.
To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.