PACG Signs On to Protect Workers
Protect the Lives and Safety of All Iowa Workers
Right now in Iowa’s fields, factories, and warehouses, in our hospitals, nursing homes, post offices, grocery stores, and beyond, thousands of Iowans are risking their lives to provide food, health care, and other essential services while facing high risks of exposure to COVID-19 in their workplaces.
For weeks, workers, labor unions, advocates, and the media have been reporting unsafe working conditions to employers and state agencies. But state leaders have refused to set any clear expectations for Iowa employers, and OSHA and other state agencies charged with protecting workers have been missing in action. Meanwhile, too many major Iowa businesses continue to operate with few or no safety measures in place.
We know that existing racial and economic inequities in our communities are exacerbated by this pandemic, and temp workers, low wage workers, workers of color, and immigrant and refugee workers are at particular risk. While workers have the right to report unsafe working conditions, many have reason to fear retaliation. Those brave enough to come forward too often find their reports falling on deaf ears.
We are already seeing the impact of unsafe working conditions, with multiple meatpacking and manufacturing plants shutting down due to the quick spread of COVID-19 among unprotected workers. We cannot afford to wait. We demand that our state leaders take immediate action and direct all Iowa employers to protect workers from further unnecessary exposure.
We call on Governor Kim Reynolds to protect the lives and safety of all Iowa workers by:
1. Immediately requiring all Iowa employers to follow federal CDC and OSHA guidance on steps to take to prevent workplace exposure.
At a minimum, steps must include:
- Ceasing all non-essential operations and providing paid leave or access to unemployment benefits for affected workers.
- Allowing employees who can work from home to do so.
- Encouraging sick workers to stay home with pay, and eliminating barriers (i.e. doctor’s notes, discipline for absences) to taking sick leave.
- Improving ventilation (e.g., increasing ventilation rates, installing high-efficiency air filters, negative pressure ventilation in certain settings).
- Installing physical barriers (e.g., clear plastic sneeze guards).
- Maintaining six feet or more between workers by moving workstations, slowing line speeds, or staggering shifts.
- Arranging for staggered or longer break times so workers can maintain a distance of six feet during all breaks or meals.
- Providing adequate sanitation supplies (soap, towels, gloves, sanitizers) and a clean working environment.
- Ensuring that all work surfaces are kept clean and sanitized as often as needed.
- Allowing easy and frequent access to bathrooms or hand washing stations, and providing workers with regular breaks to wash hands.
- Allowing workers to wash hands upon arriving to work/entering the workplace, and ensuring full pay for all required preparation and clean-up time
- Providing frequent, up-to-date education and training on COVID-19, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation procedures, or other relevant safety measures, in workers’ preferred languages.
- Offering hazard pay and/or bonuses to all essential workers.
2. Ensuring all exposed workers access to medical care and emergency assistance, regardless of health insurance coverage or immigration status.
3. Directing Iowa Workforce Development to provide workers’ compensation to workers who contract COVID-19 at their workplaces.
4. Meeting with workers, self-employed, and independent contractors from essential industries to hear about the conditions they face and work with them to develop additional response plans specific to their industries, to be communicated to employers and workers in their preferred languages.
We are in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis. Failure to act is putting our workers, our food supply, and our state’s economy at severe, unnecessary risk. We call on Governor Kim Reynolds, the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa OSHA to stand up for the dignity, safety and health of our neighbors and families and take immediate action by meeting with workers and directing Iowa’s business to take immediate and decisive steps to protect our state’s workforce from COVID-19.
As of April 18th 65 organizations have signed this petition.