Senate bill seeks oversight of telework, PPE for the federal workforce


A group of Senate Democrats is proposing legislation to create labor-management task forces inside government to review pandemic-related workforce policies.

The Federal Labor-Management COVID Partnership Act introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) would bring together managers and workforce representatives to review policies on telework, the supply of personal protective equipment, employee leave and cleaning of facilities.

The proposed legislation comes as more than 39,000 federal employees have contracted COVID-19, with more than 6,000 workers expected to submit claims to the Department of Labor for on-the-job contraction of the virus.

"This bill is about protecting our federal workers during the COVID pandemic," Schatz said in a statement. "By promoting a constructive dialogue between federal agencies and public servants, these task forces will help make sure the federal government creates good policy for its workers."

The task forces sought under the bill include representation from the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Labor as well as the heads of the Federal Labor Relations Authority and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Union and management association representation is also required.

"Some agencies under this current administration have refused to negotiate with the union over the coronavirus or other workplace matters, making the need for this legislation all the more critical," American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley said in a statement.

Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are also sponsoring the bill.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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