LANSING, Mich., Apr. 29, 2021 — Members of the Michigan House Democratic Caucus, led by state Reps. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills) and Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon), unveiled a 14-bill package during a press conference today that would strengthen Michigan’s workplace safety standards and offer better support for working families. Collectively, the legislation would make necessary changes to better reflect the unprecedented impacts facing workplaces and employees due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although our battle with COVID-19 is far from over, we still have more than enough to reflect on that has allowed us to identify solutions ensuring our state can be as prepared as possible to support workers during a declared emergency moving forward,” said Pohutsky. “These common-sense measures are certainly needed so hardworking Michiganders can receive the support and protection they need to secure a safe, healthy future for themselves and their families, pandemic or not.”
According to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), more than 40 worker deaths from COVID-19 have been reported by employers in Michigan. Additionally, MIOSHA has reportedly received over 12,000 complaints from employees across the state alleging COVID-19 hazards in their workplace, along with more than 605 referrals received from local governments and health departments identifying businesses not adequately protecting their employees from infection since March 2020.
“When an employer is made aware of a health or safety issue in their workplace, they have a responsibility to their workers to fix it, even if bad actors ignoring these rightful concerns muddy the waters around this expectation,” said Steckloff. “In our new normal shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, we must strengthen protections for workers in Michigan to ensure everyone has the safe, healthy work environment they deserve.”
As of Monday, April 26, local health departments across Michigan have reported to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services a total of 196 new outbreaks during the current reporting week. This builds on a total of 1,081 ongoing outbreaks or clusters previously identified with at least one new associated case in the last two weeks.
“No one should be put in an impossible position that requires them to weigh doing their job with keeping themselves and their loved ones safe and healthy,” said Sabo. “COVID-19 has moved us further from this reality, which is precisely why my colleagues and I are offering these real, tangible solutions to the immense challenges our workers and their families have been facing since last March. The hardworking people of our state deserve better than this status quo.”
The package coincides with the inaugural Workplace Rights Week in Michigan, as proclaimed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in addition to Workers Memorial Day (April 28) and International Workers Day (May 1).
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