February 11, 2021

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The Tioga Marine Terminal in Philadelphia. Port of Philadelphia photo.

On Monday, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the Essential Transportation Employee Safety Act to address workplace safety for essential transportation workers.

The legislation, endorsed by U.S. transportation labor unions, would prioritize coronavirus testing for transportation workers, and ensure employers implement critical health and safety requirements to keep their workforce safe.

The bill would also expand upon President Joe Biden’s recent executive order and codify a federal mask mandate on certain modes of transportation during the pandemic, including airplanes, trains, and city and state public transportation.

The senators are all members of the members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

“Frontline transportation workers must have safe working conditions amid the pandemic,” said Blumenthal. “These workers are tirelessly serving our public on the roads, railways, and in the skies, and must have priority access to testing, personal protective equipment, and a safe workplace. This bill would also make wearing a mask on passenger transportation the law, protecting the traveling public and transportation workers during the pandemic and building on President Biden’s recent executive order.”

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen how important the transportation sector is to delivering supplies to fight Covid-19 and helping our economy,” said Cantwell. “Our frontline transportation workers have worked tirelessly to keep America running, and we’ve seen as our dock workers and others have suffered increased infection rates of Covid how delivery of goods and products is threatened. We need to do more for these workers. I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation with Senator Blumenthal and Senator Markey to require transportation companies follow CDC recommendations on cleaning and get PPE to our frontline workers.”

“The coronavirus pandemic places a unique burden on the American workforce,” said Markey. “While millions of Americans are sheltering at home to protect public health, essential workers continue to report to work at increased risk to themselves and their families. In particular, transportation workers are providing vital services that the rest of our economy relies on to keep moving. These heroes deserve priority access to coronavirus testing, personal protective equipment on the job, and strong safety rules.”

The Essential Transportation Employee Safety Act would require the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support the efforts of state and local governments to provide for priority testing of transportation workers. It would also implement personal protective equipment and disinfection and sanitization requirements for owners and operators of equipment or facilities used by certain transportation employers.

The full text of the legislation can be found here and the bill summary can be found here.

The Essential Transportation Employee Safety Act is endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Transportation Trades Department–AFL-CIO (TTD), which represents 33 transportation labor unions.



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