Former Obama Labor Secretary Seth Harris on Friday reacted to President Donald Trump announcing guidelines to start reopening the United States economy soon amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, arguing workplaces will turn into “killing fields” if there is no safe plan in place to reopen.
Harris told CNN “New Day” host Alisyn Camerota if he were an employer, he would “feel the federal government was hanging me out to try and providing me with no support” because of a lack of guidance and a lack of personal protective equipment available.
“We know that there are also almost certainly thousands more workers complaining to their state occupational safety and health agencies seeking help,” Harris advised. “I think workers are scared. I think employers are not getting the help that they need, and when you talk about reopening the ecomony, that means getting people back to work, them back into the workplace. If you don’t do that safely, our workplaces will be turning into killing fields. That’s the worst outcome about reopening the economy.”
“If we don’t do it right, that could happen,” he added. “We’re already seeing workers getting sick and dying in workplaces all around the country that are open right now. Grocery store workers — the United Food and Commercial workers report that more than 3,000 of their members have gotten sick — in hospitals, on transit systems. We have to do this right. I think we can slowly, carefully reopen the country, but we have to do it in a way that makes sense, and that keeps workers safe. And the president simply washing his hands of any responsibility for anything in this crisis is not the way to get there. We need a coordinated federal-state effort. We need the federal government to play the role that only the federal government can play with respect to workplace safety and health and producing the protective gear that we need. I’m really worried about it.”