The Columbus Dispatch: Sherrod Brown: GOP favoring corporations over worker health during coronavirus


The Columbus Dispatch: Sherrod Brown: GOP favoring corporations over worker health during coronavirus

Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown accuses ruling Republicans of placing an economic rebound and corporate profits above employee safety, as millions return to work amid a coronavirus pandemic.

Federal officials are being lax in protecting workers’ health while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, is insisting on legislation to shield corporate “bad actors” from legal liability if they permit unhealthy working conditions, Brown said.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Ohio’s senior senator said preventable COVID-19 infections and deaths will occur without stronger federal intervention and protections from the administration of Republican President Donald Trump.

Brown and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, are working on a bill that would extend the time granted to workers to file actions over labor and employment law violations and ensure they don’t lose their jobs for complaining.

“Workers don’t need a PR campaign, they need pay and protection,” Brown said of corporations boasting their “essential” workers are heroes for toiling amid the pandemic and returning to the workplace.

Brown said employees are “going back to work scared of the safety of the workplace and then you have to go home after work and the anxiety of protecting your children … What kind of president is that? What kind of Labor Department is that?”

The senator accused Trump and his team of siding with corporations over their employees with a get-back-to-work mentality as virus risks remain, particularly when inadequate protections are in place.

“He wants to open up this economy wide open without protecting workers,” Brown, a longtime champion of organized labor, said in accusing Trump of betraying workers.

Brown said Trump, whom he described as downplaying the danger of COVID-19 by alternately labeling it a hoax and a Democratic scheme to derail his re-election this fall, was months too slow in reacting to the encroaching pandemic.

During a Senate Banking Committee hearing Monday, Brown asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, “How many workers should give their lives to increase the GDP or the Dow Jones by 1,000 points?”

Mnuchin said Brown’s question was unfair.

Brown later asserted, “The administration thinks we should put more workers at risk to juice the stock market.”

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