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The union battle versus Trump administration over bringing workers back, safely

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More than three years after taking office, the administration has never filled the job running the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is charged with enforcing workplace safety laws. The $560 million-a-year agency, whose estimated 2,000 inspectors performed 32,020 on-site inspections in 2018, spent months not doing any in-person inspections related to coronavirus, other than in hospitals, said Rebecca Reindel, director of occupational safety and health for the AFL-CIO.

OSHA has issued only one citation for violations of workplace safety laws related to Covid-19, according to its own testimony to Congress, to a Georgia nursing home that failed to report that a staffer had been hospitalized. The lone citation is despite well-documented shortages of required personal protective equipment at hospitals and Covid-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants. 

The dispute has spilled into the courts, as the full U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia is being asked by the AFL-CIO to consider an appeal of a June decision by a court panel siding with OSHA and denying the labor federation’s request for a rule that gives employers specific guidelines for dealing with Covid-19.  

“We know 125,000 people have died, and we know the workplace is a major source of exposure,” said Reindel. “Besides, it’s the only place most people are going.″

A petition for a rehearing by the full court is pending, according to AFL-CIO general counsel Craig Becker. “We are hopeful that a majority of the judges on the court will give this critically important issue the attention it deserves. We expect a decision on whether the full court will consider the case soon."

Read the full article on CNBC.