Government affairs

Legislative Updates

House passes workplace violence prevention legislation

Today, the House voted 251-158 to pass the Workplace Violence Prevention for Heath Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309).

Introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), the bill would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue new standards requiring health care and social service employers to write and implement a workplace violence prevention plan to prevent and protect employees from violent incidents and assaults at work. Employees in these industries are five times more likely to sustain workplace violence injuries, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited in the bill text.

“Workplace assaults against nurses, health care professionals, and social service workers occur more often than in any other profession,” said Rep. Courtney. “These are some of the same people we depend on to take care of us when we need it most, and they shouldn’t have to fear for their own lives while they’re at work trying to save ours… I’m calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow his colleagues to debate and vote on H.R. 1309’s Senate companion, S. 851, and to not allow this critical bill to be added to the Senate’s ever-growing backlog of House-passed legislation.”

The Senate companion bill to H.R. 1309, S. 851, is led by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and currently has 29 cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats plus Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Despite the support of 32 House Republicans, who joined House Democrats to pass the legislation, its Senate companion is unlikely to be taken up by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), let alone passed.

While this legislation does not impact letter carriers directly, it speaks to the priorities of the House in passing pro-labor legislation. H.R. 1309 joins a series of House-passed bills designed to improve workers’ rights, wages, and conditions that have been shelved and ignored in the Senate. These include the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.7), the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act of 2019 (H.R.397), and the Raise the Wage Act (H.R.582), among others.

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